It wasn't an official race, but it was a race - and I won! For the 16 weeks leading up to the Richmond Marathon I periodically tackled an 8 mile route. I tried like hell to break one hour. The closest I got was 1:00:43. Those 43 seconds became my enemy always standing between me and victory as I failed on two other attempts to beat 1:00:43.
With this morning's stiff headwind on the way out, I hesitated to look at my watch, but when I reached a known distance on my route, I looked - I was on track to break 30 minutes at the halfway point - something I'd never done before. But the wind was really wearing me down and I started using it as an excuse in case I couldn't hold the pace back. I eased up a bit to conserve energy in case I bonked. Mentally, I was conceding the opportunity to break an hour - too much wind today.
But then I remembered Ironman Kona.
I don't usually watch it, but my son was interested enough to watch most of it with me yesterday. I was completely mesmerized by Craig Alexander's run... his stride, his calm demeanor, and just how fluid and effortless his form seemed to be. I kept that picture in my mind and focused my gaze only a few feet in front of me rather than the entire distance of the long straight road. I faltered in my stride and breathing a few times and had to re-focus but I kept going back to the image of Alexander running. At times, I felt every fiber of my muscles working together creating such fluid form that my feet hardly seemed to touch the ground.
I just ran.
I didn't think to look at my watch till I turned into my neighborhood - 58 minutes!!! I pumped my fist in the air. I still wasn't there and re-focused until I reached my driveway, checked my watch and threw both arms in the air - I'm sure my neighbors thought I was crazy - I guess they couldn't see me breaking the tape at the finish. 59:20! A crushing 1-minute and 23-second PR!
I've been walking around like I've got a medal around my neck ever since.