2:20:31, 55th place. Went through a lot of rough moments, but fought hard and didn't quit on the race. Was rewarded with a memorable last 4 miles. Will write more later. Thanks everyone for the support.
Splits: 5:00, 5:09, 5:06, 5:09 (44th place), 5:03, 5:07, 5:12, 5:06, 5:29(!), 5:18, 5:10, 5:13, 5:05 (1:07:03 for 13 miles), 5:13, 5:27, 5:17, 5:37 (now in 71st place), 5:29, 5:38, 5:51, 5:52, 6:01, 5:47, 5:24, 5:30, 5:17, 1:10 (55th place).
Results with splits are listed here, and also here. It's actually quite fascinating to me, to recreate the race from numbers. For the first 16 miles or so, you can see nice packs, people running the same splits...but the last 6 miles are just total chaos. Everyone's splits were all over the pace, people making huge moves upward, and other people going through epic crash-and-burns. Utter carnage. Cool stuff, I'm glad they had timing mats at every mile.
Here's kind of a photo journal for my race report:
The pace early on felt great. Just clicked off 5:05-5:10 for the first 8 miles of the race, got in a great rhythm. Was it too fast? Oh, definitely! But I wanted to roll the dice. And I was excited about it. Maybe I could be the Trent Briney of this year? I know others had similar thoughts. Unfortunately, side stitches threw me off after Mile 8, and I had to slow down for miles 9-10 to try to work them out. I worked a bit of it out, and then latched on to the next pack who had caught me, and got a good pace going again through Mile 14. But then during Mile 15 my legs quickly became toast. Yup, too fast early one! A death-march soon started. It was dispiriting knowing that I had 11 miles left and that my legs were gone. Side stitches came and went the whole race, which made things even worse, and threw off whatever rhythm I could muster. I acknowledge that I probably could have ran better if I went out more conservatively, but I don't necessarily regret it. Since I ran the 2008 Trials, and this would likely be my last Trials, I had nothing to lose, and I didn't see much to gain by running 2:18-2:19. Trying for 2:14-2:15 sounded a lot more interesting.
My face was sore afterward from grimacing so much. :-) It's definitely the tensest I've been during a marathon, due to the side stitches. I had a hard time relaxing my arms and shoulders too.
Speaking of side stitches, here's a shot that captures that. Yup, nothing like trying to sustain 5:10-pace while clutching your gut with one hand. The guy in orange chucked his yellow PowerAid all over the course a little bit later in the race...made me grateful that my stomach problems were not of that variety. 10 minutes later he passed me again, though, much to my surprise. I ended up passing him for good with a couple miles left. "Battle for 60th". Those are the dramas that they don't show on NBC but definitely should. I do respect Luke Watson a lot for heaving the entire contents of his stomach, and then regrouping enough to finish the race. Most people wouldn't. There were a lot of unheralded performances like that out there within the mid-packers that people will never know about.
More grimacing. Right here I'm thinking: "Man I hate this. I'd better grimace to make myself feel better." It didn't work though. I never came so close to dropping out in a marathon. Miles 15-17 were absolute low points. I almost did drop before the last lap, but then thought of all the friends and family back home, on the Blog, at my work, and yes even on Facebook, who had been SO supportive of me. And I knew then that I needed to finish at any cost, even it it meant 7 minute miles and a lonnngg period of pain. This is Trials baby, can't quit! I prayed to God for the will to finish, and He granted me that. Before the start of the last lap, at Mile 18, I made the decision to keep going. I was rewarded by not just finishing, but finishing well.
Here's the thing, though: we ALL felt terrible. Just look at these other guys. That was one thing that kept me going, knowing that if I just stuck with it, other people would die worse than me. And eventually the side stitches went away, I passed some people, and received some positive feedback and mental encouragement from that. My legs responded to my positive emotions, and I ended up running the last 5K in about 16:45, and passed about 15 people. The big lesson: never quit on a marathon. You just never know what can happen. I've never dropped to 6-minute pace and then bounced back to 5:20 pace, but there's a first for everything. The last 4 miles were certainly painful, but very exhilarating.
Above is the photo of the sprint to the finish. One last guy to get...I was pretty pumped though. This was my 20th marathon, but the first time I ever had someone to sprint with at the finish. I tried to encourage the other guy as I went by, "hey, we made it!!" Meb, Abdi, and Hall were standing near the finish wearing American flags...I gave them a thumbs-up as I went by. Ah, the cheesy things you do when you finish marathons...
Glad I had the honor to run again, glad that I persevered. 2:20:30 is still one of my better times. Placing 55th out of 111 starters is almost an exact median, which the stats geek in me thinks is kind of cool. Funny that I finished in almost the exact same spot as 4 years ago (I was 52nd), but ran almost exactly 2 minutes faster. So it's a Trials PR? Gotta find a PR in everything. Also, it's my half marathon PR, so there was some fruit today.
What's in the store the rest of the year? Probably just some local stuff, as I lie low and get to know the Colorado racing scene. I think this will be my only marathon for 2012, since I've done 4 in a 12-month span I probably need a year off. But I'm sure I'll re-evaluate later. Thanks all for the support. T