This is a story that starts in January. Here are two charts that really tell the story. This is my weekly mileage using Garmin and Sporttracks. I used a program from Matt Fitzgeralds 'Brain Training for Runners' book. Note the easy and hard weeks leading up to the max mileage. The last week was the week of the marathon, so it looks kind of spikey. This is probably more mileage then I've ever run in two months. I'm so grateful for being able to stay healthy and for my lovely bride for listening to my whining.
This is the best part that shows how my pace improved over time. There are alot of elements to Fitzgerald's program that helped. Intervals on Wednesdays, tempo runs on Fridays and long runs on Sundays. I only noticed this progress after reviewing my weekly totals in SportsTraks. I probably need to do some adjustments in my taper. What should have happened is the distance decline and the pace stay relatively stable through the taper. It really didn't feel like much of a taper this time, and even right now, i don't feel as bad afterwards as I have.
So those two charts are the real story.
Two other thing helped...nutrition and digestion.
Nutrition: Gatorade was the drink on the course, and I don't normally like that stuff. It turns my stomach most races. This time, I purchased three quarts and drank it over four days prior to the race. It got my stomach used to it. During my long runs, i fine tuned nourishment with GU gels diluted in 4oz water, that i tucked in my snack arse shorts. Also a hint of ground ginger helped settle my stomach.
Digestion: I got up three hours before the race to eat (salt bagel, Robin's special banana bread, banana, orange, gatorade). That helped me process everything prior to the race so i didn't need to stop for the bathroom.
The race itself was just great. I corresponded with the 3:30 pacer, Jim, prior to the race. I stuck with the 3:30 pace group up until mile 22 and kind of fell apart after that. I was able to hold 9:15 miles for the last 3.5 miles, which just got me in under BQ time limit. If they had a 3:35 pacer, I probably would have stuck with them. My chip time had me at 3:35 right on the nose. With me hitting 50 for the April 2010 Boston Marathon, it gives me a minute to spare!
The real story is the dedication to a training program that started months beforehand. Its been a great adventure, and I learned so much. A special shout - out to all my friends on MCM Message board for sharing your hopes, joys, anguish and lives during this time. You all really have been an inspiration for me.