The Story Behind Winning a Marathon
Nate Guthals is an ideal example of a hard worker. Nate started out as RADrabbit and now is the newest member of our rabbitELITE squad after he cruised to a win and a 2:17:50 PR at the Beyond Monumental Marathon. We are so proud of you, Nate!
I still consider myself fairly new to the marathon scene, so the CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon was originally one I picked out as a good option to gain some more experience prior to the Olympic trials next February. It also helped that: (1) the race fit nicely into scheduled training build ups, (2) I had heard it was a good event and a fast course, and (3) I felt like I would have a good shot at bringing home a bit of prize money. Since hitting my OTQ at Grandma’s Marathon this June, training had gone very well, despite some minor hiccups caused by the difficulty of training through the hot and humid Midwest summer. I was feeling very confident coming in race week as the cooler fall weather had resulted in a number of strong workouts as I tapered down.
Race weekend began for me on Thursday, with a 7 hour drive from Kansas City. After a good night of sleep, Friday started with an easy shake out run with fellow rabbit athletes Jarrett LeBlanc and Dan Nestor (congrats to him on a big win and OTQ in his half marathon debut). Later on, made a trip to the store to pick up some extra throw away layers to be prepared for sub-freezing projected race-time temperatures, as well as a few other race day items that I had forgotten to pack. The day finished up with a packed out technical meeting for the elite fields, a classic pre-race Italian dinner with my coach, Tim Goldsack of RunCCG, and a few of his other athletes, then returning to the hotel to lay out my gear for the race and try to relax a bit so I could get a few good hours of sleep.
Race morning began with a 5 am alarm so that I could get in a small breakfast with plenty of time to digest before the race. About 2 hours later, it was time to head down to the athlete hospitality room and get started on a short warm up. I got in 10 minutes of light jogging, a few drills, and a couple trips to the bathroom before shedding most of my warm up gear and heading to the start line. I got in a few strides, then we were called to the start line and, in what many described as the most confusing moment of the day, the signal to start was given (with about half of the front line not really ready).
The race was underway, and I took off trying not to get too caught up in the quick pace of the half marathon field, while simultaneously trying to find others who I knew would be competing for the top spot in the marathon. I was able to locate Juris Silenieks and we tried to settle into a pace that would set us up to run near the 2:15 time that we both had in mind as a goal for the race. After coming through the mile right around 5 flat (too fast) we pulled back a little and cruised through 10k at just over 5:15 per mile pace. The pace quickened a little over the next few miles as we ran with a slight tailwind for much of the first half, resulting in our second 10k split being closer to 5:07 per mile (a little under 2:15 pace, but not too much).
We hit 13.1 miles in right around 68 minutes, a time that would have equaled my half marathon PR up until this September. As we began to turn and head back towards the downtown area, the breeze that had been to our benefit was now coming against us and I started to notice the fatigue that was creeping through my legs. I dropped off the pace slightly and wondered briefly if I might be feeling better if I had forced down more fluids at the first two bottle stations. I pushed those thoughts away and turned my focus to the black shirt that was now pulling ahead of me; making it my goal to keep the gap between us as small as possible.
By mile 17 the tables had turned a bit as Juris was now going through a rough patch like I had experienced not long ago. I closed the distance between us, and by mile 19 had taken a slight lead. Every turn over the next 7 miles, I had to resist the urge to look back; choosing instead to just focus on putting one foot in front of the other and covering ground as quickly as I could to stay ahead of Juris, as well as the fast moving pack of men chasing the 2:19:00 OTQ standard.
With 5k remaining to the finish, I finally shed the warm up jacket I had worn the entire race, a decision I almost immediately regretted as I made the turn onto Meridian St towards downtown and was welcomed with a stiff, chilling gust of wind. Thankfully, we had rejoined the half marathon course at this point so I had plenty of other runners cheering me on and distracting me from the dull ache of exhaustion in my legs. A combination of willpower and the energy of the growing crowd carried my through the final miles towards the finish that seemed so close, but couldn’t possibly com fast enough. As I made the last turn to bring the finish line into view, I was filled with a sense of elation as I finally felt confident that I was going to hold off the competition chasing me. I was going to win a big city marathon! I threw on as much of a smile as my cold face could muster and tossed my hands up in the air as I trotted through the banner pulled out across the finish line.
Couldn’t have asked for a better result on a tough day. A huge thanks are in order for everyone who made the event possible, and congratulations to all those who ran, especially the other 39 athletes in the half and full who hit the OTQ standards. Can’t wait to see everyone again next February in Atlanta!
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