Another mellow out and back, tracing the final steps of next week's marathon. When I ran in 2011, the final three miles were brutal. Everyone talks about the last six they say to go out and try to PR in the 10k and that's how the end of the marathon will feel.
It didn't start for me until midway through mile 23.
Friends were waiting at Cirios HQ, 17th and Arkansas -- mile 22. I felt fresh, smiled, soaked up their energy. I crossed under the freeway and passed fans blaring Chariots of Fire. I burst with energy and picked up the pace. I hit 22nd Street to make the turn from home. 30 women in yoga paints cheered me on. And I hit the wall. I had nothing left.
I didn't quite limp the final three miles to the finish, but if I were limping I wouldn't have gone much slower. I was hoping the familiar territory would push me on, but it turns out I didn't think about the fact that the race didn't end at the ballpark, and that the stretch from the ballpark to the Bay Bridge is one of the loneliest on the Embarcadero.
Stronger runners passed me, and I didn't blame them. I silently rooted for them. And pitied the ones I passed, because they must have been in a truly bad place. I shuffled across the finish line in 3:20 -- a perfectly respectable time and better than my goal, but I certainly didn't run a comfortable race.
Plagued with Achilles pain, I popped eight Advil on the course, limped the first three miles at 9-minute pace to loosen up my calves and floundered on the home stretch. And I haven't run a Marathon since. I've gone further -- even hit 26 on a training run a few times -- but never another Marathon.
Next Sunday, if nothing else, I want to finish strong -- or if I shuffle in like last time, there had better be a two in front of my time.