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Post-race smiles with friend Phil McCarthy

Post-race smiles with friend Phil McCarthy on left

Last Sunday, I ran my 15th full marathon in Lincoln, Nebraska. My good friend, Philip McCarthy, was running the race, too (we’ve been best friends since 1st grade as Phil likes to remind everyone). Although we were running at much different paces, I was really inspired by his ability to run so often and so long at such a high level. He ran a 50k the week before the race.

Unfortunately, we could not run in the same pace groups (we were “locked in” to the paces we signed up for at registration).

I knew Phil was going to have a great race. You see, he was born in Lincoln and the course just sets up easily for his racing style of perennially passing people.

My primary goal for this race was a BQ: 3:25 or under. For 4-6 miles, I was on track. Then I couldn’t hold that pace. At the halfway mark, I was surprisingly tired. But the split was good: 1:50. I was thrilled to reach 20 miles in under 3:00. But then it got tough. And my legs cramped. Fatigue set in and the heat and humidity took their toll. My Plan B goal was to finish under 4:00. That didn’t happen either. Finally, I reset my goal for breaking my New York Marathon time from 2004: 4:21. Despite walking a lot in the last few miles, I was able to sneak under 4:21, securing a 4:19:10 official time, my fastest official competitive marathon time since 2004. Interestingly, I ran that NYC Marathon with Phil McCarthy as well. However, he started at the front with the faster folks and I was way back as a middle-of-the packer.

Unfortunately, my wife had to work during this race so she missed it. My daughter was home watching our puppy. But at 26 miles, I found Phil waiting for me outside Memorial Stadium, supporting me and snapping a photo. That was a special moment to see a good friend supporting me near the end. Phil finished in 2:58 and was 2nd in our age group (45-49). Another BQ for him (Boston Marathon qualifying time). I was 49th in our age group. It was a very special moment during the race for me when I saw Phil McCarthy returning from Holmes Lake at about 22 miles when I was still heading to Holmes Lake at 15.6 miles (we passed each other going opposite directions). I said hi to him with some encouraging support but he was deep in a running groove passing people so he didn’t see me.

The strange stat that jumps out at me for this race is that NO ONE passed me during the first 5k. That is very unusual. Wearing the 3:25 wristband with the BQ splits on it had an effect. I tried to produce those splits as long as possible.
For me, the BQ just was not meant to be.

So even though we didn’t finish together at the same time, we did both fight the good fight using our own unique abilities (e.g., runstreaking) and finish the race with perseverance.

Do you run with friends? You should try it sometime. It can make running much more enjoyable.

With perpetual running love, Running Groove Shark

2015 Lincoln Marathon medal close-up featuring Memorial Stadium

2015 Lincoln Marathon medal close-up featuring Memorial Stadium; Photo credit: Rod Adams Photography