Well this weekend was a another marathon weekend. I had entered the Shamrock Whale Challenge for the fifth time in six years. I missed it last year due to my pericarditis. The Whale Challenge is running the 8K on the Saturday before and a full marathon on the Sunday after.
I always felt that I had home-field advantage in this race being that it was right here in Virginia Beach. You just couldn’t miss it! I was always able to sleep in my own bed, eat my own food, and even be around people that could support and encourage me. That being opposed to some other race in some other city where I typically wouldn’t know anyone at all.
So let me get the negativity out first.
Skip over this part if you wish. I know you may say, “Eugene how can you be negative? You have just finished your 38 marathon in five years.“ Well it is because I performed poorly again. Only a few minutes faster than two weeks ago. That puts me at about two minutes per mile slower than my best marathon time. And yes, that means it's almost an entire hour slower! For me, I am a perfectionist, and I hate not performing well at anything.
I can blame a lot of things, but ultimately it's my responsibility to be prepared and to perform according to my own guidelines and set of standards.
Some may think that is harsh but in my opinion that is what takes you from being GOOD to being GREAT. Yesterday I was far from great. I could say that my first half of the marathon was fantastic and I ran extremely well. Maybe too well. Maybe I should've slowed down my pace a bit. But everything felt good. I can also say that the temperature might have been a bit of a hindrance. That is a cop-out. I could say that my hamstring which I had been nursing all week could've played a part in it. I don't believe that is true. It didn't bother me during my run. I could say that I didn't do enough training. Enough strength training, enough speed work, just ENOUGH in general. Well that is probably true. I can also say that in mile 16 I think my pinky toe exploded! Well it felt like it did!
Pain is temporary.
I can tell you that my quads were really tired. My breathing towards the latter half was weak and shallow. I needed more air. This is just not good enough for me.
So here's more negativity, let me get it out of my system. Do you know how embarrassing it is to have so many people pass you during the race? Not only is it embarrassing it's certainly humbling. I’ve been humbled a lot lately. I try not to criticize anybody during the race because it's their own race. I'm not running against you, you're not running against me. Just running! Its the best we can on that day.
It is humbling to be so weak.
I don't like being weak. I have so many friends that are so fast and great runners, they do Ironman Competitions and marathons and compete so well. It is obvious that I am not an elite runner and that most likely I will never be one. That hurts. The realization that you can never be what you dream of being is sad. It makes me discouraged. And I don't know really what to do about it.
With diabetes sadness turns to depression.
Something I've been struggling with a lot lately. It's so easy to be positive around others, but I sink into the darkness when I'm alone. And most the time when I'm running a marathon, I am alone. At the back of the pack.
Okay that's over with. Let me try to be positive and share some insights that I found that the Shamrock.
Apparently last year they changed the route from what I had done the four previous years. Again, I did not get a chance to run it last year due to health conditions. So this was the first time that I got a chance to do the new route which I actually think was fantastic!
We started off at the Cavalier near 40th Street and ran to Fort Story. That used to be the conclusion of the latter half of the marathon. And I can say in the past that was a long lonely run. Not a lot of people, not a lot of fans, not a lot of cheering. So I like the idea that the top of the pack was altogether. Another thing that was changed was all of the half marathon runners were released at the same time as a full marathon. That made the first half very full and a lot more people to encourage you. That is probably why I did so well the first half.
At the conclusion of the race part of the route takes you back through the boardwalk and back onto Atlantic Avenue. This is where everybody is located. All the people finishing the race, all people eating and hanging around. There is a lot of activity. There's a lot more fans that can cheer you on here and encourage you during these last few miles. If you have never ran a marathon before, getting the cheers at a conclusion is very encouraging. Especially for us slow guys. We need everything there is to help motivate us forward to finish. So running this part of the race was actually a huge encouragement for me. One of things with so many people around watching you, I couldn't… or didn't want to… walk at all. I shuffled my feet along doing the best I could to keep up my slow pace. Trying to finish stronger and worrying about what my finish time ultimately would be.
My wife made to this part of the race after church in time and she was right there on about mile 24 or 25. Taking pictures of me shuffling. She was also able to quickly go across to the boardwalk and catch me at the finish line.
Having friends and family there encouraging me is always up-lifting.
So the race goes on down to the Atlantic and 37th wand turns back on the boardwalk and there you can see the glimpse of King Neptune beckoning your approach. At that stage you are about a half a mile from the finish line. You might begin picking up your pace if you have any gas left in your tank.
Unfortunately there wasn't much gas in my tank.
But I gave everything I could. I picked up my pace and did everything I could to finish before the six hour mark. I hate going over six hours.
Well I beat it, by seven seconds. Sad but true. I will count it as a small victory!
The familiar voice at the finish line Coach Bob! I love hearing his voice callout your name as you come close to crossing the finish line. He made me laugh. As I approached the finish line he calls out. “My main man Eugene Thompson running strong pushing hard. I think this is his 120th marathon or something like that.” LOL. I definitely laughed out loud at that moment.
Thank you Coach Bob. I needed to smile.
My fifth Whale Challenge completed. My feet feel like hamburger. My pinky toe will probably lose its toenail. It's a great day. Aren't I so lucky?!
Three weeks for my next marathon in Charlottesville I hear there are hills. I better start training harder!