I followed my plan and had the discipline to hold back. Ran conservatively the first 5 miles, tucked into a small group, running steady 6:0-something splits and keeping my heart rate in the mid 160’s. Then the road started to go up. I started to unravel. My heart rate spiked. My legs suddenly felt heavy. My left hamstring got tight. So I let go and ran within myself on the hills, closed up a bit on the flats.
Until the final hill at 2 miles to go.
Then I went for it.
I knew I could run the last miles pretty much flat-out — as flat-out as the previous 11 miles would permit. I remember I made the same move in 2010. And I remembered that as tough as the final miles were, there were only twists and turns through the Franklin Zoo and no surprises. I clawed past runners in front of me, on the edge the entire time, watching my heart rate creep into the high 170’s, my legs starting to wobble, my feet starting to slip on the dirt paths and tight turns.
But I didn’t back off one bit.
I kicked coming into the stadium, kicked all the way to the line. And then, finally, let up.
I was done. And I felt good. I had left most of it one the road. Sure, I could have gone a little harder. Probably. But the legs and joints and fuel and brain all worked well.
My time was 1:20:17. It was PR by a minute and 20 seconds