by Steve Lafler
I had a pretty good run at the Empire Runners Lake Ilsanjo Run in 2018 and was looking forward to returning in 2020, but my wish to run a Bostom Marathon qualifier got in the way this year.
I got my BQ March 1 at the Napa Valley Marathon – 3:33:29 chip time (needed 3:50, male age 60 – 64 to qualify for Boston). I came fourth in my age group. This is a dream come true for me. I was going to run with the 3:40 group, but the pace leader stood there and clearly wasn’t paying attention when the race started! Major fail.
So I eased into my rhythm. At two miles I noted the 3:35 pace group about 100m ahead, and kept my eye on them. Around the 6 mile mark, a group of 6-7 runners formed and we discussed: “What the heck happened to the 3:40 pace leader?!” I made a plan with three other runners to gradually catch up to the 3:35 group.
Feeling good after a water station, I floated away from the chase pack and caught the 3:35 pace group at 13 miles. The groove, the cohesion of this new pack was fantastic with 10-12 runners locked in. I had good stretches and not-so-good-stretches, but kept a positive attitude. Taking Gatorade at aid stations and an energy gel every five miles stoked my engine.
I strode in front of our 3:35 group after a drink station with 3 miles to go, feeling good, and threw it down. With two miles to go, I dueled with a woman who had also broken away from the pack. She wouldn’t let me draw even with her, then I felt an uncanny lift in my stride – this is the return on all those tempo runs, all those long runs, a sudden burst of effortless pace that took me away from a tough competitor!
Haha, the last mile was dicey as heck but I kicked myself in the butt to keep it rolling.
See you at the Boston Marathon in April 2021!