I’ll get into it more in my post-race post, but if you had asked me on Friday if my brother was going to run, I would have bet money that he wouldn’t. It was pretty cold the first couple miles, but we were talking and those miles went by pretty quickly.
I made sure to ask Matt how he was feeling over and over (I’m sure it got super annoying!) and from the very beginning, his knee ached, but he said it was manageable. I think it’s an IT band problem; after the race, the outside of his knee was too tender to even touch.
Just like he had wanted, we ran the first 5 miles at 9 min pace and then picked it up a little running slightly under 9’s.
At mile 6 Matt took his first gel. We had talked about him taking gels starting at mile 6 every 4 miles, and until the very end, he did a great job taking them. We also grabbed water or Gatorade at every station. Around mile 7 we saw our family which was fun: my mom cheers SUPER loudly and Marlie gave me some Swedish Fish to eat.
I don’t know any specific time splits, but we kept doing 8:50’s and talking the miles away. Soon we hit 10 and Matt took another gel. The course was pretty much flat and by this time it’d warmed up; it was a great day to run. At the end it was a little too warm but beats rain any day.
We hit the half and full split which I made a big deal out of: “Today you are going to be a FULL marathoner, Matt!”
This whole time Matt is feeling good besides his knee that’s a dull pain, and we continue talking and see my parents again on the course – it was like a perfect scenario of what I’d want the race with my brother to be. Matt took another gel at mile 15; he liked the fruity flavors more than the chocolate/coffee ones which is opposite of me and his favorite is strawberry banana which I think is more foul than our hotel last night.
So everything is going swimmingly; we see the family again around mile 18; I grab more Swedish Fish from my mom (I didn’t take any gels this race and just ate the fish which worked great and was super tasty).
Matt had only trained to 19 miles once so I made it a big deal when he hit 19. A new PDR! At this point he might have been slowing down a little but was still holding in there; this picture was on the bridge at 19:
And then we hit 20. And the wheels fell off.
Matt hit a wall and hit it hard. Our pace slowed down dramatically and everything on his body from his waist down hurt. His stride shortened and he began to shuffle more because his hips and knees hurt so bad.
If you’ve ever ran a marathon, you probably have a good idea of what that pain and mental hopelessness feels like. I’ve been there in a few races and it just sucks. It’s what makes a marathon so hard and what makes it so awesome to finish. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Miles 20-22 were close to 11 minute miles; Matt was in so much pain and at one point he even told me to stop talking to him.
It was really hard for me to see him like that because I couldn’t do anything for him. I wanted to give him some of my energy, but it’s like you’re helpless and it’s so tough to watch him struggle.
So miles 20-26 were just miserable; that’s the best way to put it. I tried to get Matt to get another gel down, but he thought he’d throw up. I think he ended up taking one more but I can’t remember for sure.
I knew Matt had really wanted to finish under 4 hours but by that time, he had given up all time goals – he just wanted to be done, he said.
I actually encouraged him to walk or take a stretch break (I honestly thought that we’d have to walk the last 3 miles, that’s how bad it was!) but he would not walk. He was going to run it and run it all. The kid is stubborn if nothing else.
I think 20-23 were the longest miles of my life, but somehow like in every race, you get through them. He was so far down in the dumps and in pain I knew he wanted to quit, but I also knew he never would. Matt would crawl to the finish if he had to.
At mile 24 I was watching my clock and figured if we picked it up, we could finish under 4 hours. So I started the tough love act and got on him to move it and push harder.
And he did! 11 minute miles turn into 9:45’s. I could tell he was dying, but he kept pushing to the end. At mile 25.5 I was telling him to turn it on and lay it down, but he started getting really dizzy. Great job being a running coach, SR.
I told him to sprint hard and he replied, “I am!”
We reached Hayward Field and laid it down on the track to the finish. Matt crossed the finish line right in front of me in 3:57:58, 1087th place for Matt and 1088th for me.
I’ll get into it in my next post, the post-race thoughts, but let me again say: I AM SO INCREDIBLY PROUD OF MATTI!
He trained for 7 (out of 10) weeks, dealt with a few minor injuries, still smokes, and met his goal of running a sub 4 hour marathon.