On Sunday morning I ran the Buffalo Marathon, and finished with the best time that I have ever had at the marathon distance. I finished in 4:18:40 which is 13 minutes quicker than my previous PR from way back in 2017. Additionally I was 37 minutes faster than on the same course last year, and 18 minutes quicker than Wineglass last fall.
Coming into race day I actually wasn’t all too confident. I felt like my training had gone better last fall, and my longest training run was only around 15 miles. However, my last few races had come back with surprisingly quick times that were showing year over year improvements. Having a good number of marathons under my belt (and this being my eighth time on this particular course), I at least knew that I would finish without it being a complete disaster.
My plan for the race was to stick with the 4:20 pace group, and this actually panned out for the first two miles. Then I stopped for a drink, lost sight of the pacer and started going a bit quick. At the 5k turn around I was at 29:52 and saw that I was already half way to the next faster pace group. I kept slowly passing people and reached the 10k mark in 58:44.
Around mile 9 I caught up to the 4:10 pace group and decided to stop pushing my luck and just stay with them for as long as I could. The fact that my legs felt good enough that I could have pushed ahead was an encouraging sign, but I knew it was best to save some energy for the second half of the race. I was still with this group by the half way point, so I finished the first half in 2:05.
At each water stop I was pausing to take fluids and then catching up to the pacer, and with how easily I was able to catch back up I knew that my legs (and lungs) were feeling good and by the time I was at mile 15 I knew that there was a real good possibility that I would be setting a PR that day. Traditionally mile 17 through Delaware Park has been one of the hardest stretches for me to run, but I got through this section feeling great, and even ran the small hill after the 30k mark which I am not sure I have ever done in the many times I have previously ran this course.
I reached the 30k mark at 2:56:13 and which had me still with the pace group (although technically on track for a 4:08 finish). After mile 20 though things started hurting, and coming out of the mile 21 water stop I no longer had the push to catch back up to the pacer.
The next four miles were the hardest part of the course for me as I slowed to a run/walk pace. I knew that I almost assuredly had a PR and was pushing the best that I could to finish as quickly as possible. It was easier than normal to not get demoralized over this stretch as I knew how well my run was going.
Just before making the final turn onto Delaware the 4:20 pacer caught up to me, which was close enough to the finish to have already secured the PR, but with just 1.3 miles to go (and much of it downhill) I wanted to try and stick with him until the finish. It started off pretty well, but I couldn’t quite keep up once the downhill flattened out in the final half mile. Still I didn’t walk at all during this final stretch and had enough differential with chip time to get a time under 4:20 anyhow.
I am absolutely thrilled to have done so well, and while I am not yet signed up for any races in June, I am really glad to be feeling fast again.