Archive for October, 2009

Marathon 2 Marathon 10/17/09

October 19, 2009

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Like many things that seem so far away when planned, yet arrive in the blink of an eye, Marathon 2 Marathon slapped me in the face (literally and figuratively) this weekend.  The marathon-a-month plan (October – February) that I decided to embark on a few months ago started with a bang (or shotgun blast courtesy of the local sheriff) at 8 AM on Saturday morning.

4:10 (or 4:09:42) is a step in the right direction for me marathon time-wise.  In the weeks leading up to this race I was pretty sure I could go sub 4 and perhaps even make a run at 3:50.  There are a few variables that you can control in marathoning (training, nutrition, etc…) and at least one you can’t control (the weather).  The “normal” weather things I ponder in the days leading up to a race are heat and humidity.  Both were close to ideal for this event.  50 degrees at start time, mid 60s at noonish when I finished.

One thing I’ve never really had to deal with is wind.

The course for this race is different than anything I’ve ever run…a straight point-to-point heading a little south and a lot east.  The perfect set up for a stiff wind from the east.  The forecast called for sustained winds of 6 – 10 mph but, according to the locals, what we got was more like 20 mph with even stronger gusts!!

Having an idea of what I could run but not really knowing for sure, I told my friend TJ I would try and run her BQ goal pace of 8:49 for at least 20 miles.  I also suggested that she tuck in behind me if we encountered stiff headwinds.  With that plan in mind, and with the blast of the sheriff’s shotgun, off we went!

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Mile 1 – 8:49 (gotta love nailing the pace like that)
Mile 2 – 8:47 (sweet)
Mile 3 – 8:40 (a little fast)
Mile 4 – 8:52 (that’s more like it)
Mile 5 – 9:12 (the wind started kicking up here)
Mile 6 – 9:02 (better)
Mile 7 – 9:47 (first decent climb plus a potty break)
Mile 8 – 8:39 (rolling downhill)
Mile 9 – 8:59 (another climb)
Mile 10 – 8:55 (finishing the climb)
Mile 11 – 9:02 (it’s pretty flat through here)
Mile 12 – 9:09 (highest altitude of the course @ 4670 ft)
Mile 13 – 9:09 (downhill allegedly starts)
Mile 14 – 8:56 (ok, not allegedly but imperceptibly)
Mile 15 – 8:53 (would have lost a bet that this was downhill)
Mile 16 – 9:10 (pacing pressure off)
Mile 17 – 9:17 (more downhill, less ability to appreciate)
Mile 18 – 9:52 (hey, is that the finish line I see in the distance?)
Mile 19 – 9:44 (yes, yes it is)
Mile 20 – 10:06 (looking for “the wall”)
Mile 21 – 9:50 (can’t find it)
Mile 22 – 10:36 (who’s going to catch me first?)
Mile 23 – 10:44 (anyone, anyone)
Mile 24 – 10:34 (TJ!)
Mile 25 – 10:15 (finish looks as far away as it did 7 miles ago)
Mile 26 – 10:25 (ready to stop)
Mile .2 (or .4) – 4:04 (stop)

You can link to all the Garmin details of the race experience here.

When running for a specific time, I’ve always subscribed to the “time in the bank” theory.  I would usually run the first half a couple of minutes faster than half the overall time goal…so that I could slow down a little on the back half and still come in under the goal.  This course begged to be run more evenly, at least on paper.  With the wind and the climbing on the front half…instead of “time” in the bank I was putting “pain” in the bank.  This being my 12th marathon, I have to say I was acutely aware of this.  This awareness made the withdrawals (beginning at mile 18) less problematic.  Kel was providing awesome course support the entire time…but really stepping it up towards the end and that made a huge difference!  The water stops were every two miles but she would be in between each one with Gatorade, Clif Blocks, and crack (Enervitene)…and taking lots of pictures!

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This is the first marathon I’ve run in a long, long time where I did not have to walk.  That felt pretty good.  I may have even been able to run a little faster at the end but couldn’t really find any motivation.

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I managed to shave over 30 minutes off my time at Mesa Falls in August.  I’m proud of that.  Also, for only the second time ever, I did not say (at the end) that I would never run another marathon.  I guess already being registered for four more in the coming months might have something to do with that.

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All-in-all, the race was difficult but I enjoyed it.  Five shipmates went, five earned hardware.

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I’ve never placed in my age group before at a marathon so that was kinda cool.  The fact that the age groups were in 10 year bands made it even cooler (though, admittedly, it is a very small race).  I placed 3rd in the 40 – 49 group.  I haven’t actually seen the results yet so I’m hoping there were more than three people in my age group!

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Marathon (the town) is small.  We enjoyed the pasta dinner at the Gage Hotel on Friday evening.  Our room was dark, quiet and comfortable.  Johnny B’s is a nice place for breakfast and lunch.  The group went to Alpine (home of the Sul Ross Lobos who we played against when I was in college) for dinner on Saturday night after the awards ceremony.  Dining options in Marathon are limited.  Kel and I visited Marfa on Saturday afternoon after the race…really not much going on there.

San Antonio is next up on 11/15/2009.