Louisiana Marathon 1/20/2013

My voluminous strategy to get in marathon shape and stay in marathon shape until I qualified for Boston (running eight marathons in 2010 and six in 2011) was proving stubbornly ineffective.  Taking over a year off from marathoning was even more ineffective as it is impossible to qualify if you’re not trying.  It was time for yet another shift in strategy.  After years of contemplation, and probably driving my good friend Corey more than a little crazy, I finally took the plunge in May of 2012 and purchased a road bike from the fine folks at Austin Tri-Cyclist.  Pedal my way to Boston?  Why not??  The majority of my more fleet footed friends incorporate the bike into their training so into their shadow I ride!

After about six months of riding, tweaking the diet, and experimenting with some “top secret” training…I managed to drop around 20 lbs and began to feel some speed returning to my tired, old legs.

I signed up for the 2012 version of the Louisiana Marathon shortly after completing Ridge to Bridge way back in October of 2011.  I can’t remember exactly what kept me from running it then but several friends did end up doing that inaugural race and had very good things to say about it.  When Frank encouraged me to sign up for the 2013 edition, I didn’t hesitate.

Frank was running it again due to clocking a 3:00:01 in 2012.  He had his mind set on revenge, I just wanted to knock over a year’s worth of marathon cobwebs from my legs/lungs.

As the race approached, I realized that while my training was significantly different this time around, what parallels I could draw from prior build ups were positive.  I knew that I would not be attempting the 3:25 necessary to qualify for Boston at this particular race but wanted to put forth a solid effort and continue the rebuilding process.  Not really knowing what I was capable of, I decided to run mainly by feel (pushing the pace until my breathing became labored and then backing off slightly).  Based on recent training runs, that strategy would put me in the 8:10 per mile range.

Miles 1 to 5 – I ran these at an average of 8:14 per mile and a 146 heart rate.  They were evenly paced even with the overpass at about mile 2.  The temp was in the high 40s at the start and the humidity must have been in the high 80s.  Kel managed to find her way down the course to mile 2.  I was working up a pretty good sweat by that point but still not ready to give up my gloves.  This part of the course takes you due south and through the LSU campus.

Miles 6 to 10 – a comfortable 8:17 pace through here at 148 beats per minute.  The miles really did feel effortless and I let myself believe that I might have a shot at a PR (3:39…which requires an 8:23 pace).  Through these miles you complete the tour of LSU and do a lot of running around two lakes (University Lake and City Park Lake).  I remember it being mostly shaded and the water stops seem to come up at every mile.  My Garmin is getting a little ahead of the markers at this point but no more than .15 or so.

Miles 11 to 15 – the pace and heart rate are both creeping up a little but still at 8:21 and 152, respectively.  I concentrate on my legs and determine that I am fit and strong.  I’m drenched in sweat at this point but am still not feeling any real fatigue.  My confidence is inching ever upward that this could be a PR day.  I see Kel again and bid her farewell until the finish.

Miles 16 to 20 – by mile 20 my rough math tells me that I’m right on PR pace.  My head says it’s still within the realm of possibility while my legs are starting to protest.  I average an 8:42 pace through this section but, thanks to the 15 miles run prior to this block, my overall average is 8:24.  I do notice my heart rate is creeping up (154 average through here) while my pace is slowing so things are starting to deteriorate ever so slightly.  After mile 18 I was having to work pretty hard to keep the pace below 9:00.  I would look at my watch about half way through each mile and it would be in the low 9s, I would speed up enough to keep it under 9:00, and repeated this routine several times.

Miles 21 to 26.2 – mile 21 would be my last one under 9:00.  22 was close at a 9:02 but once I broke that barrier my give-a-shitometer was registering near zero.  By 25 I was cracking 10s.  The Garmin bonus was .25 by this point so I knew I’d have to reinvent myself to keep it under 3:50.  I sped up as much as I could after the second hard right turn to the finish line and came in just above 3:50 at 3:50:17…my 5th fastest.

Not a bad return to the distance after an extended time away but clearly I have a lot of work to do between now and July 14th.  My original plan was not to race again between now and then but I’m having second thoughts about that.  I may try to squeeze in one more race (maybe two) between now and then.  Sugarloaf or a return to the Poconos in May?  I’ve done some informal polling but feel free to weigh in via comment below or email.  If you’re prepared to run the race that you think I should run…your vote counts twice!

Louisiana was my 28th marathon and my 17th state.


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