Friday, October 17, 2008
Towpath Marathon Race Report
Starting from the beginning, I was not sure what to expect for the marathon. It seemed a lot of the weeks were hot and cold. As I reflect now back to the training, I was basing my speed workouts and tempo runs on my 5K PR from last year so technically I should have been targetting a faster marathon time based on that training and PR. Yet, that was not the goal. I wanted to run a strong, even, boston qualifying race. From the beginning the only plan was to target a pace just below 3:40 allowing a little cushion for a bathroom stop if nescessary...if ya didn't know already this is a often problem area for me!
The week leading up to the marathon I had been real stressed out (short story here is that I work in hedge funds, stupid stock market) and E felt the brunt of that as I did my PMP 3 miles on Thursday which turned into a venting session where my pace was closer to 7:45 than 8:15. So much for her recovery run! I was real congested in the evenings and was worried the cold I felt trying to grab hold might bother me during the marathon which made me a little nervous...but I was trying to put that out of my mind. I still felt a little off marathon morning.
Friday and Saturday, I was real busy and did not have the chance to get in any exercise which was fine by me as I think erroring on the conservative side right before seems to work for me. That Saturday, I worked the table for Southeast Running Club at the expo. I really give props Kathleen Dugan and the other Towpath organizers for their work in putting together a nice little expo for this smaller marathon. I left there around 12:45 and headed to Vertical Runner to grab some Crank Gels where I tried to con MB into running with us to no avail (or so I thought!) Had a pasta with red sauce for lunch (Big Boy with my parents) and dinner (trying hard to not eat anything that might cause a problem). Hit my friend's 30th birthday party and had 2 Blue Moon Harvest Moons and crawled into bed about 11:30.
After a solid night's sleep I got up (5:45 AM)and grabbed my Fruit Punch Rockstar! My plan was to drink about half (which I figured w/b the ideal caffeine amount) and eat a blueberry bagel with peanut butter as I drove to the race. It seemed about perfect.
At the race I plopped my butt on the floor while I waited for my friends feeling very calm about the race. Before long, I saw the girls and TB and we waited to head to the starting line after I hit my inhaler (lesson learned other days with the asthma). It was a long walk and I was freezing. Poor BS was struggeling to keep up walking with us (as she had been super sick) so it seemed it may not be her day.
At the start I was concentrating on trying to not go out too fast. The first mile on the road was just jockeying back and forth and chatting away with friends. I lost AS and BS right away as I chatted away with this guy, Jim who was wearing a CTC visor he had bought the day before. I was absolutely freezing with numb hands. I am guessing it was upper 40s / low 50s at the start. Yet, I was not complaining as I froze the first 2.5 miles or so as I knew that would be to our advantage later.
As we moved onto the towapth after 0.9 miles, it was pretty tight. I trotted along talking to Jim through 2 when he figured he better pick up the pace to meet his goal but I settled in waiting for Amie ready to run our steady race. I was delighted to hit E's aide station. They were cheering and I looked at the group of volunteers who I think I knew them all by name...YEAH FRIENDS! Amie caught up to me just after that aide station and then it was on. The miles clicked off one by one as we talked about Halloween costumes, wind energy, a photo walk, you name it. As we approached the first turnaround it was fun to watch the leaders coming back as we counted off how many girls were ahead of us (I think around 15). At the turnaround (~9 Miles) we saw Brett and Lloyd and cheered loudly as I took my first gel. The cheering continued as we got a look at our friends behind us. I think it was quite obvious we were feeling good and were from around there as this one guy running started laughing at us asking us if we knew everyone.
We actually went back and forth with him awhile. It was marathon 77 for him and he is trying to hit 100 before his 40th birthday in 11 months. WOW! Amie and I came through the half in 1:48 and change feeling good and telling each other that over and over. Sort of comical when I think back...obviously we were allowing zero doubt to enter our minds that day! Again we got juiced up to pass E's group again with all my SERC and CTC friends (you know who u r...BH, MT, AH, DH, BW, PR, LD...!)
As we got closer to Boston store (~15 miles) I could feel things warming up and my chest felt a hair tighter so I was glad my inhaler was there. I saw Steve who was our sherpa for the day and I grabbed a sip of Rockstar, my gels and hit my inhaler and was off. This stretch was way more crowded with the half marathoners coming the other way. We tried to encourage some of them on who looked like they were struggeling. I think I teased Amie as I thought the turn around was by the Station Road parking lot when in fact it was a lot further north...oops. As we approached 20, spirits were still high and I told Amie we were going to get those 3 girls just a bit ahead of us. About this time, MB's group, linked up with us. It was a perfect time to have new energy. These guys just projected such a strong vibe and were there to get MB across the finish line. I liked when they said "11:45 will come regardless today, it is up to you where you will be" or something like that!!! The race started 5 minutes late so 11:45 was her 3:40 BQ pace, as was ours. I was enjoying calling MB a sandbagger and telling her I told ya so (she was the one at the store I had tried to con the day before into running with us and she said she was planning to run slower).
On this stretch there was a good amount of pavement and bright sun. It was such a relief when the pavement ended and also when we got back into the shade. I was fatigued but still trucking along strong. The three miles or so I started longing for the finish line and got quiet. I was focused on the finish line and not slowing down and was couting down the minutes. Somewhere in this point I lost Amie as she had taken more time at an aide station but at this point I was all eyes forward. As we closed in on the finish line I picked up the pace a bit knowing I had it in the bag and was relieved to cross the finish line. Then I was elated to see MB and AS right behind me!!! YEAH, three members of the Akron Mary Relay team all in under BQ pace right close together! Another strong team effort!
I smacked some hands and congratulated a few people and then I entered my 5 minute funk. I wanted to talk to my pal Bob but I needed to walk as my legs started to tighten up some. E was good enough to walk with me and then I stretched for a bit. I walked to my car to change and chugged some water and started to feel way better. Then the celebration started! We lounged in the grass drinking beer and swapping stories with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. What a great way to cap off the race! I even nabbed a second place age group award which was a towpath picture which was totally awesome and will always be special to me!
Later I took a nice hot salt bath and stretched out and the only thing that bothered me was my one toenail and small blister besides a little soreness. Went for a recovery 5 mile run Monday and felt very good holding myself to no faster than 9 minute miles.
Pictured is Todd (who ran another solid mary after Akron 2 weeks ago, E (area's best volunteer and cheerleader), me , Bill and Amie!