Race Report (or, How I PO'ed my Sister-in-law)

Friday: Picking up the race packet was uneventful. There was a slight miscalculation in getting to the church which was helping sponsor the event,, mainly due to a mapping program, which guided us to the center of an intersection. Very helpful. The packet had some of the standard pre-race swag, as well as the map of the course, parking information, and so forth. Dinner was the obligatory spaghetti, and I spent a good portion of the evening laying out gear, checking weather.com, changing the gear, checking weather.com (again), and so forth. At last, I went to bed, with visions of marathoners dancing in my head.

Lots of pre-race sleep was the plan. The reality was that, as is the case before every new distance race, I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned most of the night, and woke up well before the alarm went off at 5:40. Yes, I could have slept in - it was a 7 am start, and a very small race, that was only 10 minutes away. Anyway, I got up, slathered Glide everywhere, and got dressed, then headed downstairs for a couple of waffles.

By 6:15, I was out the door, with an extra bottle of water and everything I would need (I hoped!) I had been telling the family that my optimistic time was 4 hours, though I might beat it by a few minutes (like 2-3), but that 4 hours to 4:15 would be more likely. I had secret hopes, but didn't want to voice them, lest the racing gods destroy me with a massive blister at mile 17.

The morning was almost ideal - high 40s, but cloudy, and with a light, intermittent breeze, which wouldn't seem to light or intermittent in several hours. Rain was a distinct possibility, but the various forcasts had all placed it in the afternoon. I decided to wear a new, slightly different tech T (cardinal sin, I know, but I figured that it was almost identical to my other ones, so no harm would come - a correct assumption), but stuck with my standard running socks, shorts, and shoes. (I did go for one other new item of apparel, but it worked out okay too.) I was also carrying my fuel belt (2 bottles, both water), a bunch of Gu in my favorite flavors, a bag of Clif blocks and my MP3 player. I kept sipping from a bottle of water, trying to keep warm until gun-time.

As I said, it was a small race - I've heard from various people that only 79 people ran the marathon, though more ran the half (which started at 8 that morning), or the 5k fun run (which started at 8:30). From my vantage point near the front of the pack, that number certainly seemed possible. I took a spot near the front, but had already decided that I wasn't going to get into any speed contests with people passing me - my race stategy was to run as close to 9:00 miles as possible, as consistently as possible, and try to squeak in at just under 4 hours.

I missed starting my watch by a couple seconds when the gun went off, so the times are all a little approximate. I tried to hit the lap button as I crossed over the mile markers, and I know that I didn't stop the watch for a few seconds after I crossed the finish line, so my total is more-or-less accurate. It's certainly not off by more than 10 seconds or so.

(1) 8.38.01 - Oops, a little faster than I wanted. Better slow down. Already, runners are starting to spread out, and while I am towards the front of the pack, I'm certainly not in the lead.
(2) 8.36.94 - Apparently my legs hadn't gotten the message yet. People are spreading out more. A few have passed me, I have passed a few. I've passed a couple more than have passed me, but I'm not gaining on the leaders or anything
(3) 8.16.63 - Legs? I think I said, rather distinctly, to slow down. Actually, I think this section had some good downhill bits, which really help my speed.
(4) 8.40.81 - Finally finding my stride; it's a bit faster than I planned, but feels good.
(5) 8.46.60
(6) 8.31.71
(7) 8.10.02 - Things are really thinned out. Most of the time, I can't see another runner on the trail. It's going to get awful lonely out here, which is going to make a constant pace tougher to maintain.
(8) 8.10.68
(9) 9.00.60
(10) 7.21.08 - I don't know what happened here. I think the mile marker was misplaced.
(11) 8.06.86 - Somewhere around this point, I caught up to a group of runners - PJ, Mike, and Neal. Neal was setting a good pace, and I stick around with them for quite a while.
(12) 8.20.03
(13) 8.29.02 - Just after this marker, I would have set a new half-marathon PR. My time for 13 miles was 1:49.08, and it seems reasonable that my half-marathon time would have been about 1:50 - beating my current, official PR by over 6 minutes.
(14) 8.51.63
(15) 8.58.56
(16) 9.03.96 - I think that turnaround was here or so. It wasn't at mile 13, because the first 5 miles or so were around the lake. Mile 15-16 seem pretty likely, since I stopped to use the porta-potty and lost a couple minutes. I also lost my pace group, but managed to catch up to Mike within a mile or so.
(17) 8.42.24
(18) 8.40.21 - I lose Mike about this point, I think. He had to make a pit stop, but I had found out that he had promised himself he would run this race only if he finished slower than 3:50, since he was using it as a taper run for a 50-miler in two weeks.
(19) 8.41.24 - I catch up to Neal and PJ, and run with them for a bit. PJ's son had joined her (on a bike) at the turnaround, and we all are making good time. Neal has to make a pit stop, and doesn't catch back up to us.
(20) 8.40.59
(21) 8.48.63
(22) 8.58.28 - PJ has to make a pit stop, and I don't see her again until the finish line. I now have no other runners in sight, before me or behind me. Running is now only against myself and the clock - a time of 3:45 is very unlikely, but I am well-placed to break 4 by a comfortable margin, which is a powerful incentive to walk.
(23) 9.19.13
(24) 8.55.52
(25) 9.37.22 - Unfortunately, I take a couple small walk breaks of a minute or so during the last 2.2 miles. Nothing longer than it would normally take me to down a Gu, and something I would not have had to do if I were trying to catch (or avoid being caught by) another runner. I have passed a couple people on the trails, three that I can recall, and they might have been half-marathoners who were still on the course.
(26.2) 11.51.36 - No walk breaks for the final .5 or .75 miles - I can see the finish line, and it's all downhill, literally. I power down the hill, and sprint across the finish line with a strong kick. (I got told today that my wife saw several marathoners come across a few minutes before me. If I had know they were there, I would have been able to squash any tempation to take a walk break and tried to catch them.) My time, when I stop the watch: 3:48.17.

My family almost missed me. My wife, son and parents-in-law had arrived only moments before, and barely got to the finish line in time to see me cross. I did see PJ again - she crossed a couple minutes after me (at most), and got to meet the people I had babbled about for several miles. (Her son had offered to call my family to ensure that they got there on time; but our cell phone is rather intermittent in the house, and I could not recall my in-laws phone number. The gesture was very much appreciated, however.)

I did notice that I often got some strange glances from the volunteers at the water stops (dubbed "Water Troughs", since this is the Equestrian Challenge marathon). I think it had something to do with the fact that I could not simply gulp down the water or Gatorade and dash off - I would stop, refill my water bottle if necessary, thank the volunteers, and look for a trash can. I even got asked on one occasion (at mile 23ish) if everything is okay - possibly because I was walking as I approached the stop (having slowed down to dig out a Gu packet), and stopped for a drink. I assured the dubious volunteer that I was fine, and kept going.

I did manage to score a couple small blisters, and one toenail is kinda messed up, though no more so than after any other long run. I even went out on a dreadmill today and managed a short run, though stairs are a little unpleasant.

So, why the title? My sister-in-law had run a marathon (one of the various Shamrock runs, though I can't recall which right now), and had managed a respectable 4:22. This is pretty darned good, especially considering that she was sick, and had slept in the car the night previous. (College kids - drive all night to go run and then party. Ah, youth.) Anyway, my wife had told Beth that I planned on running my marathon somewhere between 4 hours and 4:30, which Beth took to mean that I would run it closer to 4:30, and she was all set to brag about how she had run a marathon faster than I did. I believe her first comment was, on hearing my unoffical time was along the lines of "$#%(#*(?! When did he get so fast!" If I'd known that she was going to be so torqued, I've had really pushed to break 3:45.

ORN (today's run) 2.5 miles, 20:59, 1 degree on my in-laws old dreadmill.


Blogger Rae said...

Awesome job on the marathon!! That is an EXCELLENT time!

2:22 PM  

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