Tuesday, December 04, 2007
This Should Explain it
Here's your course profile for the marathon this past weekend, straight from the Garmin. It does roll off a cliff with the exception of miles 11 and 12, which were an uphill "out" section before we turned around and rolled back down for miles 13 and 14.
When I asked Mystery Coach about possibly doing the full marathon for a training run instead of the half, he seemed receptive but a bit hesitant because of all the downhill and the possible beating the legs would take. Still, it seemed like a good opportunity to me and I decided to give it a go. The coach offered a few different ways to approach the run, and I favored his suggestion to run up to mile 20 at 6:40-7:00 pace, then to drop the pace to 6:15 or so for the duration. I mentioned that if I felt good earlier that I would possibly drop the pace to 6:15 at mile 15 or 16.
Here go the splits-
6:17, 6:19, 6:26, 6:19, 6:15, 6:09, 6:11, 6:03, 6:14, 6:14, 6:35, 6:30, 5:56, 5:56, 6:08, 6:04, 6:07, 5:56, 6:08, 6:03, 6:02, 5:55, 6:05, 5:58, 6:02, 5:49, 1:03.
Yeah, so much for the plan. It was slightly overcast and a cool 40 degrees at the start, and when the gun sounded I just rolled off the line and fell into a comfortable stride. The first mile has quite a bit of downhill, so I figured I would be a little fast. When I came through at 6:17 and saw 15 or so ahead of me I actually laughed out loud. For the life of me I could not figure out how NOT to race a marathon. I felt no nerves or pressure, but for some reason I was full of energy. I tried to slow down a bit, and when the second mile flew by I made a serious attempt at slowing down for mile 3. After only giving back a handful of seconds, I decided to just forget about pace and to try and settle into a good long run rhythm.
About this time Susan Loken came up from behind, and I started talking with her a bit. It turns out she was on a training run as well and had also blown her workout by trying to help some other women in the field to qualify for the Olympic trials (she's already in with a 2:41 at the 2006 Phoenix Rock and Roll for a PR). She was set to drop out at 18 and since she was running ahead of her planned pace we worked together at a converstional pace as we discussed family and training. No, I don't remember 6:10 as ever being a conversational pace, but for some reason it was happening today. Susan is 43 and raising three boys with her husband while chasing the Olympic dream and running within a minute of the A-standand for women in the marathon. Next to her I'm a slacker.
We finally parted ways on the only significant uphill section of the race, and as I made my way back down the same hills we'd just climbed I passed through the half-way point. After two fast downhill miles at 5:56 pace my body seemed ready to maintain the effort, so I made the decision to ignore the splits from that point on and just run comfortably hard. Months of back to back runs ranging from 6:15 down to 5:50 have left their impressions in the legs, so I just let them do their thing.
At mile 18 I was still feeling great, and when the volunteers offered gels at 20 I declined. I still had the two I had brought along in my pockets, and the fuel levels felt fine with only a few sips of water and some sort of disgusting off-brand sports-drink (Comp-1 was the brand, and I'm quite certain it's made in someone's bathtub here in the Old Pueblo). Mile 23 and I know I'll only get faster before finishing. For someone who seems to routinely crack around mile 20 this is a fantastic feeling. At 24 it's still smiles for the volunteers, but at mile 25 I can see a runner among the slower half-marathoners up the road. He's dying, and I think for a bit about not putting it into the red for the sake of beating him. I make the second to last turn and see all of my running friends on the corner. "He looks bad, you can get him...if you want to." They know it's a training run, I know it's a training run, but I go after him simply because I can. To push the gas and actually get traction during the last half-mile of a marathon is a beautiful thing. I pass him on the final turn and take 5th (or so I thought. Turns out they give him 5th on chip time).
So that's it. Well, except for a dead battery in the parking lot and a trip to Home Depot with my understanding running buds for jumper cables.
Mentally this race gave me a huge boost. While it didn't go exactly to plan, it really helped push Twin Cities out of my mind. Yeah, it was downhill. Yes, the quads are a bit sore and I probably could have gotten just as much of a physiological boost from running slower for the distance. Still, having this run in the bank makes me feel worlds better about the marathon next month.
Training: Today, 12 miles, 1:27:20, 7:13 pace
Yesterday, 10 miles, 1:13:32, 7:21 pace