Monday, September 28, 2009

Race Report: Some Will Win, Some Will Lose

Ten seconds per mile. That's all I needed.

My negative split plan went all weird after the fourth mile of the Akron Marathon. I told myself to stay patient, don't panic. But I hit the 10-mile mark too fast. My 20-mile split was right on target, and I stayed confident. I told myself to hold on. However, as the final 10-K went uphill, my performance went down hill.

First 10 miles: The plan was to start off with 9:21-9:26 mile pace and hit the 10-mile mark between 1:33:30 and 1:34:20. I knew my first mile or two would probably be slow because of the crowd. I lined up about 30 feet behind the four-hour pacer and planned to stick close to him until things settled. My first two miles were 9:30 and 9:35, but I didn't panic. I just kept close to the pacer and hoped he would help me make up time.

Mile three was 9:59, and I was starting to get antsy. The pacer walked through the next water stop, and I passed him. I heard him say he was 18 seconds behind pace. I tried to keep my pace even and waited for the pacer to retake me, which he did about five minutes later. My fourth mile shocked me: 7:42. I still don't think I was running that fast, and I wonder if the course was a little mismeasured here. Regardless, I tried to back off.

My next mile was 9:18, closer to my goal, but that's as close as I got even though I had let the pace group open a significant gap. I hit the 10-mile mark at 1:31:38, right at my marathon goal pace. Don't panic. I calmed myself by thinking of all your comments, that I was so ready that I wouldn't have to log too many 9:20-ish miles. The clock was almost right at my goal time, so I thought maybe I'd beat four hours gun time. That would be cool, right?

Second 10 miles: The plan was to pick up the pace to 9-9:10 per mile and hit the 20-mile split between 3:03:30 and 3:06:00. Mile 11 contains the demonic Howard Street Hill. I've tried every which way, including loose, to approach to this hill. I don't have an answer for what works. That mile was 9:01, so I backed off and ran the next mile at 9:22. I repeated this pattern -- 9-ish mile, 9:20-ish mile -- for most of the next eight miles.

I made it through the lonely stretches of the Towpath and the difficult uphills of Sand Run (where my legs seized on me last year). I knew I was struggling a bit, but I was relieved to see the clock read 3:03:52 at 20 miles. I was still on target with 9:12 per mile, despite the positive split. Hold on to that feeling.

Final 10-K: The plan was to run all out to finish in less than four hours, which meant 57:07 or less. I didn't get off to a good start, logging the 21st mile at 9:23. It only got worse as I trudged up the Bastard Garman Hill. By the top of it, I had logged my first mile over 10 minutes. I recovered slightly for a 9:25 mile, but then fell off again for a 10:29. A new pattern. An unfortunate pattern.

I already knew I wouldn't make it. I would have had to cover the next 2.2 miles of rolling hills in less than 15 minutes. I grit my teeth and pushed on. By this point, I was audibly talking to myself between grunts: "Come on! ... Go legs! ... Don't stop!" I had no gears left to kick in. I covered the final 10-K in 1:00:55.

The clock read 4:06:xx when I crossed the finish line. My chip time was 4:04:xx. A very significant PR by 18 minutes, but a frustrating 10 seconds per mile too slow for my ultimate goal. Again, I succumbed to Start Too Fast Goblin.

I didn't achieve THE goal, but it's not the end of the world. That was my post-race beverage, along with a couple Duvels and some Sierra Nevada Torpedo.

Thanks Supporters
Thanks to all you imaginary friends in my computerwebs for cheering me on, reading my ramblings, and giving good and bad advice throughout my training. But most of all, thank you to those who were there in person.

I had great race day cheering sections, including my usual group of friends at the 23rd mile marker, my folks and other folks near the finish just before the turn into the stadium, and my biker companion who dropped Martini and I off at the start, cheered me on throughout the whole race, and had my post-race beverage on hand at the finish. It doesn't get better than that.

23 comments:

Mike Antonucci said...

Congratulations, my friend! An 18-minute PR is a testament to your training.

You hit the 20-mile mark on target, which means you trained correctly and performed correctly. Of course, no matter how many marathons you run, the last 10k is always undiscovered country.

Your sub-4 is well in sight, and a flatter course might even get it for you with no additional improvement. Great job!

Nitmos said...

Monster PR. Enjoy the rewards of a well run race. You've now put yourself into a position to blow past 4 hours the next time. Great job! No FAILs here.

X-Country2 said...

Huge PR! Congrats! You'll get that 4 hour mark in no time.

webzealot said...

PR = good. Congrats. You might figure out that negative split thing someday. The interest payment on that "banked" time is a bitch, isn't it?

S said...

An 18 minute PR is AWESOME!!! Congratulations on running an awesome marathon!

Jess said...

Congrats on the PR and for finishing another marathon and not shitting yourself! The 4 hour break-through will happen eventually.

The Enthusiast said...

Congrats! I feel the Journey motivation helped immensely with the PR.

Kristin said...

Many congratulations on a fantastic PR. The next one will be sub-4!

Ms. V. said...

FANTASTIC job. Including the biker friend you allude to, life looks like it's getting to you Viper...in a good way. Man, that's a great PR...

And, to echo the SNL skit..."You F***in' stood up for yourself...I F***in' love you for that." ROFL

YOU DID IT!!

Morgan said...

ROCK ON! Killer PR Viper! Who needs 4 hrs when you get a PR like that. You'll get 4 next go round, in the meantime bask in that PR GLOW!!!

BrianFlash said...

Good time. A PR is always good. And you've left yourself room for improvement.

That last six miles of a marathon just kind of sucks.

southofthecliff said...

Faster = funner, funner = faster. Good job, dude.

Jess said...

Wow dude why to shatter your PR! Congrats on a great race!

the erratic epicurean said...

good work viper! i'm bummed i wasn't there to cheer you on. perhaps a 23rd miles brewski from me would've improved your time. oh well, as we say here in NE Ohio....there's always next year!

RazZDoodle said...

You knocked off 18 minutes??? Holy shit, nice job!!

Al's CL Reviews said...

Awesome 18 minutes of shattering your PR!
The Torpedo is a nice choice too!

Spike said...

awesome PR, 18min, wow!!! sounds like a great race, and you are staring a 4 hour breakthrough right in the face.

B.o.B. said...

A PR is a PR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(I am trying to PR for most exclamation points used in a comment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Vava said...

Nice going! Great PR - congrats. I only wish I could run a marathon.

Roisin said...

Congratulations, man. 4:04 is extraordinary, so don't lose sight of that. I know you didn't make the big goal, but a PR by 18 friggin' minutes is HUGE. That's faster than I can hope to finish at this time!

mr loser said...

Great time, congrats! Venture out here to western Ohio flatland and you'll break four hours easily.

Jeri said...

Really you're just not thinking about this correctly :p You get to enjoy a MONSTER PR this time around, and THEN enjoy breaking 4 hours next time around. It's always better to spread out your successess. Feels much sweeter. Seriously, congrats on the 18 minutes of shaving. Pretty awesome. :)

Funnyrunner said...

hey! congrats on the PR! I had to page back here to see how you did on your marathon since you never (ahem) answered my question on the ninja post asking how you did. (yes; I'm offended).

Don't sweat the "not making the goal" thing. A PR has to be celebrated no matter what. You've gone your fastest ever! That's awesome. Just try for your goal again. Took me 4 or 5 times to qualify for Boston, but it's done now! :) (and thank God I signed up the day after I qualifed like a nerd, because it's full already)