Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sacramento Marathon race report

Coming off a tough day at Harvest Moon Triathlon I had every intention to get it right on my first road marathon. We had really about 7 weeks to prepare for this event and so we crammed as much running in as possible. I had to deal with a cold and missed one of the long runs and Anne has a huge bump appear on her knee 10 days before race day.
I have signed up for two prior marathons and due to injury was not able to run them and then I just let it go for a few years. I have personally been scared of this distance and did not think that running hard for hours was something that I would do well. Signing up for IMCDA made the need for a marathon experience important so our group (Beth, John, Keith, Jewles, Nancy, Anne) all signed up together, trained together and come race day some of us even ran together. Beth decided to get a long time injury worked on and did not run. Jewles and Nancy ran the half and Keith ran sick while Anne ran with knee twice the size of the other knee. The road to getting ready defiantly took its toll on us. I did not have a time goal and simply wanted to be able to execute a good game plan and be strong at the end. Very simple and very clean race plan.

Race plan segment #1
Start time was 7am and I was going to run the first 6 miles with Jewles and Anne. We started right near the 4:25 pace group and crossed the start line about 3 minutes after the gun start. My plan for the first 6 miles was to run between 10-11 minute miles and not to worry about heart rate. The course was defiantly bumpy and I had a tough time getting a consistent pace and so my mile splits were all over the place as you can see. Jewles was only running the half marathon and took off after 4 miles. Anne on mile 4-5.5 was running ahead of me and ended up kissing me and taking off. It was very hard to let my partners go but I was committed to executing my race plan and hope for a good finish. It was awesome to be running with thousands of other runners and the miles seem to tick away pretty quickly. Even starting as far back as we did I was getting passed a lot in the first 6 miles as those that I trained with told me to expect.
Mile 1-6 ( 10:24, 10:38, 10:09, 10:47, 10; 33, 10:37)

Race plan segment #2
After 6 miles and now being on my own I settled into just relaxing and trying to enjoy the next few miles. My heart rate would creep up on the hills and recover just a bit on the down hills since I was running the down hills at a quicker pace to make up for the slow effort on the climbs. For the next segment I was to keep my heart rate in high zone 3 to mid zone 4 (150-165 BPM) I set my Garmin to alert me if I went over my desired effort and I would slow down until it would stop alerting me which was my battle for the next several hours. Fun note here is my trusty Garmin 305 crapped out on race week. REI does not sell the 305 anymore so I had to upgrade to the 310XT which rocks. Its waterproof, better HR monitor and a much longer battery and best of all it has a vibrate alert so you don’t have to keep listening to the alarm sound. Bonus…. I was hoping to speed up a lot the second segment but my heart rates told me otherwise so I compromised and went to the highest part of my HR effort and even push that a few times. Miles 7-13 (10:24, 10:14, 10:04, 9:52, 9:51, 9:55, 10:13)
Race plan segment #3
I saw Beth yelling and cheering me on just past the half way mark and that totally lifted my spirits. I settled in for the hardest part of my day. I needed to relax and not go out of zone 4 until mile 20 (Under 175BPM). I adjusted my HR alert to the higher alert and the next 5 miles seemed to have longer climbs and shorter downhills. I had a hip pain creep up and so I stopped, stretched and filled my water bottle up at mile 14. These miles were painful and they seemed to last much longer than the first 13 miles. I was happy because I was now starting to pass people. I was not running by them fast but I was running past them. My alarm kept going off more and it would take FOR EVER for it to come back down and my alert to stop. I really started to hate my watch about this time. My leg acted up again and I had to refuel my bottle by myself at miles 18 and that cost me some time. Miles 14-20 (9:46, 9:56, 9:50, 9:49, 10:59, 9:29, 9:35)
Race plan segment #4 (this will hurt expect it, plan on it and deal with it.- Coach Beth )

I was looking forward to this segment because I was able to turn off my HR alarm and just run. My plan called for a steady effort speeding up my pace each mile and do what I could to make the last few mile the fastest of the day. I had several highs and lows during this last hour and the leg started to hurt more and more. I stopped a few more times try to get the pain to stop and each time I did it would help for a few miles. I was so excited about being able to run on feel that I went straight to fast and did not really do well with a steady slow increase. As I look back it was a surprise how long the lows lasted and how short the highs were. You really have to battle at this point in a race and face your demons and keep going. Having to run hard and then try to run harder at this point was one of the greatest challenges and I now understand what others were trying to explain in their own way about what happens after mile 20 in a marathon. At mile 23 I caught back up to the 4:25 pace group and moved passed them quickly and that was a huge boost for me. I hear the term “dig deep” often yelled at races and I am pretty sure I had already done that and still had 3.2 miles to run. I closed my eyes a few times the last 3 miles telling myself not to stop, just keep running, I will be done soon and I will have won. I heard Beth and Nancy at just before mile 26 and it was so needed. I closed my eyes again and then opened them and on the right side of the road I saw Jesus. He was holding a sign that read “THE END IS NEAR”. I had to smile at that and chew on it for a bit, I even laughed. I am not sure how I did laugh but I did and as soon as I was done I turned the corner to the finish shoot. I had finished the last effort and did the best I possibly could. I had nothing left at 23 and kept going to 26.2 and I finished my first road marathon with a smile on my salt encrusted face.
Mile 21-26.2 (9:11, 9:30, 9:01, 9:59, 8:59, 9:36, 8:35)

I did not like the next few hours because they hurt but a few weeks later as I look back at that race a smile comes to my face just as it did when I crossed the finish line but this time with a little less salt. I finished a race in control and accomplished my goal. I can now look forward to 2012 IMCDA and know that I have a marathon in the bank. A huge thanks to those that helped me get to the finish line, friends, family, Coach Beth and my training partner Anne you all rock.

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