Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Flying Bacon - May 2006

This 'thon was to be the third one in six weeks with Boston being the meat of the sandwich.

Having ran Boston HARD three weeks prior dictated I take the Pig as a ‘fun’ run, especially when one considers all the warnings about the hilly course. I should note that I have problems with hydration but if I am well hydrated and the day is cool, I tend to have a good race. In Boston, while the weather was cool, I did not feel properly hydrated and felt fatigued throughout the race. In fact, my calves were about to cramp several times from 10-to-21 miles, which forced me to take the hills conservatively and I often found myself tweaking with my gait to see if the impending cramps would not materialize. I tried to maintain pace as hard as my body could and still ended up with a 3:40 + split and a 3:18.

The week of the marathon was difficult in that I felt burned out from running. I found myself NOT wanting to run. I ended up running two ten-mile runs. I sandwiched three and four-mile runs at MP in those 10-milers and found myself feeling miserable. The effort felt closer to 5K and I had a real hard time breathing; this only made me less confident in my somewhat conservative goal of sub-3:30.

During my flight to Indy, I seriously considered switching to the half, but I wanted the bigger medal :-). So my plan was to stay with the 3:30 pace group for as long as possible.

Race Day: I really dislike getting to races early; I just want to show up and get going, so I left the hotel at 5:35 making it to the start with 10 minutes to spare. The 8-minute sign was just behind me.

The cannon booms and we’re off. It takes just over 30 seconds to cross the start. The first mile goes by fairly quickly and the effort seems just about right, 8:09. The first aid station is to my left and cannot make my way over so I skip it thinking the organizers have tables set up on the right. Wrong! So I make my way to the left expecting the tables to be there on the following aid station. Fortunately it was there but when I reach to grab a cup, another runner beats me to it. Not a good sign. I do manage to grab another cup. Mile 2, 7:41, misplaced marker??? I am running with the 3:30 pace group and feeling strong in spite of the fact that I only managed to sleep for maybe two hours the night before. We’re going across a bridge and I look over to the right and see a spectacular sky, with a gorgeous pink splattered all over.

As I make my way towards the next aid station, a female running just in front of me slows down more than I expect and clips me with her heel right on my left shin. It is painful and I have to hobble for several strides. Another bad sign? I would miss the next two mile-markers.

A set of technical hills begins around the five-mile mark. I slow down to grab a cup of gatorade, which tastes awful ;-[, and I fall behind the 330s. The tap water is just not palatable, it has too much chlorine. My stomach is gurgling and I think I have to go potty :-(. I try to ignore my stomach hoping it will go away. I plod on. These three miles are run in 24:08. I keep on climbing. Mile 7, 8:18 and toughest of the hills. Since I am still running ‘easy’ the hills do not seem as difficult as I thought they were going to be, which IMO is good. Mile 8, 8:06, and the downhills are about to begin.

For most of this time I feel a slight head wind. I hope that this same wind will be on my back on the long stretch home. My stomach keeps gurgling and I know I HAVE to make a pit stop; I just hope I can find an empty porta-potty. I make my way to one and I beat this other runner to it. It must not have taken me more than one minute but when I come out, obviously, the 330s where nowhere in sight. I knew I could reel them in, the question was how fast. I decided to run what felt like 7:30s. The major hills being behind me made it that much easier. Mile 9, 8:51. Mile 10, 7:27. Mile 11, 7:26. Mile 12, 7:32. I was feeling pretty good, especially because I was passing several runners, including those in the relay. Mile 13, 7:45, and I am still being gapped by the 330s. Now, I was thinking that if I felt good at the half, I’d try to hit 7:50s for the second half. So at 14, I decide to make my move and pass the 330s, 7:48.

Mile 15, 7:44, I begin to ponder if I can hold 7:45s. Mile 16, 7:31, great, I bank some time in case I need to slow down the pace. Mile 17, 7:38. Mile 18, 7:30, previously I had lost a gel in the process of taking off my gloves and I end up grabbing two packs; I think they were crucial to my never hitting the wall. Mile 19, 7:25, wow, can I average 7:40s on the second half? I re-revise my plan. Mile 20, 7:39, cool, I am still feeling strong, the tail wind helps a great deal. Only 10K to go. Mile 21, 7:25. Mile 22, 7:30, at this point I wonder if I can hold this pace and finish under 3:25. Mile 22, 7:39, I can now see the church steeple and I hope that I reach it quickly. The problem with some landmarks, and when one is having a rotten day, is that they seem to be farther than they are. Lucky me, I am having a great day and reach Mile 23 in 7:31. I know feel sub 3:25 is in the bag, but can I finish sub 3:24? Mile 24, 7:39, I am beginning to feel tired but know that there are only 16 minutes or so left. Mile 25, 7:50, WTF? No way could I have slowed down that much, especially when I know how to gauge my pace fairly well. No matter, I will push the last 1.2 miles. I am getting closer to the Reds Stadium and can savor the finish line. I pray I do not crash into some spectators who cross the course. I round the underpass and I really gun for the finish. Mile 26, 6:47, hmm, yeah, another miss-placed marker. Last .2 in 1:22, woo hoo, and a 3:22:45 chip time. Life cannot get any better. ;-)

According to the timing company I ran the last mile in 6:33. I am pretty sure the 25 mile-marker was off at least .05, maybe .06 of a mile. I think I was maybe running slightly sub 7 minute pace that last mile but not 6:33. Makes me wonder if the course was short... hmmm.

Could I have run a better time? Certainly, but I do not regret the way I ran it. I ran an almost 6-minute negative split and it shows on the fast recovery. The day after the race found me with no soreness whatsoever.

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