Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Gravity of the Downhill

The decision was made. To evaluate on the course whether or not to chase another BQ. This course has been good to me with two BQs (3:12:32 and 3:14:XX), both with HUGE negative splits; I knew the second half was much faster than the first. If I "felt" it, the goal was to run around 1:41:30 for the first half and negative split the second half by two minutes or more.

The day dawns cool... it's in the 50s in St. George. It can only be much cooler at the start, some 2500 feet higher. It is: 39F. It feels cooler than my other two BQs. I made sure to hydrate well the previous day. No need to repeat Berlin. I learned my lesson.

I somehow land too close to the start. And we're off more than two minutes early. I am wearing a long-sleeve throw-away shirt and gloves. I am breathing-in through my nose as I remembered that it helps to warm up the cool air... my nose hurts from the cold air... after five minutes, I switch to breathing-in through my mouth... much better. First mile is clocked in 7:33, what? It felt way too easy. I feel the need to reign in the pace. Next mile is a 7:40; much better, methinks. It is still dark and my body is warm enough to throw away the LS T.

I miss the third mile marker, but I am still running by feel and the pace seems easy enough to sustain for 26+ miles. The fourth marker approaches and I hit the lower-right button on my nike watch. It reads 14:39... WTF??? Gravity is really helping this ol' legs. Breathing could not be better. I feel elated. Sustain even effort, mile five: 7:27. Perfect. Mile six, 7:15... shit, too fast. Will I pay for it later? Mile seven, 7:17, even after consciously trying to slow down. I dream of crossing the line in sub-3:16. Ha Ha Ha!!!

Ahh, but doom looms not far from here. The Veyo hill... this is the most difficult mile in the race; thankfully it comes at a relatively early stage. Even so, it does humble me. My heart rate goers up considerably; some runners pass me. I smile as I see a decent 8:35 split for this mile. If memory serves me right, the next mile, even though not nearly as tough will be a slow mile. I am proven right as I clock an 8:15.

The next mile was a surprise as I did not think I was running THAT slow: 8:10. No matter, I banked plenty of time in the early miles; or so I think. Mile 11 comes in at a disappointing 8:22. I keet the faith and plod on. Mile 12 is a sub-8, 7:51. Close enough. Mile 13, 7:36... YES!!! I cross the half-way point exactly where I pictured myself being, 1:41:30.

I am feeling strong. Nothing can stop me now. I know this course; AND I know it well. Ha! Mile 14, 7:50.... hmm, not what I expected to see. Mile 15, 7:26, much more like it.

I seem to remember that mile 16 is screaming fast. Again, I am right: 7:11 (my fastest split of the morning). It was during this mile that the 3:20 group passed me and I let them go. I did try to stay close to them though.

Mile 17, 7:28... and I am feeling the pace; my heart feels stressed. I pushed the effort a bit to stay close to the 3:20s. Mistake? Maybe. Mile 18, 7:30, but the effort was too great. My breathing is labored. My mind is struggling. Soon after the 18 mile marker I see a decent pair of hills in front of me. My weak mind suggests to take a walking break. After all, walking is human no? Ahh yes, but running is divine!!! (stole that from a T-shirt). The 60 second break feels wonderful to my tired mind. I continue running. BUT wait, now my my legs are aching BIG time, particularly my toes and my quads. True, my knees had been hurting for most of the first half, but the pain was nothing compared to this. I am pushing it, really. Before I crest the second terraced hill I decide to take another walking break. This time it only lasts 30 seconds. Deep inside I know I am done. I continue on. Mile 19 is a not too slow mile at 8:13, but the damage is done. I am done. FINITO. I walk again. I try to jog but even a slow jog is quite painful to my lower body. I calculate that I can slog 10 minute miles for the rest of the "race." My legs refuse to comply, and my walk/shuffle gets me an 11:15 for the 20th mile. Where the f*ck is the shuttle van. Please come and pick me up. Poor me.

I continue the death march while what seemed to be the entire field passed me. Mile 21, 13:25. I am actually surprised it was that fast as even my walking was slow. I ask a volunteer at an aid station if the have any codeine... morphine will do nice thank you. Alas, they didn't even have aspirin. Mile 22, 12:56 and I finally see the shuttle. But at this point I am too damn close to hitch a ride. So I plod on.

The 3:30 group had passed me long ago. Now it was the 3:40 group to do the same. I start to "run" and surprisingly my body is cooperating. I no longer feel the unbearable pain of yester-moment. The three slogging miles must have been enough that my legs recovered. Mile 23, 8:34... Damn, I never thought I would feel good at seeing such split; well maybe at the Veyo mile, but not here. I take another walking break. My legs feel revitalized. I give chase to the 3:40s. I catch them and then some. Mile 24, 7:50. Another walking break, and the 3:40s pass me... AGAIN. I push the pace... manage to pass them and feel like screaming to the group to follow me of they were feeling good. I don't. Mile 25, 7:56. No walking break this time. My foggy mind thinks I can come in below 3:37, not realizing I need sub 7:15 pace to achieve this.

I am passing people left and right. The mile seems LONG... finally I see the 26 mile marker, 7:15, WTF??? I guess I am fully recovered. I would close with a 1:29 for a final time of 3:36:58.


I am standing by the finish and I see this guy who is beaming with pride so I ask him how he did. He says: 3:38, and you? That is great; I ran 3:37, I respond. He says: congratulations. I say: thank you, but I was aiming for 3:20. He says: don't be ashamed. I say: I am not ashamed; I am disappointed.


My guess is that because I have not done all that much speed work, I was not efficient with my stride, particularly for a downhill course. I was not light on my feet. IOW, instead of landing and quickly pushing off with the ball of my foot, I was landing with my heels and rolling the plant of my foot and finally pushed off with my toes. Oh well. Lesson learned :-]

Thanks for reading.


Arcane said...

Hey, you still had a good effort and it seems like you finished strong. What's the plan for NY?

Quinto Sol said...

Yes. Right now it is to run sub-3:30...

my left leg sustained the most damage, probably due to a stride imbalance...

the two marathons might have given me enough endurance to try for a faster time... can you say fool? ;-)

chris mcpeake said...

Still a pretty strong effort. Congrats.