Run for the Red Marathon
This is potentially a fast course, a pretty big net downhill (1400 feet), but with enough rollers and hills between miles 18 and 24 to make it challening.
Weather called for much warmer than average and also humid. They had 3:15 and 3:25 pace groups. Decided I'd start with the 3:25 group and pull ahead at some point in the race. I had a pace tatoo from Taz Running which showed suggested 3:20 splits based on the elevation profile. Warmed up a little bit on the HS track with a little less than a half mile including a couple easy strides.
First 6 miles went pretty well. Stayed close to the 3:25 pacer guy and the group clustered around him and hit some pretty steady splits - 7:41, 7:41, 7:41, 7:45, 7:49, but the 6th mile I'm not sure because I missed the mile marker and only have the time for miles 6 and 7 combined which averaged 7:37 but that was due to mile 7 being faster. The first few miles of this section I didn't feel great. Although the temperature was not terrible (high 60's) it felt pretty muggy. These miles were also almost net flat but kind of rolly. I knew I'd feel better, at least for a while after getting some miles in and I did, maybe after about 4 miles it started feeling easier.
The big downhill section started about mile 6 and I was feeling better also. My 3:20 pace tatoo said I should speed up also.
So, after 6 miles of running with the pace group I pulled ahead. Some of these miles felt easy. There was also plenty of shade during these miles. Lots of downhill mixed in with periodic uphills, but way more down than up. Just before the 13 mile point was a bridge with a metal grate for its deck - glad I wasn't wearing super light shoes. Crossed the half way point at 1:40:05 which seemed perfect. Although in retrospect it felt like I was already pushing the pace for the conditions.
Miles 13.1 - 19
After cruising by the clock at the halfway point I felt energized for a bit and there was still some pretty significant downhills until at least mile 17. Jessica had dropped me off at the starting area and I told her not to wait there so she could get back in time to start the 5K race at 8:30 and it would be better to see me on the second half of the course than the start where I was still fresh and in good spirits. The race website discourages trying to spectate on the course due to congestion on the roads and many of the places being hard to reach. But, the information people at the expo had some good suggestions on where to view the race and there was a good spot right at the mile 16. As I ran down the course, was wondering if she made it and if I'd actually see her. I could see a lot of cars lined up on the cross street. Just past the corner saw her taking pictures of me and shouting out some needed-to-hear "go Marks!"
Feeling pretty good now, two more miles under 8:00 pace. It was getting harder but I knew it would, just wanted to keep it under 8:00 even if just barely. Mile 18 finished after going through a tunnel where the road passed under train tracks. Then a few tenths of a mile into mile 18 was a pretty good sized uphill. I knew it would slow me down some going up it but thought I could make up the time going down the other side. Not quite able to do that. So, mile 19 would be 8:28. Still not terrible. BQ was in danger here but still not out the window.
3:25 group passed me around mile 21 and couldn't pull myself back together enough to try and hang on with them. It turns out that the pacer for that group actually finished 3:23:59 which would have been pretty close to getting be back into Boston.
Mile 23 and 24 had some walking involved. The shade was mostly gone, the temperature felt like it was getting close to 80 (although it wasn't really). I stopped for ice to try and cool down. We had turned off the main road onto a parallel side street where all of the sudden, a LOT of people were walking. One person was collapsing while two of her friends tried to support her on each side. Lots of walking can be contagious. Mile 24 finished right at the bottom of the last hill. Fortunately I didn't succumb to walking the rest of the course and instead picked up a little speed back on the downside of the mile 24 hill and finished mile 25 back under 9:00. After mile 25 I just kept plodding along and took one more short walk break. Turned off of Main Street into the high school campus as I headed to mile 26 just outside the stadium. 3/4 of a lap around the track and finally it was over. Had a few leg cramps as I turned the corner but overall the cramps had mostly held off. Jessica was right near the finish line cheering me one more time. I crossed under the finish arch and stopped my watch but I think I might have actually walked across the finish mat.
After finishing I had a craving for a coke, but they didn't have any for post race refreshments - but they did have a concession stand nearby for spectators and I was thankful I had tucked a $20 in my pocket in case of an emergency. I collapsed on the field for a while after drinking the coke and a nurse from the med tent wandered by to make sure I was ok.
Despite the highs and lows of the day, not reaching my goal, and feeling like giving up I reached one conclusion. I love running marathons. I love the training, the planning, the pre race nerves, the pasta dinner the night before, the aid stations, the mistakes, the things done correctly and the reminiscing afterward to name a few things.
Did I fall apart? It's all relative. I counted about 13 people who crossed the halfway point after me but finished before me (i.e. they passed me). However, there were about 40 people who crossed the halfway point before me but I finished before them (I passed them).
This was my first attempt at not using auto-lap, I think I like it. The laps weren't all exactly a mile, but on the plus side I knew exactly how much there was left to run after reaching 26 miles and I didn't have to worry about what my "real pace" was at any time.
(garmin stats: 3:30:39, 26.35 miles)
- 7:37 (15:14/2) - missed mile marker
- 7:09 (8:11 ,1.14 mi) - missed again but hit lap anyway
- 7:28 (6:26 ,0.86 mi) - back on track
- 0.18 @7:23