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Today was the day I had been waiting for. After getting sick and not being able to finish last year and a so-so finish at my first marathon in May, I was trained and ready. Grading myself, I probably did a A- on my training plan. I didn't understand the speedwork at first. But I got nearly every run in the plan in. That counts for something.
However, Mother Nature decided today would be the first day in a long time that it was going to rain in Colorado. So it was raining when I went to bed and when I got up. Nothing more exciting than driving to a race in the pouring rain. And you knew it wasn't going to stop. We would run in the rain. Always a first time for everything I guess.
So I sat in my truck at the usual parking spot and waited. Last year, I was up at the line 30 minutes early ready to roll. Today I sat dry in the truck until there was about 15 minutes to go then I bolted out. I had my long sleeve compression shirt, tights, rain jacket, hat, and topped with a highly technical overshield -- commonly known as a garbage bag.
We got started on time at 8 without the F-16 fly over. Guess those guys don't like getting wet! As always, I went out strong. Dummy. I knew I wanted to pace about 8:30 but it was painful to hold. Lots of twists and turns at the start. Plus with the tall buildings my GPS was freaking out. 15:00 mile pace? But I am running. Oh look, now 6:45. Whatever. I just ran what felt right.
For a while I was hanging in there with the 3:40 pace crew. But that felt too fast so I backed down. The marathoners and the halfers all run together and split at the mid-point. So its kinda weird with all these people sprinting around. Makes you wanna go faster but you realize you have to go twice as far.
Just prior to mile 10, my body decided it was time for a bathroom break. If you haven't been following, running gives me the shits. I fucking hate it. So I pulled in for a minute -- soaking wet -- and did my business and was out. 1 minute lost. Oh well. Feel better.
As I tuned in my pace around mile 12 or so, the 3:50 pace crew and I met up somehow. Guess I lost those 10 minutes from the 3:40 guys. Oh well. Wasn't going to hit that anyway. So I ran with this group for about 6 miles or so. Not sure if I liked it. They held a pretty solid pace and it seemed to be a tad fast. And at times my body wanted to go faster and other times I wanted to slow. So it was weird to try and stay steady.
At mile 17, I had to stop for another 1 minute pit stop. Maybe I was drinking too much. It was raining and I was sweating (I think) but I couldn't keep the liquids in check. Oh well, another minute. So minus the bathroom breaks all my miles splits were 8:20-8:30-8:40. I felt good about that!
Then at mile 20, I must have hit the wall. I lost that 8:50 pace group while on the bio-break and never saw them again. I really wanted to catch them but I just couldn't ever get them in my sights. Lots of turns. Kinda killed my motivation somehow. Plus my iPod stopped playing music in one ear because the speaker was full of water. My shoes are full of water. My body wants another more interesting bio-break. My quads are starting to wonder when they will get a break. So I did the extended 3 minute bio-break and then hit the road for the final 6 miles.
Everything felt good -- except the quads. Ouch! I had enough energy but it was work to keep pulling my legs up. Usually in training you run 18-22. The magic all happens somewhere in that range. That is why the marathon is the marathon. So I tried to keep pumping but my times fell into the 9:10s. I kept watching the watch. I gotta break 4 hours. I thought I had that in the bag 10 miles ago but now I am struggling. I tried to concentrate on my form. I knew every step mattered so I tried to stay efficent. With the rain, you tend to sink into your coat and hold your head down. Bad form! So I had to keep telling myself to stand up straight and all that other kinda of stuff Glenn taught me.
My GPS said I was done with 26.2 about a street too early. Man. I wish! After too much zig-zagging, I came out onto Broadway and the finish line is in sight! Its blurry but I see 3:57-something. Shit. Motor! I pushed my pace down to a 6:45-ish and cruised under the line seconds before 4 hours. And everyone rejoiced! So I beat my previous PR by 8 minutes by the clock. If you ignore the bathroom breaks, it would be nearly 13 minutes.
I limped to my truck and drove home and sat on the couch the rest of the day. Quads are sore but all else is good. I feel like the training helped my recover. I used to run a 1/2 and then not be able to walk all day. Now I can run this and still play with kids and go up the stairs! Massage tomorrow.
My lessons learned:
1) Rain sucks. It made it fun at first but getting wet, splashed, etc. gets old. I had to wring out my gloves lots of times. I will always remember that race but I will appreciate they dry ones much more now.
2) Training is VERY important. It really focused me and I can't wait to start the next program. I used to run randomly. Now I know what to do.
3) My speed is coming in. Need more time and more seasons but I think I can continue to cut time in a big way for a while.
4) The Denver Marathon doubled in size this year. While only 1500+ marathoners, there were 10,000 registrations for the total event (half, full, and relay). I think this thing might catch on. Lots of out of staters like coming for the mile high adventure.
I have 2 more races for the close of 2007. Both 10ks. I am going to appreciate those. How nice to be done in under an hour...hope it doesn't snow for those!