Monday, December 13, 2010

2010 Rocket City Marathon – Great Race and Great Day

Everything came together for me at this race and I had a great race and a great day.
Rocket City Marathon is a great race and the organizers and volunteers did an outstanding job.
Weather until lunch was great. Wind was at our backs on the last sections.
A sub 3:35:00 marathon was a best case goal and I was not sure I could obtain it. I had told others I would be happy with a Sub 4 hour race and I would have been happy with this.
Final gun time time was 3:33:56 and a 234th finish. This time will qualify me for the Boston Marathon.
Chip times: 1st 1:44:06 and 2nd 1:49:51, Overall Time 3:33:39

This was my first marathon length race (completed 2 ultras previously)
Preparation consisted of 20 mile long runs alternated with 16 mile long runs. I did a hill interval and a tempo also weekly. Running Dizzy 50K also helped (about 3 weeks out)
Friday evening I consumed my usual pre-race carb loading meal of a large peperoni pizza.
Had my pre-race hair cut on Friday. You can't run like Forrest Gump without the haircut.

I had decided to run in my old shoes. They just had 258 miles on them, but they had a considerably amount of wear on the tread. I received new shoes Tuesday and attempted to break them in with a 3 mile run, but they seemed to aggravate my mid foot. I decided I had to run in the shoes that brought me. It was a little chilly at the start and I wore my lucky orange toboggan. I chose to wear an under layer and my long sleeve Nike top. These proved to be very adequate for meeting my needs. My Nike shorts (actually a swim suit) had pockets which held my nutritional elements.

My nutritional needs during the race were met by 4 lime sublime GU Gels and 5 Ritz crackers. I ate a handful of Ritz as a pre-race snack. Wayne Heckler had given me some good advice about consuming the GU Gels. You usually need to wash them down with water or something. He told me he takes them out early and holds them. Aid stations can be on you and past pretty quickly, so I would take them out and hold them and even consume small amounts between aid stations. I alternated eating the Ritz crackers which provided some salt and prevented the GU Gel from upsetting my stomach. Eric Schotz had also advised me to try to drink some at all the aid stations which I did.

I printed out a pacing schedule for a 3:35:00 pace, but was unsure I would be able to finish the race anywhere near that pace. I considered several options at the beginning of the race. The guys I trained with were planning to run faster paces than a 3:35:00. I ran into a another friend who planned to run around a 3:40:00 pace. By the start of the race I decided to try to start with the 3:30:00 Nike pacer. I typically run faster at the start and bank time, so I was going to try to start at a 3:30:00 pace.

The race started and it took over 15 seconds to reach the starting line. I stayed with the pacer for a few miles, but it was to easy at this point to run faster than his pace. I just tried to keep the pace around 8:00 or better and followed the crowd. I knew with the 3:30:00 and 3:35:00 pacers chasing me I would know I was maintaining a good pace. The first 8 miles went well and I maintained a good pace. The outside of my left ankle ached a little during the first few miles and there was a little ache in my knee. These aches became less pronounced or were obscured later on by the white noise of my screaming calves and leg muscles.

The next 8 miles I was closer to the 8:12 per mile pace needed for a 3:35:00 race time. I ran with different people and just ran my race. I talked to a women from Birmingham who said she was shooting for a 3:35:00 finish. She and I stayed close until around the 12th mile. The bottom of my right foot was beginning to feel sore. I was afraid the worn shoes were going to be my undoing. As the race progressed the soreness seemed to abate. I was by myself at the halfway point and the wind was in my face. I new when we turned north it would be at my back and would provide some help in the latter parts of the race.

Around 17 miles the 3 hour 30 minute pacer passed me. Mile 17 was a slow mile, but I overtook one of my faster friends. He was having some leg pain. Passing him helped me mentally and I picked up my pace. The next 7 miles were hard and I was having some soreness and pain in my legs. Around mile 20 I past the second of my fast friends he also had some cramps. Again I was buoyed by overtaking him and picked up my speed. Around mile 21 I lost my lucky orange toboggan which I had tucked into my shorts. I had to run back about 25 yards to get it. A waste of time, but it was my luck toboggan. I was running slower now and the pain was a constant reminder that I may of run the first miles too fast. I developed a chant that seemed to help. I started vocalizing “Drive through the pain” over and over. When I did this I was able to maintain my pace and not slow down.

I was still within my pacing, but I had lost several of my banked minutes. The last several miles I was able to pick up my pace and even gain a little time back. The last 3.2 miles were a blur. I constantly chanted the phrase “drive through the pain”. I also utilized some advise that Wayne Heckler had given me. Try to reel in the runners ahead of you. This helped and I was running a good pace. The closer I got to the finish the faster I ran. The 3:35:00 pacer had gotten around me earlier, but I had him in my sites. I knew I was still within my pacing, so I was not worried. I passed the 3:20:00 pacer who had been slowed by cramping. I knew I was close to a sub 3:35:00 finish and I was not going to let it get away. That fact drove me to run faster and I felt like I was flying. Finally I made the last turn and I was able to overtake one more runner. I was able to sprint and end with a strong finish. (see Gamin data below)

Last 2 tenths data by Garmin satellite hits (last turn sprint to finish)
8:18, 6:38, 7:11, 6:03, 6:50, 6:38, 6:30, 5:46, 6:21, 6:20, 6:06, 6:53, 6:43, 6:30, 6:40, 6:27, 5:03, 5:15, 5:11

Great advice and preparation made this possible for me. This is my last race for 2010 and I cannot imagine a better end to this year's racing.

Garmin Auto Laps (the Garmin was generous and ended up .3 miles over)
Mile Laps:Garmin

Looking forward to the next few months and hopefully Black Warrior 50K and McKay Hollow will be my next races.


Getting My Words Out said...

Great job Dan!! It was good to see you at the finish line (I was the finish line worker who said "Run Dan Run!!" after it was over.) :D

rundanrun said...

I did hear someone say run Dan run, but I was too dazed to focus on who said it. I was great to have someone call my name. Thanks