Monday, December 8, 2008
Holualoa Tucson Marathon
Well it's over. My purpose in running this marathon was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. For me to qualify, I needed to run 3:45 or better. This is an 8:35 average pace. Since Tuesday, I've been writing this blog in my mind trying to figure out how I could explain not achieving my goal. Why?, because I haven't run what I've felt like is a good long run. Sure, I've run over 30 miles three times, but saying "run" is to use the term loosely. All of those runs were really in preparation to pace a runner in the Motherroad 100 miler. And they were all run at a pace over 12 minute miles. But I had also been running pretty good tempo miles, so I knew I still had a chance. Anyway, my trip to Tucson was uneventful. Planes on time, no problems renting a car and finding the marathon expo. The expo was very small, but everything went smoothly. This race used one of the new style chips that tears off your bib and loops through your shoelaces. It's a throwaway. On my way to the expo I passed a Trader Joe's. So I knew where I would be buying dinner. I stopped there on my way back, got a sandwich and salad and went to my hotel to settle in and watch football. First I watched Florida take care of Alabama, which I figured they'd do, and then I watched Oklahoma take care of Missouri. I slept pretty good considering that I usually don't sleep well the night before a marathon. I got up at 4 and got dressed, got some coffee and headed to the parking lot to pick up the bus to the start. Got to the start and it was cold, but not as cold as I had expected. I decided not to wear anything other than shorts and my running club t-shirt top. I had gloves and long pants on but just warmed up in them, and then threw everything else into my drop bag. A countdown from 10, a horn and we're off. If any one plans to run this in the future, email me. I'm not going to go into all the ins and outs of this course, but let's just say that if you expect to be running down hill all the way, you're mistaken. But it's still a fast course. After reading other peoples experience with this course, I decided that I would let it take me along, that is bank time where I could and give it back where I needed to. I settled into my pace, still with doubts in my mind. Could I hold this pace and not crash and burn around 18-20 miles. My heart rate was running higher than I liked, but it was do or die. Also my Garmin will sometimes read high at first, but if I stop, let the rate drop, then start again it will usually stabilize. But there was going to be no stopping for that in this race. So I just pushed on with it running high. Eventually it did drop to where I wanted it, but after 12 miles it went back up. This race takes about a 4 mile detour into an area called the Biosphere. While I'm not sure I ever saw the Biosphere, this is where you have to give back time you've banked, and trust that you will bank some more after you leave here. This is a very hilly area, and I dropped to over nine minute miles based on what I had read from previous runners. Around mile 4, a lady asked what my goal was, then said that was hers also. She said maybe we can help each other and I said ok. We pretty much stayed together until after we left the Biosphere. Then she started dropping back. I had to keep pushing if I was going to make my goal. My left calf started hurting, not much but it made me think I might have problems up ahead. I remembered that I had some Endurolyte capsules, but also I have problems swallowing pills and capsules when I've been running for a while. I decided to chew them rather than swallow them whole, and after a while they seemed to work. I kept holding my pace, and when I hit mile 20 with about 3 minutes to spare, I started thinking I might be able to do this. But I also knew the wall generally resided in this area. But I kept pushing. Mile 21, 22, 23, I hit 23 with about 27 minutes to go to make my goal and I was thinking, I'm going to do this. My pace was faltering, but it was still just below 9 minute miles, and that was good enough to get me in. I started pushing near the end, you know it starts getting good to you when you smell victory, and I saw the clock was reading 3:42 plus. As I was nearing the finish line, I heard the guy was calling out names and cities, then I heard him call my name and Oklahoma City. I crossed in 3:43:01 chip time, 2 minutes to spare, sweet. I got my medal, some water and walked around for a bit. Then I went back to the finish line in time to see my new friend finish. She was beat, but said she felt ok, just couldn't maintain the pace. I then walked around some more and decided to wait to see a friend who had moved from Oklahoma to Colorado. I knew she was running, and had seen her during the out and back to the Biosphere. She was running with the 4 hour pace group, and I figured she'd be able to hold that. I saw her come in, talked to her for a while and then headed to the bus back to my car. Before I got to the buses, I saw a guy whose blog I read named Dane. He's a pretty fast runner, and is famous for having run 52 marathons in 52 weeks. He did it to raise money for a charity, and called it fiddy2. I have linked to both his blog and charity. You also might want to read his race report , since it gives more course information than mine. I then took the bus to my car headed to the airport and now I'm home. Hurting and sore, but I've felt worse. Happy to have achieved my goal, and in the next few days will decide if I will register for the Boston Marathon.