Saturday morning Gail and I were discussing our long run for the weekend. Both us have been pretty lame about getting out in the cold and putting in some miles. We are lucky if we have been running more than a couple of times a week. Gail comes up with the idea "We can run the Valentine Marathon on Sunday." So we talked about it and decided it was a good way to have a lazy Saturday. "No need to run today because we are doing a marathon tomorrow."
We got up a tad late Sunday and made it to the start line only about 20 minutes before the gun, and we still had to register! Lots of Maniacs hanging around, Jim, Rob, "little Leslie" and many others. We crowded ourselves up to the back of the pack and assumed the aggressive start position. Bob Green was sick so they delayed the start by 5 minutes. This totally upset me. I knew I would not get my "race" mindset back. I have considered protesting to the RD but decided I would tough it out. BANG! The gun goes off....no wait...someone just yelled "Go" I think. Well off we went. And as usual by the first quarter mile I was in last place. Only about 100 folks were out running the marathon, the half and the 10 miler. Just the size I like.
Gail and I ran together for a mile or so and then off I went. The weather was great, mid 40's cloudy and a bit of a breeze but no precip. I tried to chat with everyone I passed. Most seemed to be doing the half. I stayed with Sean's suggestion of taking a Gel every 1/2 hour. I felt pretty good but my mindset was that I was paying someone to make me run 26.2 miles, so speed wasn't really a concern. I was pretty much running 9:30's the first 6 miles or so and feeling pretty good.
At around mile 7 or so I was behind Leslie when this kid on a loud dirt bike goes ripping by us popping a wheelie at about 50 mph! She looks over her shoulder at me and slows down. "Is he going to terrorize us the entire race?" So she and I ran together for about 4 miles or so. She had a pretty amazing year in 2007 running 47 marathons! We had a good chat and was a good way to pass the time.
At the half turn around I had a time of around 2:07 which I was happy with. And I didn't drink as much coffee as usual before the race so I only had to take one stop in the weeds during the first half. After making the turn we had a cold breeze to run into. This lasted till about mile16. The temps were warming up and and my long and short sleeve shirts even started to feel a bit much.
I had very few pains this race. Just the usual butt/hamstring pain I have been fighting and my Plantar on my right foot. I popped a couple of IB's kept up the RFM. I kept slowly passing folks, some were the early starters some just struggling like we all have. I always try to be positive in every one I pass, either a "Good Morning" or "How's it going?" etc. As a few Ultra folks have told me, a smile helps your fellow runners as well as yourself.
Around mile 16 I kept thinking, "boy I bet I bonk hard today". With very little training and my last long run a month earlier at Redding I knew I would pay at some point in this race. But I kept on going at the 9:30 pace with the Gel every 1/2 hour, 2 Ecaps every hour and two swigs of my water bottle every 10 minutes. Mile 20 passed and I wasn't really tired but knew the last 5 miles up those easy hills would probably do me in.
At the aid station a mile 21 I stopped to fill my bottle. This is where you turn the corner and get a bit of a grade to climb as you head back the main highway. As I started running again it had felt like I had taken an hour rest. I just thought "wow, I feel good. This last 5 miles may not be so bad". So once I got to the top of the grade I pushed it a bit. Again I was slowly passing a few runners. I wondered where Jim Scheer was? He always is faster than me at the start but I usually catch up with him the last part of a race. Jim is amazing if you don't know him. He is 64 and in awesome shape. He has run over 250 marathons / Ultra's with some sub 3 hours in his prime speed years. And he is a great guy. We often will run for a few miles together in a race. I hate to say it but it was kind of my motivation to see if I could catch up with him today as he was a good 5 minutes ahead of me at the half. He was wearing hi Maniac shirt so the yellow would be easy to see. Every corner I went around I would wonder if that was him. Nope not yet just another runner. I kept pushing taking the tangent on every corner trying to make up some distance. Downhill I was running 8:20's which is super fast for me at this point in a marathon. I was not going to bonk today. This is awesome! Whoooo-hooo! I wish every race was like this!!
Around mile 24 I could see Jim in the distance. I never push at this point but today was different. I caught up to Jim just after mile 25. I tried to push him a bit but he was having a tough time. I chatted for a bit then off I went. I finished in 4:17:03 and felt very great. Today would have been a good Ultra day as I had gas still in the tank. I finished way ahead of what I expected to do. I was sure a 4:30 or so was in the cards for me. This was by far the best last 5 miles of a race I have ever done. If you read this blog you will notice I have said this about the previous two races too.
The person I think I have to thank most is Sean Meissner, he got me to try and take the Gels every 1/2 hour rather than 45 minutes or 1 hour as I was doing. I think I was just running out of fuel at the end of these runs rather than being too tired. Now if I just did a tad bit of training maybe some sub 4's would be in my future??? Training? What's that?
Next up is the Mud and 50 K's. See you all out there.