I woke up at a friend’s house this morning at 5:15 AM. A breakfast of some oatmeal and a whole-grain bagel with peanut butter provided my first fuel of the day. The first little snafu of the day was locking my keys in the car with the engine running as I was heating it up to combat the morning chill. Fortunately, I have a little trick for just that situation.
After meandering dowtown and scoping out a good parking spot, I loaded my bag and started walking towards the Statehouse/Start Line. The Columbus marathon is a great scene as the runners and spectators gather and fill in a couple of blocks’ worth of Broad Street. The energy and excitement of the crowd seemed to raise the temperature a few degrees as many went through their stretching and warm-up routines.
My plan was to let the pack get through the start line and then work my way up to the pace group of choice. In retrospect, I’m not sure that turned out to be a good plan because the crowd of runners didn’t thin out much until the half-way point.
During the first 5-6 miles I was hitting a pace of about 8:45 and thought that I could trim that to an 8:30 pace by the half-way point. Unfortunately, the pain in my right hip which had become a familiar issue over the past few weeks alerted my brain that today’s run would be no different. By mile 7, I was already having to adjust my gait and stride in some subtle ways to deal with the discomfort. That was my first warning for just how tough the day’s run would be.
I took some 1-minute walk breaks at miles 6, 8, 12, 14, 18, 20, & 22. Early on, the walk breaks were just preventative…giving me a few opportunities for recovery. However, the last 3 walk breaks were out of necessity.
My splits were: 9:13; 8:40; 8:37; 8:29; 8:38; 8:43; 9:55; 9:04; 10:47; 9:15; 8:56; 9:00; 8:50; 8:45; 9:04; 10:49; 9:07; 9:06; 9:19; 9:21; 14:06; 8:04; 7:47; 9:20; 9:28; 11:47
It’s easy to recall from these times what happened to my plan! The first six miles were run at a pretty decent pace…average around 8:40. During mile 7 was my first walk break. Mile 8 was okay but then I took a longer walk break (with water & gel) during mile 9. Miles 10-15 were fairly strong. Although I could feel the hip/bursitis/whatever in my right leg…it really wasn’t slowing me down. This 5-mile stretch had an average pace of about 9:00 or just under. After mile 15 was another gel/water/walk break which went on a bit too long. The next 4 miles were difficult and fatigue was beginning to set in. Unlike my run in Dayton a month earlier…cramps began to be an issue here, especially in my left calf. This led to an extended walk break during mile 21 in which I also decided to take off my jacket and underarmor cap. Trying to pack this gear into my spibelt pocket proved to be impossible so I decided to tie the jacket around my waste…but I lost about 3 minutes messing with the clothing.
After the long walk break, though, I decided it was time to pick up the pace and believed that I could still finish in under 4 hours. I knew it would take about an 8:30 pace for the duration however. That proved to be a more demanding request than my body could accommodate. As I look at my splits for miles 22 & 23 now, I realize that I tried pushing it a little too much there. Miles 24-25 required that I let up on the gas somewhat and then during the final mile I had a serious cramp attacking both calves. With about .70 to go the crowd began to get thicker and rowdier which always helps me push through at the end.
As I analyze what happened today, I can easily see the mistakes which added approximately 8 minutes onto my time. Beyond those mistakes I would say that there’s evidence of improper training between these last two marathons. Or perhaps 4 weeks between events is not a good idea for adequate recovery and preparation.
Regardless of the disappointing time and finish, I need to focus on the fact that there’s another 26.2 mile event under my belt. And today was my marathon birthday…or the anniversary, you might say, of my first marathon achievement. 1 year ago today I ran my first 26.2 in Columbus at a time of 4:59:51. Today’s time was 4:02:30. So overall, there was a great deal of improvement during this year of training. I am quite content with that. Of course, part of my contentment has to do with the vision which is already taking shape in my head for the 2010 marathon season. I believe I’ll be kicking that off in April with the Kentucky Derby Marathon.