Monday, March 28, 2011

Tobacco Road Marathon (PR)

Now in my 3rd year of running, I needed to broaden my range of running events. One of the more illustrious distances to complete in is the Marathon. Yep I've ran a few Ultras now but never a sanctioned Marathon. So the Tobacco Road Marathon held in Cary NC on 3/20 would be the ticket. With only 6 of the 26.2 miles on pavement, this would be my type of road event. Goal would be a sub 3:30.

The route would start with pavement for 3 miles. Then you hit the rails to trails of The Tobacco Road. Maximum rail grade of 2%. Headed south to the 7 mile turn around. Then proceed North to the 19 mile turn around. At 23 miles you hop back onto pavement and head back into the finish. This event had over 2000 in the half marathon and 1500+ people n the marathon. The two events started about :15 apart.

Off we go. It took 10 seconds to actually start to move. As the wave of folks started to shuffle out. In true fashion I had to utilize my weaving technique. Following along with the 3:30 pace group. Till I noticed the 3:15 pace group (pg) ahead. That's all I needed to speed up.

As I proceeded to bridge the gap to the 3:15pg. The very idea of blowing my plans of a steady first half went out the window. With some very snappy legs I wanted more yet forgot I had a long way to go. At the 7 mile turn around I found myself running within the top 5 of the ladies overall. Pacing my efforts off of a strong looking lady of seemed to be building momentum with every stride. Striking up a conversation, I find that she ran the Olympic Trials in '96 here in Columbia. This is about the time I realized I had been going way too fast.

Now at mile 14, she begins to pull away as I am fumbling for water at the aid station. Oh well just maintain a steady turn over and keep chugging along. By mile 17 I could hear the group leader for the 3:15pg coming up from behind me. Dang I should have just listened and been patience. Digging deeper to stay with them. Now as the cramps have began to take hold of my lower half.

Slipping into survival mode. I had just committed the number one rule of running a marathon, going out too fast. As I collectively try to consume as many calories and hydrate for the closing miles to come. The damage had been be inflicted. Self-inflicted. By now my pace had dropped from steady sub 7:30, to the 7:45's to the low 8's. Dropping fast and the miles were getting longer.

Back out onto the pavement for the last 5k to the finish. The hills started in this section. I was zapped. A few walk breaks mixed into the pace. I had to convince myself to push the last 20 minutes. So I did. Just one foot in front of the other. I shuffled into the finishing straight with the sheer satisfaction of completion. I will admit now that not very pretty or text book procedure. Finished in 3:24, 6 minutes under my goal. PR my first Marathon, oh yeah it's the first one. Works for me.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

2011 Mt. Mitchell Challenge

Well I'm back to redeem myself of a year ago. It was my second attempt at The Mt. Mitchell Challenge. Redemetion was high on the list of thing to achieve at this years event. The rare chance to race the full course in near perfect weather was a huge motivator.

As they say you gain experence with practice. Yep, I'll go along with that. So far I've learned patience can pay off at an Ultra Run. This being my 4th attempt at an Ultra distance event.

Starting off I wanted to stay close to the front. However it just wasn't worth the risk of blowing up before you even see dirt. Patience on the climb to the Parkway. Just go a bit above my comfort level. Keep up on the calories and hydration. Very key.

Made it to the Parkway in 2:20. From here it's up to the Summit trails en route to the top. Just a bit of snow and soggy trails. The higher in elevation the slower the pace seemed to get. Nearing the summit a few icy patches had me skating around bit. Nothing like last year. It was managable with the soft snow mixed in. Summit 3:49.

Picking my way down the gnarly summit trails. Slipped once, then decided maybe I should snug my shoes up. So I stop snug em up take two steps turn an ankle. Dang did not see that coming. Slowly picked way way down this trail (Commissary Ridge I think). Just when you think it's all down hill from here. You pop back out onto a FS road up to Alice Camp AS. From there it's onto the pavement down down down.

Back to the Parkway and onto the Old Toll Road for the return trip. Here is where I rejoined two fellow Cola running buddies. It was like being back in the peloton again. Ha - we were trading pace, putting in a few small surges just to see what the others had left in the tank. About an hour later I had pulled ahead a bit. From here I just wanted to break 6:30.

Now I am no stranger to pushing myself to exhaustion. Though this time I had really pushed it. That being the caloric levels. The last 3 miles are on pavement back into town to the finish. With about 2.5 to go my buddy pulls up and pulls away from me. This is were the vision begins to blur and I know I am on borrowed time. As I repeated "JUST KEEP PUSHING" towards the finish I go. Keeping it together I stroll across the line a shake under 6:36. Very happy to be done and to have PR this monster. Better my time by :42 on a longer course.