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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Short version:<br>
Gun time: 3:50:13<br>
Watch time: 3:49:58<br>
Overall place: 93/332<br>
Division place: 1/13<br><br>
Long version:<br>
My last marathon was December in Honolulu. I thought I was moderately well prepared but struggled mightily with a questionable stomach and finished 25 minutes off what I felt I could run. It also poured on us, was hot and humid, and generally not fast atmospheric conditions. But I also didn't feel well from the gun and clearly wasn't doing anything particularly fast that day.<br><br>
Fast forward a couple months, and my questionable stomach has continued to have its ups and downs. I maintained it on ups through most of the last VRAA, which I managed to use as major mileage motivation. I put in weeks of 67, 44, 69.5, and 71 miles in January. Then the downs came and I had a forced taper dropping me lower than usual taper mileage, but since I usually wouldn't ever see the sort of mileage I put in during the VRAA, it was all good. I hoped. Depending on which stomach I brought to the race on Sunday...<br><br>
The race was beautifully organized. We parked near the finish and were bused to the start up in the Superstition Mountains, near the legendary location of the Lost Dutchman mine. Which is still lost... On the bus ride I sat next to a gentleman who has advancing Parkinson's disease. He is in his 60s and no longer runs sub-3 marathons, and says it is getting harder to run now, but this was his 99th marathon, and his 100th is scheduled for April. At the start area, there were 30-40 miniature fires with rugs on the ground next to them. We sat down, prepared ourselves to run, and then a few minutes before the start they herded us down to the trail, up to the start line, and sent us off with a shotgun blast. That's right, no wimpy starter pistol for this event. Shortly after the start, the gentleman with Parkinson's flew past me and I never saw him again. Sure, he's slowed down. But not enough to keep him back with me. It clearly has worked over his gait, which was rather uneven and halting, and his arm motion, which was sort of like Constantina Tomescu-Dita's with the carriage of each arm straighter (if you've never seen a video of her run, it looks like hard work...). But still, he flew on by and I never saw him again until the award ceremony.<br><br>
My PR is from PF Chang in 2007, at 3:50:34. I figured the safe thing to do was to aim for 3:50 pace to start the race and then see if it was going well. Lost Dutchman has those hills, but a net downhill of almost 500 feet, basically in the first 7 miles. After that it is up and down to the finish. See Opie's race report for more detail on the elevation.<br><br>
I started off running comfortably and found myself at mile 1 in just under 9 minutes, which is right on pace for the 3:50ish starting pace goal I was holding. As usual, I found myself speeding up quite quickly, but settled in to run the next few miles fairly comfortably in 8:20s, which seemed okay a the time, though perhaps a bit fast. Midway through this section, in mile 3 or so, I caught up with another large gentleman (I'm a large gentleman myself...) who was moving along in front of me.<br><br>
This was a classic case of not judging a book by its cover, or in this case, a runner by his gait. My thought was he had started too fast and was coming back in a hurry. He was sweating profusely in temperatures in the 40s, and his gait was not as enigmatic as the gentleman with Parkinson's but still a bit rough. He appeared to be laboring a bit to me as I approached, but I pulled up alongside and we exchanged pleasantries. He held on alongside, and we started up a conversation that lasted on and off for miles. His marathon PR? 3:31. Wow. His 5K times? 20 flat. Wow. Both well over my head, despite him weighing in at 230 compared to my 215. He said he tended to walk significant portions, usually at least a mile, in the latter end of marathons, and was just hoping to run 4 hours today. His 3:31 was not in the past year. Still, any though I had about him being in over his head had to be laughed at.<br><br>
After we leveled off and started the ups and downs, we were still holding in the 8:50s for uphills and sub 8:30s for downhill sections. My heart rate was mostly holding in the 154 range, which is okay with me, but along about mile 17 it started to feel a bit hard. Not being wise enough to ease up at that point, I found myself with a heart rate of 158, then at one point looked down and saw a 161. This was not a good sign...every time my HR hits 160s it is followed by dead legs within a half mile. I hoped to find it was different this time, but it was not so. I found myself running 9:20s on a downhill mile soon thereafter, and had to start walking up hills as my hamstring and calf became incredibly tight behind my knees. Walking up the hills cost me the least time as I can walk pretty fast, and seemed to help stretch it out, so I just power walked up the hills. Meanwhile, when I started struggling mile 20 my companion soldiered on ahead of me and I barely kept him in sight as much as 200 yards back. He took off saying that he was feeling pretty okay and that at this point he only wanted to make it to mile 22 and then he would probably take his mile walk break.<br><br>
At mile 22 I was really hurting, walking hills and aid stations, but trying to keep moving. My heart rate had dropped back down to 154, but my legs were dead and I was losing ground on my PR every mile. As I approached the Dutchman's revenge, a monster hill at mile 23, I knew as I approached that there was no point trying to run even one step of it. It is really an intimidating hill at that point because you have a perfect view of it in profile as you approach, descending to a left hand turn that leads you up this monster. Of course it isn't really that long, but it is a serious grade. The extended walk up that hill really seemed to pay off though. I started running again at the top and had a steady gradual downhill from there, with only minor uphills. Which I still walked, but I could feel myself settling into a groove again. At mile 25 I finally caught up to my large compatriot. He said he was hurting and hardly running anymore. I pointed out that I had just run an 8:47 and he was definitely sub-10 for the past mile, so no matter what he thought he was doing great for mile 25. I then powered on and moved past a few more folks. Passing mile 26, for the first time I glanced at my watch. It read 3:48<img alt="mad.gif" src=""> range to set a PR.<br><br>
Despite the tight legs miles 17-24, the general weariness, and the fact that it was at the end of the marathon, miles 25 and 26 were the first time I'd ever actually managed to move into a higher gear as I neared the end of a marathon. I didn't really know whether I was in range to set an official PR because they don't have chips at this race. It doesn't take long to cross the starting line, but I wasn't ready when the gun went off, so my starting time on my watch was from when I crossed the start, and there are no clocks along the course. I had no record of how long it took me to get to the start, but based on my watch I was in range to set a PR on this somewhat challenging course. So I shifted into overdrive and gave it what I had. I covered the final 0.2 miles in 1:32, which translates to 7:40 pace! I could see the finish clock turn to 3:50 when I was just getting close enough to read it. As I crossed the finish, the clock was just registering 3:50:07...and my watch said 3:49:58. Pretty cool!<br><br>
A minute later, my pal crossed the line. He was ecstatic, as he'd just run his fastest marathon in a long while, his first ever without a walk break, and felt like he'd made a major mental step forward.<br><br>
The post-race food was just right. It's always a little challenging after a marathon because you are always starving but sometimes it is hard to eat. There were the standard bananas and oranges, but they also had breakfast burritos. That scared me a bit because a slice of pizza after the Salt Lake City Marathon last year almost did me in, so I saved it for last and then ate it...and it was great! But the Cheetos and Doritos were about the best of all. Mmmmmm....salt....<br><br>
Then the award ceremony rolled around, and the Parkinson's sufferer won his age class. He took the microphone away from the announcer and said that he wanted us all to know that he's run 33 marathons since getting Parkinson's, and he just wanted to say, "Never give up!" I was sitting there a little choked up, and guess who they called! ME! I won the clydesdale division! In fact, I beat out my running partner for the honor with my surge past him at mile 25! I think the last time I won any hardwear was in JV races in high school cross country. In previous years, the clydesdale division was won in 3:30 or so, and I had assumed somebody faster would be there. But not this year!<br><br>
I'm still in shock. I told my wife I won the fat guy category (no, I'm not really overweight, or at least not by much, I just stand 6'4" and am built more like a basketball player) and she howled out loud on the phone. Pretty funny. When I looked at the unofficial posted time, they had me at 3:49:03 which was clearly an error. The web site now has me at 3:50:13, which is at least close to what the clock read as I crossed. It was illustrative to imagine how they handled the timing for this event since they had no chips and had four races finishing on the same line, 2 mile, 10K, 1/2, and marathon.<br><br>
What do I think? After the past few months of stomach problems I was probably less excited for this race than any other I've run. But it turned out great and I loved it. It isn't a PR course, despite my PR. I definitely would have run faster at PF Chang. But I loved the event and would love to come back. And, as the gentleman with Parkinson's says, never give up.<br><br>
More detail:<br>
Mile Pace HR<br>
1 8:58 139<br>
2 8:26 152<br>
3 8:28 153<br>
4 8:20 154<br>
5 8:20 153<br>
6 8:23 151<br>
7 8:21 150<br>
8 8:36 151<br>
9 8:53 151<br>
10 8:53 154<br>
11 8:54 152<br>
12 8:55 154<br>
13 8:27 153<br>
14 8:03 154<br>
15 8:31 156<br>
16 8:38 156<br>
17 8:59 156<br>
18 9:07 158 (averaged 2 mile split with mile 19)<br>
19 9:08 158<br>
20 9:00 155<br>
21 9:26 154<br>
22 9:26 154<br>
23 9:08 156<br>
24 9:28 154<br>
25 8:47 157<br>
26 8:40 160<br>
26.2 1:32 169 (7:40 pace)

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Very cool. Congratulations! It is kinda weird to run a marathon that's not chip-timed, isn't it? I wasn't sure where to line up at the start. I enjoyed learning about the guy with Parkinson's because I missed that.

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I also thought the National Association of Black Marathoners looked pretty sharp in their red and black outfits. After seeing so many charity uniforms, I don't know why these struck me so different, but they looked great. I may need to go look at some red...I've already got black...I wonder if I can be an honorary member...<br><br>
I've been chuckling to myself about how odd it is to have won a division. That's always somebody else. I imagine myself checking in to my flight, and the people at the counter recognize me...yeah right. They wouldn't recognize a world record holder... It is just funny because I never really thought of myself in the award-class category...and here I am and it isn't any different than when I was just another slowpoke. But I have enjoyed telling a lot of friends that I won the fat guy class. They all look at me and say, "But you're not fat!" My brother tells me I should start charging appearance fees. Talk about off his rocker.

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Opie posted the change in elevation per mile. I wondered how well that lined up with my mile splits, so here is the comparison. Taking all data points together, the elevation explains only 16% of the variation in pace. Removing the first mile and last 0.2 mile section, the change in elevation explains 47% of variation in pace. And for miles 2-17 (before the 'rough patch') the change in elevation explains 81% of variation in pace. I love data analysis. In case you couldn't tell...<br><a href=""><img alt="LL" src="" style="width:266px;height:200px;"></a>
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