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Training for this year's marathon had gone very well. I had gotten all my training runs in on schedule. My pace and heart rate during these runs had been excellent. I had set personal records in my last 5 races with 22:22 5K, 47:58 10K, 22:12 5K, 1:12:53 15K, and 1:43:14 Half Marathon. Since I had a very slow start in the half due to traffic, it took 2 minutes to ever start running my desired pace, I figured that would have been about 1:42 had I not got caught at the back of the starting pack due to bad porta potty timing just before the race. So every calculator I used to predict my marathon time gave estimates ranging from 3:30 up to 3:40. A BQ for 2008 required a 3:35 while a 2009 only required 3:45. I decided to go at a pace to put me in the 3:35 to 3:40 range and push it a little that last few miles for a 3:35 if I felt good and to just ease in with a sub 3:45 if I was hurting.<br><br>
All week prior to the race it had been nice and cool with low humidity just as I like it. However, the forecast wasn't looking so good. It kept showing a warm, humid front coming through on Friday causing temperatures at race time to be around 55F by the 8am start and rising to 68F by noon. Humidity was predicted to be 95% at 8am slowly dropping to 80% by noon. Winds were predicted to just be light. It actually turned out to be warmer than that with the temp around 60F at the start then rising closer to 70F by noon. Humidity was high the whole time. So to reduce the effect of dehydration, I decided to run with my 16oz water bottle so I could easily drink on the run throughout the race. I normally hate running with a bottle but this seemed prudent today.<br><br>
The Expo was great. I saw several friends and good deals on running apparel to get or receive for Christmas. My wife, Jennifer, was working at the Expo. She pointed out things she'd like for Christmas and I did the same for her. Dink and Suzanne Taylor do a wonderful job running this marathon. This year there were 1500 entries, which is the maximum allowed.<br><br>
The race got off right on time. I crossed the chip mat about 20 seconds later and was able to get up to my desired 8:15 pace despite the crowd after only about a minute, still my first mile was just 8:31 due to the first minute slowness, however that was expected and was okay. It was the second mile that I started thinking it might be a tough day. My heart rate was averaging over 165 bpm at an 8:15 pace. It should have been under 160. Just 3 weeks earlier on the same course I ran 8:45 pace at 154bpm and I ran 4 miles at 8:15 and 159 bpm the previous week. So, I backed off pace a little with a 8:21 split but a heart rate of 165bpm (83% of MHRR). I decided right then to only go for the sub 3:45 and to try maintaining an 8:25 pace instead of the originally planning 8:15. Splits were:<br><br>
Time Distance Split pace Avg. HR (MHRR%)<br>
0:08:31 1.00 8:31 156 (76%)<br>
0:16:52 2.00 8:21 165 (83%)<br>
0:25:14 3.00 8:22 166 (84%)<br>
0:33:40 4.00 8:26 167 (84%)<br>
0:41:58 5.00 8:18 168 (86%)<br>
0:50:30 6.00 8:32 168 (85%)<br>
0:58:49 7.00 8:18 166 (84%)<br>
1:07:55 8.00 9:06 166 (84%)<br>
1:16:21 9.00 8:26 165 (83%)<br>
1:24:57 10.00 8:37 165 (83%)<br>
1:33:25 11.00 8:28 165 (83%)<br>
1:41:57 12.00 8:32 166 (84%)<br>
1:50:46 13.00 8:49 166 (84%)<br>
2:00:04 14.00 9:18 162 (81%)<br>
2:08:39 15.00 8:35 165 (83%)<br>
2:18:25 16.00 9:47 162 (81%)<br>
2:28:35 17.00 10:09 157 (77%)<br>
2:36:55 17.93 8:56 162 (81%)<br><br>
The 9:06 in mile 8, the 9:18 in mile 14, and the 9:47 in mile 16 were due to stops at water stations to get my bottle refilled with Gatorade. While it was being refilled I would drink a cup of water too. I had gels every 5 miles starting at mile 5 and I took two salt tablets just past the half way point. My chip split time at 13.1 was 1:52:40.<br><br>
As you can see the last 3 splits were quite slow. My average pace had fallen to 8:43. It had to be 8:35 for a 3:45 marathon. I had to decide whether to struggle in with a sub 4 hour marathon or cut my losses. I chose the latter because of the 50K in January. I was going to have to cut back on training for it for 3 weeks to recover from the marathon. Now I would only have to cut back 1 week. Also, I figured I might be able to get into another marathon in late February or early March without putting too much wear on my body if I stopped then. So I stopped. My first ever DNF. I've been second guessing that decision ever since, but it seemed the right decision at the time.<br><br>
I do have to say something about the accordion lady. An attractive woman in a long dress kept showing up at various spots along the course to play her accordion for us. The first time I saw her she was playing Ironman by Black Sabbath around mile 5. Then I saw her at the entrance to the tunnel that goes under Whitesburg Road playing a Christmas song. The tunnel gave great acoustics. Then I saw her drive by along Bailey Cove driving a motorcycle with the accordion on her back. She setup around mile 14?? (forgot just where) and was playing again. I'm sure if I'd finished the race I'd have seen her another time or two. She was great!
 

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Sounds like you made the right choice with a 50k right around the corner. You know you could have finished but have future goals. You'll nail that 50k!! Good luck!
 

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Stop second guessing, Tag. What's done is done. You had a particular goal in mind and it wasn't going to be on the day. Now you can continue preparing for what's to come. This was a great training run for that 50k. GL!
 

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Never second-guess. A wise woman once told me: "It takes an awful lot to go right to have a good marathon, and one little thing to go wrong to have a bad one". Saving yourself for the 50k was the right thing to do!
 
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