Monday, December 7, 2009

Palm Beaches Marathon

Time: 3:37:33
Overall: 92 out of 585
Age Group: 9 out of 62

Prior to the race it was very hard to predict what the temps would be like. forecast seemed to change daily with temps ranging from the mid 50’s to mid 70’s predicting rain then no rain. All I really knew is that it would probably be too warm for me to attempt a PR. I’ve fallen into the trap before, thinking that I could set a PR when the temps were on the warm side only to end up struggling at the end.

The race started at 6:30 but since I didn’t know what the parking situation would be like I left early and ended up parking before 5:30. I headed down to the start area. The temps were in the high 50’s but a 10-15 mph wind made that feel pretty cold. There were plenty of port-a-johns with no lines but I didn’t need to go and that really concerned me because I didn’t go at the hotel either. I hate giving up valuable race minutes by sitting on a toilet mid race.

The race started on time (organization was top notch all the way). Between the full and half there were around 3000 runners at the start. I was near the front and was about 15 sec from the start line after the gun went off. The street was wide so there was plenty of room to run without people getting in your way (side note: a 1/4 into the race a car was driving against the runners). The fastest pace group in the race was the 3:30. I had no intention on running a 3:30 and just wanted to stick to a pace that I felt comfortable with. That comfortable pace kept me right behind the 3:30 group. I was definitely running faster than intended but I felt comfortable and wasn’t pushing it. My concern was that when my body started telling me to slow down, my mind would let the pace group pull me along.

By mile four, I was starting to feel like I was ready for that inevitable pit stop. The full and half didn’t split until mile 6 so I decided to wait until after the split. At the split point it seemed that 75% of the runners around me were in the half. They made the right turn and I followed the 3:30 pace group to the left. At 7.5 miles (or 1 hour into the race) I came to the toilets. Although I didn’t want to lose time in the port-a-john it was probably a good thing in that it would break me away from the pace group. I ended up losing just under 2 minutes. I then settled into an 8-8:10 pace and kept that going until mile 13.

Around mile 13 the 2 races joined back together. The difference was that the half marathon participants were the back of the pack group who were on mile 7. When we merged, they did a pretty good job of staying to the right (as instructed) but slowly started spreading out which made running a straight line difficult. I think running beside such slow movers had a mental effect in that my pace slowed another 10 seconds even though I still felt fine.

I don’t like racing with an IPod but I brought it with me thinking that I may want it later in the race. That turned out to be a good decision because the fatigue was starting to set in around mile 16 and I needed some motivation. At mile 17 I finally turned it on. The next couple miles passed by which made what was remaining a much more manageable number. By mile 20 I passed the finish line (where the half-ers finish). It really is a downer when you have to pass what you are striving to achieve. To make things worse, the sun was out and it was getting pretty warm. The wind had really picked up too it was a cross wind which meant that I would always feel like I was running into it.

The last 6 miles were a real struggle. We ran 2 miles north of the finish and then did a series of loops on our way back. Approaching my first loop I saw the 3:30 pace leader (approx .75 miles ahead of me) and there was nobody running with him. When I broke from the group there were 15-20 runners with him. I did remember passing quite a few but apparently I passed most of them. By mile 23 I was really hurting but was still keeping a sub 9 pace (8:30-55 range). I knew that by just keeping that pace I would easily achieve my sub 3:40 goal. There weren’t a lot of runners around me but there were a few that I was gaining on. This made it a little easier to push myself toward the finish.

I saw the finish clock with about .2 to go. If I picked up the pace I could get in under 3:38 (clock time). I was running with the last of the guys that I had been gaining on. I could tell that he was giving it all he had too, either to beat me or to get in under 3:38. We ended up crossing at the same time (I had him by 7 seconds net).

All in all I was happy with the results. I sacrificed a PR (which I had very little chance of getting) but I ran a sub 3:40 (which I should do every marathon) and ended up with my 3rd best time. I'm really glad I raced here. I still prefer the larger races but the organization was great and it was a very nice course.

I need to give my body another day or 2 of rest and then it back to training. Disney is less than 5 weeks away.

Race website

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