Thursday, November 12, 2009
OBX Marathon 2009. Reality Check
Boston or Bust ? Well, I'm afraid it was bust this time around but that didn't stop it from being a great weekend. After working Friday morning, I made the 3 hour drive down to Kill Devil Hills. I decided to go straight to the race expo and pick up my packet. That turned out to be a good idea because soon after I arrived I found Lisa Howell. I would be staying with her and her husband Mike for the weekend so making arrangements for dinner would be easy now. Belinda Brown , one of her friends and former training partners that now lives in Richmond was also there and after a call Frank and Karla met us with us. After a nice dinner we headed to the house and were soon off to bed.
Saturday morning we were up early to go and support Lisa who would be running the 8k. The race started and finished at the local schools and toured through Nags Head Woods before returning to finish on the track. I had a chance to visit with James and Rebecca Moore from the Virgina Happy Trails Running Club who were also watching the race and would be running on Sunday. Lisa did great after just coming off an injury that forced her to withdraw from the marathon, finishing in 1st place in her age-group. We hung around for the awards and then off to a delicious breakfast followed by a nice afternoon of lounging around the Howell residence.
Mid-afternoon I headed out for an easy run and was joined by Belinda. We did a slow easy pace for 3.5 miles along a portion of the course since the house is just a block away and near the 6 mile mark. It was a gorgeous day and we were all hoping that Sunday would be the same.
Sunday morning turned out to be a bit warmer and was already about 6oF as we headed to the start. I was unable to go through my normal warm-up routine due to a long wait in the potty line and was disappointed not to be able to give Karla our normal pre-race pep talk. I found a spot close to the front of the 3rd wave and then all too soon the race began.
I was hoping not to go out too fast hoping for around 8:45 the first mile. Overall I needed to average 8:11 and I like to start a little slow and gradually pick things up. I felt great and the pace seemed ok but I hit the first mile in 8:15. Not really too fast so I didn't think too much about it. Just settle in and hope to be on pace at mile two. That one was 8 minutes flat, I was feeling good and easing off on the effort just a little I was ready now to put it on cruise for the next 24 miles. Miles 3 and 4 were perfect and although I could tell I was running harder than normal I felt good so I stuck to the plan.
Just past mile 4 the course turns off of a bike path and up a short but steep little hill so I backed off the effort not wanting to go into oxygen debt this early in the race. Quickly over the top and then relaxed down the other side and back onto the flat. Whoops, mile 5 was 8:27. I relaxed just a little too much. I picked it back up and as I neared the 6 mile point I saw Mike and Lisa watching for us. A quick greeting and I was gone concentrating on the task at hand. I hit mile 6 in 7:57, so I was happy to be able to easily get back on track but already I was thinking that I would not be holding this pace for another 20 miles.
But I wasn't ready to give up just yet. Things can change quickly and I know from past experience that sometimes you can start to feel better after the first hour. the next few miles are nearly perfectly flat and I was back no pace knocking off the miles like clockwork. Then as I neared Nags Head Woods and the 10 mile mark it was now obvious I was working too hard for this pace to be able to continue and when I hit the 10 mile mark and saw I was already 30 seconds behind qualifying pace I immediately shut it down. That mile was 8:21 and I knew there was no way I was going to be picking up the pace today. I hoped that by shutting down early I could avoid a total meltdown.
Now the plan was to just run as comfortably as I could to the finish and hope for decent time. If things went well I could still run close to 3:45, which is the timee I should have realistically been try9ing to run in the first place. I decided to take it real easy running the small hills through the woods and then picked it back up a little once I got back on the road. That's what I did for the next 3 miles and after crossing the halfway point I picked it back up to 9 minute pace. Soon I was passed by two young guys and they were saying that they were still on 3:45 pace which sounded good to me.
A part of me just wanted to start walking and wait for Karla to catch me and then run with her but as much as I would have enjoyed that, I felt I need to at least try to continue and maybe I could at least run my 2nd fastest marathon. Well by mile 15 I couldn't hold 9 minute pace and with each mile I got slower and just before mile 18 the axle broke and the wheels began coming off. I gave in and walked just before that mile marker and the survival shuffle set in.
As I left the mile 19 aid station I did some calculations and figured that Karla should reach 20 miles in about the same time I was going to get there if she was still on pace for her qualifying time. So I began walking backwards periodically looking back for her. At mile 20 I still couldn't see her but maybe if she caught me before 21 there was still a chance she could do it. But after a very slow mile, in 12 minutes, still no Karla. By now I was really shuffling along and finally as I neared the bridge about the 22.5 mile mark I saw her coming up behind. She still looked ok and was moving at a decent pace but now there was no way I was going to be able to stay with her. I ran with her about 30 seconds and then told her I'd see her at the finish.
The last few miles got really ugly. I noticed that I have actually averaged a faster pace in three of my 100 mile races than I did for the last 5 miles of this race. Lisa was waiting for me at mile 26 to run the last little bit and I was so happy to reach the finish line.
My time of 4:28:13 was disappointing but I was really expecting that outcome since I was not in shape to run 3:35 anyway. Karla missed her time by 8 minutes finishing in 4:13 but it was the fastest marathon she has run since being diagnosed with cancer in 2006 so that is a very positive thing. Now we just have to recover and get back on track with the training and hopefully if things go well we will be ready to give it another shot in February at Myrtle Beach and hope Boston isn't filled by then.
Here are a few photos from the weekend.