Sunday, August 13, 2006

Saint John Marathon-by-the-Sea Report

Don't know where to start on this one. The short version is that it went very well, ran under control, but faster than planned finishing in 3:28. Here are the race results and there are some news stories about the race here. I'm feeling fine today, a day later, very unlike any of my other marathons and raring to go for the final 7 weeks of training. Here's the story from the garmin with the race route map, my heart rate is in red and the elevation profile is in green (ignore the spikes where it was misreading).
The course was fairly challenging with a number of long gradual hills but nothing that was overly steep except for a stiff climb at the end (mile 25) over the Saint John harbor bridge. Heart rate was fairly steady with about 7 miles at 70-80% of max (easy run pace) and 18 miles at 80-90% (medium effort). I felt very comfortable and relaxed for the entire run and made an effort to hold back the entire race by monitoring both the mile splits and heartrate.

It's a bit embarrassing and sounds like I'm bragging to say this but this race was almost too easy and took very little out of me. My goal for this race was to just to do it as a long training run and to not go any faster than 8:00/mi pace since most of my long runs are in the 8:10 to 8:20 range unless I'm doing marathon pace stuff. For some reason today my pace was in the 730's and 740's for most of the run. I'd keep telling myself to take it easy, hold back where the pace felt like a fast jog and still the same. I guess it was just one of those good days that happen so rarely and just leave it at that.

OK, the longer story goes like this. I stayed over at my sister's the night before and was able to fuel up and get some extra sleep by being close to the start. Woke up around 6am for a light pre-long run breakfast of cereal, coffee, juice and 1/2 bagel. Arrived and parked within a block of the start by 7:30am. Then did a quick warmup jog of about 1/2 mile, some stretches and walked around looking for familiar faces. Almost immediately I ran into Stephanie (from our Boyden Lake running group) but I didn't recognize her in summer running gear! It was funny and she laughed when I apologized saying "I didn't recognize you without your clothes on!" She ran the 1/2 marathon today in a superb 1:31 placing as the 3rd overall female. Way to go Steph! I ran into my friend Kurt who finally broke the 4hr barrier in the marathon today and was also looking around for my cousin Jerry who I know was registered and I thought was going to go for 3:30 to qualify for Boston but there was no sign of him at the start.

The temperature was perfect at about 11C (50F) with clear sunny skies and a light breeze and quite comfortable. The start was a bit delayed with some technical problems but by 8:10 we were off! The 1st mile (holding back) went by in 7:39 (whoa horsey),next mile in 7:42 where I ran into Anna, a former St Andrews runner, and we chatted it up a bit as I tried to slow down. The next mile with some downhill rolled by 7:37 followed by another in 7:42 as I sailed by a water stopped with my sister and her two daughters in attendance as volunteers. The see-saw pace kept up over the next several miles despite the various hills thrown into the mix. After about the 8 mile mark the marathon course veered off from the 1/2 with the runners thinning out substantially and I started to run more on my own. Went through the 1/2 in 1:42, on pace for a ridiculous 3:24 but still feeling strong and just cruising along and continually picking up people, trying to slow to their pace but then moving on past.

I finally ran into Jerry near the 1/2 wearing bunny ears for the 3:30 group running in the wrong direction. "Hey, what are you doing here?" I asked. "Waiting for the 1st 1/2 pace group he said, I'm doing the 2nd 1/2". Sure enough, about a mile or 2 later Jerry goes cruising up to and past me as I continued doing my 7:40's or better (just a little fast I thought but that's the danger of a fresh legged pace bunny).

The miles between 13 and 20 seemed a bit tedious today and the effort level only seemed to increase very slightly on the uphills. Still picking off people and ran into one rather strange runner in this stretch around mile 22. We started out with a nice conversation but then he suddenly went into a rant about runners and cyclists using drugs and began cursing and swearing a blue streak! I said thanks have a nice day and sprinted off in what was my fastest mile of the day at 7:22 to get away from him, weird.

Shortly after this strange episode the course got very winding and hilly going around west Saint John and the Martello Tower but with some very nice views of the ocean. I also caught up with the pace bunny and his flagging entourage and then began cruising along with Shelley G with whom I've run with in previous marathons. We did the next few miles together until mile 25 as we started the final long climb over the Harbor Bridge where I slowed to help my friend Eddy who was having some difficulty finishing. This was his 1st marathon and he went out very fast at about 3:10 pace which he held till about mile 19 and then crashed. When I caught up to him things were hurting and he said "this is the hardest thing I've ever done". After a swig of gatorade I got him started again and encouraged him to keep going the last little bit so he could meet his 2nd goal of a 3:30.

Post race was just the normal runner food and drinks followed by satisfaction of my one craving. Usually it's for a greasy hamburger but today I succumbed to a Tim Horton's coffee and a double chocolate dougnut, mmmm! I also had a nice long shower and then a nice massage before heading back home to end a busy but successful weekend.


Phil said...

Great non-race effort. Looks like you ran the first half at a 7:46/mi pace and the second halp at 8:05/mi ... I realize that this isn't your "marathon" pace, but still very impressive.

Have a great week running.

Andrew said...

Very good Mike. Nice long run for you. Sounds like you enjoyed it very much.

Unknown said...

Congratulations on a nice training run.

UMaine Cooperative Extension said...

MIke - Well done on the, training run. You will be smoking the Wineglass course come October. Should we buy Andrew some nice bunny ears?

[rich] said...

:-) well done! maybe one day i'll be doing more than halfs :-P

Mike said...

Enjoying a marathon, what a novel concept! Glad you had fun, nice run.

Downhillnut said...

Pretty cool when you can enjoy sub-3:30 marathons as "training runs". Great report!

Dawn - Pink Chick Tris said...

Good job!

"I didn't recognize you without your clothes on!"
I've said this to a few running friends as well and gotten some strange looks from people walking

Anonymous said...