Monday, October 20, 2008

Hard to explain

It was a great weekend which started with 3 good buddies getting together for their annual marathon adventure. This year we settled on the PEI marathon which requires a crossing of the famous Confederation Bridge (seen here in the background).
The morning of the race dawned cool and WINDY? We had a cool northeast wind of 10-15km/hr that wasn't in the forecast but it started out at our backs and wasn't really much of a factor except that it made conditions a bit cold for spectators. Running in the 5-8C (40-45F) temps was actually just right for the runners.

Here are the 'boys' raring to go just minutes before the start.

Before the race and in practice running the course in July I'd found that this course divides nicely into 4 sections, the 1st 12k along the beach and to the edge of the provincial park, the next 9k through slightly rolling terrain to the 1/2 way and entrance to the trail, then the 13k rails to trail section, and finishing with 8.2k back on pavement and a hilly route into Charlottetown for the finish.

My plan had been to use the 1st 6 miles as a warmup with an orderly progression run and gradually increase to 7:40 pace by 6 miles but this went out the window literally the very second the gun went off as my Garmin screen went completely blank! This watch has been wonky lately and so it was a good thing that I had a plan B using my normal Timex wrist watch. However, with the course marked only in kilometers it required a few quick calculations and adjustments on the fly as I got going.
Of course, there's always time for pictures during a marathon and I liked the cool clouds in this shot in the early going before my camera got put away for good. I also got a few shots of the pace bunny and Marc but never saw a hair of Andrew until the finish. The 1st 12k went very easily as I monitored each kilometer and somewhat unsuccessfully tried to hold my pace slower than 4:45/k but the 4:30's just seemed to come out of the air. At the end of the park I passed my water belt and camera to Jo and Steph who are credited with all the remaining pics below. At this point I allowed myself to work a little harder while still trying to keep things under control and maintained a steady pace while continually passing runners. I only remember being passed once after about the 5k mark.
Here is Marc looking good around the 12k point.
And here is Andrew around the 15k mark 'Tucking in and waiting' for his new friend, 'Erik' from the Netherlands to make his move.
This is me at the same point, feeling good and having way too much fun. Just 5-8k later it was quite a different story (below). The 1/2 way point came before I knew it in 1:38:43, nicely under goal pace of 1:40 but also very close to the 1:38:04 time I had just posted in a 1/2 only 3 weeks ago. Now some might say that I was on track for disaster with such a fast start and an overly optimistic goal since this recent 1/2 only predicts about a 3:27 marathon at best. However, I felt that I had underperformed on a hilly course, with tired legs and a warm humid day. Today, with fresh legs and good conditions this 1st 1/2 left me feeling very strong and fresh but then I hit the trail....
Part 3: the trail was a struggle almost from the beginning. Immediately my splits started to slow and required substantially more effort to hold onto pace and in fact I only had one sub 4:45 split after this point in the race. At this point I was passed without resistance for the only time in the race since the early going and he went by me like I was standing still (perhaps a relay runner?). A bit later around the 30k mark more approaching footsteps but these remained on my heels for a few k before he came abreast and we started a conversation. Andre turned out to be a 1st timer and was wondering when the race was going to get hard (as in the wall). I told him he didn't have long to wait as we continued together for a few more clicks until reaching the end of the trail and a water station where he walked as I continued with cup in hand.
Andrew finishing strong and passing a bunch of 1/2 marathoners who started 1 hour after the marathoners.

Part 4- last 8k and finish. After loosing my new friend at the water station I didn't look back but rather ahead at a vast array of 'road-kill', mostly in the form of slow 1/2 marathoners who were joining our route for the last 5 miles. They gave me constant targets to knock off and I was able to slightly increase my pace despite the hilly terrain. My watch ran out of splits (max 30) and so I only have a split for my last 8.2k with an average pace of 4:47 for this section. I must have easily passed 100 1/2 marathoners but in the final hill before the 1.5 mile stretch run to the finish a marathoner finally appeared in my sights. I knew him from the start as a tall lanky grey haired possible age group competitor and could see that he was struggling. Again I did the water stop zoom-by (maybe a fast plod) but was past him and there was no sound of a struggle. The last kilometer was just a head down counting footsteps and trying to hold everything together affair as more 1/2 martathoners danced their way to the finish.
So, while Marc, Jamie and Grellan seemed to have 'off' days Andrew and I were turned 'on' for some reason. As far as marathons go, this one was reasonably 'easy' and I didn't have to really work until the last few miles where I actually picked up on my lagging pace.

21st marathon
6th best
1:06 off my target pace
1/2 marathon split of 1:38:43 only 39 sec slower than my 1/2 from just 3 weeks ago
3:40 positive split for the 2nd 1/2
last 8.2k in 39:17 (3 secs per kilometer slower than target pace)

1 satisfied runner, what more can I say? Well there is lots more to say but the 3 Blind Moose have already said it in hilarious detail after the race. I think my daughter now thinks we're all completely mad but it sounded funny to us. It was a great weekend!

Have a great week!


Michael said...

Congratulations on a brilliant performance. Once I’d checked the results (Sunday morning), I scrolled through your previous marathon times and only then realized just how good a day you had enjoyed. Well done, all that training paid off. Enjoy the recovery!

UMaine Cooperative Extension said...

Mike - Agaion, congratulations on a great performance, and thanks for a wonderful weekend!

Already looking foward to next year. Now, how many months is that in Canadian time?

Andrew said...

You did awesome! What a good time we all had.

I do believe now is the time to post the picture of the carrot.

Thomas said...

Not bad at all. I presume this will give you a better starting corral in Boston?

Jamie Anderson said...

Great write up! Glad you had a great race. Very nicely done and glad it seemed relatively easy. Always nice when that happens.

Quinto Sol said...

Nice race.

bricey said...

nice run and report. You make 3:21 sound like a walk in the park. Your photos are way too relaxed for the pace you're running!! well done.

Ewen said...

Great race Mike. Your fastest since 2006 too! The weather must have been good, as Marc has ditched his long sleeves and gloves. You do look to be having (temporary?) fun.

That bridge is some piece of engineering. Enjoy the easy weeks before the Boston preparation begins :)

Garry said...

All of you guys did incredibly well and had a ton of fun to boot. Now you can't beat that! Good job!

Unknown said...

Way to go, Mike! A well executed race.

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