Monday, October 8, 2007

Humbled by the Marathon

Saturday morning I had the good fortune to run with my ultra buddy Jamie at Bradbury. We both agreed as we set out in the dark that we would not worry so much about running the entire Bradbury Bruiser course but rather 8-10 miles depending on time. It was a good thing we weren't dead set on running the course because within twenty minutes we found ourselves off-course scratching our heads. Neither of us carried a headlamp at the start and found ourselves groping our way through the woods. We did stay on course on the Lanzo trail but in the dark we missed a turn and ended out on the maine fire trail where the race starts. Boy do I have a hard time with this course, even navigating using the "course" feature on Forerunner 305. Don't worry if you are reading this and you are planning on doing the race - the course will be well marked and even raked for race day! Despite the misdirection a couple times, Jamie and I had a great time running. Everytime we found ourselves a little turned around on the course, Jamie reminded me that all was good because we were running and we were in the woods. Good stuff. When all was said and done, we ran just over 9.5 miles in 1:35. Good, relaxed run (except at 6 AM right before setting out when Jamie almost lost his keys to the gas tank...check his blog for more details).

Shortly after arriving home Saturday morning from my early AM Bradbury run, Kelly and I headed into Portland to fulfill our volunteer commitment for the marathon. Kelly worked registration setup while I got to unload about two dozen huge tables from the back of a truck and lay them out around the start line. This wasn't necessarily what I would suggest to do the day before a marathon. At any rate, the voluneteer deal went well and it was a pleasure working with the race director, Howard Spear. He does a great job with the marathon attacking it with lots of passion, not to mention that he is a huge proponent of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training, an organization that is dear to my heart for the research they fund in the fight against cancer and because they helped me successfully run my first marathon. Howard was kind enough to allow us to set up a table promoting trail running in Maine and specifically the Bradbury Bruiser. Good man.

My tough pre-race day continued when Kelly and I returned home and I started work on my new shed. My father-in-law, Phil, was there to help as he always is when I start a new project that requires nail to meet wood. He was there to finish my basement and for my daughter's playhouse. Now the shed. Saturday afternoon was spent lugging around 4x4s and 2x6x12x, some heavy boards. Also, the job on Saturday required site prepwork which means setting up a nice, level spot to put the shed frame. This included removing roots, rocks, and lugging cinderblocks. Ugghh. After roughly three and a half hours we had the concrete block and skids leveled, and the wood frame in place. Unfortunately I had forgot to continue hydrating during the process and I was feeling it. The rest of the evening was spent trying to play catch up with water. It was also great to relax and watch my VA Tech Hokies whoop up on the Clemson Tigers. Boy did I want to watch the LSU-Florida game but I had already made too many mistakes on my rest day and needed to get some shut eye.

Marathon race day was perfect. Kelly and the kids accompanied me to the start where we met up with my ultra buddies James and Jamie. James was suited up to run while Jamie was going to take the role of keeping Riley entertained (she absolutely loves James and Jamie). James and I headed off when the gun went off at a nice conversational pace which we kept until we met up with a faster acquaintance of mine and we sped up inadvertently as we became engrossed with the conversation we were having. For the first 10 miles we maintained a 7:30 average. Miles 11-16, as we talked to my buddy, found us running 20-30 seconds faster than the first 10. As we hit a good hill at mile 17 I was hurting. A couple miles later I realized James was holding back for me and I told him to move on. He had told me earlier that his ultimate goal was to run a 3:15 to qualify to Boston and I knew I was holding him back. He gracefully moved on and ended up finishing about a minute and a half ahead of me. Good race James. I did continue on pretty much on my average race pace of 7:40, so the wheels never came off, they just lost some air and required a little more energy to move them forward. This marathon experience was extremely humbling as in the past I was easily able to run my Boston qualifying time of 3:10 or faster at any marathon I entered where I wanted to run well. I have never taken the marathon distance lightly. All my friends and coworkers have this impression that after running 50 and 100 milers, a marathon is just another walk in the park. 26.2 miles is no joke and I treat it with the utmost respect. I love the distance and look forward to running many more, hopefully with a little better luck than this one! This was my third marathon of the year and probably my last of the year. Next up is the Stone Cat 50-mile trail race, which after this weekend's race, is going to be tough. But I am looking forward to it.


Jamie said...

Really enjoyed the report! I agree with respecting the marathon distance. Many don't seem to understand that while shorter than an ultra, it's on roads and there is more pressure to do it faster (ie no walking!). Regardless, great job on Sunday. I had fun rooting you guys on and hanging out with Kellh, Riley, Quinn, et al. I was very impressed with the times you and James put up, especially when you consider that you guys decided to do it last minute and didn't necessarily train specifically for that race. Awesome!

Anonymous said...

Same here. I found the Vermont 50 to be similar to the Trek Across Maine or hiking. You get walk, hang with new friends, smell the roses, eat food, and finish feeling very much refreshed and ready to do it again.

I plan to continue to run 10Ks and marathons as they are hard work, but a lot of fun.