Monday, October 20, 2008

Tuck In... and Wait

PEI Marathon: 12th place. 3:00:05

There was much higher octane in the tank than I was aware of and it was burning nice and hot yesterday. And now every inch of me is sore and I feel like someone has taken a lead pipe to my legs.

The Race

Right to the starting line I had not made a decision on how to proceed. But I knew one thing... it was cold! Mike had promised no wind but he lied. An icy wind was blowing off the bay as we gathered near the start line at Brackley Beach. I made the decision to wear just a singlet and a pair of my daughter's pink stretchy gloves and a summer running hat. I thought that once I got going I would repent of wearing anything warmer. But at the start line I was repenting being the coldest idiot standing there. Everyone else had long sleeves and winter hats on. I had to stand in the bathroom just to stay warm until they called us to the start line.

When we jogged over to the start line (I was jogging because I was cold) I still had not decided how to approach this race. But once I got in the crowd I found myself running briskly up and down a little hill to raise my heart rate. I started to get a little excited and the fear of blowing up or the fear of the distance just faded away. I suddenly felt energized.

So when we started to line up I kept making my way to the front. And the the horn blew and we were off! I found myself running a steady tempo and watched as a string of runners just pulled way. So I was surprised to go through the 1st km in 4:03 - I thought I was running slower than that.

I immediately found a pack running what felt like was a steady cadence that I could handle and I tucked in behind Erik from Holland and decided to wait. I kept repeating the mantra, "Just tuck in and wait".

It worked. The kilometers kept passing and I watched the pace of the pack slow from a few 4:0x's to 4:20's. I did not have a goal time. I just felt like running at the edge of what the body could give me and still feel comfortable. So I was glad the pace had eased off. Within the 1km I was glad to not have worn any warmer clothes as I was perfectly comfortable.

After a successful 5k running with a small group (~21:04), I had no intentions of running this race by myself. I stayed with the group as they sped up or slowed down figuring I would have a better time of it if I was not flailing along by myself. The water stops proved a challenge as I concentrated on getting enough fluids while the others drank at pace. This caused me to have to put in a slight surge after each water stop to catch back up.

The course to this point was extremely flat and the pavement was perfect. By the 10k mark the pack had absorbed or overtaken some of the faster starters and I found that while we were joined here and there by others, it was Erik and I that constituted the pack. 10k ~ 42:09.

From 10k to the half we got away from the shoreline and headed inland through farmland. I didn't pay much attention to the scenery as I was in full concentration. I was very pleased with how I was feeling to this point and figured "let come what comes". Erik threw in a few low 4:0x's during this 5k but I fared ok and didn't feel stressed. We crossed the half in 1:28:34.

Here the race course turned onto the rail-to-trail for a little over 10k. While the surface is softer on the feet, I didn't care much for it. The footing was noticeably different and it was more difficult to keep the tempo. I was working harder now as Erik and I ran side by side. I saw that we had transitioned from him leading to me leading. Where he had set the tempo for the first half, I was now a stride ahead doing the lead duties.

I was so glad to have someone to race with. The trail was a lonely affair with stretches of nobody in sight. With the sandy surface and limited visibility, it would have been very difficult to keep up the tempo during this portion of the race.

I started to feel the distance during this 10k and I started to tell myself that at 30k I would 'jump' and move up a gear to get the race over with and possibly access some fuel stores in some unused fibers. The kilometer markers started feeling farther and farther apart but the splits were pretty constant around 4:15-4:20. I was just working harder to maintain.

As the 30k approached and passed, I could not bring myself to run any faster. Erik was right there, now 1 stride behind. However, as we approached 31k we spotted the first victim up ahead walking. That gave me a slight adrenaline boost and the pace picked up as we swallowed him up. By 32k there was another victim in sight and I hit the throttle and pulled away from Erik for the 10k race to home.

Pavement finally came back to the race course and with it, a swarm of half marathon racers merging onto the course. And here came the hills. I went to the arms and pushed for home and this worked until the 37 km mark where the wheels wobbled and then spun off the bus. It was a hard, hard 5km to the finish. Three rolling hills along the main road into Charlottetown was just a brutal affair. I was counting down the km to the finish and even at 41km I couldn't muster any additional energy.

I had stopped looking at my watch at the 30k mark as I focused entirely on just getting my body over that finish line. So I didn't know or care what my time was. I was just struggling to keep it together. When the finish line came in sight I was able to put on a little speed but not much.

The clock over the finish line had the half marathon time on it so even as I finished I didn't know my time until I stopped my watch.

I was pleased with the result. Getting to 37k before the wheels came off was a good showing considering the training troubles I have had recently. I had about a 3 minute positive split which all occurred in the final 5k. Erik must have run into difficulties as well as he didn't catch me during those final km.

Now to take a short break.


Blogger Thomas said...

Wow, Andrew, what a race on very little training. What can you do when you're actually in marathon shape? Though, in all honesty, I think you would be in a different mood had you not broken 3 hours already.

Tuck in and Wait is probably the perfect strategy for the marathon, but your execution was flawless. Congratulations!

10/20/2008 8:43 AM  
Blogger John Kynaston said...

Great race Andrew. Enjoyed reading your report. Look ofrward to hearing how yuo get on when you go for that sub 2.45 marathon!


10/20/2008 9:02 AM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Great job man! Very happy for you and glad you didn't crash and burn... didn't even come close, from what it sounds like. However, I'm not surprised. Rest and recover well!

10/20/2008 9:12 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Congratulations on a solid race, well done! With a performance like that, I'm looking forward to reading about your next race. All the best at 2h45!

10/20/2008 9:18 AM  
Blogger Ms. V. said...

Holy crap! You're so fast!!!

10/20/2008 10:00 AM  
Blogger Sonriserunning said...

Great race Andy! I knew that crash and burn stuff was a load of crap--you're too competitive for that.

10/20/2008 10:05 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

Congrats on a great race. Enjoy the well deserved rest.

10/20/2008 11:40 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

Andrew - Great race and a great weekend. Thanks for all you did to make this weekend happen!

10/20/2008 11:43 AM  
Blogger J. Garry Power said...

Nice job. Good discipline to run with a hastily decided, but highly effective plan. Enjoy the rest!

10/20/2008 8:11 PM  
Blogger Love2Run said...

You make it all seem so easy Andrew. Nice job and one terrific weekend!

10/20/2008 9:20 PM  
Blogger Wayne said...

Good run Andrew. Enjoy the time off now.

10/21/2008 5:50 PM  
Blogger Dawn - Pink Chick said...

Great race and you wore pink...way cool! :-)

10/23/2008 9:22 PM  

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