Saturday, Dec 6, 2008: 26.2 miles, R3/W1, 4:36:48, 10:34/mile
The Memphis Marathon came together wonderfully. Darrell and I ran the race together, hoping for a 4:40. We beat that by just over three minutes; better yet was a smooth, event-free race. Darrell knocked off his first marathon in a year; I qualified for insanity. Some ITB inflammation remains but does not take away from a terrific race weekend.
There is so much to say about this weekend, I’ll spread it out over several posts. For this report, I’ll give you the facts. Philosophizing will keep for later.
I made the eight-hour drive to Memphis Friday afternoon, meeting Darrell mid afternoon. Race registration was very smooth and the expo was nice. We walked downtown, got a good look at the finish line at Memphis’ AAA baseball park and then met David and his wife for dinner. What a treat! Running was a key topic but the conversation ranged much more widely than just the obvious connection.
Race morning started early. I snuck out of the room around 5am (start time was 8am) and hung out in the lobby for a while. This is always fun at a host hotel…lots of folks milling around, nervous energy abounds. We walked the half mile to the starting line around 7 and saw David again. He was gunning for a sub-4 hour race and lined up ahead of us. Darrell and I had decided on a 4:40 goal, so headed for the correct corral. Mostly we just tried to stay warm. Start temp was in the low 30s; “throw away” sweats were the fashion choice of the day for most folks.
Our corral crossed the start line about 8:20 am and finally we were moving. Our pace called for 10:28 miles through the first 19 miles, using a 3/1 run/walk plan. The first mile was fairly crowded and took us 11:01. We began to pick our way through the pack and found more of a rhythm. By mile 5, we had shed our throw-away sweats (though we found ours later, thanks to a curious ecclesiastical coincidence) and were 5 seconds ahead of pace. Two layers of tech shirts plus gloves seemed to be adequate.
The race then settled out. We headed for a big loop of the city. One porta-pottie stop modified the pace a bit around mile 8 but by mile 10, we were still 8 seconds ahead of pace. There were lots of folks running; the half marathon had 8,000 entrants and the full marathon had 3,000, so there was no shortage of conversation. Darrell was great to be with. He also tolerated my less-than-generous view of the plaintive wails from some local female folk singers along the course—friendship extends some space at times.
Heading back to downtown, we finally separated with the half marathoners. We suddenly had a lot more room to run. We crossed the half-marathon timing mat at 2:16:34. We did some quick math and realized this was leaving us in good shape for a 4:40 full marathon.
Other math exercises bothered me a bit. My own hydration plan called for 20 oz of water per hour. Yet, at the halfway mark, I was drinking at half that pace. I had let the cool temperatures make me think I needed less water. I reloaded my bottles at a water stop and started drinking more. At mile 15, we were 45 seconds ahead of pace and feeling positive, enjoying the second loop through Memphis.
And I expected something would then “happen.” I first noticed the left ITB around mile 16. It took me a little while to grasp just what was going on but soon it was unmistakable. Yep, that was the ITB, talking to me again. What to do? While I had tried to find “flat” parts of the road to run on all along, the overall camber of the route sloped to the right. At this point I became a lot more diligent (desperate?) to get to the middle of the road, trying to stay flat. The pain lessened somewhat as I did this. I don’t know if it is connected or not, but the more fluid I drank, the easier the pain seemed as well.
By mile 19, we were at the far part of the course and made the turn for a long straight shot to downtown. The trees arching over the mature residential street was a terrific setting. We hit mile 21 and had 3:45 ahead of the pace we needed for a 4:40. I had the ITB, Darrell was persevering with quad pain yet the 3/1 rhythm just seemed to be working fine. Around mile 24, we got tired and added about 30 seconds per mile to the pace. But, by then, we could see the lights of the ball park and knew we’d finish.
Around mile 25.5, I had some concerns about just what my ITB was going to do, so let Darrell go on ahead; he was on a roll and I didn’t want to slow him. I quit taking any walk breaks, as it was easier to simply run and not stop and start. Darrell did the same. We rounded a corner, ran onto the ball field through the right-center field wall, followed the warning track to the right-field foul pole, finishing midway to first base. Darrell finished about 30 seconds ahead of me and waited for me to cross. Huge smiles and a big hug awaited. We were done and had achieved our goal.
There is nothing quite adequate to describe the finish of a marathon. This was my tenth and it never gets old, even though each one is unique. Why is this so?? That will be another post.
There’s much more to describe; I’ll post more later along with some photos. Being with Darrell was simply huge; we have a lot in common and enjoy the time together. Meeting up with with David was also a big treat. A well organized race is always a joy. So, for now, share the joy with me. Three marathons this fall and it’s been good to run with perseverance through it all.