A marathon PR. First time under 4 hours. First time winning a race.
Running is full of surprises. The Back on My Feet Marathon/Marathon Relay (BOMF) on October 3, 2015 was supposed to be a warm up for an attempt at sub 4 hours at the Monumental Marathon on November 7. Alas, I ran this to see if I could hold the required 9:08/mile pace through 16 miles, felt good there and ended up holding that pace the whole way. Surprise! A PR and a sub 4. Plus another surprise. It was a good day.
The Gory Details:
The BOMF is a cool fundraiser for a neat organization helping the homeless in Indy. I ran it two years ago (report here ) and the layout was the same; a 12 lap marathon in a scenic part of downtown Indy, along the White River.
As I mentioned recently, this race was the first of three marathons in five weeks, part of the fall plan. Fellow Miata Maniac Jon and I headed to Indy at oh-dark-thirty on race day, scored a sweet parking spot, got our bibs and were well set for the 8am gun. Jon had run this marathon last year, so we both were on familiar turf.
We ran into fellow Maniac Walter Evans at the start, plus three other Maniacs...the obligatory photo below.
Jon had bib #2, Walt was #1, I was #5, as you can see...the closest we'll ever be to "elite" status. And, we learned later, the five of us, plus one other guy, made up the entire solo marathon field. The rest of the 60 or so participants were on relay teams, the primary emphasis of this event.
Weather was overcast, close to drizzle, with temps in the upper 40s. With the exception of the 15-18mph wind, it was almost perfect conditions for me.
Off we went, right on time and it was good to get moving, get the blood moving and get a feel for what the day held. My objective was to hold a 4 hour marathon pace through mile 16 and then see how I felt.
Any race requires a strategy and I had settled on a plan for pace, hydration/electrolytes and fuel several weeks ahead. Pace was to do a run/walk, running four and a half minutes, then walking for thirty seconds, or 4:30/0:30. During the run sequence, I tried to run at an 8:42/mile pace. Hydration plan was to carry my own water, drinking regularly during the walk breaks. The loop course let me line up my own 10 oz drinking bottles to swap out at the start/finish line. Electrolyte plan was to pop a salt tablet once an hour. Fuel plan was to carry a bottle of my home made "Gu" and take a swig of it at each mile. This was a full test of the plan I'll use at Monumental.
For a loop course, with 12 laps, the math of this is very, very easy. Twelve equal parts of four hours is 20 minutes. Thus, every time around, I could tell how I was doing by how far from 20 minutes was that lap. Here are my lap times for the day, which capture the entire story, as I tried to execute the plan above.
6 19:47 (HM time- 1:54:30)
12 20:41 (Marathon time - 3:56:02)
Heading into lap 9, I was starting to think this might be a good day. I determined to go through the mile 18 mark and see how long I could hold this pace. Therefore, I was surprised at the time to see lap 9 and 10 slip over 20 minutes...I really didn't feel that different in either effort or pace. With two laps to go, though, I did start to feel the legs tire. Yet, it was only for the last 3/4 mile did it ever hurt and, by that point, I knew I would be under 4 hours and I gutted it to the finish.
The last 50 meters were pure joy for me, to come around a corner, see the finish line and know I'd be under four hours for the first time ever. That was a thrill.
And what happened next was amazing.
As I crossed the finish line, the announcer called my name and stated I was the winner! What, me, a race winner?? Yes, it was true. Since this race was primarily a multi-person relay, they had a winner for each segment, solo, two person, four person and six person teams. I won the solo division, the first solo runner to cross the finish line. Astounding! They called my name to have me come over for an official photo at the finish line. I was thrilled, as you can see.
I won a quality pair of Klipsch R6i ear buds as a prize and mostly spent the rest of the day amazed at the triple amazement of getting a PR, going sub 4 and winning a race. Did I mention I've never won a race before?? It was even funnier when I got home and looked at the on-line results. Of the six folks who started the solo marathon, only four finished. So, I really only beat three others!! But, hey, it makes a good story!
One other useful point of this race is how it reflects on the training miles of the year. In reading my race report from two years ago, I intended to go sub 4 that day as well. Yet, I had not done the miles, had a less helpful run/walk ratio (5/1 vs 4:30/0:30) and just wasn't ready yet. Indeed, training matters.
It's also a bit of a concern that this course was not certified and, according to my GPS and that of others, it may have been a little short, perhaps as much as a half mile. It's hard to know. So, I'll take this race as a big (very big) confidence builder and continue to push towards a sub 4 effort on November 7 at the Monumental Marathon. I'm also sure there will be more than four finishers there, so my win streak will likely stop at one.
Smile with me about this fun event. And persevere.