Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Race Report: Veterans Marathon 2011

ORN:  26.2 miles, 4:36:57, R/W 6/1

Quick Summary

It was a fantastic weekend with my nephew John, which happened to feature a marathon.   The race set up well and turned out to be my fastest marathon in over 5 years.

The Gory Details

This race was the result of a year-long discussion between John and me.   In 2010, we ran two big city marathons together in Los Angeles and Chicago.  Wouldn't it be cool, John suggested, if we contrasted that with a small-town Midwestern marathon??

The Veterans Marathon on November 12 filled the bill perfectly.  In the small town of Columbia City, Indiana, about 2 hours from our house, it's a half marathon/marathon with around 500 total participants.  What a contrast to the mega-events in LA and the Windy City!!

John flew in on Thursday from San Diego for a family meal.  Friday let us visit my workplace, walk some of the running trails I enjoy and then head across the northern Indiana flat lands to Columbia City.  It took us less than 60 seconds to pick up our bibs.  We drove the course before sundown and relaxed in the Lap of Luxury of our spacious hotel accommodations.

Race morning dawned with nearly perfect running weather.  It was sunny and 40F at the start.  The small town touches were all over the place; the local veterans group presented the colors, the Columbia City HS Band played the national anthem and at precisely 8:00am, a cannon blast sent us on our way.

John and I both felt the cool weather and flat course augured well. For John, that meant a run in the 4:15-20 range.  For me, it meant a gear shift from usual run/walk ratio of 4 minutes running and 1 minute walking to a 6/1.  We decided we'd do a solid run together for the first 3 miles and it was huge fun.  You can see it here in this photo from mile 2.5.

From Running-General

We split up around mile 3 and John had a wonderful run.  He enjoyed the entire scene of small-town Indiana.

From Running-General

For my part, I settled in and tried to execute my plan for the day.  I have not run a marathon at a 6/1 run/walk, yet had done all my long runs this fall at that ratio.  With the weather in the 40s, I planned to see if I could run "hard" and get under 4:40.  This required me to maintain a 9:45 to 10:00 pace during the run sections, for an aggregate 10:30/mile pace overall.

I don't think I've ever mentioned here the Universal Pace Chart I developed for myself a year or so ago.  It takes three even paces but adds 30 seconds/mile from mile 19 on in.  As a result, it allows me to project, at any mile, what my final time will likely be.  I have this laminated and carry it with me.  For an engineer, it's a treat to look at a sheet full of numbers every so often.
From Running-General

From Running-General
The plan worked.  At mile 6, I was 2+ minutes ahead of the 4:40 pace.  It was 3+ by mile 10 and I hit the half marathon split at 2:15:00.  Miles 13-17 were the toughest of the race, as the wind had some up and we were running straight into it a 15-20mph wind.  At mile 16, I was only 45 seconds ahead of the target pace.  Mentally, though, I knew the legs still felt good and I'd have the wind at my back soon.  By mile 20, I was 90 seconds ahead of pace and at 24, the gap was a full 2 minutes.  Mile 26 was exactly 10:30 and I hit the finish mat for an official time of 4:36:57, 3 minutes under the target.

From Running-General

John had a solid race as well, holding off leg cramps in the last three miles to notch a 4:25:29.  He got his wishes of a small town marathon with good weather.
It was a terrific weekend with a great friend to whom I also happen to be related. The running was also good but that's not the key.  It's the friendship that counts.

Thanks for listening.  Persevere.