Sunday, February 02, 2020

Race Report: Groundhog Day Marathon, 2020

Groundhog Day Marathon, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Saturday, February 1, 2020

4:50:33, 11:06/mile aggregate pace
60th of 96 overall
1st of 3 in Men 65-69 AG
Marathon/ultra finish #91

This was a fun race, set up on the theme of the movie Groundhog Day, where the same thing keeps happening over and over.  Thus, the route was six identical laps in a big city park, each 1/6th of a marathon distance, about 4.4 miles.   Weather was actually pretty good for early February in central Michigan...34F, heavy grey clouds, not much wind, and light snowfall for the final 3 hours of the race.

I ran it for two reasons; get in some winter miles and assess my fitness for the spring running season.   In that sense, the race was a total success.

Race started on a narrow bridge, which was fun and kind of unusual.

I'd guess about 400 runners total, with 3/4 running the half marathon option.

We went off right on time at 8:00am.   The running path was excellent, wide-enough asphalt which had been swept clean of earlier snowfalls.  It looked pretty much like this all the way around.

The organizers had two aid stations set up and the volunteers did a terrific job.   I fell fully in love with peanut butter filled pretzel balls...salty and tasty...every couple of miles...nice to grab.   I also continue to like my option of wearing the hydration pack rather than a waist water belt.   That all worked great and way more comfortable.

The race pretty much was just running and I just enjoy running.   The tale of the race is captured in my individual lap times, which are helpful in this case as they are all exactly 1/6 of the total distance.   Here is my time and pace for each of the six laps

  1.  41:09, 9:25/mile
  2. 45:46, 10:22/mile
  3. 46:24, 10:37/mile HM split:  2:13:19
  4. 50:39, 11:35/mile
  5. 53:52, 12:20/mile
  6. 53:13, 12:11/mile
I ran the first lap steadily and it felt fine but became quite clear to me by the time I finished the 4.4 mile loop that such a pace was never going to hold up all day.   I backed off to a 4/1 run/walk early in Lap 2 and carried that on through mile 18, which was toward the end of lap 4.  At that point, I realized the fitness was gone yet I'd have no trouble finishing if I just dialed it back and kept moving.   So, I then shifted down again, this time to a 3/1 run/walk (i.e. run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute) and that held up over the final two laps, as the times show.   18 good miles, 8 lousy miles...given the total number of miles I've run in the past three months, that's a fair assessment of where I am at the moment.

I felt good as I wrapped up the final lap back onto the bridge and, boom, done, marathon/ultra #91 in the books.

I walked back over to the nearby heated HQ tent to get my medal and official finish time.   To my utter surprise, the man looked at his laptop, told me my (lousy) time and then informed me I had won my AG.  I was incredulous...I really thought it was a cruel joke, having run so poorly.   He assured me he didn't joke about such things and sent me over to the awards table.   He made eye contact with the Prize Lady and she started digging stuff out for me.   A coffee mug, a stocking cap, a couple of race-labeled neck buffs and, most significantly, a new pair of bluetooth sport speakers.   They are designed to let you listen to music (or, in my case, top level soccer from England or podcasts of interest) while you are running while not blocking your ears.   Safer, right? Nice prize, I'll see how it works.

Two other nice parts of this race (many races, actually) are conversations along the way.   On my lap 6, I caught up with a long-time running buddy, who had a tough day with a calf injury.  We walked together for about six minutes and it was a great catch up with Mark,  as we discussed retirement, running, Lean Manufacturing and how to fix the impeachment mess.   Not bad for a short walk during a marathon.  You're welcome.   Then, after the race, I happened to have a wonderful conversation with a young couple who had both finished Western States 100 mile run in the past few years (this is why you read other people's t shirts).  That was a treat...and they seemed to appreciate meeting someone who knew what "Rucky Chucky" was.   And they paid me quite a compliment: "You're not walking like you just finished a marathon."  I'll take that as a win.

So, the assessment from this race helps me know how to plan running for the rest of the spring.

Thanks for listening!!