Monday, January 20, 2014

Clearwater Marathon

January 19, 2014
Marathon #17

Me and Carolyn before the race. Bridge 1 of 6 is behind us.
After missing last year's race, which was a return of the marathon after years of construction delaying the return, I was very happy to be running this morning! Donna, Carolyn and I arrived about an hour before race start. We got our timing chips, then went back to the car to keep warm. Temps were in the mid 40s. Carolyn tries to start the car, but discovers the battery has died! It's something we decided to deal with after the race. We leave the car just before 6:30, to get to the spot of the planned Maniac photo. Only a few people are there and they all plan the early start, so we take a few photos, then walk over to the start area. Donna decides to take an early start too, so we take another photo, before Carolyn and I head back to the porta-potties and then the car. We get our gear together, then head to the start. She gives me her key fob, since we think I will finish before her. I put it in my back skirt pocket with my PowerBar gel blasts. I am loaded down. enduolytes in one short pocket and a gu in the other. More Gu's in the pocket of my iFitness belt. We get another photo of the two of us before getting into the start corral area. The early start group had gone out late, so our start time got pushed to 7:19 from 7:05. I guess they had to start exactly 30 minutes apart for timing purposes. It didn't feel as cool as we thought it would be, I had a feeling I would be tossing my jacket pretty early. We heard the National Anthem and then we were off!

One of the 6 bridges.

Miles 1 through 7 - So, my plan this morning is to try to run for a 4:15 to a 4:20 finish time. I had printed out a 4:15 pace band and figured I would just go for it. Only 2.5 weeks after my last marathon, I wasn't sure how my body was going to handle the speed and distance, but why not try for one more PR before my last marathon of the winter. We start out next to the water, turn to the left, running up a short hill. We turn right and then right again a few blocks later. The bridge is soon in view. I've run this many times before and it wasn't any easier this morning. I am already think that I should have done hill/bridge work in the last couple of months! We hit mile one at the top of the bridge. Even with two uphills, I am ahead of the 9:43 min mile pace! I make good time on the down hill, keeping pace with all of the faster marathoners and half marathoners. I keep looking at my watch, seeing the fast pace and trying to slow down, only to get caught up in the fast pace again! At the water stop next to the beach, I toss my jacket. We head away from the beach and soon hit bridge #2, the Clearwater Pass Bridge, which rises 75 feet. This one is steep. I get up that sucker, and make up any time that I lost, on the down hill. We take a right into Sand Key Park, running a loop through the Park. I see Greg as I am about to leave, so I yell out a hi. We take a right, after leaving the park, heading south on the Island. I soon see Della and her husband on the otherside of the road. The half marathoners have an out and back course. So there are runners on both sides of the road now. I have my eye on the course split, knowing I will be able to control my pace a bit more when there are less runners on the road with me. Just after mile 7, the half marathoners turn and head back. As my splits show, I ran much faster than the 9:43 min mile pace I should have run! Splits - 8:43, 8:19, 8:46, 9:24, 8:39, 9:08, 9:20.

View of part of the course on the island.

Miles 8 through 16 - The next few miles are flat, for which I am thankful! The sun is out shinning on us. I am starting to warm up quick. I roll down my arm sleeves and take off my gloves. I wish I had attached safty pins to them, so that I could have attached them to my waist pack, but I had forgotten. Juli and her friend come up from behind. I say hi to them, before they pass. At the next water stop, I toss my gloves and fill up my water bottle. As we hit mile 13, I look at my watch to see 2:00. Yikes, that's way ahead of pace! A bit further down the road, we make a u-turn and pass another water table, where I see Doug, a local race director. I yell out a "hi" to him, before I keep going. We make a turn to the right, heading over the Park Blvd Bridge, which is only 25 feet. This is the easiest of all the bridges. I soon realize the area looks familiar. I am now running the same course as the Holiday Halfathon, which starts south, in Madera Beach. I am happy I didn't just run this race in December. I'm not a fan of the many miles on the Pinellas Trail. We turn right into a neighborhood and then a few blocks later, we turn left onto Oakhurst Road. Lots of great houses on this road. I still have some minutes in the bank ahead of my 4:15 pace chart. Splits - 9:31, 9:31, 9:27, 9:33, 9:36, 9:40, 9:36, 9:29, 9:42

Miles 17 through 20 - Finally, we make our way into the park that attaches to the Pinellas trail. I refill my water at the water stop and head on down the road. I know the first bridge will be soon. When I hit the first pedestrian bridge, I figure I will do my best to get up it, but walk if I have too. Thankfully, I make it up the bridge and over, with no problem, but I am definitely feeling slower. The next few miles I slow a little, getting water at the aid stations. I am feeling pretty warm and my legs are starting to tighten up. Time at mile 20 -  3:09. pace band time for mile 20 is 3:13. Splits - 9:50, 10:26, 10:09, 10:14

Finishing with a smile. :)
Miles 21 through 26.2 - This is were the race goes down hill for me. First, I loose the signal on my Polar GPS watch. WTF! I keep looking at it, hoping that it will pop back up, but it doesn't. At least I still have my overall time, but I needed that min mile pace to keep me on track! Now, I just go by feel, which is slower and slower. I start walking through the water stops. It is a struggle to start running again. I walk both of the next two pedestrian over passes, and struggle to run down the other side. My legs are feeling so stiff! Just after mile 23, we exit the Trail, running now on a road that is sectioned off for us, but still has cars driving past. I had made the mistake of taking an orange slice at two different water stations earlier. They tasted so good, but by mile 24, my stomach is not liking them so much. A very kind volunteer at the mile 24 stop lets me have one of her bananas, after I spot them on the ground and ask for one. It's just what I have been craving! I eat half of that and manage to start running again. Carolyn passes me soon after. She is looking strong and fast! She is on course for a PR! I try to keep her in my sights, but she pulls even further ahead of me as I get close to mile 25. We are now in a nicely shaded neighborhood. I take a drink at the next water stop and then try to keep running, but only make it a few blocks, before taking a walk break. After a couple of blocks of walking, I tell myself that I have less than a mile, I can run it in! So, I start my slow shuffle again. We make our way out of the neighborhood, make a left on the main road and head up the first bridge again. Thankfully, we don't go very far, before we make a turn onto the pedestrian downhill, spiral walkway, that will take us to the waterfront park. I hit the bottom and try to pick up the pace. I see the mile 26 sign, and try to pick up my pace even more. I see two women ahead of me, and decide to try and catch them. As we get closer to the finish, I pass one woman and then the other, before crossing the finish line. Doing the math, It took me an 1:18 to run 6.2 miles! :(
Finish - 4:27:20

Even though I am really disappointed with the last 6 miles of this race, I am happy that I managed to keep my finish in under 4:30. This is my second fastest marathon. I am pretty happy with it. I am thinking that in the future, I may need a little more recovery time between marathons if I want to push the pace that much. I've also figured out, that once I start walking, I stiffen up. It's happened before. If I keep running, I tend to stay looser. It's a big mental game late in the race. I need to not listen to that voice in my head telling me to stop! :)

Me, Donna and Carolyn after the race. PR for Carolyn!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Savage Seven Marathon

January 1, 2014 - Day 7

This is my second time running one day of the 7 day series of marathons. One day, I may actually run all seven! This year, the event was moved to the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, in Silver Springs, just east of Ocala. The park had a wide, paved, 5 mile loop path, perfect for running. I debated with my self about driving up the night before or the morning of, but in the end, I decided it would be safer to drive up the night before. I stayed at the Day's Inn, the host hotel. I found a restaurant that served Gluten Free pasta and pizzas, so as I entered Ocala, I pulled over to call in my take out order. I stopped in at Blue Highway, picked up my Pesto Pasta with Chicken and then headed to the hotel. I got checked in, got everything in the room and then dug into that pasta. It smelled delicious and tasted even better! After dinner, I pulled out my computer and looked for a movie to watch on netflix. I thought about watching Spirit of the Marathon again (for the 5th time!) but instead, watched Run for your Life, the Fred Lebow Story. This would have been a great movie to watch before running the New York City marathon! I enjoyed it and it got me in the mood to run a marathon the next morning. :)

Race morning: I got up with my alarm at 4:30 am. Got my coffee made, got dressed and then climbed back into bed with my laptop. The race site was only 6 miles away, and with such a small race, I didn't need to be there super early. So at 5:30, I walked over to the Denny's, which was attached to the hotel, got a cup of coffee, and headed over to the park. I actually found the park pretty easily. I was worried, because it was so dark out still. I pulled into a parking spot and walked over to the covered area were packet pick up was located. I got my shirt and bib, said hi to Bettie, Jim and Melissa, then went back to my car to finish getting prepared. After a bathroom stop, where I found Melissa again, who gave me her extra iFitness bottle to use (I forgot mine!), I rushed back to the car to get water and then walked over to the start line. Thankfully, I had been warned to bring a headlight, because it was still very dark at race start. After a few course directions from the RD, Chuck Savage, we were off!

The first part of the race is run through the parking lot. We run to the end, loop around a grassy island, then head back towards the start. The RD is standing in the middle of the road, over a cone, to show us where to turn. I run around him and back out to the end of the road, loop around the grassy island again and head back. We now enter the park pathway to our right. I have my first little off course moment here, when I run to the left, instead of going to the right of the aid station. I stop, before getting to far, when I realize the course doens't look right. The women at the aid station notice me and yell over that I'm going the wrong way. I turn around and head back over to the right section of the course. I didn't loose much time and now 3 other guys had caught up to me, so I had some company. I had been in second place, with the lead guy way ahead. One of the guys, who I ended up running a a mile or so with, was Cowboy Jim! He had volunteered at last years race and ran a few laps with me late in the race, when I wasn't feeling so great. He was on day two and running really well. The course is still very dark. I could see the little section of path my light was showing me. I could not see any elevation change, only feel it once it started! About half a mile before the turn around, Cowboy Jim stopped to walk and told me to go ahead. Now I was on my own in the dark! I could see the  light of the two guys ahead of me, but I didn't want to look up too much, I needed to keep an eye on the ground so I wouldn't miss the white arrows that were marked on the course. We exited the park, took a left, ran to the end of the street where the aid station was, then headed back to the park, to run back. The entire rest of this loop, I am on my own. It is gradually getting lighter, which I am thankful for, as I am running up the last hill of this loop, it is light enough to turn off my light. I head into the main aid station, grab some water and head back out. It has been misting on us for most of this loop, I had taken my maniac jacket off during the first loop and tied it around my waist. I decide to keep it with me one more lap, just in case it gets really cold. Miles 1-6 - 9:15, 9:29, 9:22, 9:35, 9:21, 9:27

A couple of minutes after leaving the aide station, I see the next two female runners. I still have my lead, but not by a lot. I don't care too much about that, my only goal is to run a good race and PR if I can. It starts raining hard about a quarter of a mile in on the second lap. I see a few other runners, but the course is set up, so that there is only a small portion of out and back. As you can see from the map, there is a giant loop where you don't see anyone unless you are passed or pass someone. So, I am on my own for a good chunk of the race. While on the second part of the loop, I am trying to put my water bottle back in to the back pocket, when I make a right turn on the path. I wasn't paying attention to the ground. Most of the time we take the right turns on the paths, but on this one, we were supposed to go straight! I realized this when I hit the end of it, which is a parking lot. It could have been a lot further, so I am thankful that it was only about a quarter of a mile, but I am still really upset about the added time, when I am trying to PR! It takes me a bit to get out of this funk that sets in when I know I've just added a couple of minutes to my overall time. I speed up a bit to try and make up some time, but I know it's not a good idea to do this for long. I head back into the main aid station, stop and take off my jacket and hide it under the table, grab some water and then head back out. Miles 7 through 12 - 9:04, 9:27, 9:23, 9:14, 9:11, 9:28

As I head out for lap number 3, I see that my lead on the next woman runner has decreased. Oh, well. I just work on my own pace. I pass Bettie on the course, telling her how I took a wront turn. She then tells me that the course is also a little long. Ah, man. That's going to add even more time to my overall finish time! I am happy that she told me though. I'd rather know ahead of time. During the second part of this 3rd lap, the woman who had been behind me, catches up. She is running with another guy and they are looking strong! She asks about my pacing and tells me I'm doing great and that I'll take overall female. I say, no, that will be you! She then tells me that she plans to finish this third lap and then walk the rest. She is training for another race, that is her goal race. I think to myself, "yeah, right. I'll believe the walking when I see it!" Sure enough, I see her as I come into the aid station. She takes off running right as I come in! Lap 4 goes pretty well. It has been raining off and on all morning. My feet are cold and wet, but I keep plugging away. The little hills are starting to get a little tougher to power up, but I do my best. As seen in the splits I've listed, I start to slow down during this lap. Miles 13 through 22 - 9:27, 9:11, 9: 35, 9:34, 9: 35, 9:27, 940, 10:10, 9:49, 10:17

One of the little hills on the first part of the loop.

The last lap: I head out on the last lap feeling happy. I know I can get this PR! I am way ahead of time based on my 4:30 pace band. Even with the added distance of the wrong turn and longer course, I know I should have it. I just need to focus and not hit the wall like I do in many of my marathons! I take the hills on the way out, much slower than I have been, but I keep going. I pass by the guy who had been running with the lead woman. I ask him how he is doing and what happened to his friend. He tells me that she just could help herself and decided to keep running. I knew it! :) When I get to the last aid station, half way through the loop, I grab some water, and walk a bit. I walk a little to long. I walk down the road and back onto the path, telling myself to get moving! Finally I do start running again. That was a long break! Which is why that was a 12:06 minute mile! Ah well. I try to run a good pace the last couple of miles. I keep thinking of this awesome PR I will have, and that helps to keep me moving. Once my watch shows 26.2, I look to see my time. 4:16!!! Wow! Now I just need to get that as an official time! I get up that one last hill, then take the little down hill and power it into the finish. So happy! Miles 23 through 26.98 - 10:08, 10:29, 12:06, 10:36, 10:28

Finish: 4:22:23

Chuck Savage, who is waiting at the finish line, gives me my medal. We get a photo taken of us by one of the volunteers and then I slowly walk over to the aid tables, grab a banana and cup of chocolate milk and then head to a bench to sit. I am feeling a bit nauseous. I had wanted to go back to the hotel, shower and head back out to cheer in the other runners, but by the time I got to the hotel, I was shaking so badly from the cold, I blasted the heater and tried to get warm. That was the roughest post race I've ever had. Cold, upset stomach. Thankfully, I was feeling a bit better after resting for about an hour. I decided it would be a good idea to hit the road and get back home.

Overall, I am super happy with my 7 minute PR! I guess I run well in the rain. I think the cooler temps really helped. Look forward to my next marathon!

The course. You can see my little detour near the mile 10 marker.