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!

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