Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Clarence DeMar Marathon Race Report

The Skinny

26.2 mile time - 2:39.57
pace - 6:07
place - 3
division - 3

1 - 6:04
2 - 6:19
3 - 5:58
4 - 6:09
5 - 6:07
6 - 6:03
7 - 6:05
8 - 6:10
9 - 6:11
10 - 6:04
11 - 6:01
12 - 6:05
13 - 5:50
14 - 6:02
15 - 6:03
16 - 5:59
17 - 6:11
18 - 6:04
19 - 6:14
20 - 6:02
21 - missed it
22 - 12:17 (for 2)
23 - 6:11
24 - 6:28
25- 5:56
26 - 6:10
.2 - 73

The Full Race Report


Headed up to Brattleboro, VT to our hotel early Saturday afternoon. All of the hotels in Keene were either booked or required a 2 night minimum. Our "hotel" didn't. The pictures on the internet looked fine, but once we checked in we had our doubts. Can we let a baby stay in this room? It's only one night, we rationalized.

Registration at Keene State was smooth. Everybody there was so nice and accommodating. They even gave KJ a bib number to wear. The ride from the hotel was about 22 minutes, valuable info in determining the wakeup time on race day. After putting the little one to bed, Jen and I ordered takeout. Prerace meal: steak, baked potato, asparagus, a crab cake, ziti, and rolls. Washed it down w/ plenty of water and gatorade. Just before bed, ate a peanut butter and jelly w/ more water.

Woke up at 5 am. Did my business and headed to Keene. Did some stretching there and sipped a water bottle continuously. Boarded the bus to Gilsum at about 6:30. People were quite friendly and I chatted all the way to Gilsum w/ a woman who had just completed Reach the Beach.

Arrived at Gilsum up about 45 minutes before the race began. Bathroom lines moved quickly. A misty rain was falling, maybe that hurried people along. Did my stretching routine and jogged for about 8 minutes to warmup the legs. Arrived back ten minutes before the start and did some more stretches.

the race

At the starting line, the mood remained light and upbeat. The started accidentally fired the gun and if this was a bigger marathon, I wondered if the crowd in the back would have stampeded those of us at the line who clearly saw it was a misfire. Anyway, the gun went off for a second time and we were on our way.

First mile started downhill and one young buck took off. He was probably do 5:30 pace. Nobody went with him. I settled into fifth place and would remain there for the upcoming miles. I was trying not to think too much about the race, but I was obsessing about time and splits in the early miles. I told myself to stop looking at my watch, but I kept looking anyway. Instead of staring at the watch, I should've been taking in the scenery. The first half of the course is beautiful (even in the rain). Part of it parallels a river and the leaves were turning into their autumnal hues.

At 6 miles, I took my first water. I really wasn't thirsty but felt I should take something. I only took water a handful of times over the course of the race. I think the misty conditions kept my body hydrated. Just after 6, the young buck came back to me. He looked harried and when I passed him, he didn't respond. At 7, I passed another runner. He stayed w/ me for a little mile and then fell off the pace. In third place at 7 and would remain that way for the rest of the marathon.

I was feeling good at this point and just trying to stay relaxed. Told myself that I would only check my watch at key checkpoints: 13.1, 16, 20. I looked at 10 too and was happy to see a split of 61:10. It was at this point I also started looking for the family. My sister had planned on meeting me about the halfway point on her bike. She had gels and water for me. Jen and KJ were also en route. Knowing they were out there gave me something I could look forward to.

Can't remember when I first saw Kathy, my sister, but it was somewhere around the half. I was happy that they marked the halfway point. I was at 1:19.47. I thought to myself: Sub 1:20 is good, I'm on track for besting my PR of 2:44. However, I also thought: I usually run the second half of a marathon much slower than the first. I did a good job here of staying in the moment and not worrying about the future miles. After a couple of turns, there was a good straightaway and I was feeling exceptionally strong. Having Kathy on her bike yelling at me undoubtedly helped. She would go ahead then stop and shout at me. It was cool. After the half, I was looking to get to 16.

I told Kathy that I'd take a gel at 14. I didn't. My legs were feeling good enough for me to wait. What wasn't feeling so good was the bladder and GI. I was contemplating making a pit stop and thought I would have to at some point. Never did. During the race, I was actually telling myself that having to go to the bathroom was a good thing b/c it was distracting me from any discomfort in my legs. In a weird way, it kept me going. Ended up taking a gel and water at 15, and my pace didn't waver.

Looked at the watch at 16. 1:37.09 and still feeling good. Of course, my first thought was 63 minutes to run sub 2:40 is doable. That thought, however, was juxtaposed w/ "a lot can go wrong in 10." At this point I wasn't really thinking of sub 2:40. I was thinking a PR is very possible.

Don't remember much from 16 to 20, primarily b/c I was just looking to get to 20. Chunking the marathon helped me get through it. I think I took another water and I remember what I presumed to be a girls' xc team at the head of the bike path. The bike path was topsy-turvy and led me to the 20 mile mark and my family. At 20, I was 2:01.40. I was anticipating 2:03 or 04. What a pleasant surprise. Still, I was thinking more about going sub 2:44 than 2:40 b/c of the 2 crash and burns I've experienced in Newton/Boston. Right after 20, Jen and KJ appeared. I heard them before I saw then and that exhilarated me. It was cool to see the little one in her carriage wondering what the heck her mom was doing yelling at her dad.

At this point, I'm thinking I have a 10k to go. I sort of can't believe how good I'm feeling. Then I start thinking about all of the hard work I've done. I'm saying to myself: you've trained at this pace. You've practiced finishing a 20+ run at sub 6:00 pace. I had a good mindset.

I told Kathy I wanted a gel at 21 but I didn't take it. In fact, we both missed the 21 mile marker. Turned out to be a blessing in disguise b/c when I saw the 22 marker I was pleasantly surprised. It came up quickly. I was thinking I must be at least 21.5 by now and there was 22. Kathy, thank goodness, was persistent and offered me the gel again. I took it and was glad I did. I think it gave me the energy I needed to make it to the finish.

Mile 22 contains a ridiculous hill. It's short but steep. It's two (maybe three) tiered and did I say steep? Getting up it was tough but a downhill reward followed. I think it was at this point where the quads started to throb a little bit. Soon after that hill, the gel started coming back up on me. I was regurgitating it in my mouth and re-swallowing it. It didn't taste so good so I took a little more water.

Saw the family again at 23 and I was feeling in the zone. Kathy was biking and Jen was jogging with the stroller. Another cool, memorable moment. Just after 23, my parents called Kathy on her cell. I vociferated my 23 mile split: 2:20 something. (It was 2:20.08.) This was the first time I thought to myself: I could go sub 2:40. I thought: I have 20 minutes to run 3 miles, I can do that (I conveniently forgot the .2). I started to bear down.

By 24, it felt like somebody was pounded a mallet into each of my quads. I lost it a little bit on 24 but tried to keep pushing. The energy was waning but still present. The leg pain was increasing. At 25, I looked at my watch. The split ended in :56. That was the first thing I saw. I thought it was 6:56 but when I looked again it was 5:56 and I couldn't believe it. Now during the 24th mile, I told myself: you have to be at 25 in 2:32 if you want a shot at breaking 2:40. Well, at 25, I was at :32. I prayed for strength as I worked down Baker Street. I saw a handmade sign that signaled 25.5 and that was helpful. I tried to push more but didn't know if I was going faster. A quarter of a mile later I saw Jen and KJ for the last time. They were crazy w/ their encouragement. I also remember Kathy shouting: "You own it. You own it."

I made the penultimate turn and there was the 26 marker. I said to myself the watch has to say :38. It did. I didn't know the seconds so I booked it. I made the final turn and geared down one more time. I was both in pain and above the pain. I saw the clock ticking 50, 51, 52, 53....I dug down one last time for a final push. My hamstrings tightened into racquetballs. I actually thought: I could go down right here. I was either going to collapse from hamstring failure or break the line in 2:39 something. Fortunately, for me the latter occurred.


In my delirium, I clicked the wrong button on my watch and couldn't read my final time. I frantically asked my sister if I broke 2:40. She said I definitely did. I exulted. I was so happy. I kept saying I can't believe it, I can't believe it. Later that night Jen finally said, "Why can't you believe it? You worked hard for it." Still, I was on such a high that I somehow thought that I must be dreaming it. I mean sub 2:40 has been a lifetime goal for me. One of those things that you think about and wonder: will I ever be able to do it. So when you do it, you kind of can't believe it has materialized.

Jen and KJ and Kathy were so happy for me. That was awesome. It was also cool to see how others were so happy for me. From my parents to my brothers to race officials to fellow runners, when I told them I attained my goal, they were so happy. That feeling of communal support and encouragement is a natural high.

Just to be sure, I stuck around to get the official results. Next to my name was 2:39.57. It was official. I'm in the sub 2:40 club. Two days later and still psyched.

So now I'll either retire from running and grow a pot belly or, as
Justin Fyffe said, go for that next goal.


Jen said...

You kicked butt! You looked as though you were out for a Sunday jog!

mrn said...

congratulations! how awesome to achieve your goal. glad to see you had such a great race.

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