Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Philadelphia Marathon: Unabridged Post

Warning: This is a long post.
The Skinny
2:36.18 (PR)
pace: 5:58 (sub 6:00!)
place: 29 (7 division)
Before I get into a big, long report, I want to say that I am ecstatic with this run.  It wasn't perfect but I attained a major running-life goal of averaging sub 6:00 for 26.2.
5-6.01  (29:26)
10-6.07  (59:49)
13-6.01  (13.1 ~1:18.10)
19,20-11.47  (1:59.06)
26.2-7.42  (2:36.18)

The Full Race Report
Friday--After a delayed flight, we arrived at race headquarters (i.e. Jen's parents' house) at 9:30.  (A special thanks to Joe for installing the car seat).  One concern for the race: a head cold crept into my body.
Saturday--Got up early for a prerace jog of a few miles.  Still with the head cold.  I took sudaphed all-day, which helped for the race.  I also got in a rarity these days: a nap.  Met long time buddy Phil DiRusso at the expo.  It was good to catch up.  Phil also came over to headquarters for dinner.  Mamacita prepared an outstanding meal.  It was great hanging out w/ the whole gang: Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Nancy, Laurie, Hailey, Joe, Dave, Jen, KJ, and Phil.  
Sunday--4 am wakeup.  The head felt clear and I knew I was ready to go.  Sometimes your body just knows it has to be ready, and it wasn't perfect but it wasn't bad either.  At the expo, a race official notified me that I would have access to the elite facilities.  This was awesome.  We had a heated tent and our own lavatory.  It made my warm-up routine a breeze.  As somebody in the tent said, they are really working hard to make this marathon a legitimate event, and amenities like this certainly helped.

the race  
I felt smooth from the gun.  I checked my watch to get a sense of pace and I was a little fast but not fast enough to slow down.  I basically tried to hold the opening mile pace while trying to stay relaxed as possible.  The first couple miles people jostled for position but it was never crowded.  Clocks revealed themselves at every mile and my goal became keeping it under multiples of six.  I was running very relaxed, watching my breathing and paying attention to arm swing.  Running as efficiently as possible.

Dave handing me my water-Gatorade mix at 25-ish.
The race starts with the half-marathoners and at about mile 5 the two lead women passed me along with a gaggle of men.  This concerned me somewhat, but the mile clocks told me I was running fairly consistently and not slowing down, so I let them go.  At 7, I took water for the first time.  This is when I realized it was a little chilly because my hand got very cold from the water.  I tried to wipe it off on my CMS singlet.

Miles 6 through 8 take you down Chestnut Street and this was the most exciting part of the race.  The road was narrow and the crowds were loud.  The tall buildings seem to reverberate the cheering spectators.  Very cool.  Everybody's name is on his bib and it was at this point I started to hear "Go Kevin."  Even though I didn't know these people, it still helped.  It also helped to hear people yell, "Central Mass," and those in the know even called "Go CMS!"

The hilliest section of the course is miles 9 through 11.  This part goes through the Zoo with one big up and one big down.  Otherwise, the course is mostly but not totally flat.  In the Zoo is also the first of 3 hairpin turns.  At this turnabout I noticed I was closing the gap on the lead women without even trying.  I thought this a good sign.

At 13, the marathoners and halfers split.  I was a bit disappointed to see only a few veer right for the 13.1 finish.  Oh well, I had Jen, Kerin, Dave, and Joe coming up and started looking for them.  A minute later I heard Jen say, "Go Daddy!" and this made me smile.  Dave was there to hand me a bottle and a gel.  Bonus: Dave tore the gel open for me.  This point in the race is the start of an out-and-back.  Mentally, I was in good shape for this.

With mile 14, I found myself saying, "12 mile tempo run.  You've done tons of these."  That really helped.  I was feeling great and 12 miles didn't seem that far to me.  This is where training with Ben Nephew gave me confidence.  One, we do workouts much faster than the pace I was running, and, two, he really encouraged me to run my longs at a faster pace.  I took him up on that suggestion and I think it really paid off.

My legs were starting to tighten a little on the outbound trip to the turnaround, but any feelings of worry were countered with how great I felt aerobically.  DoubleJ posted in his Bay State report that he was fine in his breathing but his body concerned him.  I now know what he was talking about.  At 18, I had my first touch of concern.

Leading into the final hairpin and a pretty long and gradual hill was a huge cheering throng.  I was lifting by them and the knowledge that I was on my home.  Here I was touched with a bit of good luck.  I found somebody to run with.  At the turn, we exchanged a few words (we were both on pace for PR’s) and decided to go to work.  This was my best stretch of the race.  5:53, 5:53, 5:53, and either you clung onto us or we ate you up.  We became a group of four.  I knew I was running over my head at this point, but I said “F— it.”  Sometimes you just gotta go. 

The group ran into some bad fortune at mile 22 GU station.  I was planning on taking a gel here, but that didn’t happen.  All of the water station attendants were tending to the runners on the outbound side, leaving all of us headed inbound in the lurch.  We yelled, “Gel!  Gel!  Gel!” but our pleas fell on deaf ears.

The next aid station seemed a long time coming and I knew I needed some sugar.  I took some Gatorade and kept moving.  At each mile I would spy the clock and see how I was doing.  The numbers were looking good.  Now, all I had to do was keep it together. 

At 23 or 23.5 I started to lose touch with the pack.  I don’t know why or how this happened but it did happen and I am partly kicking myself for it.  I could feel myself starting to go.  I needed to keep it together for a 5K.

The wheels officially started to fall off at 24.5.  I could feel myself doing the skeleton dance.  “Just keep moving,” I told myself, “Just keep moving.”  Jen, Kerin, Dave, and Joe were coming up , and at 25 they gave me the boost that I needed.  It was a big lift to see him.  Dave executed a perfect handoff and gave me the water-Gatorade mix my body desperately needed.   Usually, I wouldn’t take anything so late in a race, but I needed something, so I did.

I started desperately looking for the mile 26 flag.  I never saw it.  My feet morphed into concrete blocks and I felt like I was running in quicksand.  I was working hard but moving slowly.  The crowd was screaming and cheering and I tried to keep digging.  I rounded a corner and the finish line was right there.  I might’ve tried a final sure, but I really don’t remember if I did or not.  What I do remember is the 36.  I clicked my watch and it confirmed what the red numbers said.  I wasn’t hallucinating.  I clenched both hands into a fist.

I took a few minutes to compose myself.  I was already getting stiff.  I managed my way back to the tent and tried to eat something without much success.  When I got to my back, I noticed that Kathy, my sister, had already sent me a congratulatory text.  I also called mom and dad to let them know how I did.  After a quick change, I left the tent to meet up with the support crew.  They were so happy for me.  They made me feel really good.  I have to stop for a moment and give a major shout-out to Jen.  She has been so supportive of me on a day to day basis.  Her encouragement and positivity are bar none and I’m lucky to have her as my wife. 

I ran fast enough to get to the airport in time for my flight.  At the terminal, my head cold returned.  I still have it, but I don’t care.  My body was able to put it on hold for the race, and that’s all that really mattered.  Kathy was right on time for the pickup (thanks to both Kathy and dad for the transport to the airport) and I was home in time to watch Sanders intercept that pass.  A good ending to a good day.

Team CMS
Whether it’s true or not, I feel like I brought my running to the next level on Sunday.  My CMS teammates have something to do with that.  I remember doing a cooldown with Greg after the Rhody 5K and he told me that he thought I could run 2:35.  At the time I thought that impossible, a pipe dream.  Now, I’m not so sure.  For some reason, I held onto that nugget and kept it in the back of my mind while training.  It helped.  Be it Greg, Ben, Fyffe, DoubleJ, DoubleD, Wiles, MQ, DQ, Verrington, Goup, Jim, or any other guy on any given weekend, I am inspired and motivated by this team’s performances.   Your teammate makes you want to run faster.  We may not get the opportunity to practice together every week, but we still hold ourselves accountable.  You post your training every week and you don’t want to embarrass yourself.  It makes you push through. You work hard and you set PR’s.  
Me with my support crew a few minutes after the race.


Glenn said...

Congrats! Awesome post and awesome race!

Jim said...

KG - I am guilty of not staying on top of blogs but once I saw Philly Marathon (not 1/2) I knew it was going to be good. Two things hit me hard reading your recap. The first of which was your mention of the cheers you got from peeps who yelled, "Central Mass," and those in the know even called "Go CMS!" That is awesome. The second of which was giving cred to teammates like Ben and the CMS gents you've raced with in 2010. I agree with Greg H, 2:35 is in the cards, no question. You closed out 2010 with several PR's and executed a 2:36:18 on a head cold and a rough patch of touchy calf issues a few months ago. Congrats on the PR! More to come from you....

Greg said...

Great race, KG. I also feel that running for CMS has raised my running up a level. Everyone on the team is supportive and inspiring. Way to go. I hope to see you at some indoor races or snowshoe races.

Nuke Runner said...

Sub-6 mpm! Congratulations on a great race.

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