Things definitely did not go as planned in the preparation for this marathon. I was unable to run for 6 weeks in the middle of my 16 week training program becuase of a calf issure, but was healthy for the final 8 weeks. Then I came down with a head cold 5 days before the race that seemed to zap a lot of my energy. That being said, I felt very blessed to be able to be in as good of shape as I was to start the race.
Friday night I had a pre-race dinner at Black Bear Diner with Blake and his family, and Jeff and his family and a couple other friends. Blake, Jeff, and I all had pancakes for our pre-race carb loading. They were good and the company was even better. Blake and I went back to the hotel and got our things ready for the race and checked the weather which said it would rain all night and all the next day and that we would have 10 to 20 mph head winds. Yuck!
After a surprisingly good night's sleep we awoke to dry weather but strong winds. We took the long bus ride up to the start and found Jeff and mentally prepared. The flags were wipping in the wrong direction but it was still dry out. After the national anthem accompanied with some firework,s we headed to the starting line. A few minutes before the start it started raining hard. It was about 60 degrees out so it felt good. The cool thing is, the wind stopped blowing when the rain came.
I had been debating what pace to run, and since I had a cold and was not feeling 100%, I decided to go with the 3:10 pace group. It ended up being the right decision. By the end of the first mile the rain had stopped and it was pretty calm out. Only a few times during the race did I feel like I was running into a head wind and I just tucked in behind our pacer at those time.
The first half of the race has most of the down hill in the race and the only serious up hill. The whole race only has about an 800 foot drop the second half is pretty much flat. At the half way mar,k I knew I was going to have to work to keep that pace up the rest of the race, but I felt like I could. I hit the halfway mark at 1:34:22 (7:12 pace), perfect for a 3:10 marathon.
The next 7 miles I tried to just keep things steady and did a good job. From the half to mile 20, my average pace was 7:14, but I was starting to feel it during that 20th mile and knew I was going to have to dig deep. Over the next few miles I started to fade a bit and miles 23 and 24 were my only miles over 8 minutes. I averaged 7:52 over the last 10k, but finihed strong over the last couple miles. I even ran the last 0.4 with a 6:40 pace. I'm pretty confident this course is about a quarter mile long as everyone's watches registered about 26.45, just like last year and I know I ran the tagents.
Anyways I finished with a 3:13:05 (7:22 pace) which gave me a BQ by 1:55. I'm not sure if I will register for Boston, and if I do, it may not be fast enough to get me in anyways, but it sure feels good to be back into the BQ club.
Congratulations to Jeff who entered the sub 3 club with well earned 2:59:56 and to Blake who set a 6 minute PR.
This is a very well organized event, and except for the course being a bit long, I would I wouldn't change a thing about it. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for winter marathon. It is February 28th next year and I'm pretty sure I will be back for my 3rd shot at this race.