30 September 2008


T-Minus 6 days to Wineglass. Tonight I’m in upstate New York at mom’s, blogging from my old bedroom, mooching off an unknown neighbor’s unsecured wireless. In the final days, I need to keep loose, so I popped in 5 between leaving work and hopping in the car to begin the journey to Ohio before returning here for Wineglass. Calm, uneventful week. Yeah, right. So, for a calming effect, I’ve rolled out an oldie: my first blog before I knew what one was, my race report from my first marathon, Cape Cod 2005. It’s fun to look back on what was new and wonderful back then. Who knew I’d go sub-3 two and a half years later? And it’s also fun to recount the story of running with Chris Russell before I even knew who he was…

Cape Cod Race Report!

Being sent to people who might only have a slight interest, but hey, it's news!

Executive Summary:
Cape Cod Marathon, Sunday, October 30th, my first marathon
Official "Gun" time - 3:29:09
Net time (crossing start line to finish) 12 seconds less - 3:28:57
Never stopped, not for nothin'
195th out of 1200+ registered, 976 finishers
Hurting, but still alive and breathing.


Long Version (For runner types who give a crap about this stuff):

The Weather: Absolutely horrid on Saturday. Cold, rainy - almost snow, windy. Forecast was for it to clear about 4 AM and for Sunday to be beautiful. I figured the storm would linger, but dawn broke Sunday clear and perfect. By race time (8:30 AM) the temperature was in the high 40's and I was able to leave the wind coat behind, running in short sleeves from the start. It was cool with brilliant sun the whole way, though a bit of wind on the northerly legs - and of course the last mile was a northerly leg. The temperature at noon at the finish was about 60°.

The Start: No time for pre-race jitters. We were shooting the bull, oblivious to the time, when BOOM! - the canon (yes, they use a canon) went off and we were off. I crossed the start line 12 seconds after the canon, so my "net" time was 12 seconds faster than my official "gun" time. I consciously tried not to go out too fast. I swear I tried. Really, I tried. You don't believe me, but I tried. I failed miserably. I never saw the 1 mile marker, so the first split I got at 2 miles was 15:06, or 7:33/mile. Way too fast. Over the next few miles I tried to slow the pace, but the body was in a comfort zone and didn't reply, so I just had to go with it.

The Race Plan: Pretty much went out the window. Chalk it up to experience. The plan was to take it slow, consistent 8 minute pace, be smiling at 20 miles as I was in my longest training run, then hang in there or turn it on a bit at the end. By mile 8, I figured the damage was done, and I'd have to run it out and see how it went, knowing that the "hills" (I still don't think of them as big hills like many others did, but they were certainly there) were coming later. The change in strategy can best be summed up by one guy I was running with - who was targeting 3:10-3:20 while I was targeting 3:30 - who said to me, "Hey, tomorrow you can tell your friends you ran these perfect 8 minute miles and did your 3:30 smiling, or you can tell them how you ripped along the first half of the course then suffered mightily later to gain your 3:30. Which is gonna' make a better story?" He turned out to be completely right - I hope you like the story!

Hydration and Nutrition: I tried to "pre-hydrate" but this turned out to be a mistake. Early fluid intake only led to, uh, mild urging discomfort, if you know what I mean - not enough to bring on a bio-stop, but enough to notice. The problem with that was that I didn't drink enough early on so as not to exacerbate that condition. That condition remedied itself but by then I was into hydration deficit, and significant intake later in the race didn't prevent what was effectively pretty severe dehydration in the last 2 miles. I ran with the Fuel Belt, geeky as it may be, and I'm glad I did, as I would have been far worse trying to drink from cups - a skill I simply don't have. I stuck to my plan of a gel at 40 minutes and another every 30 afterward - also handy and plentiful due to wearing the belt.

The Support Team: My three ladies - Awesome, right in place as planned, and executed a perfect bottle hand-off to replenish the belt without making me break stride! Wish I had that on video!

Race Progression: Splits for miles 1 through 15 ranged from as low as 7:26 to 7:46 on the upgrades. 10K hit exactly 47:00 - an easy split to remember - 7:34 pace. At mile 15 I turned in a 7:40 and was at 7:37 pace on average. Ironically, after the exact 47:00 10K, I also hit another exact split - at the halfway point (13.1m) the clock ticked 1:40:00 exactly (7:38 pace) - neither of these are hedged by a second or two - they were both exact - now what's the chance of that? Mile 16 slowed to 7:59 with a noticeably upgrade, but 17 came in at 7:49 and 18 at 7:54, then things started slowing down. Miles 19-20-21-22 rose slowly from 8:04 to 8:22. Miles 23 and 24 stretched to 8:55 and 9:04. A burst of "speed" (?) brought mile 25 down to 8:39. Mile 26 was utter agony at 9:31. The last 0.2185 miles (that famous 385 yards) were at 9:12 pace - I guess that was my "kick"! In the end, I crossed the line at 3:29:12 from the canon, overall 7:58.6 pace, and (unofficially) 3:28:57 from when I crossed the start. I'm pleased at the fact that I did not stop or walk at any point!

Body Mechanics: The body held up remarkably well. The areas I expected trouble from - the right knee and left ankle - didn't deliver any trouble. Early on the calves felt a bit stressed - I think I tapered a bit too much in the days preceding (but then, had I not, other issues may have prevailed). The only scare came around mile 17 when an odd twinge appeared below the right ankle, above the heel. It was a sensation I hadn't felt before and thus didn't know how to manage. I altered my stride a little to stretch it to avoid cramping, and it subsided within a half mile, never to return. By 20-21 the muscles were weakening, which in retrospect was almost certainly the onset of the dehydration. By the last two miles, the dehydration was pretty severe. I'd liken it to Hell, but the weather was nice and the scenery superb. My pastor would be pleased to know there was prayer involved. Later, multiple expletives emerged. The last 350 yards to the finish were slow motion with the body tingling - not pretty. The race staff sat me down, did a quick lucidity check (exactly what they should have done), realized I was hurting but OK, and served up cup after cup of water. What a crew! 10 minutes and 6 cups later, I was OK.

The Aftereffects: Less severe than expected. The knees are tender and of course the quads and calves hurt, but overall, not bad! The post-race sports massage didn't hurt, nor did a healthy (or perhaps somewhat exceeding healthy?) dose of ibuprofen and a beer.

The Event: I cannot say enough about how well this event was organized and run. The 700 volunteers from the Falmouth Track Club and their friends put on a First Class event. Everything was attended to, and everyone was extremely helpful. If you are considering your first marathon, this is a challenging (but beautiful!) course, but well worth considering as your first. If you've marathoned elsewhere, run this one. These people did an awesome job. Check out www.capecodmarathon.com.

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