Friday, October 18, 2013

Twin Cities Marathon/USA Marathon Championships

It's been more than a week since the USA Marathon Championships, and I think it's time to post my thoughts on this wonderful race.  I've spoken to many friends about how the race turned out, and the positives and negatives I took away from the weekend, but haven't quite put it into written context.  One thing I want to touch base on, is how well I felt leading up to this marathon, compared to how busy I was with "life".  This marathon was my second fastest marathon (2:20:57), and as a full time teacher, I can honestly say I was happy with the out come.  My fastest marathon came when I was finishing up Grad School, and student-teaching; nowhere near as stressful as having your own class(es).  Nevertheless, there are many different factors that I took away from this cycle compared to my PR cycle.  And that's what I'll be comparing the most.

So the weekend started off as soon as I got off work the Friday before the race.  I was done with my 2nd grade class at 2:50pm, and Arlene and Loren were in the parking lot ready to go.  Our flight was at 4:10pm, so we were cutting it a little close.  But of course we made it into Minneapolis without incident.  Liz was there at 10:30pm to pick us up, and we in bed at midnight after some chatting and late night snacks.  Arlene, Liz and myself slept in till about 9am, and went on a short 30min shake out run.  A pleasant jog through some Minneapolis parks and some light drills were enough for me.  Once we got ready, the whole group of Turner's (Liz, her mom and dad) took me to the host hotel and let me relax on my own.

I ventured around a little bit on Saturday to the elite hospitality suite and to a local coffee shop for a decaf vanilla latte.  The majority of the afternoon was set aside towards getting my bottles ready, and watching movies in the hotel room.  I had a nice time catching up with John and Ariel Heitzman for lunch, but besides that, I wasn't doing a whole lot.  And once it was time for dinner, Arlene and company came and picked me up for an awesome dinner at Old Spaghetti Factory - one of my favorite places on earth!  John and Ariel were there, along with many other Albuquerqeños.  Dinner was amazing, and then it was time for a long night of nerves and tossing & turning.

Race morning provided us with some perfect weather!  I had my usual breakfast, and boarded the elite bus.  I sat with an old friend of mine; Nick Arciniaga, and we chatted a bit about race nerves and goals.  I knew he was going to race well when he pointed out how nervous he was.  I also had a feeling that I was going to run well too, but things slightly changed.  Once, we got to the staging area, I got in a short warm up and was ready to go.  I knew there would be a solid pack of runners in the front going out in 66:00 for the half, so I didn't want anything to do with that.  I was looking for a 68 minute group.  Well, after about a half a mile, the race looked like a tear drop, with a ton of guys in the front group, and a dwindle of guys stringing out to where I was.  I would guess I was in about 30th place at the mile, which was hit in 5:14.  I wasn't wearing a watch, so after that I had no real idea of where I was at.  Mbarak came up on me just after the mile and I was with him for a bit, but wanted to catch anyone in front of me.  I saw another familiar head up front - Solomon Kandie, so I raced up to his little group of 4 runners.  Once I caught them, I decided to keep the momentum and continue on.  I felt pretty comfortable running by myself and catching a guy or two every mile, but that ended when I reached the halfway point.

When I came up on the clock at 13.1 miles, I had no idea that the clocks were off.  The clock read 66:47 when I passed it, and I was a little freaked out at how fast that could've been.  In reality I came through the half in 68:24, a time I wanted to be at, but I didn't know it at the time.  So, I was thinking that I was going to blow up hard.  Another thought I had was that I might blow up a little and still run a pr or the Olympic Trials Standard.  Either way, the wheels came off at around 20 miles.  I remember two guys coming up on me at 18 miles, one Hansons guy and a BRC guy.  A tried to run with the Hansons guy for about a mile, then faded off of him and attempted to run with the BRC guy.  We ran a few strides together, and I asked him his name.  "Sean", is what he said, and then he wanted us to work together.  I've heard that phrase so many times in the later stages of a marathon, and always believe I can stick with them to the finish.  Well, in this case, I ran another mile with Sean and faded.

I came to the hill at mile 20, and slugged myself up it, and kept on moving until Mbarak and Solomon caught me at mile 22.  Again, I rallied myself to go with them, and faded at mile 24.  The last 2 miles were a struggle, and once I could see the clock, I made out a 2:20 something ticking away.  I wasn't too surprised, and still didn't want that number to tick any higher, so I kicked it in to finish 20th in 2:20:57.

After all the mayhem at the finish, and getting ready to come home to Albuquerque, I started to assess my training.  I figured I had a solid 19 weeks of high mileage, but once I plugged the numbers in, it turned out to average 87 miles a week.  This was a little surprising to me!  I now know that working really takes a ton of time, but if I can squeeze a few more miles in, I know my performance in the marathon will improve.  2:20 is a good start to another training cycle, and a great spring marathon attempt at the standard.  Cheers to many more miles!    

From Instagram user bethholine