Seebo's Run

A running commentary on my training and whatever else emerges from that.

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Saturday, March 21, 2009

DC National Marathon

Sometimes 26.2 just isn't enough.

But it's done, and I'm on the couch watching the NCAAs on my sister's couch.

The race really began last night as I was driving down here, later than I wanted and with a WaWa chicken salad hoagie as my pre-race dinner, and I decide my race plan would be to go out with John Dubs and see how long I could hang with him. He was going for a sub-3 time and I figured I'd give it a shot. I knew my training was lacking for this to me it was a bit like taking an exam without studying... see what happens.

It was chilly and dark when we - Rebecca (who was running the half-marathon), Sal (a friend of my sister's) and I pull into the RFK Stadium parking lot. Just about enough time to get all the usual pre-race business taken care of and to find Ian and John. Gun goes off and I go out with John. Weather is perfect and the company is good - we're working together and heading up to the Capital and then past the mall. I kept 5-mile splits and mile 5 goes by in 34:49 - perfect given the slow start.

That's the thing about marathons. The pace is comfortable, almost too comfortable, but there is an awareness that this is a long race. The next few miles through Adams Morgan and back around toward the Capitol are where most of the course's hills are, and the 5 mile split at mile 10 is 33:39 (68:28 total). This is right on schedule. The first 10 miles, however, are the warmup and this is the point when potential problems often first introduce themselves. For me, my stomach was acting up and a blister was starting up under the ball of my right foot. I stop briefly to readjust the sock, a futile effort. Nothing to do but keep running.

The run continues on pace until midway, here the course forks - marathon to the left and the half-marathon to the right. John and I never did see the left. We run right into the finishing chute for the half before we realize we screwed up. Our "finishing time" was 1:29:50, perfect except for it being the wrong clock. Waves of confusion and anger and panic come over us, we turn around, upstream, to return to the marathon course and pass the other halfway mark in 1:31:48. We lost two minutes.

I talk to John about the need to focus on keeping up our effort and forgetting this little misstep. Like a gymnast falling off the balance beam. Just get back on and keep going. I say this as much to myself as to him. We circle RFK stadium and head out to the second part of the course, and soon after that I start falling off the pace. Nothing to do with the missteps; I'm just running out of gas after overreaching with my pace.

At this point I don't think I've ever wanted to quit a race more. My foot hurt, I was off pace, and I was right at RFK Stadium. The main thing that kept me going was that I really didn't feel like telling everyone for the next few weeks that I dropped out. I mean, I had all kinds of reasons to quit, but nothing that forced me to. So I said I'd take it as a long run. But I knew it would be a long run.

The miles got longer, which makes sense as it was taking longer to finish them. Miles 10-15, with the extra time at the half, came in at 37:05. At this point I'm slowing and people are starting to trickle past me. I give up any hope of a sub 3 hour time and start wondering if I'll get a Boston qualifying time - 3:20.

Here we're back at the capital and heading southeast towards the Anacostia River. Running through tunnels and on freeways, slowing down and more people passing me. This is really miserable. Not quite a death march, but I'm struggling to find reasons to continue beyond just seeing if I could do it. The course crosses the Anacostia River over a bridge that has a metal grate surface with spikes. This kills my blister. Then its a long out and back along the riverfront. At mile 18 I pop a GU and then do a Gallowalk through a waterstop and throw down two cups of Gatorade. I see John coming back as I go out, he looks much better than I. The riverfront part of the course ends at mile 20, time for these five miles is 41:12. Total time 2:26.

I'm feeling lousy, but at least its the part of the race now where I'm supposed to feel lousy. At mile 22, going through the Anacostia section of DC, I'm thinking that I could walk from here on in and it only would take an hour more. This gives me comfort until a paunchy guy with a fuel belt that is pulling down his shorts passes me. Its sunny as we go through SE Washington neighborhoods and at mile 23 I start getting a second wind. Really extraordinary. I just start kicking it up again. I reeled in people who passed me a few minutes ago, including fuel belt guy. I go up a ramp and see a chubby white cop pushing an older black guy around. Shoving him and yelling. I want to intervene but keep going, I can't see any reason how this was appropriate. The cop obviously felt he could do this with impunity. And he was probably right. This sticks in my mind as I feel better and better. Mile 25 and the split is 41:48. Mile 25 is in 7:22, not great but a full minute better than the pace I was getting a few miles back. The last .2 was in 1:23 and then it was done. 3:17:23, 141st place out of about 2,000.

Looking back, I basically got what I trained for. I'd been telling people that I'd be happy with a BQ. Just before the race I decided to reach for the sub 3, knowing I'd likely get a race like this if I came up short. Looking back now, it was a good gamble. It would have been great to get a sub 3, it would have sucked to miss a BQ. Any time in between really didn't matter.

What intrigued me about this race was my second wind. Never been running out of gas in a marathon and then recovered like that. I was in a full sprint down to the finish, holding off a guy coming up from behind me. The only reason I could think of for that was the GU/Gatorade at mile 18. I've got to experiment with mid course replenishment in future training cycles. Along with that, better logistical planning to get more sleep and eat better before the race couldn't hurt either. And finally, more extensive training would have made a difference.

Some things to think about. For I'll be back. That was one thing this race had me determined to do.


Blogger Mark said...

yeh got me laughing already, the split, sounds like something I've done. Looking forward to the rest of the story.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Love2Run said...

I think it was the guy with the fuel belt that pissed you off. Nothing like a little anger to get you going. Great 1st 1/2 but did they get mad at you for crossing both finish lines? 2 results for 1 race!

1:09 PM  
Blogger Quinto Sol said...

"until a paunchy guy with a fuel belt that is pulling down his shorts passes me"


Then you pass him...

Redemption :-)

Nice job getting a BQ... even while struggling...

I don't think it was Love2Run... the guy has no pouch! He passed me in B*ston 2008 where I dropped out at the half.

9:04 AM  

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