PRs… Finally.

The ebb and flow of desire has reared it’s head in the last couple months when it comes to running. I’ve been pretty busy and when I wasn’t busy, I wasn’t thinking about running. I finally set some PRs, without really trying this time so let me catch you up with some race reports.

May 20, 2012 – Rock’n’Roll Portland Half Marathon
I decided to run this race because a bunch of my friends signed up for the inaugural and they were offering a deal for $60. I love Portland. Hell, I tried to move there a few years ago. It was a no brainer. My training leading up to the race had been an odd mix of marathon style long runs and fast track work. My goal was to put in some track work and run a PR in the 5k and 10k this summer. I didn’t do much specific training for the half and after my last few experiences, I wasn’t putting any pressure on myself.

When asked before the race about my goal, I just said I’d like to PR. That means sub-1:17:28. Not shooting for the stars this time.. just running for the hell of it and enjoying it as much as possible. We arrived on Friday with about 8 of us in tow. Got to our hotel room and acted like tourists for a few days. On race morning, my phone was showing a temperature of 50 outside. I throw on long sleeves (yeah, I know) and jog the half mile to the start. I notice immediately that I’m warm. Portland has a funny way of being warmer than the temperature indicated. I noted it on my Saturday run too and I should’ve known better. No worry, so I slink into the first corral where I’m too many rows back from the front.
I need to stop doing that. I always think I’m in a good position a few rows back from the start and find myself passing small children and old ladies. From now on, I need to be on the line or right behind it. I’ve earned it, I think.

The gun goes off.. I take off comfortably. I think my first mile was 6:00. I was using a borrowed Garmin that didn’t beep on the mile, so I didn’t know my mile splits until afterwards. I was using the clock and basing my pace on how much faster than 6 minute pace I was. I was enjoying the run, conservative but somewhat fast. Looking around, smiling at the locals cheering us on, small children waving and clapping, it was nice. It was also hillier than I expected. I knew Hawthorne was uphill, but the neighborhoods that followed were all up and down. I was running about pace with my PR through 8 miles. I smiled at a spectator who said “Wow.. big smile” and at that point knew something good was going to happen if I was still feeling good 8 miles in. (See Surf City, where I was ready to quit at mile 7 and scowling terrible) At mile 9 it started becoming work. I had been sitting behind a group of 3 guys and a girl for a mile or so and was trying to slowly reel them in but wasn’t making progress. I slowly started ramping it up. At mile 11, we finally got the benefit of coming back downhill and I went into orbit. I passed one guy who had been dropped and threw down a 5:38. Then we crossed the Steel Bridge and went down the onramp for a big straightaway finish. I threw down and was running a 5:20 pace when I passed the second place female. I said some words of encouragement, but ended up putting about 8 seconds on her in the last quarter mile. When I saw the clock I was elated. 1:16:42. I finally ran a time worthy of my fitness and PR’d by 46 seconds. I wasn’t really even trying.

Boy that put me on top of the world. That half marathon PR is almost 2 years old! It’s about time!

June 3rd, 2012 – Rock’n’Roll San Diego Marathon
Wait.. a marathon? What? How did that happen? That’s about how I feel about it. So about 3 weeks before the marathon my training partners Matt and Jess start discussing going to Boston next year. Our other buddy Mitch is going and we know a few others so it sounded like fun. Wait! They’ll probably sell out before Chicago is run… that means if I want to go I have to run a marathon before September. No!! And that’s how I got talked into Rock n Roll San Diego.

I initially said I wanted to run as easy as possible to qualify and that’s all I was there for. I didn’t want it to screw up my 5k training (it did) and I wasn’t worried about time. I finally decided that I’d pace Jess and Mitch, who were running about 2:55 pace. Perfect. Shouldn’t kill me and it would be a little PR and a little bit of confidence. Matt wanted me to run sub-2:50 but I was concerned that I had done ZERO marathon specific training and that it would take too long to recover.

So race morning the gun goes off and we’re running comfortably. Actually, we’re running too fast. But Mitch has MITCH painted on his chest and 2:54:59 across his shoulderblades so we’ve got an unofficial pace group here folks. About 7 guys deep and we’re chatting. Heading downhill into downtown we’re clicking off 6:25s instead of 6:39s. We went through the half in 1:26:47 (although the clock was off and said faster). On the downhill of the 163 I noticed that my quads were already fried. I was worried it was going to be a long day as it was only mile 11 there. As it turned out, my quads held up. Jess dropped off the pace at 14 due to stomach troubles and still managed a 3:04. (She wasn’t terribly happy, but it’s still a fantastic time) I led the group around 2:54 pace and was even getting drafted off of at one point. For me it was a surreal out of body experience. I’ve had such trauma from the marathon that I don’t even want to experience it. I was just there for everybody else and it stayed that way until I started hurting after mile 21. I paced with Mitch through just before 22 when he started to slow. I found myself in a place where mentally, if I slowed down, I was done. We were in Mission Bay, home to hundreds of my training runs so at least it was comfortable territory. I slowly pulled away. Then Jeff pulled up on his bike and told me Matt was only 45 seconds ahead. Not good! He should’ve been in 2:48 territory, not 2:53. I put my head down and picked up the pace about 5 seconds/mi. I finally caught him on Fiesta Island and tried to pull him along, but he wasn’t going and I couldn’t slow.

At that point, it was about survival. I just wanted to be finished and knowing there was less than 3 miles to go and I was on 2:53 pace, I was pleased. For a moment at mile 25, I did the math and thought I could break 2:53 and sped up. I ran 6:28 for that mile, but quickly realized that I wouldn’t break 2:53 and what it would do to my body would probably hinder recovery.

I crossed the line in 2:53:16 for nearly a 3 minute PR. Not bad for a pacing job. I could tell I didn’t do any race pace work though. It felt good to stop. And then it didn’t! I started cramping as Mitch came across the line, almost ghostlike. He ran 2:54 and change, beating his goal time handily. I suddenly remembered that after the marathon your body hates you. It certainly hated me afterwards. I needed to sit down and I needed to stretch my calves. But being surrounded by a bunch of 3 hour half marathoners, I was trapped and getting cranky. Don’t underestimate the raw anger of a marathoner who can’t get through a crowd to a place to sit down. I’ve never felt so bad in my life. When I finally got to the gear check, I pulled the towel out of my bag, laid it down on the ground and got down like I was dead.

Takeaways: It was nice to PR. The marathon hates my body. How in the hell am I going to run 2:39?? Who in the hell do I think I am? Batman! Did I really just run this marathon so I could run an additional marathon? I’m an idiot.

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About thedillyruns

In 2007 I decided to join a running group to train for a marathon. I'd never run more than 4 miles at a stretch and never raced. I grew up playing basketball. After a promising first half marathon, I grew hungry to run faster.
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