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Snickers Marathon - RunMarathon

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Albany, Georgia
United States
Snickers and City of Albany
40F / 4C
Total Time = 3h 38m 59s
Overall Rank = 147/574
Age Group = F25-29
Age Group Rank = 4/22
Pre-race routine:

This was one last attempt at the elusive 3:40 time to qualify for Boston before really focusing on Ironman training (Ironman is coming in September 2010). I have had this goal for almost three years - here is a brief summary of my past experiences: the first time I attempted to qualify, I had a great training cycle (Higdon advanced) and I mentally gave up during the last mile of the race, only to come up one minute short. Since that training cycle, every time I have tried to train again, I’ve ended up with an injury which has resulted either in missing a planned race or starting from zero mileage and trying to build from nothing to “race” in 12-16 weeks. I'm sure many of you would agree that this is very nearly a fruitless effort.

I FINALLY was able to pull together some steady and consistent mileage buildup this cycle. After two months+ of completely no running last summer trying to recover from injury, I gradually worked up in 12 weeks to run the Chicago marathon in October, and although my time was 3:47 or so, my mini victory was that I recovered from injury and made it to the starting line, and, looking back, I’m pretty proud of that 3:47 on limited training time and minimal mileage (I think my peak weekly mileage was 35 miles….bad). Since Chicago, I managed to keep my mileage up and the injuries at bay and was able to run between 30-50 miles a week for 18 weeks prior to the marathon (for the most part). While my training cycle was not perfect (during the 18 weeks I went on two week-long vacations, Christmas and New Years interruptions, two head colds, and two separate weeks where I took a couple unexpected days off for nagging pre-injury pains).

Monday before the race I had a crazy dream about the marathon. In the dream I finished the race in 3:39, but at the finish they told me that the timing chips didn’t work and they were going to re-run the race the next day. The next day I started the race but had to stop to tie my shoe at the beginning and still ended up with a 3:38. When I went to the timing table to check on my time, they said “3:38, nice, that’s even better than the 3:39 from yesterday”, to which I replied, “I thought you said the timing system didn’t work yesterday” and they said “for most people it didn’t, but for you it did”. Crazy weird taper dream, but this comes up later….

I was not really nervous, but I honestly had no idea what to expect. I tried a whole new approach to training this time (modified Pfitz 18/55 peaking at 50 miles per week so I could fit in more cross training) which meant that I slowed down 75% of my miles each week and I had no idea if I was going to be capable to just suddenly run marathon pace on race day. I’ve also had some nagging hamstring and shin splint pain and wondered if that would affect the race. Add to that the things I couldn’t control: never seeing the course, weather, and illness. I definitely took the approach that I would just go out, take one mile at a time, and see what happened….

  • 3h 38m 59s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 08m 22s  min/mile

Beautiful forecast for race day – 30 degrees at the start and 45-50 degrees at the finish, sunny, with minimal wind. Only 575 people ran the marathon, so it was a small crowd. My plan was to run 8 min and 20 sec miles which would put me one minute ahead of pace at the halfway point. One of the reasons I had picked this race was because even though it’s a small race, it had pace groups, which I thought could be helpful. Turns out the 3:40 pacer usually paced the 3:20 group and I could tell he was a bit nervous about pacing slower. Well, he took off at the start and took the group at about 8:05-8:10 pace through the first five miles.

At mile 3, I decided I would rather run by myself at 8:20 pace than run 10-15 seconds per mile faster only to blow up at mile 20. This meant that for basically the entire race I ran by myself - and by myself I mean the pace group was about 30 seconds ahead of me, I couldn’t really see anyone in front of them, and I couldn’t hear anyone behind me and there was really no passing going on. I was nervous about that at first, especially since it meant I had to deal with the minimal wind myself, but the couple times I passed or was passed, usually the person was making weird breathing noises or grunting or something. I decided it was much less annoying to run by myself.

Anyway, during the first 10 miles, I just focused on running 8:20s and resisted the urge to catch up to the pace group. My homemade pace band fell off at mile 2 so I also spent a lot of time calculating what time I should see at each mile marker to stay on 8:20 pace (as all of you know, this takes A LOT of concentration when you’ve been running for a while….). I crossed the halfway point at 1:49 flat, EXACTLY on 8:20 pace, although I think I ranged from 8:10-8:22 a mile over the first half, so my splits weren’t perfect. My mental assessment at that time went well – breathing and heart rate were good, stomach felt good, and legs didn’t hurt too bad yet. I was drinking water at every aid station and taking a gel (Honey Stinger) every 5 miles.

From 15-20, I just took one mile at a time, and just tried not to slow down. This is sooo the no-mans land of marathon racing. You know that at any point, you could start to feel like crap, and you definitely feel far from fresh. I really tried not to focus on how many miles I had left, just focused on the next mile. At mile 20, I was still on 8:20 pace exactly at 2:46:30 or so. At this point I started to get a bit giddy and emotional, because I felt pretty good and hadn’t ever made it to mile 20 with a minute cushion. I really had to force myself to concentrate at this point and not think about the finish line – 6 miles is still a long way to go. Also at this point, I FINALLY caught the 3:40 pace group, who had slowed down a couple seconds a mile. I ran with them for about a half mile but then realized that I had more in me than the speed they were going – see ya 3:40 pace group! (they ended up finishing about 45 seconds behind me).

Miles 21-24 were pure concentration. JUST. GET. TO. THE. NEXT. MILE. MARKER. I think I had a couple 8:30s in there, but at that point, I was perfectly fine with that. Quads were screaming, but I could keep them moving, so I took that as a good sign. From mile marker 24 to the finish I was in full out elation and on the verge of tears of joy. Mile 26 was at 8:15 pace (!) and I realized that I had the potential to come in under 3:39, so I “sprinted” the last 0.2 – according to Garmin, the pace was 7:40 for that last 0.2 – I guess I had something left! I crossed the finish line in a glorious 3:38:59!! Second half of the race was run at 1:50, so a 1 min positive split – the perfect race!

1 – 8:15
2 – 8:34
3 – 8:07
4 – 8:19
5 – 8:24
6 – 8:20
7 – 8:15
8 – 8:12
9 – 8:16
10 – 8:20
11 – 8:18
12 – 8:17
13 – 8:20
14 – 8:13
15 – 8:19
16 – 8:18
17 – 8:18
18 – 8:20
19 – 8:22
20 – 8:22
21 – 8:19
22 – 8:31
23 – 8:34
24 – 8:25
25 – 8:21
26 – 8:16
0.2 – 7:41 pace

I would definitely recommend this race - the advantages of a small race (easier logistics - parking at the start was fine, gear check had like 50 bags in it, no crowds to weave through), but with the perks of a larger race (pace groups, great aid stations and volunteers, well organized). Combined with flat course at a good weather time for SW Georgia, its a great race!

What would you do differently?:

Absolutely nothing.
Post race
Event comments:

Not a big race, so no real expo or pre-post race activities. If you are into shirts/medals/swag/big crowds, you will be disappointed. If you choose races based on PR potential, this is a great one.

Last updated: 2010-01-29 12:00 AM
03:38:59 | 26.2 miles | 08m 22s  min/mile
Age Group: 4/22
Overall: 147/574
Performance: Good
Course: The course itself was fairly boring the first 8 miles or so – straight and pretty flat industrial type roads, but then the rest of the miles were basically through neighborhoods, and were beautiful – lots of turning but kept my interest. I’m from Chicago and although the course was billed as “flat”, I wouldn’t call it Chicago-flat, more like “VERY gently rolling”, but still definitely a PR course. Aid stations were every couple miles and most of the time included water, Gatorade, Hammer gels, and fruit. Volunteers were very nice and I felt safe from traffic even though I was by myself most of the time. No crowds cheering to speak of, which added to the lonely feeling, but was ok with me, I was doing this for myself.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2010-03-09 11:46 AM

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Subject: Snickers Marathon

2010-03-09 1:04 PM
in reply to: #2716520

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Atlanta, GA
Subject: RE: Snickers Marathon

Nice job! Congrats on a BQ! Looks like I should have met you before the race I am also doing IM Wisconsin (I assume that's the IM you have in September) Good luck with that also!

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