Tuesday, January 10, 2012

BankTrust First Light Marathon 1/8/12, Race Report-part3

As I wrote in Part 1 & 2, the BankTrust First Light Marathon of January 8, 2012 in Mobile, Alabama marked the second marathon of the Alabama 3N3 Challenge. I took the opportunity of having these 3 events relatively close together to experiment with a few different race strategies. 

Goals for the First Light Marathon
  1. Evaluate a "no taper & short rest" for an open-26.2 race effort
  2. Evaluate the Run/Walk strategy for an open-26.2 race effort
  3. Pace for a sub-3 early and hold on for at least a Boston Qualifying 3:05:00
I will address goal 3 in this post as my race report.  Click on either of the first two goals to read more.

Welcome to Mobile, Al

Venue-Mobile, Al
Considering the race schedule we have for this winter, we just couldn't spend as much time in Mobile as we'd like. We were fortunate to get a good dose of it in the 20 hours we were there.

GoDaddy.com Bowl Parade

Just as we arrived into downtown Mobile on Saturday night, we hit the GoDaddy.com Bowl Parade. After spending 30 minutes trying to get around, we just watched.

GoDaddy.com Bowl Parade

-Admiral Semmes Hotel
They sold our room that I booked 4 months ago.  Turns out they over sale and stick people at the Holiday Inn that they also own.  It wouldn't have been a big deal except it was already 10 hours until race start when we finally made it to check in.  It took another hour to get us room. 

-Holiday Inn Hotel
Dump.  We were on the second floor and the noise from the street was ridiculous.  I hated every second of it and was glad to get out. $90/night  It was directly across the street from race start, and we had access from our balcony.  It was around 2 blocks from the finish, and they allowed us a late checkout which gave us time to shower.

First Light Marathon
Relatively inexpensive and doesn't sale out.  The race loot was a long sleeve shirt, a small bag, and a hand made medal rated #10 of the top 25 medals in America by MarathonandBeyond.com.  The race doesn't use chip timing, so your time is from the gun to the finish line clipboard.  The half marathoners leave the marathon course around mile 8 and rejoin at mile ~24.  The course is mostly ran on one lane of a major road, but there are some interesting sections that wind around the water and through Spring Hill and USA colleges.  The finish is the best part, lots of cheering through downtown as they announce your name and hometown.  Big plus is the free beer and BBQ on the other side of the finish line.

-taper-none.  1 week rest at 35% of my average weekly volume
-breakfast-2 cups of coffee and a pair of Ensures (700C)
-nutrition-300C of hammer gel Espresso. 
-caffeine-550mg as 200mg at 6 miles, 200 at 13 miles, and 150mg trickled through the flask.
-hydration-1 paper cup of water at every aid station 1-23

Rise and shine, little one.
Eyes open at 4:15am; I was hoping for at least 4:30. With the bowl game parade last night, there was a lot of action outside our window. Between cheers, music, sirens, and shouts, I think I grossed 4 hours of rest Saturday night. That brings my 48 hour total to 9 hours of interrupted sleep. Lack of sleep, no taper, and that bowl of soup I ate for dinner last night should make this an interesting race.

We aren't wearing any clothes under there.
I started the process of coffee, calories, and hydrating right away. The two hours I had until the gun quickly turned into standing at the starting line explaining why we have on two different colored shoes. It wouldn't seem that strange except we are wearing garbage bags and folks are keying in on the shoes. The crowd begins to sing the National Anthem in a soft mumble and the little old man on stage needs help squeezing the starting gun trigger.  Bang!
The starting line.  The Azalea Trail Maids
and the Boy Scouts were in charge of security.

Usually the first few miles fly by.  First Light, however, was interesting from the starting line.  I went from being on the front row to being swarmed by a flood of racers.  I was running a too-fast-for-me 6:30 and was being overtaken by droves of people.  I thought "what is going on? I should be top 10 here; where are all these folks going?" 

By the end of the first mile I had identified "Prancing guy."  I say prancing, because he was a flurry of fist pumps and hand waves as he hopped along to his tunes and zig-zagged across the race line.  He ran in random spurts ahead of me as if he could not make forward progress between music tracks. He only entertained me to mile 3 before he had some sort of electronic device malfunction and had to abandon his pace strategy. 

M-Dot, the IronMan Logo
Fortunately, I had discovered a guy with a nice red M-Dot tattoo on his calf.  He had a smooth and efficient stride pushing his Brooks Green Silence shoes.  I was curious as to why I was catching him.  If he was a runner whose stride and pace had earned him a position ahead of me, he should be maintaining his pace, not slowing.  As I studied M-Dot, I was interrupted by Mr. "IP Team" stamped on the back of his white tank top.  Typically, I don't get passed outside of the first mile or two.  Usually the fast guys are gone, and I move through the field of over-achievers on my way to the finish, so this guy stood out.  IP Team had a long, inefficient stride. He ran as though he was clearing tiny hurdles only he could see.  He quickly made his way around me and M-Dot but only made it about 50 yards away before he settled into the same pace we all 3 seemed to be on.

M-Dot Seen in the background

By mile 5, I had started this yo-yo thing with M-Dot where I would get on his heels, he would hear me and speed up only to come right back to me.  After just a few of those exchanges, he deliberately slowed his pace to let me pass.  At this point, we had separated from the half-letes and most of the field was gone.  My world was IP Team 50 yards up, M-Dot somewhere back, and the occasional random marathoner running out of gas.  We held this position until mile 10, the first hill.

M-Dot has a super power.  It is the ability to foolishly charge a hill.  I was fortunate enough to talk to him about it after the race.  He takes pride in his ability to climb.  He passed me around 1/4th of the way up the 175ft climb just as I began to walk.  As he passed, I cheered "Way to go man! Running strong!"  He replied one syllable at a time "easy. after. this."  We were at mile 11, it was not easy for a long time.  I continued to walk and recover, M-Dot charged up the hill, and IP Team slowed to a trot. 

Team IP had opened up a small gap.

We continued the dance of me catching the pair only to walk as they pulled away over the next few rollers before finally passing and dropping M-Dot at mile 15.  This put me about 25 yards behind Team IP and unknowingly into the top 10.  I had every intention of sitting in his wake and letting him pace me for a while, but as we hit the next descent I reeled him in so quickly that he was startled into a dead stop.  I realized that he had no clue that M-Dot and I had been stalking him.  He hadn't seen us since mile 5.  I spent the next few miles thinking of how the perspective of the rabbit is different when he isn't aware he's being hunted. 

M-Dot replied, "Easy. After. This." at mile 11.
By mile 16, I became as uncomfortable as I usually am at mile 23.  I began focusing on what I could control.  I picked perfect lines around the corners.  I ran the best form I could deliver.  I concentrated on relaxing as much as possible.  By the top of the last climb at 18, I was done.  I told myself to suck it up until mile 23, that was the final downhill.  If I wasn't in position to go sub-3, I would cruise.  Unfortunately, the last downhill was at mile 21.  Just as I was about to pull the 'chute, a volunteer yelled "You're in the Top Ten" as I passed. 

"Whoa, I can't let those jokers catch me.  I've got'ta hold on." 

The mile 23 aid station came earlier than expected.  I realized I was 23 minutes under 3 hours.  I had plenty of time to go sub-3.  I picked it up and refocused.  Unfortunately, the official mile 23 marker came shortly there after and I needed a 21 minute 5k to make it.  I made the typical bargains with myself to help with morale and began hammering away.

At mile 24 my watch dropped the satellite signal.  Love these little blessings late in a race.  I just kept hammering using my respiratory rate to pace.

Those finish lines keep looking better and better.
At 25 I needed a 6:40 to go under-3hrs.  I arrived at mile 26 right on pace, just in time to see 3 hours roll by.  I had no clue where I lost the time, but I enjoyed the next 96.5 seconds I spent on the last 0.2.  (~8 min mile pace)  I was going to walk, but there was a 13.1 finisher jogging ahead of me.  I thought, if "yellow pants suit" dude can run for 3 hours, so can I.   

Officially I finished in 3:02:04, 9th overall.  IP Team rounded out the top ten in 3:08, and M-Dot took 1st M30-34 in 3:10.  This was a challenging race, and although not my best finishing time, it was my best performance on what wound up being my worst preparation ever.  I enjoyed the race and learned a lot about myself and racing.  I missed my sub-3 hour goal, but I was able to hold on for my 3rd of 3 Boston qualifying marathons. 

Mercedes in 5 weeks!

9th Place Male

Race Stats
-13.1 at 1:30:15
All the medal and awards
are handmade by the community.
-Final 5k in 22:04
-Averaged a 5.25 second -loss per mile from line selection
-0.3 miles of poor line selection, I'm getting better.
-Elevation 1,010 feet

Best part of being early, I can eat all the chocolate donuts.
A spectator screams "Don't let her catch you, Billy!" Billy was unsuccessful. 
Hitch Hiking may be part
of a well executed race strategy.

I'm spent.  Emily is always
ready for another round

Of course, it's nothing a little
Gulf seafood can't fix.

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