Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pensacola Marathon Race Report

Team F.A.S.T. - (clockwise from L) - Suzanne, MB, Allan, Deena

Well...considering the (achilles') issues this race became less of a target race and more of a long-distance race-like effort...a first step on the way to next spring's Rock n' Roll/Mardi Gras Marathon. One of my athletes decided to run her first marathon in Pensacola...a decision I would have recommended otherwise. But, we stepped to the line having used the MN speed/strength workouts and discussed the pacing strategy.

My "smoking drugs" finish goal: 1:30 My "VDOT" finish goal: 1:34

Pre-race: Up 2hrs before race start...good sleep...yogurt, bagel, peanut butter, coffee. Arrived at race site 20min before start, enough time to get my singlet/bib number/shoes situated, make a head call, and settle into the starting corral for a seemingly-endless litany of opening ceremony. The race not only started on time, but seemingly quicker than I initially feared.

Usually, I'm hell-bent for election off the starting line, but I wanted to start conservatively...and perhaps, in the words of the late Walt Stack...taper off.

Mile 1 - 7:14 HR 142-155 (While barreling down the main drag I grabbed a firm grasp of reality and decided to go closer to the VDOT prediction performance.)

Mile 2 - 7:18 HR 151-163 (The first climb on the course...worrying a little, but not much...just get to the top without pushing the envelope.)

Mile 3 - 7:18 HR 152-160

Mile 4 - 7:22 HR 151-159 (The isolation of the individual runner on the course begins...this event is not one which has been embraced by the city as a well as some strange camber which beat me on the first race simulation.)

Mile 5 - 7:26 HR 153-158 (Here I begin to feel quite concerned...not only because of the camber but also because we are sharing a single lane with northbound traffic.)

Mile 6 - 7:20 HR 153-163 (This, to me, is probably best part of the's fairly flat and familiar to me from my flatter Sunday morning long runs. At this point I take half of my espresso gel flask - two shots, mixed with equal parts water and coffee.)

Mile 7 - 7:20 HR 151-161

Mile 8 - 8:35 HR 148-158 (This was the big climb which had teeth on the course...I backed off pace to save energy, and felt pleased I only lost a minute of time.)

Mile 9 - 7:49 HR 149-159

Mile 10 - 8:18 HR 150-166 (This was where I took the second shot of gel/ this point is the last REAL climb on the course, a viaduct over the rail lines. The concrete slab roadway of US-29, turning back toward downtown, awaits.)

Mile 11 - 8:16 HR 143-153 (Again this is a point on the course where you approach the dark tea time of the runners' soul. The strange and unnerving sense of legs beginning to empty themselves of glycogen begins here. But this is not the beginning of the worst...)

Mile 12 - 12:07 HR 133-150 (The R achilles has begun to complain about the course. Both it and the front ankle/arch of the foot has swollen, slowing me down to a walk at the Confederate War Memorial. Just what I need, a reminder of another lost cause. Attempting to gently jog down the last last ugly .3 mile/100-foot descent is impossible. My marathoner athlete, Deena, passes me at 1:36...which worries me to no end; she only needs to run 4:00, I know she's gone through too quickly and will definitely pay on the second loop...)

Mile 13 - 14:54 HR 132-153 (I pass the point on the course where my wife is cheering us onward. Not long after, the ankle/achilles' swelling has subsided.)

.1(.25) - 2:25 HR 135-143 (HOWEVER...all I can manage is a limping, gimpy jog into the finish.)

Total time: 1:53:54

So, what's the cause of the achilles swelling? It might have something to do with elastic laces, laced up one eyelet too high. The hills weren't any help, either...remember this is a month since I spent a week in San Francisco...too many hills too I didn't give myself enough time to heal. I suspect a solid week-to-two weeks of non-impact activity (swimming), continued work on body composition (I'm eight pounds lighter than I was when I first came aboard with MN), followed by conservative-paced long runs and a modicum of speed work (mostly threshold pace!) should have me prepared for mid-February.

There's a couple of opportunities to run/race in the next month, which I might do to tune-up for RNR/MG:

Turkey Day 5-Miler - 11/25 (fun more, no less!)

Old Man River HM - 12/19 (treat as a long training run for Mardi Gras)

RNR did offer a switch-out to the half marathon; if I don't feel good about the race I'll definitely switch to the half rather than risk a major/runner-ending injury.

FOOTNOTE: Deena barely missed her BQ by 7min. She came through 12 at 3:57. Bad day on the second half...cramping legs...but a great first marathon effort. She finished third in her age group and made me proud.

I think she's a convert to the MN pacing strategy. Stand by for further reports.

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