Training Widget

Monday, June 20, 2011

Grandma's Marathon

The challenge of a significant physical journey on foot unleashes some primitive connections to our identity as human beings. Jeff Galloway, Marathon

Two days ago I ran marathon #2, Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. In my write-up of marathon #1, I spoke of the learning curve. Take away points were: line up early or you're going to have to pass a lot of people (which is on some level an energy suck); be tough at mile 18 when you start thinking about what a ridiculous endeavor you've undertaken because you're going to be ok; and, finally, when your mind's telling you to walk, tell your mind to shut the heck up, because even though you think it's going to make you feel better, it's probably going to make you feel worse. Upon completion of marathon #2, I might also add, go ahead and set a goal, even if you might fail. My only regret about Grandma's 2011 is that I went into it ambivalently in terms of a finish time. As a result, I fell just short of one of my big goals in running: completing a marathon in 4 hours.

I am, on some level, being a little hard on myself. The only real reason we signed up for this was because we didn't get into the half. Crazy fools that we are, we decided to just tackle the whole darn thing. Training was focused simply on finishing, and in the process of training we came up with our game plan for the race: run the first half at a very comfortable 9:30-9:45 pace, then pick up in half two and see where we land. I had the following text message exchange with Becca, who was coming to cheer us on:

Becca: Hey Anne... This is Becca :) What is your goal pace for Saturday? I'm trying to figure out where to look for people.

Me: I hope to run 9:30-9:45's for the first half, then pick up the pace for the 2nd half to 9:10ish. That's a very roundabout way of saying probably 9:40ish!

Me: You could also read it as 'I have no idea!'

Somewhere along the line that plan went down the tubes...

We rode to the start line with fellow YMCA runners Alayna and Tanaegh, who did have a set goal of finishing under four. Long story short, we ended up in the starting corral with the four hour pacer. I had no intention of hanging with the pace group, it just seemed like a logical place to line up. Chris and I started together, and we immediately let the pacer and our buddies run off into the distance. Still in sight, just not really anywhere near us. After two or three miles, Chris asked, "How are we doing on pace?". I replied that we were a little faster than we'd planned, but that we were slowing down. As is typically the case in a marathon, those first few miles felt real, real good. Splits from my Garmin for the first six:

Avg Pace


Pretty much immediately after our little conversation, Chris pulled back and I ran on. This was also part of the game plan. Not that Chris would pull back, but that we would part ways if it seemed our goals for the day were going to be different.

To run a four hour marathon, your overall pace needs to be 9:09. I guess it's time that I admit that the goal was in the back of my mind all along, I just never embraced it. However, after running a couple of miles at 9:17 pace in the first quarter of the race, I told myself to let that go and just enjoy the ride. I could still see those pacer balloons though...

Miles 7-12:

Only two of those six were in the magical four hour marathon pace zone. Seriously Anne, give it up. I really don't think I was trying for four (perhaps that's why I didn't finish in four??!!). But, I could still see the balloons. Hmmm. This also seems like an appropriate time to mention that I was feeling really good. I never felt like I was really pushing the pace. I was enjoying the day. Weather was favorable. The rain that was pounding down when we rode the bus to the start line had subsided. There was a little wind, but more often than not, it was at my back giving me the nicest little boost.

Miles 13-18:

Let's just say that stretch went surprisingly well. When I looked at my watch at the half-way point, I was at exactly two hours. I guess that gave me a little boost for miles 14-18. Considering how I felt at the half-way point in marathon #1, these numbers shock the heck out of me.

The final miles:

These numbers kind of shock my socks off as well. Although I had trained for this event, and done all the scheduled workouts, I really didn't feel I had trained optimally. Mainly, I felt like I should have gotten at least one more 20+ mile run in. That being the case, I feel like I had a very strong finish (even though I felt and looked like the master of disaster-- see photo below). When I passed the 25 mile clock, I pulled together enough wherewithal to determine that if I ran the last mile at 9 minute/mile pace, I would finish in four hours. I made the mental decision to dig deep and get it done. I kicked it into high gear and sped up, and within less than a quarter mile, both legs proceeded to cramp up like crazy. Thus, I ended up close, but no cigar. I'm pretty sure that trying to make up time in the last mile will never be a workable model for me.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda... I'll do things a little differently if I do this again. Regardless, I'm damn happy with this race. Even if looking at this picture makes me throw up in my mouth a little!

1 comment:

  1. Congrats Anne, great story, pat yourself on the back!