November 25, 2016
Win, lol no
Been getting ready for the Dallas Marathon in a couple weeks, figured I'd run this as a speed workout and to get a pulse on where my fitness level is. Training consisted mostly of tempo runs and long interval work, plus a long run each week and easy runs to fill out the rest of the week. Due to work and school, I wound up sacrificing a lot of my easy runs to study/work, so lately i've only been running about 4 days a week, but I've been hitting around 60 mpw on that limited schedule. Not ideal, but I'm hitting my important workouts. Started having ankle issues during my workout a week before the race, which was worrisome, but I took things really easy between then and the race and it was good to go by Thanksgiving.
I'd driven down from Stillwater the night before so I wouldn't have to worry about waking up at the crack of dawn to make the hour long drive, so I woke up, had... some sort of food, I honest to goodness can't remember what it was. Probably Frosted Mini-Wheats or a bagel. Nothing heavy, probably around 400 calories.
Got to packet pickup around 7, an hour before the race. It was cold, high 30s, and I hopped right back into my car with the heater on full blast after I'd grabbed my bib. Hung out/got warm until about 7:15, then I headed out for an easy three mile warmup. Ankle felt good; there was a little stiffness, but no discomfort. Ran into an old teammate who was running it, he was a low-17s guy in high school but said he has since moved to shorter stuff (800/1500) with some success, so while I enjoyed seeing him I was glad I wouldn't need to worry about him. His former collegiate teammate, however, ran in the Olympic Marathon Trials this year, and my friend said he'd be gunning for a sub 15. That was lame, but I knew it'd be fast. Winning time last year was mid 16s, but just about every year prior to that was mid to high 15s, so winning it was a reach for me.
Lining up I saw some familiar faces; guys that run for local running stores, as well as a few of the older road racers who've gained a reputation for being fast. I was surprised to see the new Masters' Marathon State Record holder at the line, considering he'd just run his 2:35 five days earlier. He was sporting a fashionable coonskin hat though, so it seemed like he was running for fun. Gun went off, and we took off. I found myself in first at the 200, which I knew was entirely irresponsible of me, so I settled back as Arya, the near-Olympian, took control. Had one guy move with him, and the rest of the front runners settled into a pack. It split up into two packs (5 in the front, about 8 in the back) after the first 800, and I was in no-man's land between the two (tends to happen a lot). Arya and the other guy went through the mile in about 4:50, I crossed in 5:11 feeling great with about a 30m gap between me and the front pack.
Had a lovely little downhill right to start the first mile, and I stepped it up a little bit to take advantage. Also, it's an out-and-back course, so I knew I'd be slower coming back uphill after the turnaround. I tried to hold my pace (around a 5:15) back up the hill, but it took way more out of me than I was anticipating. The front pack had dispersed, and there were two guys within reach that helped keep me motivated, which was my saving grace in the back half of this second mile. Came through in 5:20.
Mile 3 + 0.1
Things flattened out again for mile three, but I was already winded from the uphill. I had my eyes locked on the back of the guy ahead of me, who I'd been steadily reeling in for the last mile. I heard footsteps coming up behind me, and one of the members of the back pack passed me fast enough that I knew I couldn't move with him. Someone else came up with him, a little slower though, and I knew I could hang with him (plus he's the coach at one of the XC powerhouse high schools here in Oklahoma, and I just wanted to beat him). He got about 10m on me, but with about 200m to go I started to kick (really only a kick in the loosest definition of the word) and just barely managed to catch him in the last 100m. Third mile was about a 5:33, and the last 0.1 was right around 28 seconds.
It hurt, but I was proud of how I pushed myself in the last mile. Mental toughness has always been a struggle, and the last couple races I've done a good job of toughing it out and not letting myself ease up as much as I want to. Arya wound up winning in 15:20, while the guy who went with him faded hard and ran something like a 16:10. I finished 8th overall, 5th in my age group; pretty odd to run that kind of time in a local road race and not even medal, but I knew what I was getting into, and 16:33 was close enough to my goal for me to walk away happy. Ran an easy three for my cooldown, took a peek at the official results (that marathon guy wound up running 16:55, which is insane to me), then headed out.
Very satisfied with my time. Wasn't sure what to expect, but a 16:33 is a victory in my mind, especially considering how bad I was hurting after the hill. Sad to finally be out of the teenaged age groupings, since I'll be competing against the overall winners for the age group win a majority of the time (even if they exempt overall winners from age group prizes, I still won't be able to write 1st on my bib). Excited for Dallas. The 16:33 translates to a 2:43 (I think) on the Macmillian Calculator, so my adjusted goal of 2:46:57 (a 10 minute PR) should be well within my wheelhouse. I'm feeling like complete crap today though, and with the ankle issues last week I've only got 15 miles for the week, so I'm a little worried. I was hoping I'd have a much better final training week before I start my taper, but it's looking like I might be doing a decent amount of rest between now and the marathon.