Apr 25, 2010

Earth Day Challenge Marathon

The Earth Day Challenge Marathon is as small as the town of Gambier, OH in which it is held. The first four miles goes around and through the town, and is quite hilly. Maybe that is why I couldn't find any comfortable pace or rhythm. The first hill is about a half mile into the race and is MASSIVE. As big a hill as I've done in any marathon (or even any race) that I've run. All the way through the start of this marathon I was getting passed and passed and passed some more. Even two first-timer coeds left me in the dust. I knew they'd all come back though. Well, of course not all of them, but a lot. Anyway, all these people going too fast made me go a little faster than I wanted too. D'oh. The first 5 miles went by at a 8:06 pace. I didn't even know I was running that fast, just couldn't find the pacing.

After that we started on the Kokosing Gap Trail; a converted railroad bed that is now a paved bike trail. Utter bliss to run on. Really, it was fantastic, at least for this small marathon. Oh, did I mention there were only 200 marathoners and 500 half runners? It did get a little crowded on the first out and back when there were people coming and going and passing and running together. I fell in with a few other runners and we started talking marathons. They had done 86, 75, 50+ and 3. The guy who had done 3 was hoping to break 4 hours but was up running with us at a 3:35-3:40 pace. His big idea was to bank minutes so when he tired at the end, he'd have some extra time for walking. Riiiiiiiiight, that always works. Not. So we told him that but he didn't listen and stuck with us anyway. Second 5 miles were still a bit too fast but not bad. Second 5 miles in 8:17.

I'd been having to pee a little bit and thought that it was a good idea to stop just before half so as to increase my chances of running negative splits. Unofficially my half time was 1:47:58; 3:36 for negative splits. Doable, but I'd have to just see how I was feeling. The second half of the race is another out and back along the trail but in the other direction after we dropped the half marathoners. Unfortunately that direction did not have nearly as much tree canopy to run under and the sun came out in full force. It was pretty warm and humid. I'm kind of using that as my excuse anyway because I started to slow down. Third 5 miles was at 8:20 pace. Somewhere in there I passed the coeds who started out so much faster than me. They said their goal was 3:39. First timers, aren't they just great?

Around about 15 miles I went into the mental doldrums. I hadn't experienced these in the last few races but know they are always there. I just kept running; what else could I do? They always pass anyway. Even though I was not into it at all I decided to count the number of people in front of me that were now on the back portion of this out and back. I think I got to around 25 but can't remember for sure. Even though I was slowing down, I was passing some people. In fact, I only remember 1 guy passing me the whole second half of the race (doesn't mean more didn't though). Fourth 5 miles were at 8:31.

Pacing started to get in the 9:00 range and I took a couple walking breaks. I kept telling myself (and still am) that it was because of the heat and humidity because I refuse to believe that going out at 8:15 pace for the first half is that much too fast. Maybe it is though and my ego just won't let me admit it. At one point I had to stop and turn to go back to my daughter for a high five because we missed our first one. I'm sure that added several many minutes (or just a few seconds). I told myself to just keep plugging along at whatever pace and as long as I did that I'd still have a finish right in line with my other marathons this year. The miles rolled on by interrupted by a few short chats with other runners. Fifth 5 miles was at 9:21 pace (ugh, I'm cringing just to write that).

Suddenly the finish was there, right where it started, on the track of Kenyon College. I was given a choice of a medal or a mug; of course I chose the medal. All about the bling right? My unofficial finish time was 3:44:37.

Turns out we had a nice day to run. No rain (at least until about an hour after I was done. I suppose some people got wet). Wind was there but minimal. Actually running into it in the latter stages of the race was quite cooling. I'd definitely recommend this race if you don't need large crowds and constant cheering to keep yourself going. After four miles the trail was a pancake flat affair lined with trees (well, at least the first half). Quite casual but with enthusiastic volunteers and fans (my family). No expo to speak of but a nice spread after with food and massages. I didn't partake though, I'm never in a mood to after running. The ice bath that my kids love to make was torturous but did help.

Right now I'm sitting in a Columbus, OH hotel room writing this because we were shut out of the flights we were trying to catch. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. I never did meet up with Psyche even though she ran it too. Be sure to check out her account of the race though because undoubtedly it will be more entertaining than mine.

April 22 15.84 at 7:57
April 25 26.2 at 8:33


Beth said...

Great job! Nice choice to go with the medal instead of the mug. Congratulations on a great finish and checking off another marathon in your challenge. I'm glad that your family was with you. I'm sure that helped.

Julie said...

Hi Az,
Woo hoo, nice job on the Earth Day Challenge Marathon!! You are right, it is about the BLING! I like the medal! I enjoyed reading your race recap:)

Jill said...

Nice job, that's a great pace. I know how those mental doldrums are so good job working through that! Congratulations!!! I hope you get a flight out tomorrow!!!

TokyoRacer said...

I think that heat and humidity has a very large effect on any race, but especially when we're talking 26 miles. It has more effect than you think. So 3:44 is quite acceptable.

Tony said...

Great Race report AZ,

I'm glad the weather worked out for you even though it was hot. 4 marathons in the books. Keep it up AZ. You have a great family supporting you like that.

Glenn Jones said...

Congratulations on a well run race. And I'm sure when *you* say humid, you mean sweltering to us pansy Southern California folks.

Emz said...

awesome recap.

great race!

Jean said...

Absolutely, it is all about the bling! :)

AZ, you are amazing. Another marathon down...incredible! Great job this year, and keep it up!

San said...

Congratulations. I would have gone for the bling too.

Hope you got home alright.

lindsay said...

i have a hard time telling myself that the "banking time" idea is dumb and i don't consider myself a newbie. i guess it's hard for me to believe in my abilities to run strong? who knows.

congrats on another marathon. those rail trails are awesome for running, we have some down in SC. too bad you couldn't have the medal and the mug! lol. i like the 'practical' awards/gifts but i do want a medal for a marathon accomplishment.

congrats again az! :)

lindsay said...

oh i am not saying i agree with the "banking time" method, i just have a hard time convincing myself that i will run strong throughout. i definitely wish i had enough faith in myself to hold back a little. i tried this in the derby marathon, but then again i also started out slow by default since i started late & got mixed in with a run/walk corral (not to mention my legs were already a bit tired).

i guess it worked for the most part -- i still faded around mi20-22 but i'm in favor of blaming that on very tired and sore legs. anyway if i've lost you (as i'm kind of losing myself) i am PRO-start out conservative. :)

Psyche said...

Hey, AZ!
Nice race. I had a very similar experience to yours for the first 4-5 miles. Impossible to get into a groove. I went from 10:30's on the hills to 8:40's on the down hills. I was all over the place. That mega hill was a surprise, huh?

I'm pretty sure I saw you eventually... Were you wearing something kind of light blue or blue/grey with white letters? Very tall?

Congrats again! In my opinion, the super flat was much harder to run than slightly rolling hills. Add the heat, humidity, and lack of crowds, and it makes a difference in your time.

Karen said...

Check, check one more marathon done! Great job... I love that you get the family involved by having the kids make the ice torture bath. LOL