A Goal: Sub 1:50, a sub 3 marathon pace over the challenging course. B Goal: Achieve A goal comfortably and have something left in the tank and not feel wasted afterwards. That's right. For once I wanted to finish a race with gas in the tank. I needed to know I can go deep into a hard race at that pace. For sure getting into the 20s on a course like Baystate at that pace is doable. Finishing it at that pace? Well... that remains to be seen. Boston? Even trickier.
I'm not much for cold weather running and the ride to the race started on a bad note. My car door was frozen shut and I ripped the door handle off trying to get in. Then I narrowly avoided a car eating pot hole and random tire eating scrap metal lurking in the road. Yet every light I hit on the way to 93 was green. It wasn't all bad.
I'm a cold weather wimp. I've been going out in some of it lately but rarely enjoy it. I've got just a couple runs ever under 20 degrees so I had no idea what to wear. I usually shed layers for races so this one was tricky. Fortunately I got the layers right today. Hell, it's hard to overheat when it's 10 out.
As the race started I kept to my goal of going out easy since the first mile or so was uphill. It was clear many of the runners near me were working hard from the start and putting in a good effort from the go as I was patiently waiting. At the first downhill I opened up the throttle and started moving forward. I found cruising in the high 6:30s was very comfortable. This allowed me to bank time as we headed towards the big hills. At every reasonable uphill pitch I backed off a tad. I focused on turnover, not powering up them. I didn't want my legs to burn from the effort. Unfortunately some of the downhills were too steep for me to effectively keep the turnover high enough without braking with my quads.
I wanted to hit the big hills a few seconds ahead of pace and allow myself to slip back to 6:53 pace. Unfortunately I slipped slower than goal pace after the first hill which had a steep initial pitch. It was amazing to have been cruising along at a 6:47 pace through 10.5 miles and then see the runner next to me have to walk up the hill. So having given up my buffer on the smaller of the two big hills I kept my focus on the big hill. I went just easy enough on the steep pitches of the big hill so that I could run faster than goal on the little level spots here and there. Again, I saw good runners walking up this hill too. Amazing.
After the second big hill I slowly began picking up speed as I recovered from the climbs. I hit the half at 1:30:34 which meant I had to pick up 34 seconds in 2.9 miles to get back to goal. Fortunately I continued to pick up speed. After the hills it was difficult to get back to that earlier comfortable 6:30s pacing, yet I did with the help of some nice gradual downhill. The last two miles required very intense focus to keep turning the legs over. Despite this I hammered home my fastest mile at the end. My first thought upon finishing was that I wanted a beer.
This was probably my best strategically run race. The course was to challenging to just go out and run even splits. I had to be confident in my ability to hammer it home for the last three miles. I really felt deficient on the hills. I probably could have powered up them much faster but worry it would have taken a toll. It felt as if my weight was coming into play against me. Despite this, I ran the hills about the same as the runners around me so much of this may be my own perception.
This is a 14 minute 17 second improvement over last year. Damn.