Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Des Moines Marathon Part II (or how I qualified for Boston by refusing to admit I was trying to qualify for Boston...Part II)

So there I was with a goal and a race, and as the summer and early autumn wore on (and it was still approximately 800 degrees here), I was dutifully doing my track workouts (with a little more intensity) and my long runs (with a lot more intensity thanks to my Saturday ladies - many MANY thanks to Laura, Crystal, and Amy for hauling me through the heat all summer!!), when it occurred to me that I had no idea how to pace a) on the road and b) at 8:25 pace. So I signed up for Salem Lake (see post here) for a good, long run with marked miles and aid stations to practice a (kind of) and b. However, to ensure that I did not accidentally end up properly prepared and thus prone to disaster, I tripped over Lord-knows-what and fell down to ensure that I remained totally unpracticed at the pacing thing (and had a neato scar to show off at Des Moines).

...So I finished out my taper weeks uneventfully and three weeks later, race day arrived and I found myself in Iowa surrounded by Smythes.  Note to all:  If you have the opportunity to hang with the Smythes, you should absolutely do so.  You absolutely will not find a nicer, friendlier, more welcoming, more fun family anywhere.  HUGE thanks to the Smythe family for allowing us to share in your family trip and your momentous occasion!

Kay - back to the story at hand.  So race day arrived and there I was standing on some street in the middle of downtown Des Moines (yes, there is one) with perfect weather predicted and an amazingly well-supported course ahead of me, wondering if I was going to be able to pull this puppy off.  The gun went off and we headed toward the capital building at some random pace.  I tried to stay somewhere between the 3:30 group and the 3:40 group.  I probably should have just stuck with the 3:40 group in retrospect, but that's just not my style - I have to do it all by myself even if it means I do a crap job at whatever 'it' is.  So mile 1 passed by....somewhere....I totally missed the sign.  Good start.  Luckily, I saw mile 2 and noted that I was running sub 8:00 miles.  OOPS.  I guessed the 3:30 group (which was a couple hundred yards up ahead) was clearly using the 'bank some time' strategy???  SO I slowed down and proceeded to clock in a series of ~8:15s for the next few miles, wondering how long I would be able to keep THAT up, but still feeling comfortable and chatting with the guy who had settled in next to me.  After determining that my new friend was considerably faster than I, we wished each other luck and parted ways and I laid down an 8:30, which simply would not do.  So I sped up and dropped in a 7:59 to regain balance, then actually ran the targeted 8:24.  Then another.

If you think this is going to be some great story about finding my pace and sticking to it, you clearly have not met me. I'll get to the point: I discovered after about 3 of these that 8:24s make my legs tighten up and feel grumpy.  I can run 8:00 or 8:15 or 8:30 or slower, but I can't run a series of 8:24s.  

If you think this is going to be a great story of me discovering I can run 8:00 or 8:15 for the whole marathon, you clearly haven't run with me - there's NO WAY I could pull that nonsense off in the shape I'm currently in.  I think it would be physiologically possible SOMEDAY, with the appropriate training, but that leads to the quandary of how to properly train without triggering some sort of bizarro disaster (see Part I)..but I digress. 

Knowing that I most likely could not pull off a 3:30 or better, I ran random miles ranging in pace from 8:00-8:30 through mile 18 or so, marveling at how good I still felt the whole way.  I felt great through the lovely (and amazingly hilly) neighborhood from miles 4-8, where I have to say I was highly impressed at how many mansion owners (no kidding - GIGANTIC and BEAUTIFUL houses...) were out to cheer. I felt great on the somewhat gratuitous trip out to and around Drake's famed track, where I got to wave at Ronnie and Smythe #1 (Brad) around mile 11, and then Katie (who used to be a Smythe, but now is a Wade) around mile 12 or so, and then Don and Matt (more Smythes) around mile 12.5 (ish). I even felt great when we came out of the neighborhoods and dropped down into the river floodplain around miles 17-18. Then things started to change... 

1 comment:

(Mary) Shannon Johnstone said...

Oh! Go on!!! This is killing me, even though I know how it turns out.