Sunday, May 18, 2008
Cleveland Marathon 2008 - Race Report
Today was the Cleveland Marathon and I had only one goal in mind: 3:30 (my Boston qualifying time)
For the past 4 years I have been running one marathon a year, the Towpath marathon in October. My previous times: 2004-3:55, 2005-3:45, 2006-3:36. Last year I thought I was ready for a 3:30, but I collapsed, starting at mile 16.
This year I decided to try a spring Marathon, the Cleveland Marathon. Training was OK, with more miles than last year (40-50 mi/week) but only one 20 mile long run. I lost a bit of weight and felt prepared for the marathon.
The day did not look good, weather-wise. It was raining hard since 3 am in the morning... It was pouring while waiting in line for the start. The temperature was 50F. I was standing with shorts and short sleeves, wondering if I was under-dressed, but, I was actually fine.
The race started at 7:07 am. For the first 3 miles I followed the 3:30 pace group. The field was crowded and the roads wet with puddles. I then moved ahead, running on my own, and managed to build a 2-3 minute buffer from the desired 8 min/mile pace. I was afraid I'd hit the wall by mile 16, like last year, but it never happened. The miles were rolling rather comfortably. I was running strong, and kept running through the water stops. I did not need any gels or any food, just water and the occasional Gatorade. I did not need bathroom breaks. I actually enjoyed the route. Last year I did the half and was familiar with the west side. This year I saw the East side and it was beautiful (park, lake shore, etc).
My Garmin was lagging behind the official mile markers, by as much as 0.2 miles in the end, but it was giving me a good idea of my average pace. My mile splits (according to the Garmin):
Mile -- Time
+0.4 7:18 (0.4 mi according to my Garmin)
With some variations, due to the topography (slight up/down hills), my splits were remarkably even, averaging 7:45 from mile 2 to mile 20.
In the last miles we had a head wind that might contributed to the slower pace. I looked at my watch after mile 23 and got scared when I saw 8:28. I knew I had built a 2 minute time buffer but this could evaporate if my pace slowed to 9 min/mile. So I made an effort to pick up the pace in the last miles. I passed quite a few runners. I had the strength to finish with an under 8 min mile 26 and sprint to the end.
The clock was reading 3:27:11 and my chip time was 3:26:22. I was 26/179 in my age group, 232 overal and 217 among males.
So, I made my 3:30 goal and qualified for Boston!!! Now, with this out of the way, I can relax and enjoy a Fall marathon or two. (I am actually thinking of running both Akron and Towpath this year).
My wife, Liz, ran her first 10K in the same race. Her goal was to finish under 1 hour, She is rather conservative/pessimistic - last weekend she managed to run 7 miles and her time at 6.2 miles (10K) was one hour, so I told her she should aim for 57 minutes instead. And right I was! :) Her chip time was 56:49.
Her race started 30 minutes after the marathon. By the time she was done, she had to wait for me for 2 hours. The sun came out for the last hour so it was not too bad. Her job was to take a 3d picture of me at the finish. I was carrying a cell phone (in my hands actually, I like to hold something while running) so I kept her informed of my projected arrival time. But as I was sprinting at the finish line, someone was blocking the view so the picture would not come our very good. Oh well... we both had good races.
And talking about pictures, in the expo yesterday I managed to have my picture taken with; 1) John "The Penguin" Bingham, 2) Bart Yasso (I bought his new book and he autographed it for me), 3) Bill Rodgers. They were all nice, and Bill was perhaps the nicest of all. Some fun memories... These pictures are in slides, so when I get the roll developed, I will scan and post the pictures here.