What happened? I was busy with work. After each race I was going to write a report but I was either too busy or did not have pictures, one obstacle after another… but I am now back.
My official goal for the Cleveland Marathon was 3:30, but my secret goal was to beat last year's time (3:26:23) for a marathon PR.
Looking at my training and recent race times, I was at about the same fitness level as last year, so I was hoping for a similar performance.
I followed last year's unorthodox plan, which somehow works well for me... Three weeks before the race I started a strict diet. I was 171 lbs 3 weeks ago (the morning of the Hermes 10 mile race). I then started the Detox diet. This includes a fast the 7th day. I have been doing this maybe once or twice a year and it has helped me and my wife lose weight. We have found that we lose weight on the program without feeling hungry. When this was done, I continued the diet on my own. On Friday the 15th I was down to 162 lbs. I then relaxed and ate better for 2 days, and I was 165 lbs the day of the marathon.
Again, this year, I did not taper much. Only the last week mostly. I took two days off before the marathon (Friday & Saturday - absolutely no running, just lots of eating). So, Sunday morning I was lighter than normal, but with full energy/water reserves.... This plan apparently pays off because I ran strong and I only needed water & Gatorade and no gels, or food, and I don't hit the wall. I ate a few bites in the morning and a sip of Gatorade. I do not believe in over-hydrading that makes runners want to pee during the race (a waste of time).
It was a beautiful day, cool, sunny and a bit breezy... (OK, maybe more than a bit) I started with the 3:30 pace group for the first two miles, which were slow and then moved on my own... My Garmin got messed up and was running 1/3 mile off distance (behind), which made it hard for me to know my average pace and expected finish time (I have it set for average, not instantaneous pace), but I knew I was running fast and was a bit worried that maybe I was going too fast. But I trusted my internal pace regulator... I was running comfortably for the distance and my fitness level.
Pace for the first 8 miles: 8:10, 8:00, 7:30, 7:17, 7:15, 7:27, 7:16, 7:21.
The route takes us through Cleveland West side first, maybe the best part of the race.... I had settled in a nice fast pace but I was surprised to see the 8:20 pace group ahead and came very close to it by mile 8, but eventually stayed behind. Miles 9-12: 7:26, 7:20, 7:22, 7:50.
By mile 12+ we are back downtown (wife and daughter were waiting for me to cheer me up), heading East, and running by the Lake. I did not like the course change this year. I prefer to run through city streets going out of the city and then return by the Lake. Seeing the city by the Lake with the sun behind is a beautiful view, despite the possibility of head wind (which was the reason for the change, but it felt like we had headwind either direction)
The stretch along the lakefront was rather boring. We then entered the East side park. Miles 14-21 things are still going well: 7:44, 7:24, 7:34, 7:46, 7:45, 7:46, 7:51, 7:41. By looking at the clock at mile 20 I can see that I have built a solid 5 minute lead so the 3:30 goal is in the bag, so to peak. Now I even think I have shot at a PR!
Miles 22-26, I have slowed a bit, closer to 8 min miles, but I have no pain or any problems, and I still feel strong: 7:56 7:57 8:02 8:04 7:58. I pass other runners who are slower or are walking these last miles. Finally, I see the finish line, which always makes me happy, and finish the last 0.2 miles with a mild sprint at 6:56m/min pace.
My final time: 3:21:48 (7:42 page - 16/477 in age group and 191 overall)
New marathon PR (by almost 5 minutes) & Boston qualifier! I don't know what it is with the Cleveland Marathon, but it brings the best out of me.
My wife finished the 10K at 56:41 (11/238 age group), an improvement from last year. My daughter finished the 10K at 1:04:25. That's good for her, considering that until last week her longest run ever was only 5 miles.
After the race we stayed around for a while and then went home, tired but happy. As I am writing this, I feel unexpectedly pain-free, and I did not even take an ice bath. You think I could have run even faster? :) Next year!