Saturday, September 26, 2009

Akron Marathon 2009

A Training Run that Went Not So Well:

Since I am running a "serious", one-of-a-lifetime marathon in Athens, Greece, November 8th, I decided to treat the Akron marathon as a training run for the Athens Marathon.

Based on my good Spring Cleveland Marathon (3:22) and the good 20 mile Akron training run, 3 weeks ago (8:08 pace, finishing very strong), I decided to run the Akron marathon at 8:20 pace (3:40 finish).

Sounds easy, right?

WRONG!!! This was the hardest "training run" I've ever run!

I joined Elizabeth's pacing group (3:40 time). Elizabeth has the unique ability to chat during the entire marathon. As expected, she entertained us with her stories, and she also maintained a constant 8:20 min/mile pace, no matter what!

Do you ever have runs where you know from early on that this is not your best day? This rarely happens to me in a race, but it happened in this one. From the very beginning my legs and hips felt tight. The pace did not feel as easy as it should. I was thinking... if I feel like that in mile 10, how am I going to feel in mile 20?

After 11 miles running around the city, we entered the "Towpath" section, for 4 miles. At the exit of the towpath there is a 3 mile stretch of rolling hills at first and then mostly uphill. This is considered the hardest part of the race.

My original plan was to see how I felt at the top of the hill and maybe take off if I felt good. Elizabeth had us climb those hills at 8:20 pace. She warned us that this is a tough section and urged us to stay together and we will feel better when we get to the top. I managed to keep up myself and was surprised by how many did. But by the time I reached the top, my legs were very tired. There goes the "felt good" plan. At this point I realized that I will never feel good, so my best bet was to just keep up with the pace group.

I continued to follow the pace group until around mile 20. At this point, I started struggling and falling behind. Somehow, I managed to keep visual contact with the group. I was also mentally revising my final time... Maybe 3:45? It is a training run after all. If that was a regular training run, I would have stopped and walked at this point. But it is a marathon and my family will be waiting for me at the finish, expecting me at 3:40. So I had to keep going.

Only when we got to West Market Street I felt a bit better, knowing that it is downhill and only 2 miles to go.

My last two miles were at 8 min/mile pace, with 7:30 min/mile down on Main Street. I managed to catch up with Elizabeth at the final stretch before the finish. My official chip time: 3:38:53.

George Themelis #735
Brecksville, OH
Age: 50 Gender: M
Distance MAR
Clock Time 3:39:47
Chip Time 3:38:53
Overall Place 227 / 1331
Gender Place 196 / 930
Division Place 21 / 92
3 5M 00:28:17
9 2M 01:17:24
25K 02:09:52
30K 02:33:43
Pace 8:21

I am happy I finished strong, but I am also worried that this run felt worse than it should have. I cannot see how it would be possible to run this marathon any faster. I am actually surprised I managed 3:30 last year.

I now have to revise my plans for Athens. I was secretly hoping for something like 3:20 or better. Now, I will be happy with 3:30 in what is a difficult course (net elevation gain with long uphill sections).

1 comment:

E-Speed said...


You did a great job and I was so happy that you passed me at the end!

Don't feel poorly about your performance, the humidity was very deceiving on Saturday. Plenty of talented runners really struggled with the day. And like I said in my entry I really think the course here adds at least 4 minutes to your time.

You did a great job and got in a good training run for Athens. Now you will be prepared to mentally tackle those late mile demons knowing you just did it in Akron and still arrived under the goal!