Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Towpath Marathon - 2012

Towpath Marathon – Oct 7, 2012

I have a long history of running Towpath, starting with my first ever race in 2002 (5K) to my first Marathon in 2004. So this was my 11th year of running a race in this event, and my 20th road marathon.

Towpath race history:

- 2002: 5K (my first race ever!) - 21:27
- 2003: Marathon Relay
- 2004: 3:55 - My first marathon!
- 2005: 3:45
- 2006: 3:36 (Course record that lasted for 5 years)
- 2007: 3:47 - Hot, hit the wall!
- 2008: 3:37
- 2009: Half Marathon (training for Athens), 1:32:16 (1/42 AG)
- 2010: Half Marathon (training for Athens), 1:33:45 (1/38 AG)
- 2011: 3:25 - Course PR, two weeks after Akron & 5 weeks into eating low carb.

This picture was taken at the finish of my first marathon in 2004:

My goal (formulated during the race!) was to finish under 3:36, which would make this my 2nd fastest Towpath marathon.  I knew I had no chance for a course record, after running Akron hard last week and without any serious Marathon training.

The temperature in the morning of the race was low 40s. It stayed cloudy and cold for the entire race. For most people, this is perfect running weather. The course is flat and consists of crushed limestone and sections of asphalt. I think this is a slow course because of the lower friction. I was wearing long sleeves, and gloves. I carried a water bottle and my camera (and took pictures during the race). I ran in my NB Trail Minimus shoes.

I had my usual pre-race breakfast (eggs, salad with olive oil, cheese, nuts, lots of food about 1 1/2 hours from the start of the race). I did not eat anything during the race, other than two cups of Gatorade, and water.


I started the race with facebook friends: Dawn, Kimberly, Michael, Joe, Kellie. My first two miles were the slowest of the race for me. I was, at this point, behind people who finished over 4 hours! But then I picked up the pace and settled at 8 min/miles (give or take a few seconds). My quads started hurting around mile 10 (from the fast downhill miles in Akron last week). I was wondering how can I possibly do well with this pain, but I ignored it and eventually it went away :)

The course goes South (towards Akron), turns around (mile 8?) then passes through Boston (the finish, around mile 16+) then continues north until Station road, then turns around to finish at Boston.  With this arrangement I got to see the runners in front and behind me and take pictures in two occasions.  We run often at the Towpath so the course is very familiar to me.


As I reached Highland Road, with two miles to go, I tried to figure out if I had a chance to beat 3:30.  Somehow I thought I did, if I ran fast enough, so I started running as fast a possible.  These two miles were the fastest of the race.  I passed several runners in this stretch.  Pat Dooley took a picture of me (at the top of the page) near the finish.  I am running faster than 7 min miles at this point.

My mile splits tell the story of the race:

Miles 1-3 (warm-up): 8:19, 8:16, 8:08
Miles 4-11: 7:56, 7:58, 7:54, 7:59, 7:59, 7:57, 8:00, 7:58
Miles 12-17: 8:03, 8:12, 8:05, 8:09, 8:05, 8:09,
Miles 18-23: 8:05, 8:19, 8:07, 8:09, 8:01, 8:05
Miles 24-26: 7:56, 7:39, 7:27, 6.58 (for the last 0.4 by Garmin)

Final Time 3:31:18

Not a marathon PR, not a course record, but a strong performance for running one week after Akron. I am especially pleased with the even splits and strong finish.

After the race I stayed around to take pictures of friends finishing.  I then met Liz at the beer tend.  I was cold and it had started to rain, so we went home a bit earlier than usual.


Liz ran the 10K with a PR: 50:45, finishing 2nd in her age group!  Her previous PR was 52:10, same race, two years ago. She was hoping to "break" 50 minutes but it did not happen. But, she is the only one that came home with an award (a nice print).

I am looking forward to next year, for my 12th Towpath race!

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