Monday, March 9, 2009

Lower Potomac River Marathon Race Report - 3/8/09

This race takes place in Piney Point, MD and is about 1.5 hours from my house. Piney Point is in the southern part of Maryland. It’s on the Potomac River at the point where it enters the Chesapeake Bay. This is a low-key event that only allows 200 runners in it. Not that many people want to run high mileage over the winter to do a marathon this early in the year anyway. The race did sellout a few days before the race date. The race starts and finishes on the campus of a Seamanship School. They have a dining hall and put on a mean post-race buffet for the runners that is supposed to be scrumptious. In the lobby of the main building on the campus is a cigarette machine. It has been years since I’ve seen one of those. I was pretty sure the nanny-state had outlawed them. But we are at a seamanship school and we are in tobacco farm country.

It’s an inexpensive race without a lot of frills. The mileage markers on the road were orange construction paper that someone had written numbers on with a sharpie. They were taped to empty cereal boxes which had rocks in them to keep them from blowing away. And the water and sports drink cups at the aid stations were Dora the Explorer Dixie cups. The shirt was a regular cotton t-shirt with a simple design on it, a light house which is what the race proceeds went to. The Piney Point Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1964 and is now a museum. The race medal also has a lighthouse on it and is a pleasant simple design.

My only complaint about the race would be their choice of sports drink. Instead of something like Gatorade or PowerAde, they use a product called Ultima, which taste like warn panther pee. Please don’t ask how I know what panther urine taste likes. It involves the aforementioned panther tinkle, the indigenous Yanomamo tribe located in the Brazilin rainforest and their Shamans cure for infertility, needless to say it worked.

This race was to be one of my main goal races of the year. So I stopped cycling for a few months to concentrate on running. My goals were A) to beat my best marathon time (3:45:44 at Baltimore last fall) 2) I wanted to run a 3:36:00 (8:15 pace) C) have a long shot at qualifying for the Boston Marathon – I need a 3:30:59 or better. Training went very well, until 3.5 weeks ago that is. That’s when I strained my right thigh/quad. It limited my running to daily 3-5 miles runs for the most part. Not that that was a huge deal since most of my training was finished but it would have been nice to get that last 20 mile run in. Plus the leg didn’t really get 100% better over the 3 weeks, so come race day it was a major concern (excuse #1).

I got up at 4am (which felt like 3am since we set the clocks back that night. So a whole 4 hours sleep was gotten (excuse #2), which wasn’t a huge deal since I slept well Friday night. Had a few cups of coffee (one cup of a Kona blend and one cup of pacific espresso), banana and sports bar. Took a shower – prerace thing I do. Like to smell good before getting sweaty and stinky. I left the house at 4:45 for the ride down south and arrived at 6:20. Got my race number, t-shirt, used the head and hung out with my friend Bob who was doing his first marathon. He’s a fast runner and his goal was to break 3 hours.

The morning was warm (for March – heck they had 12 inches of snow there last Monday). It was 65 at the start of the race which normally wouldn’t seem to warm but when you have been running in winter temperatures for months, it is somewhat of a concern (excuse #3). It was cloudy at the start so that was a plus.

At 7:10 we lined-up in the parking lot and at 7:15 the race started, with no fanfare. Just a ‘Go’ shouted by the race director. We take off and I try and settle into my 8:15 per mile pace. One nice thing about a small race is you don’t have any congestion and can just run your own race.

The first 12 miles of the course are gorgeous (and flat). All the roads are around water with awesome views. After a few miles we cross a short bridge onto St Georges Island. Being in a small fairly confined by water area, the race is mainly of 4 roads and you go out and back on the roads. This is kinda cool cause you get to see the race leaders come back down a road a bunch of times.

After about 4 miles we turn around and head back off the Island. About a half-mile before the turn around we see the lead runners. The first male is a topless dude who looks more like Matthew Mcconaughey or an ab-model than a runner. I wonder if he’s someone who went out to fast and will fad or if he’s a stud runner.

Around mile 10 the sun comes out and warms it up a bit more (excuse #4) and I’m wishing I hadn’t left my shades in the car. Thanks Mr. Weatherman who said it would be cloudy all day.

At mile 12 we are done with the 3 short out and back sections by the water. We then head on to our final road of the day, a 14 mile (7 out and 7 back) countryish not quite a highway stretch. This part of the course was fairly boring but it really didn’t matter much since by that point in a race it’s time to focus and get down to business.

From mile 16-21 the course went from flat to gentle rolling hills, nothing to extreme and actually a welcome change from the flat section. It was nice to use the leg muscles in a different way. Starting around mile14 I have to ease up on the pace to keep my heart rate down. During a marathon I like to keep it in the 160-165 range. Anything higher and I’ll be toast a lot faster. I would have liked to have tried to push the pace a little bit more in the second half of the race but I was afraid that my quad would have gone downhill faster. By mile 15 my pace is slow enough that my goals are starting to slip away one by one. I figure I can still beat my personal record. Plus I was planning on picking up the pace the last 3 miles. As you can see by the splits below, that did not happen. Actually the opposite happened. I was pretty much running on fumes by then.

At mile 23 I’d had enough of the ‘heat’, 75 degrees by then, and took my shirt off. Yes I unveiled the whiteness that is Winter Rob. Which led to an amusing side story. At mile 24 I asked for a cup of water, I had been pouring water of my head and back since mile 12 to help stay cool, I dump the water on my head and it turns out it was sports drink. So now I’m sticky, sweaty, sore and tired. This actually helped me at bit since I found it so amusing.

Miles 25 and 26 were a bit of a disappointment. I thought I had more gas left in the tank but I didn’t. As I made the last turn I saw the Finish clock turn to 3:45 and knew that I would have to hustle to finish with a personal best. Alas I didn’t make it.

I chatted a bit with Bob who finished in 3:03 and just missed his goal. I decided to skip the lunch buffet since I wasn’t particularly hungry. So I waddled like a 9 month pregnant woman with bad thigh chafe over to my car and drove home.

And what about the quad, the right thigh started getting tight at mile 3. From mile 6-10 it worsened. That’s when I had a talk with it and instructed it that it could hurt that much but no getting worse. It pretty much obeyed until mile 23 at which point everything hurt. So while it was an issue I don’t think it really slowed me down much.

Mile 1 - 8:16 hr 154
Mile 2 – 8:17 hr 160
Mile 3 – 8:14 hr 162
Mile 4 – 8:09 hr 164
Mile 5 – 8:17 hr 162
Mile 6 – 8:22 hr 159
Mile 7 – 8:23 hr 156
Mile 8 – 8:15 hr 160
Mile 9 – 8:12 hr 163
Mile 10 – 8:02 hr 163
Mile 11 – 8:12 hr 164
Mile 12 – 8:17 hr 163
Mile 13 – 8:26 hr 164
Mile 14 – 8:32 hr 164
Mile 15 – 8:44 hr 164
Mile 16 – 8:38 hr 164
Mile 17 – 8:39 hr 166
Mile 18 – 8:36 hr 166
Mile 19 – 8:38 hr 164
Mile 20 – 8:54 hr 165
Mile 21 – 8:48 hr 163
Mile 22 – 8:43 hr 161
Mile 23 – 8:50 hr 160
Mile 24 – 8:54 hr 162
Mile 25 – 9:15 hr 162
Mile 26 - 9:09 hr 162
Last .2 miles was around 1:30

My official time was 3:46:06

I was 39th out of 111 males and 15th out of 39 in my age group (40-49)

So am I disappointed? A bit. I’m not too upset about not meeting most of my goals. But I’m ticked that I didn’t at least set a new personal best. I slacked off a bit mentally in the last half and should have been able to find the 12 lousy seconds I needed to achieve that goal. But other than that I’m ok with the race. I left almost everything on the course.

And what’s next? In the short term I’d just like to be able to walk down a flight of stairs in less than the time it takes to read War and Peace. In the longer term I think after a June triathlon I’ll do the Baltimore Marathon again this fall and try and set a new personal best.

Thanks for reading.

Love Imelda.

Ps my Garmin GPS watch said I ran 26.48 miles

Pps Mr GQ pretty boy was a real runner. He smoked that course and won by around 8 minutes and finished an hour and 7 minutes ahead of me.


Sam said...

I love you, wish I was there to cheer you on!!! +JMJ+

the Mom said...

Wow. I'm almost jealous.

Okay, I admit it. I am jealous. I spent the weekend in bed with the flu. Yours sounds like a lot more fun.

If you ever get out this way, you should give OKC marathon a try. It's in April and is a flat, fast course with great support and no panther pee to drink. Bring the wife and kids. We'll fit you all in somewhere!