Saturday, April 4, 2009

4/4/09 Yakima River Canyon Marathon

For many of my recent and upcoming marathons I have sacrificed a "fast" time for a "good" (fun) time. Sometimes I will run with a friend who is a little slower, sometimes I will run for a while with a friend who is a little faster (causing me to crash later in the race), sometimes the weather or the course is a factor and sometimes I am running on tired legs having raced the weekend before. I would not trade any of that, I love running with my friends and I especially like a challenging course. Here at Yakima none of this applies today. Today is all about the numbers and trying to run my best. For the first time in ages I have written out projected split times and will carry that paper with me just in case my GPS watch is not accurate to the mile markers. Two weeks ago I raced 20 miles at an 8:29 pace. My goal today is to run the first 20 miles at an 8:40 pace (I know I can do this) and then see what I have left for the end. If I can hold that pace I will PR (3:48 is my PR, an 8:40 pace gets me in at 3:47). One little issue though is how miserably I faltered here last year. There is that mile long up hill at mile 22. Last year I was at about an 8:35 pace at mile 20, yet finished in 3:57, running the last 6.2 miles at 10:32. Therefore my goals are to PR (don't really expect to do this) or run a sub 3:50, or run a sub 3:57 (beat last year's time) or beat 4 hours. But I also want to enjoy the day and scenery. This is one quality race and I am thankful to be here. And big thanks to Jody for coming out again and picking me up at the finish.

Start - Cold but no wind and brilliant sunshine. Also about 100 maniacs here for a reunion race so lots of yellow and red shirts. Having run this last year lets me relax a little, knowing where to pick up my number and exactly where the start line is to be found. I find my place smack in the middle and soon we are off.

Mile 1 - Glad that I am wearing sunglasses. It is really bright out. The road is narrow and I am crowded in a big bunch. Hit mile one at 8:55 which is fine. I'll pick up the pace ever so slightly.

Mile 2 - 8:41 pace. I am still packed in a crowd. Six runners elbow to elbow in front of me. I am on their heels and don't like it, but I am at my goal pace. It would take effort to get around them, and then all I would be is running faster than I had planned. I ease up a bit to give myself some room and stay behind them for now.

Mile 4 - First aid station broke up the pack and I am free to run as I please, but still a lot of runners all around me. Lenore Dolphin sighting.

Mile 5 - Into the canyon. 8:40 average pace.

Mile 7 - Hunger pang. I could not each much breakfast, I hope I don't get too hungry this morning. I am confident that I have enough stored energy to get me to the end.

Mile 10 - 1:26 - right on schedule

Mile 13.1 - 1:53:34, four seconds slower than planned. Really pleased that I could do that without walking or speeding up to adjust the pace. So far so good.

Mile 14 - Significant uphill, and the pace slows but I will make it up on the way down. Beautiful day in the canyon. Cool in the shade, warm in the sun. Outer shirt comes off and ties around my waist. Camber of the road is horrible in places and not good for the ankles. I am reminded of some training runs recently in a neighborhood with slanty driveways. I would alternate running on the sidewalk and the road running either up or down each driveway, putting pressure on my ankles, telling myself that I was training them for Yakima. I have been looking forward to this race for a long time and it sure is great to be here.

Mile 15 - Big downhill, no problem getting the pace back to 8:40

Mile 18 - Shoe insert lying in the middle of the road. Then as I throw my empty cup in the box at the aid station I see another insert. Did some fast runner actually take off their shoes, remove the inserts and keep running?

Mile 19 - Still on pace, but it is not as easy as I had hoped for. I could speed up I guess, but just maintaining is more work now.

Mile 20 - 2:53:35 - twenty seconds slower than planned, but not bad at all. I am also one minute slower that last year. If I have the same finish as last year I will struggle to beat 4 and it will be a miserable next hour. As I hit the lap button on my watch I feel like the past three hours, the past two days, the past two weeks and even the whole past year have been preface to this moment. Lets see what I can do.

Mile 21.75 - The past 1.75 miles was flat and I maintained about an 8:50 pace. But now is the hill. The hill that takes the runner all the way up to a higher elevation than the start line. The hill that is over a mile long. This is really really hard. I have had a great attitude all along, telling my usual dumb jokes, but now it time for quiet digging in. I keep at it, letting the pace slow, but there is no way I am going to walk. I pass walkers and I very slowly pass a couple of runners. No one is passing me here. Volunteers cheering for me are very much appreciated as is the music from a boom box and the inspirational signs. Average pace for the almost three miles since twenty is creeping over 9:30, but the top of the hill is in sight.

Mile 23 - All down hill from here!! And a little flat stretch too. With the same effort I am now moving much faster. Average pace is dropping rapidly and I feel like I am flying down to the finish.....

Mile 24.5 - ......except that three miles is still a long way, especially at this stage, even if it is mostly downhill. My legs are so beat up and tired I just can not maintain this pace.

Mile 25 - Last year I was taking walk breaks even here, but not today. I know that I will run the whole race, but I see the PR slipping away. Legs just can not turn over fast enough. Feeling nausea and just plain ready to be done. Maybe 3:50? Don't know, don't really care, it will still be a good and fast time as long as I keep pushing a little longer. Guy in red shirt passes me and a tell him to break 3:50 for me. He says that is the plan.

Mile 26.1 - There is Jody with camera. There is the finish clock. This will be my second fastest marathon to date. Someone trying to pass me, I race ahead and beat her to the line with what little kick I have left.

Mile 26.2 - I ran the last 6.2 miles a full 8 minutes faster than I did last year, beating that time by over 7 minutes. Really happy with how it went, my even pacing, the beautiful day, incredible course, quality race and fellow runners.

3:50:32 Marathon#29, Marathon or ultra #30, Yakima Marathon #2
113th of 437


KAS said...

Wow! That sounds like a great race!!!

washmic said...

Congratulations on your finish!