Aug 28, 2010

Self-Transcendence Marathon: 5:35:40 (PR)

Photo by Carl Cox
Going into this past Tuesday's Self-Transcendence Marathon, I didn't have high hopes for breaking six hours. My training has been really lacking for a couple of months due to loss-of-motivation over the unexplained decrease in performance that has started in March and has gradually gotten worse with very little to show for it. Add to that the fact that I've literally not done a long run since May, and I knew I was screwed.

Also doing this race were my friends and coworkers Cathy and Scott. It was to be their first marathon.

Tony wisely advised that I go out and do a cycle of 8 minutes running and 2 minutes walking from the very start of the race, and I took that advice. I am familiar with that strategy and know it produces results, but have never tried it because I simply prefer to run. However, I knew that I had to do something in this race or else I'll struggle through the second half of the race in an epic suffer-fest that I normally don't experience until after 40 miles as opposed to 14.

As it happened, I was able to keep up the run/walk cycle all the way until half-way through lap 7 (out of 9), averaging between 11:30 and 13:00 per mile for the first 22 miles or so. At about mile 22, I simply didn't start running again when I was supposed to, and walked the next 1.5 miles. Just before the start of my last lap, Cathy was finishing hers and I ran with her and watched her finish. I then resumed walking for about a mile, and then put on some music and ran most of the last two miles.

By the halfway point it was apparent that if I didn't crash too hard (which was a big if), I was destined to PR (Previous PR was 5:43:59) and was actually on pace to break 5:30, perhaps even 5:25. This was either really good news or really bad news - it could have meant that I went out too fast and might pay for it later. As it happened, we split the difference - I didn't break 5:30 (mostly because of walking that eighth lap), but also picked up a new PR with over 8 minutes to spare.

I've gotta wonder - what kind of time would I have produced in a marathon if I tried running 8/2s back when 10 minutes per mile felt like 12 minutes per mile does now?

Steve is taking a break from writing regular updates to this blog.