Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lehigh Valley Health Network Marathon, Allentown, PA. 9/9/12.

Sidney was supposed to come with me, but as to be expected Air Force changed his schedule the day before.  We are used to this and I decided to just go alone.

The 5k I ran yesterday was exactly half way between my house and the marathon.  It was nice to break the hour and a half drive in to two legs and get a race in along the way.   The expo was on my way to my hotel, so I was forced to stop by to get my bib, stinking and gross from the race I just left.

After a quick snack, I realized I had tons of time to kill and was bummed that Sid wasn't there.  However, this gave me plenty of time to chat and text with Jim Plant about the World Championship 24 hour race taking place in Poland. For the rest of the night, Jim kept me busy with updates, until I discovered I could get info on my ipad.

I was up until midnight watching Mike Morton crush the 24 hour American record.  Very inspiring.

Just before I went to sleep I checked where i was heading, again... double checking.  I was thrilled at first that the Lehigh Valley Hospital was 1 mile from my hotel... until I realized that I had to get to a different campus about 5 miles away.  No big deal. I caught it in time, I just wanted an address for my GPS and after searching around for an actual street address I found one, mapped it.

I woke up early and left for the race... to discover my GPS was not functioning.  I am always afraid of relying too much on technology, so I had scribble out the directions i looked up last night and tried to figure my way there... not too bad, except the route I had scribble out took me to a road where a bridge was out and I had to detour.  Oh boy.  Now I was starting to get stressed... and then the GPS starting working.

30 minutes to the start, I finally arrive.  The weather is cool at 60 degree and I am happy.  The race was well organized with a half marathon, and several relay divisions.  The gun goes off and we head downhill on the road.  The hill was so steep at times it was hard to run as fast as I wanted to.  I clocked a few 7:07's for the first few miles and it felt great.  Once we settled down, I got comfy in a 7:35-7:45 pace for a while.  However at 10 miles we hit the tow path and I was suprised to see my pace drop by about 10 seconds per mile just from the change in terrain.  I was happy to hit 13 miles in just under 1:39 and thought I had a great shot at a great race.

I felt a little wonky as I ran through 14 so I took some sodium and this seemed to help.

Early a girl was running on my butt for a while, just outside of my peripheral.  I thought about pushing the pace but decided I was running fast enough and did not need to drop her.  I could hear her breathing and she sounded like she was working to stay.  When we hit the tow path, I decided to complement her and ask her to join me for some miles.  It is nicer to run together then fight someone for the entire race.  From 8-19 we took turns leading in the single tire track sections of the tow path.  It was fun to work together.

I took the lead at 19 and she dropped back as usual.  However I stopped hearing her and got sad that she was not hanging with me for the whole race.  I suspected she would be back.

I caught up to a guy at mile 21 who pulled out his headphones and asked "How are you doing?".  I responded, "I am doing as to be expected as this point in the race." I was tired.  I wanted to stay positive.  I dont like to lie, so I did not want to say good.  I was bummed that my pace was dropping to 8:15's and my 3:20 was gone.

I was drenched in sweat.  I was extremely thristy.  I knew I was hurting and even thought it started 60's the temps had risen and the sun was warm. I am terrible in warm weather so I was just trying to feel comfortable.  My shoulder blades and the lengths of both arms were painful.  I felt like the blood was not circulating well... I dont know how else to explain it.   I just felt really uncomfortable in my arms, but my legs felt good.

The guy asked me, "I dont have a watch, what pace are you running".  I shared that we are going to break 3:30.  He got excited.  "How close to 3:25?  Maybe this old guy can BQ" he said I explained that we are on 3:25 pace right now as our average pace is 7:46, but our current pace is slower, so if he needs a 3:25 (with no extra 59 seconds), he needed to pick it up.

I told him he needed to push now and use all the downhills he finds.  He asked me if I needed anything he could provide, as he had a hydration pack and some gels.  I just finished my last gel and told him I was good, but that he needed to not think and just run.  I saw the course elevation last night and knew we were going to get a few uphills before the end.  He dug deep and pushed himself and pulled away.  I didn't think I could get back down to 7:46 at this point with my arms aching.  His push was admirable but just not fast enough to get him down to 7:46s again.

He pulled away but hovered for a few miles. And then we hit a very steep brief uphill. Bummer.  I caught back up to him and he asked me if we were on pace.  I felt bad sharing that we needed to be about 6 seconds faster per mile overall, so that means running sub-7:46 to have a shot.   We both had faded to 8:15 -8:25 for the last two miles.  I told him that he cant quit because my watch could be wrong, to the markers could be off, so he needed to just go for it anyway.  Again he pulled away, but I sensed it was futile.

A older man ran past me, reporting that I could walk it in and still BQ.  I told him I already did this year so I am uninspired since I am really dehydrated.  He bounded past me as he shared that he needs a 3:55 so he is all set :)  He looked good.

Finally I could hear people and knew the finish was near.  Up the ramp from the river and onto the road, I could see in the distance the finish line.  I thought I was hallucinating.  I was grabbing cups from every aid station along the way and they were plentiful, but I was so very thirsty.  My shorts were heavy with sweat to the point that it had become obnoxious.  I may need to switch to compression shorts in the heat.  I saw a woman ahead and passed her.  I ran hard to the end getting back down to 8:00 for the last 1.2.  I finished right behind the almost-BQ guy.  He was beaming.  He didn't make it but he ran a 9 min PR.  Awesome.

I was spent.  Grabbed some water and just sat down.  After some time, I saw the chick I ran the first 19 miles with walk by.  I didnt ask her about her time.  I just told her she was great and thanked her for her company and for sharing the work.  She said she faded a mile or two at 20, but felt she got it back together.

It was a good race.

I finished 12th Female in 3:27:12
101 AO
4th AG.

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