Sunday, June 01, 2008

A new PR at Newport??

I've been told many times that Newport is a great place to get a PR, but I never would have expected one. I mean this was my fifth week in a row of running a marathon or ultra. I was hoping to do well, but my thought was to run a 3:30 or so. I had absolutely no expectation of running any type of PR. And I don't really know where it came from. Okay, I'll tell the story.

My mom wanted to join me on the trip, so she did. I had her pick me up at work on Friday at 5:30pm, and we drove down. We stayed at a state campground about seven miles north of Newport. We grabbed a bit to eat in Newport after I had picked up my packet. They did not allow you to pick up packets the morning of so that was our first stop. We then set up camp and went to bed.

In the morning I woke up and got ready. My mom dropped me off at the finish area, and I rode the bus to the starting are, which was about 2 or 3 miles away. Once I arrived I saw a lot of yellow (Maniac yellow that is). I had a chance to talk to a few friends beforehand. The weather was very nice, in the 50s and overcast. I was looking for a good run.

Once the race started I was off. I started out running fast. The first four miles were mostly all downhill, and I didn't hold back. In those first four miles I was averaging a 7:15 pace. At this point I was a little worried that I was starting too fast. But I felt so good. So I decided to keep pushing the pace. I figured that if I wanted to run a 3:30 and could run fast for the first 8-10 miles and gradually show down than I could get the 3:30.

So at mile four the race begins a 12 mile out and back section. This section is mostly flat and goes along the river. As a approached the one hour mark, I was curious how many miles I would do in the first hour. I keep running fast, putting in 7:20 miles which was fast for me in a marathon. At one hour I looked at my GPS watch and saw that I had run about 8.2 miles. I was shocked! I was averaging a 7:17 mile overall.

So I decided to just keep pushing and seeing how long I could keep this up. As I run by each mile, I realized that my GPS was saying that the course was short. I've been told that the course was short, but I didn't really care at the time. The reason the course was short is because the course was measured along the middle of the road, but the runners were only given one lane and hugging the inside corner of the road means that you are going to be running a shorter distance.

Anyway as I approached the half way point in the race, I was on pace for a half marathon PR. So in that next five miles I was posting miles between 7:20-7:25 miles. I hit the half marathon marker at 1:35:56. This is a two minute half marathon PR! So at this point I thought if I run a 2 hour second half I'd do a 3:36, which wouldn't be too far of from my goal. But that would be a huge melt down.

So as I went ahead I still felt good and just keep pushing. I had slowed down a bit, I was now running mid to upper 7:20's. As I came up to the turn around I noticed that there were not too many ahead of me. I began to cramp and little in my thighs, but I wanted to run strong through the turn around as there were many fans cheering runners on. I also knew that my energy was running low and that I needed a little boost. So I grabbed a vanilla GU from my belt and consumed it with some water in the turn around on the run. This seemed to give me the boost that I needed.

I, from that point forward I was running in the 7:20's. I did notice a lot of runners behind me on the return. One thing I like about out and back courses is that you get to see a lot of friends running in. I felt great I was wondering if I could keep this going. At this point I was about 17 miles into the run, and just kept pushing.

Mile 20 in any marathon, is always a good check point. Because at that point you have run more than 75% and have just a 10k left. At the 20 mile mark, I looked down at my watch and noticed that I was averaging a 7:21 mile. At the half marathon marker I was averaging a 7:19 mile. That means I had slowed my overall average just two seconds. I realized at this point I was going to run a huge PR. Because with a time of 2:27 I could run a 10 minute mile and still finish in under 3:30. But I not going to settle for anything like that.

About mile 22 or 23, Steve Yee (Maniac #1 and President of the club) ran up behind me. He made a comment about my fast running. It felt good to be commented during such a great race. I asked him, how it was going for him, and he told me he was struggling, but wanted to finish strong. At that point, I used him to push me, and he did the same with me.

I was slowing, running 7:30's. I began to do all the math of the finish and realized I was going to finish in 3:13-3:15. I was so happy and just kept pushing. I crossed the finish line and was so happy. I got my shirt and some food and was congratulated by all the Maniacs. I really felt like I was in a different class of runner, having broken the 3:15 marker.

I spent some time in the finish area, talking with friends. I then meet up with my mom. We drove home at this point, and I was feeling "on top of the world". I enjoyed the rest of the day, and the weekend. A new PR is always a special thing. But for the longest time, I didn't think that a BQ time was even possible, but with a 3:13:19, I'm now so close. Could I run a BQ this year? I don't think so, but with a little training and speed work it's now within reach.