Monday, February 20, 2006

RR Gainesville

Race Report
Five Points of Life Marathon
Gainesville, FL
Sun, Feb 19/06
3:29:31 - 31 OA - 1AG

The Five points of Life Marathon – an inaugural marathon in Gainesville, FL with $10,000 in prize money so elite runners who train in Florida would be competing.
This was to be the final tune-up race/marathon in Maddog’s training program to get me ready for Sarasota. I was a wee bit concerned going into the race because I was suffering from a head/sinus cold and plantar fasciitis injury/inflammation in both feet. I figured the head cold would not affect me much but I was worried about causing further injury to my feet!

The sports manager did not want to go to Gainesville so I drove/flew the red rocket (Cadillac Allante) the 160 miles to Gainesville on Sat morning to burn the carbon out of the engine.
After picking up my race packet I explored Gainesville – the home of UF (University of Florida) and the Gators (football, basketball, etc). It is strictly a university town. I toured around the main campus and the downtown area near the main campus. The campus is very nice but the area around the campus is not – typical dumpy, run-down housing and a deserted/dilapidated downtown – not very attractive! I tried to drive part of the marathon course but the map was so bad that I could not follow the course through the city. However I soon discovered that there were a lot of hills in Gainesville! Any marathon course was going to have a lot of hills!

Sunday was M-day! There were two races – a Marathon and a Half. Both started at 7:30 am on the western campus of UF near the soccer fields. There were 750 runners in the Half and 250 in the Marathon – good attendance for an inaugural marathon. On Sat the weather had been sunny with temps in the 80s. But on Sat night a cold front from Canada collided with a warm front from the Gulf of Mexico and the collision was near Gainesville. The result was a temp of 59 F at the start with overcast skies and a light mist/rain that made it feel cool. The temps only changed/warmed up one degree during the race. No need for sunglasses or sun block! The only negative factor was a brisk 20/30 mph wind from the North.

Both races started together but the Half started about 1/4 mile ahead of the Marathon on the same road. That was a bad organizational decision because we caught the back of the Half Marathon pack within a 1/2 mile and spent the next two miles weaving in and out to pass most of the Half Marathon runners. I passed mile 2 in15.22 and the pack thinned out. The first 5 miles were very hilly including three BAH (Bad Ass Hills) so I was pleasantly surprised when I passed the 5-mile mark in 39:25. I noted that if the rest of the course was this hilly it was going to be an UGLY day? The brisk wind could have been a negative factor because it always seemed to be blowing into our faces but thankfully I was able to tuck in behind some Half Marathon runners and draft. There were a few more BAHs before I passed the 10-mile mark in 1:11:26. Around 11 miles we ran through the main UF campus and through the Gator football stadium. At 12 miles I passed a friend and member of the 50 States Club that I hadn’t seen in many years. John Bosung told me that he was close to finishing a major goal: to run 52 marathons in 52 consecutive weeks to celebrate his 52nd birthday. Gainesville was #50. You see – no matter how crazy/eccentric you may think I am – I can always find someone crazier!!
Near mile 13 the Half Marathon split off and I found myself all alone – I ran most of the 2nd Half by myself except for the final 10K where I passed several runners.

I passed the Half in 1:45:04 - right on an 8-min pace. I felt strong but knew that if the 2nd Half was as hilly and tough as the 1st Half there was no way I could /would run another 1:45! I would need to run a negative split to break 3:30! Fortunately the 2nd Half was easier – only 3 BAHs and about 6 miles of the course were on flat, paved bike paths that seemed easier to run on. The other 20 miles of the course were on city streets but I must compliment the race organization for excellent traffic control. They had coned and closed off at least one lane on 20 miles of city roads and the traffic control at the intersections was excellent!
I had decided at the Half that I would continue to push the 8-min pace till 20 miles and then do another gut check. I passed mile 15 in 1:59:39. After cresting another BAH at mile 18 in 2:23:32 I still felt amazingly good and strong and decided if I still felt that good at 20 miles I was definitely going to push for a sub 3:30 marathon. I passed mile 20 in 2:39:30. I still felt good – I only needed to hold the 8-min pace for the final 10K and I could break 3:30! I was going for it!

I started to catch and pass a lot of runners. Mile 23 – 3:03:47 – I had 26 minutes to run the final 5K! The final BAH was at mile 24 and when I crested that hill and passed the mile mark in 3:12:44 (an 8:56 mile) I was very discouraged. If that mile marker was accurate I had blown my sub 3:30 marathon! However I did not believe that I had slowed down that much even with the BAH – the marker had to be wrong! I decided to continue to push hard to mile 25 while hoping/praying that I was right! I reached mile 25 in 3:20:03 – a 7:19 mile! I had been right! It was time to break out the champagne! I had 10 minutes to run/crawl the last 1.2 miles. I was hurting and I was tired – but I was not going to give up! I would/could not fail or be denied because the opportunity to break 3:30 does not happen very often at my age. I begged the old bod to give me one last jolt of adrenaline and endorphins to suppress the pain and carry me through the final mile. It is amazing how much pain the human body can accept/endure when you know it will only last for 10 minutes!

Throughout that final mile I focused on pushing my tired/wasted legs as fast as I could and ignored the flashing/beeping of my heart monitor warning me that I was pushing the old bod at 100% Max HR. I blocked all pain receptors while reciting one of Maddog’s favorite expressions “Pain is only TEMPORARY – Memories are FOREVER”! When I made the final turn into the UF campus and saw the finish clock reading 3:29 + change a HUGE smile broke out on my face in spite of the pain. I crossed the finish line in 3:29:31! I had done it!
The last time I broke the elusive/mystical 3:30 BARRIER was in Minsk, Belarus (3:27:00) on July 3/04. I had just turned 60 so this was only the 2nd time I had broken that difficult/elusive barrier since turning 60! Somehow it seemed much sweeter? Maddog was right!
Needless to say I was extremely pleased with both my time and performance. I had run the negative split needed to break 3:30 and my time was good enough for 31st place overall and 1st place in my age group. Since it was an inaugural marathon I have the honor of holding the course record for my age group for at least one year although I suspect it might hold longer because it was a tough course.
Even though the awards were crappy (the old runner statue on a pedestal) I waited around to collect mine because I had worked so hard for it! (But it will probably end up in the garbage?)

I also proved another of those old proverbs “You don’t get OLDER – You just get BETTER”! Hopefully this story will provide some incentive/motivation for the rest of you old farts? The major criteria for such success are ‘staying healthy and injury-free’ and ‘to work/train hard’.

With regard to these criteria I am optimistic as I get ready for the Sarasota Marathon. The head cold will be gone in a few days and the plantar facsiitis actually seems to have improved since the marathon?
Sarasota Marathon – March 5/06 – inaugural marathon – my hometown – my target – my goal – the focus of Maddog’s training program for the past 10 weeks!

I believe I am ready!

Stay tuned for the next report!

No comments: