Monday, December 13, 2010

RR - Cape Coral

Race Report
Sun, Dec 12/10
Mangrove Marathon
Cape Coral, FL
Marathon # 338
3:47:38 - 1 AG – 12 OA

After a good race in Cocoa Beach a few weeks ago I immediately added speed work and intensity to my training program in order to improve my time and performance at the next race. Things progressed smoothly for the first week but then started to fall apart. On Sun night we had a guest from CO and (perhaps) imbibed a wee too much? I decided to do an easy 10-mile run on Mon to flush the poison out of my system. However by the end of the first mile I was sucking for air and totally fatigued? Surely a hangover can’t affect me that badly? I had to run/walk and struggle to finish the 10 miles! I was concerned that I might be experiencing a relapse or flare up of the UC? On Tue I Had planned to do speed work but instead just ran an easy 10 miles which I was able to complete w/o walking so that made me feel better. So On Wed I decided to do the speed work – however by the end of the first mile I was again sucking for air, feeling totally fatigued and both feet were so painful that I had to turn around and walk home? I felt like I was running around Lake Dillon (9,000 ft) three months ago? Now I was really concerned. Should I call the GI doc and ask what the Hell is happening or give it one more day? On Thu I tried a speed workout and was able to run a fast 6 miles and felt good? I decided to rest for the next few days and run the Mangrove Marathon on the weekend as scheduled.

On Sat the Sports Manager and I drove 100 miles south to Cape Coral, FL. The race was a new/inaugural marathon/half marathon. I was not expecting much – the website was not well designed or informative. I didn’t realize until the day before the race that there were no formal age groups (the age groups were 0 to 99?) or awards except for the two winners in each race? The expo and pasta dinner was held on Fri night – two days before the race? Thus I picked up my bib and race packet at a local running store called the Run Shoppe. There were no last-minute race info/details in the packet and the volunteer couldn’t answer any of my questions about the race start, water stations, etc? So the SM and I drove to the start/finish area and part of the course to get some idea of the logistics for the race and explore Cape Coral. Cape Coral was a big disappointment! There is nothing to see or do!

After a terrible pasta dinner (at one of the supposedly best Italian restaurants in town) we retired early. Sun was ‘M’ day. The weather was forecast to be cool at the start (52 F) with wind and storms later in the day. The race was supposed to start at 6:30 am. I lined up with about 300 runners (100 in the marathon and the rest in the Half) by 6:15am. The race start was delayed 30 minutes! That provided extra time to find a toilet in nearby Cape Harbour Marina since there were only two portable toilets for 300 runners? I expected bugs/problems with an inaugural race but this was not looking good?

The sun was up by the time the race started – that was a concern because that meant it would be warm by the end of the race! The course consisted of two half-marathon loops. The first loop followed a route through residential streets in the SE section of the city. After the strange past week I wasn’t sure which body would show up at the start line – the ‘bad’ body that suffered fatigue after one mile and felt like shit or the ‘good’ body that felt good and could run fast? Thus I went out at an easy 8:30 pace. After the first mile and no problems I figured the ‘good’ body must have shown up so I lowered the pace down to 8:20/mile. I passed mile 5 in 42:13 and a split of 8:14. The course was fast and flat and the weather was ideal during the first loop/half – sunny, temps in the high 50s and only a light breeze. There were distance markers every mile – and they were accurate (one of my few compliments for the race) – and water every few miles. I passed mile 10 in 1:23:50 and a split of 8:18. I was cruising at a steady 8:18 pace by then and decided I would hold that pace until the Half and re-evaluate. I passed the Half in 1:49:53 and a split of 8:23. I was pleased with that time but knew right then that I could not hold that pace through the 2nd loop – probably not even till 20 miles. The 2nd half-marathon loop followed a route through residential streets north and west of the city. I decided to run the 2nd Half smarter and slow my pace down by 15 to 20 secs/mile and hope that I could hold that pace to the finish line? The temps had warmed up into the high 60s and there were no water stations from mile 12 through mile 17? Five miles w/o water and it was getting hot – and I and several runners were getting pissed off! When I finally reached a water station at mile 17 in 2:33:52 and a split of 8:53 I screamed at the volunteer to call the race director and get some water stations deployed along that 5-mile stretch! I was concerned about slower runners behind us because it was getting warmer and I did not want to return over those (final) 5 miles w/o water – a dangerous possibility of dehydration!

I reached the final turn-around at mile 19 in 2:41:25 and a split of 8:42. I calculated that if I could hold a sub 9-min pace for the final 7 miles I could easily break 3:50 and might come close to 3:45? What I didn’t calculate was the storm front moving in sooner than forecast. When I made the turn the wind picked up and started gusting about 20/25 mph – directly into our faces! What a bitch that final 7 miles was! I tried to keep my pace below 9 min/mile but 9:10s were the best I could manage into that fierce head wind! At least the race director had responded to our complaints and had deployed 3 more water stations over the final 5 miles. When I passed mile 23 in 3:18:12 and a split of 9:04 I knew that I couldn’t break 3:45 so I eased back on the pace and cruised to the finish line in 3:47:38.

After taking a mandatory finish line photo I checked for results and wasn’t surprised to find none – even though the race was timed by chip? I was later able to confirm official results (along with age groups?) at the website for the running store? I finished 1st AG and 12th Overall.In spite of the problems with the race I was pleased with both my time and performance. I enjoyed a great tempo run for the first Half and was able to run the 2nd Half smart and smoothly w/o suffering any problems. I need to improve my capability to hold a fast pace for the entire 26 miles but that will come with more speed work and races. My finish time is now back down to the same level it was in the spring of this year – and pre-UC/illness. I believe I can break 3:45 by next spring!

Since I didn’t suffer any problems during the race and felt fine at the finish I think I will drive over to Jacksonville, FL next weekend to run my final marathon for the year.

Stay tuned!

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