Saturday, December 15, 2001

RR Jacksonville Marathon

Race Report:
Jacksonville Marathon
Jacksonville, FL

Yeah, yeah, I know - this marathon was almost as much of a surprise to me as it is to you.After all - I'm supposed to be resting? But since my right hamstring/leg felt OK in the last two marathons I thought I could/should run one more to close out the year for the following reasons:a) it rounded off the number of marathons run this year to a nice even 20b) it increased my total to 189 and decreased by ONE the number I have to run next year to reach my next big goal of 200. I want/need to accomplish this goal next year because it is the 20th anniversary of my FIRST marathon -Reno, NV, Sept/82!c) Jacksonville is a short 4 hour drive and we only needed one night in a hotel so it was a cheap race to rund) I had nothing else to do this weekend anywaye) and of course I am crazyI couldn't come up with any reasons NOT to run the marathon - until the 11th mile of the race when my legs became heavy and very tired and my body started screaming at me "You stupid SOB - Are you f*#*ing crazy asking me to run hot, humid marathons on three consecutive weekends? - I'll get even with your sorry,stupid ass!"More about this derogatory discourse later on.Because of the unseasonably warm weather we are enjoying in FL, it was a warm 67 degrees at the 7am start with 100% humidity (fog). Fortunately the fog and overcast skies slowed the rise in temperature so that it was only 74 degrees when I finished. The course is a flat, scenic course through the southeast suburbs of Jacksonville along the St. John's River. I had planned to run slow and easy since I considered this marathon to be a 'junk' race or just another number to get me closer to my goal of 200. However I found myself charging out of the start with a fast pack and passing mile 4 under 32 minutes! I knew that pace would kill me in that heat and humidity so I slowed down immediately to an 8:30 pace. But it was already too late (or maybe it was too late when I showed up at the start?) as my legs started to feel lazy? By mile 11 my body began having that derogatory discourse with me but I decided to ignore it and hold the pace until the half and then recheck the status.As I crossed the half in 1:51 my body was again screaming at me "You try to run the second half in the same time and I'll make sure your sorry fat ass is dragging on the ground - if not worse". This time I did what I coach novice runners - I listened to my body! (Is it unusual or a healthy sign to have derogatory discourses with your body because I have them quite often and I must admit that they have probably saved my life a few times?)Anyway I decided to listen to my body and since it was only a junk race I figured that if I jogged the last half at a 9 to 10 minute pace I could still finish under four hours -and more importantly live to run another day! So I jogged the next 7 to 8 miles at an average 9:30 pace. However by mile 21 both knees started to hurt because my legs had stiffened up which caused me to alter my stride and put more stress on the knees. So after another more friendly chat/discourse with my body we decided that we had only two options:1) Stop and walk2) Pick up the pace which would force my legs to flex and resume my normal running strideOption 1 was not acceptable so I dug deep to see if the legs had recovered any from the easy pace of the last 8 miles and - fortunately they had! I was able to drop the pace down to 8:30 but watched my heart rate soar 15 to 20 beats/min. to gain that minute reduction in pace. But alas - it was not to last long. By mile 24 my legs were heavy and tired again. Time 3:34 (I should be finishing by now?)For some strange and inexplicable reason all-of-a-sudden it became important that I salvage some respect for myself and finish under 3:55 which meant I had to run at least a sub-9 minute pace for the last two miles. So I had to ignore the derogatory rants and screams coming from my body as I played mind games and tricks on myself and dug up every last ounce of energy I could find to push the legs on. The course did not make it easy either as the last 1/2 mile made several turns, crossed a soccer field and ran along some trails so that it could funnel us on to a school track for the finish line. As I emerged on to the track I managed to sprint the last 200 meters to finish in 3:54:47! A very pathetic performance and time that was even more embarrassing when a 72 year-old runner finished only 4 minutes behind me! (But 3:58 is a damn good time for a 72 year old runner!)But I had survived to run another day! No heat exhaustion - no further damage or injury to my right leg as far as I can tell.NOW I will definitely take some time off and rest my poor old body. I have three lonnnnnnggggggggggg weeks to rest and let my body and legs recover before we start the 2002 marathon season at the Disney Marathon on Jan 6/02.

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