Monday, September 16, 2002

Race Report - Denver Marathon

Race Report
Mile High City Marathon
Denver, CO
Sept 15/02

This was one of the ugliest and strangest race (performances) that I have ever run! Started out that way right at the start line. Since it is a small race - only 500 runners in the marathon - I found myself right on the start line at 8am staring at the TV cameras. Originally my race strategy was to run an easy first half (8:15 to 8:30 pace) and then to try to run a negative split in the second half - just a nice easy training run since I had no important goals or challenges to accomplish in this race. However when I found myself staring at the camera truck when the gun went off I decided that I needed to go out fast to stay out of the way of the leaders. So I led the whole race for the first few hundred yards. Must have really frightened/confused some of those young bucks behind me? After a few hundred yards (and sucking air) I stepped aside to let the lead pack pass me but that DAMN Maddog decided to tuck in behind the lead pack and stay with them! When I passed the 10K mark in 46:19 (my Half Marathon race pace) I knew that this race was going to get ugly!Of course I now had to change my race strategy to "blaze the first half and then slow down and try to hang on for the second half?" Thus I continued to push the pace and was upset that a lot of the mile markers seemed to be wrong? The course was almost the same as the 'Jesus Marathon' that I ran in June and the markers had been screwed up in that race too. I know I was pushing well below an 8-minute pace but many of my splits in the first half were 8:10 to 8:15? Didn' t make sense? But I was still surprised/disappointed when I crossed the Half in 1:44 - should have been much faster? And I knew right then that I had neither the energy nor the motivation/willpower to push the pace that fast in the second half.At 14 miles my legs were already heavy and tired so I wisely decided to accept the the new strategy and slowed down to a 9-minute pace. I was prepared to jog that 9-minute pace to the finish line or until my legs started to feel alive again. Fortunately by mile 17 they seemed to recover and feel OK so I dropped the pace back to the low 8:00s and held that pace until mile 21. But then disaster struck! I started to suffer stabbing pains shooting from my right hip down the leg along the hamstring and ITL Band - the same problem I had last winter! All I could think of was "OH NO - I don't want this problem/injury back now that I am just getting back into good shape!" So I stopped and walked for a few minutes while massaging some key pressure points on the hamstring and ITL Band until the stabbing pains faded. By then I had reached the 22 mile mark (3:01) and finally had some motivation for the first time in the race. I needed to get this torture/ordeal over with asap to minimize the risk of further injury/damage to my right leg. And that required sucking it up, ignoring all pain and pushing the pace as hard as I could for the last 4 miles. I figured that if I could lower the pace back to 8 minutes that I could just finish under 3:35 which would give me some respect back?I could immediately tell from my increased heart rate and laboring that I had dropped the pace well below 8 minutes but my split at mile 23 was 6:49? Then back to 8:19 at mile 24? Boy these markers have got to be really screwed up? But I was not prepared nor did I believe my split at mile 25 - 6:30! Not even the Maddog can run that fast at this stage of a marathon while hurting like Hell! So I expected the last mile to be very lonnnnnngggggggg to make up for some short mile markers? Thus I was very, very surprised when I rounded a corner in downtown Denver about 4 minutes (or about 1/2 mile) later to see the finish line only a bit more than 1/4 mile away? A quick glance at my watch showed that I could finish this race under 3:30 if I picked up the pace more. I didn' t believe it but decided that now was not the time to argue about the correctness of the course -"just get your lazy, tired ass in gear and sprint!"So I crossed the finish line in 3:27:22! But I am still having trouble believing it?There can only be two plausible explanations: 1) the course was short - but it was certified? or 2) the first Half was about .5 to .75 miles long and the second Half accordingly short. In some ways this might make sense since I would have run about 1:40 or less in the first Half which I think I did and then slowed down by 7 minutes in the second half.But I know how much effort (and pain) it takes to run a sub 3:30 marathon and I just don't feel like I did that today? However after I confirm my time on the official web site I intend to log 3:27 in my log book if that is what it was? Heck - it's not often these days that I get to run two sub 3:30 marathons back-to-back. Used to be common when I had my previous (younger) body - but not anymore. So I will graciously accept it if I have to? What upsets me the most is that if I had known the course was so screwed up I WOULD have gladly endured more pain to push the pace in the 2nd Half. I could have finished that course/race under 3:20 if I had been willing to accept more pain! But then I fear that my right leg might have been truly injured. As it is I am going to take some extra time off and get a good massage this week to try to head off any long-lasting injury!

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