Monday, January 06, 2003

RR Tampa Marathon

Race Report:
Hops Marathon
Tampa, FL

This race surprised even me! Since I didn't think that I was in good enough shape to run fast (a sub 3:30) and I aggrevated my right hamstring (again) this past week I decided to accept a request by a young female runner from the local Running Club to pace her to a sub 3:40 to qualify for Boston.When the alarm went off at 3am I think that I might have rolled over and stayed in bed except for that promise. So I dragged my lazy butt out of bed and drove into Tampa in plenty of time to meet Kara and be ready for the 6am start. Somehow we failed to find each other at the designated spot so I rushed over to the race start at the last moment and jumped right on to the start line and took off with the 'big dogs'. I reached the 3-mile mark in 23:30 and my right hamstring felt OK and I felt great so I decided "what the hell - might as well hold this pace and see what happens - I can always slow down in the 2nd half!"It was a crisp 38 F at the start with little wind - very cold for Floridians but great racing/running weather. Even after the sun came up the temps only reached the low 50s by the time I finished. So I held the pace under 8 min/mile and crossed the Half in 1:43:31. Surprisingly and happily I still felt good so decided to hold that pace until I finished or crashed - whichever came first? I even started to entertain silly illusions about running negative splits - Nah, I must be delirious as well as feeling good?Around 18 miles I caught up to a few runners that appeared to be in my age group. I passed all but one who decided that he did not want to be passed. I figured it was too early to get into a pissing duel/race so I backed off and fell in behind him until mile 20. I had already decided that if I still felt good then I would lower the hammer and push the last 10K. At 20 miles I did a gut check - what the heck is going on here? - I still feel good? So I dropped the pace to 7:35 to 7:40 over the next few miles and never looked back. It felt like I was in a special zone - no fatique, no pain and I was having fun? That lasted until mile 24 when REALITY HIT - HARD! All of a sudden my legs were tired and sore and I had to struggle to run a 7:57 over mile 25.At that point I decided that this wasn't fun anymore and I needed to get this 'shit' over with so I called on Maddog to find some energy somewhere and get me to the finish line as quickly and painlessly as possible! 'Quickly' the Maddog understands - 'Painlessly' is not in his vocabulary! When my legs cried out in pain and fatique - he ignored them. When my heart monitor beeped and flashed wildly - he ignored it. He was determined not to leave anything on the course as he dragged my sorry, tired ass through that final mile in 7:30 (fastest mile slpit of the race) to cross the finish line in 3:25:35. A Negative Split by more than one minute - even I had trouble believing my watch? But I was very pleased with my time and the even splits that I ran throughout the race. However I was slightly surprised/disappointed to discover later on that time only placed me 6th (46 runners) in my age group. There was obviously some fast competitors in the race (3rd place was 3:17)!Obviously it was just one of those days where everything went right - weather, flat, fast course, relaxed attitude and proper phase of the moon/planets, etc.Whatever, I'm not complaining. Now I have my sub 3:30 already accomplished for the year - one less goal to worry about!For you fellow runners thinking about running this marathon the change in date for this race has really helped. It is a good race/event. The course is flat and fast. The first half in not very exciting or scenic as it winds through downtown Tampa but the second half runs along the west shore of Tampa Bay. There are about 1200 runners in the marathon and there is a whole weekend of racing events if you are a glutton for pain. The Gasparilla Classic (15K) on Sat followed by a 10K on Sat and the marathon on Sun. You can enter all three races if you wish? I consider it 'my hometown' marathon and will continue to run it each year that I am here.

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