Tuesday, September 05, 2006

RR Colorado Springs

Race Report
American Discovery Trail Marathon
Colorado Springs, CO
Mon, Sept 4/06
Marathon # 269
3:45:59 37 OA - 1 AG

This is the 3rd straight year I have run this marathon and I had a few goals:
1) I wanted to defend my Senior Title and win my Age Group for the 3rd straight year
2) I wanted to run under 3:40 – maybe even 3:35 and set a new course PR

Both previous years I had not shown up to the start line in good health or shape but this year I was healthy and (I thought) in good shape. I had to take some extra time off the week before the race to rest an injured left knee but I didn’t think it would affect my performance?

The sports manager decided not to accompany me to Colorado Springs since she had gone the two previous years. So I drove down to Colorado Springs on Sun night in time to pick up my race packet and enjoy a traditional pasta dinner.

The race started at 6:30am on Labor Day at Confluence Park – now ‘America the Beautiful Park’ – in downtown CO Springs. The course started at the Park @ 6200 ft and followed paved and dirt bike trails along Monument and Fountain Creeks to a turn-around point near the Air Force Academy at mile 16. The first 5 miles were flat and then there were a series of small rolling hills until mile 14. Miles 14 to 18 were a series of tough BAHs (Bad Ass Hills) that rose 300 ft in elevation! The final 8 miles dropped gently over rolling hills back to the finish line in the Park.

It was great running weather, sunny and 50 F, at the start and never warmed up above the low 60s. There were 200 runners in the Marathon. I decided to start smart – and slow – to let the knee warm/loosen up and passed through mile 2 in 16:45. The knee felt OK so I lowered to pace to 8min/mile over the next 3 miles. By mile 5 however I was starting to struggle to hold the 8 min pace which was not a good sign. I knew I couldn’t hold that pace for another 21 miles so I slowed the pace to 8:30s that felt smooth and comfortable.
I revised my strategy to hold that pace through mile 14 and the BAHs and then try to lower the pace to sub 8s for the last 8 miles!

That strategy worked OK through the 1st Half (1:51:07) but I struggled to run an 8:45/9:00 min pace through the 4 miles of BAHs. And when I finally emerged from the BAHs I tried to push the pace down to sub 8s – but there just wasn’t any ‘push’ left in the old legs. I was struggling to run 8:30/8:45s when I passed mile 20 in 2:51:37! I realized that I was paying the price for no speed work since my European trip. No surprise – if you don’t push in training it is difficult to push in a race! I knew that sub 8s weren’t going to happen and I also knew that I was in 1st place in my age group and thus there was not much motivation to push and hurt! So it was time for revision #2 to the strategy. It was based on some advice that a friend gave me before the race: “Find some nice tight buns (hopefully belonging to a female) and follow them for motivation and to take your mind off the pain”.

Fortunately there were 2 young female runners (half my age) in front of me so I pushed the pace until I closed right behind them and followed my friend’s advice (and the buns). Good scenery and good motivation! When those ‘tight buns’ tired and slowed I was able to pass and pick up another set in front to focus on! I followed the final set of ‘tight’ buns until mile 25 and then Maddog insisted that I pass her before the finish line.

I crossed the finish line in 3:45:59. I was not happy/pleased with that time and I was really upset with my inability to push the pace to sub 8s when needed! Obviously I need to do some serious speed work and push the old bod through some severe pain to get some speed back!

I had to rush back to the hotel for a quick shower and to check out. When I returned to the finish area I learned that I had indeed won my age group – and collected my third beer mug. I had finished 37th Overall (187 runners) and 1st AG (6 runners).

When I returned home and checked my race reports I discovered that my PR for that course is 3:44:15 so I guess I didn’t do as badly as I thought. However I am convinced that I should be able to run a sub 3:40 (even 3:35) on that course. Maybe next year?

Unfortunately I don’t have time to do any speed work before my marathon in Stowe, VT next weekend so I am hoping that this marathon will serve at least as a fast training run in preparation for that race. I will need to run much better/faster in VT if I hope to win my age group!

Stay tuned!

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