Tuesday, December 19, 2006

RR Jacksonville Marathon

Jacksonville Marathon
Jacksonville, FL
Sun, Dec 17/06
3:44:02 – 5th AG

My 26th and final marathon of 2006! This marathon was on my original race calendar but it was supposed to be marathon #30 for the year. How quickly things can change. I dropped out of one marathon in June because of a flu bug and then the DVT calamity happened in Oct causing me to drop out of the Breakers Marathon and skip two more races. However after I survived the Marabana Marathon five weeks later I had enough confidence to resume my original schedule and close out the year with the Jacksonville Marathon.

The Sports Manager decided to go along for the 5-hr boring drive to Jacksonville because she wanted to buy some cold weather and waterproof running gear at the Sports Expo. There aren’t any good running stores in Sarasota but I was sure that there would be some gear at discounted prices at the Expo. She needed some rain gear for our visit to Seattle over the Xmas Holidays. So we set off early and arrived at the registration and expo in time to pick up my race packet and buy her a Gortex running jacket.

We had arranged to meet my good friend and mentor Wally Herman for pasta dinner. Wally is 81 years young and has run 687 marathons and holds the world record with 99 countries. Maddog is a distant second with 80 countries. As usual we had a fun time during dinner trading ‘war’ stories from various countries around the world.

Sun. was M – day! The weather was good – foggy with a temp of 58 F and no wind as I lined up for the 7am start with 2500 runners. There were 1000 runners in the marathon and 1500 in the Half.
I had only two goals:
1) finish ALIVE
2) finish between 3:45 and 3:50
I didn’t want to start too fast so I lined up about 10 rows back from the start line. Didn’t work – the fast starters pulled me through Mile 2 in 16:05. Way too fast! As I was trying to slow down I passed an old fart who had to be a local runner since many spectators were shouting his name (Frank). I slowed some more and ran with him. He was in my age group and we both agreed we were going out too fast! We decided to slow down and run together. I knew a friend who was running the race and would break 3:30 and he said another local runner in our age group would also break 3:30 so that meant that we were competing for 3rd place at best? By Mile 5 (40:45) we had settled into a smooth/easy 8:20/8:30 pace and decided to hold that pace through the 1st Half.
We passed the Half in 1:48:53! Too fast! We knew the 2nd Half would not be as fast because we had started too fast and the temps had already climbed into the 70s! But we decided to hold the 8:30 pace as long as possible.

At Mile 14 I hit a ‘lull’ – a short period where you feel tired and out of energy and I watched Frank leave me behind. At mile 16 I passed Wally who had started one hour early. That lifted my spirits and got the juices flowing again and I was able to lower the pace to 8:15 and I passed Frank around Mile 18 (2:30:10). He couldn’t respond and I never saw him again. That burst of energy didn’t last long. When I reached Mile 20 in 2:47:30 I was already struggling to run an 8:45 pace. A quick calculation determined that if I slowed down to a 9:00 min pace over the last 10Km I could still beat 3:45 so I wisely slowed the pace to 9min/mile and tried to hang on. When I passed Mile 23 (3:14:49) in 9:04 I knew a 3:45 was in the bag as long as I kept the old legs moving. But I was hurting like Hell and had to result to ‘mind’ games. Runners know what I mean. I kept telling myself “just one foot in front of the other”; “just get to the next ¼ mile in 2:15”; “only another ½ mile to the next mile marker” and so on!

When I passed Mile 25 in 3:33:03 I figured I could crawl to the finish line in 12 minutes? At the same time I noticed the Sports Manager ahead and walking the last mile of the course? I had a gut feeling that for some strange reason she was walking the Half? I shouted encouragement and gave her a friendly pat on the butt as I ran by. I thought about stopping and walking with her but decided I was too close to achieving my goals so I pushed on. Soon I turned into the school stadium and on to the track for a final lap before crossing the finish line in 3:44:02. It wasn’t a pretty finish but I had achieved both goals!

About 10 minutes later the Sports Manager finished the Half. I congratulated her and told her she should be proud of herself. All I heard was cuss words and phrases like “I’m tired”! “ My feet hurt”! “That was a stupid thing to do”! “I will never do that again”!
I told her I was proud of her accomplishment and reminded her that I said the same things – 25 years and 278 marathons ago!

By then the results had been posted and I learned that my time of 3:44 was not even good enough to place in my Age Group! I had placed 5th/ 30 runners. A strange and humbling experience for Maddog but I was happy with both my time and performance. I had taken 13 minutes or 30 secs/mile off my previous time of 3:57 at West Palm Beach. I had accomplished both goals and more importantly had gained confidence that the worst of the DVT problems/fear were behind me and I am ready to start speed work in my training and push the pace in my next race.

After quick showers (and no need to go back to the awards ceremony) we headed back to Sarasota. We made a short detour through St Augustine to check out the oldest city in America. It was interesting and might be worth a weekend visit to explore?

Now I am eager to resume my training and start speed work so that I can get in better shape and be competitive in the upcoming race schedule in 2007.

Stay tuned for the next report!

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