Monday, March 05, 2007

RR Sarasota Marathon 03-07

Race Report
Sarasota Marathon
Sarasota, FL
Sun, Mar 4/07
3:59:14 – 3 AG

Since this is my hometown marathon and I won my Age Group and Senior Division in the inaugural race in 2006 I had no choice but to return to defend my title! Also I had run my best time (a blazing 3:22) in more than 8 years. Alas as most of you know I had been experiencing a lot of problems with leg cramps ever since my bout with DVT in Oct 06 and I figured that there was no way I would be able to defend my title!

Since it was unlikely that I could even finish without cramps let alone run close to 3:30 I volunteered to pace a good friend (Dr Chuck) to a sub 4-hr marathon so that he could qualify for Boston. After a very painful visit to my masseuse (Attila the Huness) a few days before the race my right calf was so sore that I wasn’t even sure that I would be able to get through the 26 miles?

Nevertheless the sports manager drove me to the start line on Sun for a 6am start in the dark near the John Ringling Museum. The weather was milder than forecast with a temp of 57 F that climbed to the low 70s by the time I finished. After I exited the car my ankles started to itch and felt like they were on fire. I stopped under a streetlight to discover that I must have stepped on an anthill because hundreds of the little buggers were enjoying breakfast on my ankles. It was not starting out to be a good day?

Then I couldn’t find Chuck at the start line. However I did find a couple of young ladies from Maddog’s Running Harem and started with them. They dragged me through the first mile in 8:49 and mile 4 in 34:34. At that point another friend from our running club passed us and informed us that Chuck was a few minutes behind us. I let the ladies push on and slowed down to wait for Chuck. When I passed mile 5 in 43:24 I walked for 1 minute because that was part of our race strategy – to walk for 1 minute every 5 miles. I figured that a scheduled walk would be good for my legs and Chuck needed a ‘rest’ because he always seems to crash around 20 miles? I jogged up the Ringling Bridge on mile 6 but still no Chuck? As I approached a turn-around point/loop at mile 8 I asked some friends to tell Chuck that I had slowed down and was waiting for him. I finally saw him as I was on the return loop and told him that I would slow down more so he could catch me. When I reached mile 10 in 1:29:42 I had to stop and wait for chuck and then we walked for another 1 minute. I was already becoming concerned that we were too close to the limit? At mile 13 we walked for another minute and passed the Half in 2:00:09!

I was really concerned because we would have to run the same pace in the 2nd Half and we planned to walk every 3 miles in the 2nd Half? I told Chuck that we needed to pick up the pace and took off hoping he would try to stay with me? When I reached mile 15 at the top of the Ringling Bridge (the highest hill in Sarasota) in 2:18:21 I had to wait for Chuck and we walked again. At that point I knew that Chuck would not finish under 4 hrs but I didn’t tell him that because I didn’t want to discourage him! Another running friend joined us that that point to help pace Chuck. I informed Chuck that we would have to push the pace to 20 miles and eliminate some of the planned walks. I told them that I was going to push the pace and guaranteed them that Chuck would finish under 4 hrs if he stayed with me! I took off!

When I passed mile 16 in 2:28:21 I figured that I had to run a 9-min pace for the last 10 miles with no more walk breaks to finish under 4 hrs. I was just starting to approach the danger zone with regards to distance and legs cramps so I had to be cautious! I passed mile 20 in 3:04:20! I had 55 minutes to run the last 10 Km! I figured that I did not have the luxury or time for any more walks so if I cramped I was in big trouble! However I did allow myself to stop for 1 minute to stretch and massage both calves in the hopes that this therapy would prevent any cramps.

Then it was time to get serious! I felt OK and wanted to lower the pace but was too scared of increasing the risk of cramps so I held the pace at 9min/mile. When I passed mile 23 in 3:22:30 I finally had some hope/confidence that I was going to make it to the finish line without cramping up? I even tried to lower the pace to 8:45s but at that point the old bod and legs were just too tired to respond and all I could do was hang on to the 9- min pace because I knew that would get me across the finish line under 4 hrs. Fortunately two lovely young ladies passed me at that point and I decided to follow the nice scenery and let them drag me across the finish line in 3:59:14!

I was pleased that I had achieved my goal of sub 4 hrs and especially happy that I had managed to run/walk the entire race without any cramps! Maybe there is hope?
I later learned of two disappointments:
1) Chuck didn’t stay with me and dropped out at 20 miles
2) My time placed me 3rd/23 runners in my Age Group. There was only 1:13 between the top 3 runners in our Age Group! Hell – I could have won the age group and defended my title if I had known it was that close!

But I am still happy with the results! And most importantly I felt good after the race with no serious aches or pains so I should be able to train hard in preparation for my next (international) marathon in 2 weeks. Maybe I will be able to push the pace in that race and get my times back down to a more respectable level (for Maddog)!

I will leave the destination for the next race as a surprise but here is one hint. It will be a lonngggggg 24-hr flight to Asia!

Stay tuned for the trip report.

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