Tuesday, January 27, 2009

RR - Miami

Race Report
Miami Marathon
Sun, Jan 25/09
Marathon # 315

I will try to make this report brief since nothing exciting or interesting happened during the race. The interesting events took place before the race!

I only signed up for this race for the 4th consecutive year because of the 50 % discount on the entry fee if I registered within a few days after last year’s race. I was glad I had because the marathon offered a once-in- a-lifetime opportunity to visit with my good friend and mentor Wally Herman and enjoy a short time together while we share the World Record of 99 Countries!

After a boring drive across Alligator Alley the Sports Manager and I picked up my race packet in Miami Beach and drove up to Wally’s winter home near West Palm Beach about 60 miles north of Miami. We joined Wally and his wife Marie for a pleasant pasta dinner at a nearby restaurant. Wally is a very fine and reserved/shy gentleman - 83 years YOUNG – who still runs 12 to 15 marathons every year! We caught up on running news/gossip and discussed our latest stats. Wally was running marathon # 709 at Miami and Maddog was running a comparatively low # 315. And for a very brief time we would both share the World Record of 99 Countries! I almost feel sad and guilty about breaking his record – a record he has held for as long as I can remember – certainly before I started running 27 years ago! However Wally has approved and is content that a good friend will be the one to break his record! To celebrate the occasion I broke a cardinal rule about imbibing the night before a race and joined our friends for a glass of wine with dinner.

Sun was ‘M’ Day. It was a little warmer than expected – 63 F at the 6:15 am start in the dark. Luckily I arrived early and managed to line up at the front the 2nd corral where I was seeded. I was only a few feet behind the Kenyans and pack of elite athletes. There were 15,500 runners behind us – 3500 in the Marathon and 12,000 in the Half. My race strategy was to go out at a 3:45 pace and hold that pace as long as I could. From past experience I knew that time would not be competitive in this race but I mainly wanted to do a long/hard training run.

As we charged across the MacArthur Causeway and enjoyed the spectacular sight of many cruise ships lit up in the dark I passed Mile 1 in 8:30 and Mile 3 in 24:59 – right on pace! However when I reached mile 6 on South Beach in 50:51 I became concerned because my legs had not settled into a smooth/easy flow like they normally do by that distance? Instead I was forcing the pace which was not good because it takes more effort/energy. I passed Wally around Mile 9 (he started 45 minutes early to beat the 6-hr time limit on the course) and reached Mile 10 in 1:24:56. I passed the Half in 1:51:42 – 5 secs faster than Tiberias a few weeks ago – but there was a big difference! My pace was still not smooth/easy and my legs did not feel as good/fresh as Tiberias. I knew right then that the 2nd Half would not be as fast and that the race was probably going to get ugly around 20 miles! My prediction proved to be true sooner than expected as I reached Mile 18 in 2:33:37 and a split of 8:40. I struggled to hold an 8:40 pace over the next two miles and reach Mile 20 in 2:51:06. I knew at that point that a sub-3:45 wasn’t going to happen! I figured that if I could hold 8:40s till Mile 23 I could hopefully ‘gut out’ the final 5 Km and finish under 3:50?

However the next 3 miles were a painful struggle and when I reached Mile 23 in 3:17:32 and a split of 9:00 I knew the race was essentially over for me. I had ‘hit the wall’. There was nothing left in my legs! I knew that if I stopped or started walking the final 5 Km would be very slow/ugly/painful so I had no choice but to summon Maddog and hand the final 5 km and race over to him. Somehow he managed to block out the pain and keep my wasted old legs moving/shuffling on energy fumes and willpower. As we shuffled towards the finish line all I could think about was how painful and tortuous the final 5 km of this race had been for the past 3 years? As a desperate attempt to provide a distraction from the pain and create an incentive to keep my legs moving I promised myself a nice reward if I didn’t walk – I would give myself a break and skip these 5 km from Hell and the entire race next year! That was reason/incentive enough to keep my tired/wasted old legs shuffling at a 9:15 pace – even over the final bridge into downtown Miami – and across the finish line in 3:47:23 -- without walking!

As expected that finish time was not competitive (9th place out of 25 runners in my AG) but I was satisfied with my time and effort. It had indeed been a long and hard training run and good preparation for my next adventure – the BIG event – Country # 100 in Tahiti on Feb 7/09!

Maddog, the Sports Manager and Mad Monk leave for Tahiti next weekend.

Stay tuned!

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