Sunday, October 17, 2010

International City Bank Long Beach Marathon

image This may not have been the fastest marathon run for me but it will go down as quite possibly the smartest. I’ll spare you all the early details suffice to say the ability to book parking on line in advance, a bag check and more potta potties than you can shake a stick at was great. And so onto the meat of the race, my arrival timing was almost perfect, I had to weave my way through from Wave 6 to Wave 3 (4:05-4:30) which was where I wanted to self seed myself, I nearly got stuck in Wave 4 but managed to slip through.

The staggered start was a great idea but as with most races there is always a group of runners that over estimate their ability. I could see the 4:15 pace flag about two minutes ahead but there were too many people between me and it to worry at that stage.

They released the Wave and we set off. As per my last post my strategy was to run walk and I had programmed my Garmin to chime every 8 minutes at which point I would walk a minute, my rationale being that 9 x 26.2 = 3:59. My goals were “A” 4:00 hrs, “B”4:15 and “C” 4:30.

The route wound its way around the back of Long Beach crossing over some of the waterways and winding around towards the back end of the Queen Mary which is permanently moored at Long Beach, it was all pretty flat other than the bridges which made for a pleasant change in terrain. We finally finished the loop and were basically back where we started albeit 6 miles in. My interval plan was working fine and was feeling good.

I was wearing a FuelBelt with 2 8oz bottles and had added two larger pouches on the side into which one had my gels and the other various baggies of CytoMax, Nuun and Cliff Shot, the plan being to refill the bottles as I went along, Powerade was the drink on the course and I can’t stand the stuff, I had also drunk 16oz of CytoMax during the drive down. I had suffered from dehydration a couple of times during my longer runs and although today was not hot there was some humidity and I was sweating. One unexpected side effect was the need to pee…a lot, three times in total, most unlike me but a good sign. I was also popping Gu (Mint/Choc Jet Blackberry and a Blueberry Roctane) gels every 45 minutes ( I had 5 in total) and they did their job just fine. No cramps and plenty of energy, I gulped them a bit quick on occasion so I consciously slowed down taking them over a mile rather than wolfing them in 2-3 mouthfuls and I was fine.

The next section took along the beach path, this was a bit narrow but was ok and here I passed my CTO from work (:-/) I was undecided whether to say anything and I opted not to thinking that I did not want to distract him, this was his first marathon and he was aiming for around 4:15 (something bad must have happened in the second half as he missed his goal by over an hour). Around M11 we dropped the Half Marathon runners and headed north; first along a short out and back and then eventually up into the campus of CSULB where the students were out cheering everyone on. In fact all around the course there was pretty good crowd support and there were really only a few stretches that were empty. I was making pretty good progress and had gone through the half way point in 1:59:54…if I could only pull off a negative split!

The miles slipped by and I continued with my walk run intervals, I was starting to fall a little off pace and my average pace had slipped to somewhere around the mid 9s I tried to make up for on the downhill’s where I could. The tough miles were 19-22 for some reason these just seemed to be a real slog, looking at my splits these were some of my slowest miles…so at least that all makes sense. Around M22 I caught a second wind, at least it felt that way, unfortunately the data would say otherwise, anyway I felt pretty good although my quads were moaning a little, the good news was that I had no complaints from my adductors which have been kicking up a storm for the last month. I stuck to my intervals right into the last mile and then decided it was time to kick it up and crossed the line with a 7:37 pace!

I passed through the exit and wandered out looking for any familiar faces; I bumped into Danica (Chic Runner) and said hi, she works for the organizers so she had no time to chat. I grabbed some of the free food and a cup of coffee, I was feeling a bit cold having stopped moving and had a good stretch knowing that I had to spend a couple of hours in the car driving home.

In terms of the race I have to say that of the road races I have run this is definitely one of the better ones, well organized with lots of aid on the course and an army of volunteers, there maybe some complaints about the bag pick which was a bit disorganized but I only waited 5-10 minutes, a nice tech T shirt and a really nice medal. The expo was also pretty good the day before. The course is flat and fast and while a bit dull in parts the interesting parts really make up for it. Long Beach is a conference town so there is a ton of parking and it can absorb a lot of people.

So like I said not the fastest race in the world, my official time was 4:17:42, so I will take that as a successful “B” goal. I clearly slipped off pace during the second half and with a bit more endurance I could have maybe hit the 4:00 mark, but my training has been for crap for the last month so I will take this with a smile and move on. One thing that was pleasing was that apart from the final HTFU mile my heart rate never went higher than about 155. Here’s the data broken out into 5 mile chunks, it’s clear that I was behind the curve from the start but pretty consistent through M15:

image So this interval thing really worked today and the nice thing is that I don’t feel like a complete wreck so I can get back into it sooner rather than later. Next on the agenda, in 4 weeks, is the Eco Marathon on Catalina!

No photos yet…I will add them when they post