Sunday, January 13, 2008

Houston Marathon Part 1 of 4

Wow - I am sitting in shock looking at 2:40:46 finish time.

Race milestones I was striving for - sub2:50, Stretch goal subLance(2:46:43).

Race Strategy - I just wanted to see what I could do. I figured I may be able to maintain a 164 bpm heartrate so I set my garmin after mile one to alarm 162 and 166 and displayed only the heartrate on the Garmin and countdown to next milemarker - nothing else.

First mile I targeted a 6:15-6:25 but actually ended around 6:30 - the mile ended with a fair amount of up hill so I figured I hit the target effort level.

Rest of the mileage I only had heartrate to watch on my watch. A side note - I've had a lot of problems with the strap slipping on me in prior runs and races and figured a solution to that issue a few days ago - I pin the strap to my shirt - worked great.

Anyway after mile two I focused on keeping my heartrate steady at around 164 bpm. At mile markers I would get pace info and mile by mile I kept hearing a lower numbers - averages steadily dropped from the first 6:30 finally down to a low of 6:05 somewhere around the half. I started getting nervous about my strategy because 6:05 average pace so far into the race was insane - but I tried to trust my strategy of sticking to 164 bpm and run whatever speed it would deliver.

Maintaining the HR slowly started slipping - I hit the low 162 bpm pretty regular and had a hard time maintaining. Around 16 or so I stopped trying to maintain and resolved to just maintain whatever I could - I kept seeing lower and lower numbers - down to 155 at one point - I think that reduction helped to give me a second wind and I sped up a little - got up to the 158ish range which I seemed to be able to hold. I passed up the last couple of people near me and I was running alone.

As I approached each mile marker I kept expecting the average pace to increase and it did drift up slightly - but not as bad as I expected - heard several 6:06s and 6:07 and I think one 6:08 so even though my HR was slipping - I was apparently still pulling down some good mile splits - at least a few times I got no split at the markers as two split callers were assigned to each milemarker and sometimes I would hear the splits as-if I was in wave 2. It was ridiculous to me that they were calling out splits for those slower runners that started 10 minutes later as if they had caught up to me - like a second waver runner is going to be running a 5:40 pace. Once in a while they would call out the time but there were no digital displays at the milemarkers with the time so since I didn't SEE the time - I never quite comprehended the time - there wasn't even a 1/2 marathon split time and apparently the mat didn't record it - somebody said it was 1:19:50 although I have no idea what that came from. I did not allow myself to do math while running - focus was one mile at a time - once in a while I would start wondering what a 6:0x marathon finishing time was and my mind would start to calculate and I would force it back to business at hand of getting to the next milemarker strong. I knew Lance's time was 6:21 pace so I knew if I could keep it together I had that but I tried hard not to add up the seconds per mile difference to project my finish - one mile at a time.

I passed the last person anywhere near me between mile 18-19 - afterwhich there was no one within sight ahead - and no one came from behind to challenge me all the way to the finish so the last 7-8 miles of the race was all on my own.

I generally had the feeling I was not pushing enough - I was settling for heartrates in the high 150s and still believed I could maintain higher. Finally around 24 or so I resolved to at least push into the 160s so I pushed the pace a little - especially final mile.

At the finish - it was very important to me and my wife that she is involved in the finish. She waits right near the finish at every race from near the start of the race just to maintain a good spot that could be easily seen. I knew to look right near the finish and I would find her - the problem was the half marathoners were finishing right and I was running down the left side of the street. I was determined to not miss her so I held back the final sprint until I found her - kept scanning, kept scanning - finally with maybe 100 yards remaining I spot her and she blows me a few excited kisses than I charge to the finish. She told me later she just happened to start looking not expecting me for another 5 minutes or so - the text messaging from my split times didn't hit her cellphone so she didn't know how I was doing.

Anyway - after I stopped looking intently at the sideline and accepted my blown kisses - I looked up to the finish - I saw the clock - it was ticking with a 2:40:xx - I was floored - I charged to the finish and took too steps past the finish and just had to yell out my excitement - I was in total shock.

So - 2:40:46 finish time - I've been thinking about that ever sense I got it and I'm just in shock. Apparently I set a 10 mile PR, TWO half marathon PRs (I guess the second doesn't count since it was slower than the first), a 30k PR and the best of all - nearly a 16 minute Marathon PR - holy smokes - where did that come from.

And to top it all off - I'm pretty sure I WON the race for 40+ runners which has a $1,500 prize - results aren't final yet. I would not be surprised to learn it is the slowest Master's winning time ever recorded :) for the Houston Marathon - but better lucky than good. Sean Wade didn't run - 2:20 marathon last year at age 40 - and where the heck are the older Kenyans. This would also give me local elite status in next years Houston Marathon - one of my 2008 (stretch) goals.

I downloaded all the split and biometric info but haven't looked at it much but if your currious feel free to dig in and give me your take.


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