"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

2011 Newport Marathon Recap

Two weeks ago I posted the anticipated weather forecast for Saturday's marathon. It called for showers, strong winds, stronger gusts, and temperatures in the low 50s. I lamented at the time that only in Oregon does the weather in June seem like late winter/early spring.
On Saturday morning as I stepped outside of my hotel room around 5:30 to gage the weather before I got dressed, there was an absence of something: cold. Generally the Oregon coast has a chill in the early-morning air, even during the summer. The breeze tend to amplify that chill. Not on this day. The air was warm and the gentle breeze warmer. I knew then that I would need to start adjusting my expectation for the race, as conditions were certainly not going to be ideal. I was not alone in this thought, as there was lots of pre-race chatter about the weather and how warm it was then and how hot it would get (in contrast, as I waited at the starting line last year I did so in the fog, shivering underneath my long-sleeve shirts and gloves).
The weather was the story of the day, no doubt. Reports are that at one point it reached 82 degrees on the course.  Perhaps not so bad in the abstract but in context it might as well have been 105 degrees. Newport hadn't had a day of 60 degrees in 2011. In the Willamette Valley, where I live, its been 50s and cloudy/rainy for months it seems like, though there has been a day of sun here and there the past few weeks. Bottom line, there's been no training in any sort of heat and nobody was prepared for a heatwave to show up on race day. More on this later.
Miles 1-5 went exactly according to plan, with mile splits of between 8:24 and 8:40. It would have been a beautiful morning for running if there weren't 21 miles still to go. This is the prettiest section of the course in my opinion. There's a few hills but you get to run through the streets of the beachfront shops and then down towards the ocean at the entrance to Nye Beach before making your way back to Yaquina Bay State Park where the starting line is located. After that you make your way under the bridge and into the heart of the waterfront area, running along the boardwalk past the various seafood processing plants (worst. smell. ever.) past the finish area and out of town to run along Yaquina Bay. It's really a nice few miles and goes by very fast.
Leaving town also means leaving most of the crowd support behind. I was able to maintain my planned pace through miles 6-11 and was feeling pretty good to this point, but the sun had come up over the hills and was becoming more intense. I was mixing in brief walking breaks every mile and was taking as much Gatorade as I could handle at every aid station, knowing I was going to need every drop of it later.
Miles 12 and 13 were a challenge and I fell below my planned pace a bit, but little by little I had banked enough time in the first 11 miles that I was able to reach the 13.1 marker right at 1:57, right where I wanted to be (and 9 minutes SLOWER than last year, when I made the deadly mistake of going out too fast). Unfortunately, despite my efforts to hydrate, I was starting to become dehydrated.
Mile 14 went smoothly as did Mile 15 for the most part. But between Mile 15 and Mile 16 a few things happened. There was an aid station at 15.2, a turnaround point at 15.4 and the same aid station coming back at 15.6. Because I was walking through each aid station, making sure I was drinking generous amounts of Gatorade, Mile 16 was slower that I would have preferred.
During Miles 17 and 18 my pace continued to slide. I had dropped into and 11 minute pace by walking the first part of each mile and trying to run the rest. It was so hot at this point. I knew I was dehydrated, even though I was taking as much as 20 ounces of Gatorade per station. I could feel myself getting a little loopy, my mind a little foggy and so I made my 2nd to last conscious decision of the day: slow down and make sure I finish. Whatever it takes to do that. I was not going to reach my goal of sub 4-hours at this point and it was important to take care of myself, manage each mile and get to the finish line.
It was about this time that I saw another runner being helped into a medical vehicle and taken off the course. She wouldn't be the last. In the last 8 miles I saw no less than 7 medical vehicles carrying runners off the course, and I'm sure there were more after I finished. It's always an unfortunate sight to see. You wish you could do something for them but there isn't. I felt particularly bad for the lady I passed at 25.1 miles. She was talking to the medical personnel and just couldn't go on. I so badly wanted to tell her she was so close and just to hang on a little longer, but she couldn't.
I worked my way through miles 19-25, walking when I needed to and running as far as I could, trying to keep a nice consistent pace, whatever pace that happened to be. Now that I've recovered and I'm thinking straight again, I question why I didn't and/or couldn't run harder or faster or longer. Why did I think I needed to walk so much? But being in the moment, being that tired and that dehydrated, my thoughts were far different then they are now looking back at it from the outside.
Just before Mile 26 I turned my music back on (I had turned it off around mile 18) and forced myself to turn up the pace (my last conscious decision of the day). I worked my way up the hill to the 26 Mile marker and knew at that point it was all downhill to the finish line. Calves cramping, I barreled towards the line all by myself, having passed everyone near me at the crest of the hill. I crossed the finish line and was done (I ran the final 1/3 mile at a 7:27 pace, which I'm pleased with, even if it was downhill). Because of the way the finish area is set up the crowds in the last 200 yards are concentrated and loud. Running down the hill by myself into this crowd that was cheering only for me was a cool experience.
Dehydrated and worn out but still a finisher
I finished in 4:34:38. Not a PR, but not a PW either. I was actually 15 seconds slower than last year (my mistake, I thought I finished last year in 4:35:23, not 4:34:23...had I known the correct time I would have worked harder to beat it), but I knew I had made progress. Despite the conditions, I had run basically the same time. And as opposed to last year, when I didn't pass a single person in the final 8 miles, this year I was consistently picking off people in front of me. 
I felt like I did everything I needed to do to be prepared. There are things I can't control, the weather being one of them. But of the things I could control, I feel like I did so pretty well. I finished 369 out of 705 overall and ran faster than the average time of all the finishers.
Now it's recovery time, but not too much. The Seattle Rock 'n' Roll marathon is just around the corner (now just 18 days away) and the Foot Traffic Flat marathon is just 9 days after Seattle.  I'm feeling pretty good today and will be back on schedule running normal miles on Thursday.
Thanks for following along. I'm looking forward to the next one.

1 comment:

Wifey said...

Just realized something when you said you were feeling dehydrated despite all the gatorade you were drinking. Gatorade is full of salt. How is that supposed to hydrate you?