"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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Marathon #8: "Running the Gap" Pocatello Marathon Recap

I'm going to skip all of the pre- and post-race stuff and just get right to it. The biggest thing I took away from this race last year was that under no circumstances could I allow myself to start too fast. The first 14 miles are downhill and while it was nice to run a fast first half last year, I paid for it on the back end.
The race had a pace team for the first time this year and given my pace problems in the past, I lined up next to Carol, the 4-hour pacer, who said she planned to run a steady 9:09 pace while walking through each of the aid stations. This sounded fine and good until the gun went off and Carol took off. It was too dark to see my Garmin, but I knew we were not running anything near a 9:09 pace. Barreling down the canyon, our 4-hour group of about 10 runners clocked an 8:19 Mile 1 and followed it with miles of 8:32, 8:33, 8:36 and 8:28. In fact, we didn't run a 9:09 mile until Mile 9, and it was the only mile in the entire first half slower than 9 minutes.
As we began the second half of the race Carol told those of us still with her (about six or so at that point) that we were about 5 minutes ahead of where we should be (no, really?) and that she was going to slow down. Myself and two other runners were comfortable at our pace though so we continued on. My thinking was that as long as I was running with people and the pace was comfortable I'd be alright. Its when I find myself alone in the later miles that trouble sets in. One of the guys I was with was running his 42nd state, the other, his first marathon.
As we started up the hill in Mile 17, the first-timer and I pulled away a little bit from our Canadian friend. Still under a 4-hour pace and feeling good making my way up the hill, I was in a good place. By the time I hit the top of the rolling hills at Mile 19 though, I had given up about 100 yards to my running partner as he powered his way up the hill. I wasn't sure if he would keep that pace, but more power to him -- he finished in 3:56.
My Canadian friend caught back up to me just after Mile 19 and we ran together for another mile before I took a few extra seconds at the Mile 20 aid station and he continued on. Carol caught up to me at Mile 21 and by the time we got to the top of the last hill at 21.5 she was 50 yards ahead of me. She was still a little bit ahead of the 4-hour pace, but I was working for every step at that point and didn't have enough left in the tank to catch back up to her.
I remained positive though and enjoyed the last few miles. My wife and kids were parked along the way in a few spots and offered encouragement and I eventually crossed the finish line in 4:08:21. 
A couple of take-a-ways:
1. I held the 4-hour pace for more than 22 miles. I'm getting there. I'm close.
2. I was 61 seconds off of my PR set back in June in Seattle. This is either satisfying or frustrating depending on how I look at it. Frustrating in that I know I could have come up with 61 seconds somewhere along the way. Satisfying in that I still felt like I ran a pretty darn good race.
3. I cut 27 minutes off of my time from this race last year. 27 minutes! There's been improvement.
Overall, it was a good race and I'm glad I did it. I learned something things that will help me going forward. Here's the obligatory post-race photo:

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