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Downtown Temple,NH

Monday, October 20, 2008

Baystate Marathon Race Report

I don't run marathons that often. In fact this was only my 4th one and my 1st in nearly 5 years. I was blessed to have run a BQ on my very first marathon attempt in 2002 at the Vermont City Marathon (3:12). My two follow up attempts have pretty much sucked and I easily changed my mindset to "I hate the marathon". I don't even think it's the distance. I think it has more to do with the specialized training with so much focus on miles and of course the taper. Any other time of the year I just run. I don't specifically 'train' for anything. I enjoy running. But a marathon changes that. It seems every run you do has a purpose and everything is about training. I no longer just 'run', I train. Screw that. Hence my dislike for the marathon.

So what the heck am I doing signing up for another one you ask? Easy. It's all about goals. I always thought I was capable of running a sub 3hr marathon given the right conditions. Well the planets aligned this year. I've had a great running season, been injury free and I always wanted to run a fall marathon (better weather conditions for me). So Baystate was the obvious choice. It is only about 1/2 hr from home, fairly inexpensive and probably most important, flat.

Finally, the report:
Sunday was a beautiful day, sunny but a little on the cold side. Temps at the start were near 30 and I doubt it ever got much above 40 throughout the race. That's ok by me since I much prefer cold temps to warm temps any day. The wind is the biggest x factor on a course like Baystate though. Running up and down both sides of the Merrimack River doesn't provide a lot of shelter from the wind. This proved more than true later in the race.
I parked right at the start in the garage which was nice. I stayed nice and warm (and relaxed) in my car right up to the start of the race. No warm up for me either. I figured the pace would be easy enough (initially) that it probably wasn't required. The early miles would get my legs warmed up.
My strategy was as simple as it gets. In order to run a sub 3hr marathon I'd have to average 6:52 min/mile and since the course was relatively flat I figured a consistent pace was at least doable.
For the first 1/2 of the marathon I ran with various runners with similar goals (3:00 to 3:05 goal). We did a decent job of sticking to the pace and racked up one 6:52 after another. If we had a 'fast' mile we'd scale it back on the next. If we had a 'slow' mile we'd pick it up on the next. It was a very comfortable pace and I was feeling pretty good. Deb and the kids were at mile 8ish on the first loop and at mile 17 on the second loop. I'm glad they came out to watch. I took off my long sleeve shirt on the first loop and stuck with the tank top for the rest of the way.
Although I was running with a pack I never let them dictate the pace (at least not my pace). I stuck to my plan running consistent miles and let a few runners go who would pick up the pace. I would reel them in later. I also started to drop a few. By mile 15 I was pretty much running alone and that was unfortunate. The wind was picking up and I had no one to shelter some of the wind. It was a screwy wind too. It 'seemed' to be a headwind on BOTH sides of the Merrimack. Definitely stronger on the East side heading back towards Lowell. It was brutal during the last 4-5 miles and was really depressing. No shelter, legs are tired and a stupid headwind to beat you down. I did not let up though and continued to at least try to maintain the pace. The effort increased dramatically but I knew I was on pace or better for most of the race. I never assumed it was in the bag though, not even with 1 mile to go. My calves were sore and cramps were still a real possibility but I continued to push the pace. In fact the last mile was my fastest of the day (6:31 pace).
It was an awesome feeling entering the stadium, knowing I was well within my 3hr goal. I crossed the line at 2:58:34 (gun time) for a 2:58:29 net time. I was tired but all things considered I felt great! I spotted Deb and the kids in the stands and they were very excited I had met my goal as well. This was the best I've ever felt after a marathon. I could not have scripted this any better (other than the friggin wind at the end). Everything went exactly as planned. A near perfect race.

My spits: (with 5 mile times as well)

mile 1 6:46
mile 2 6:38
mile 3 6:53
mile 4 6:52
mile 5 6:52 (34:01 5-mile )

mile 6 6:54
mile 7 6:53
mile 8 6:46
mile 9 6:52
mile 10 6:51 (34:16 5-mile)

mile 11 6:49
mile 12 6:44
mile 13 6:52
mile 14 6:33
mile 15 6:57 (34:54 5-mile)

mile 16 6:43
mile 17 6:57
mile 18 6:39
mile 19 6:47
mile 20 6:49 (33:54 5-mile)

mile 21 6:52
mile 22 6:56
mile 23 6:49
mile 24 6:57
mile 25 6:56 (34:29 5-mile)

mile 26 6:31
mile .2 1:23

FINISH: 2:58:29
1st half: 1:29:24
2nd half: 1:29:05

Complete results can be found here -->Baystate Marathon Results