Monday, September 04, 2006

2006 Heart of America Marathon

Today was the 47th annual Heart of America Marathon in Columbia, MO which I ran for the 3rd year in a row. This is one of the oldest marathons and attracts around 100+ people
each year. I set the alarm for 4:00 and slept pretty well for about 6 ½ hrs. I had my pre-race meal (protein shake with banana and yogurt, another yogurt, Clif Bar), hydrated myself until 5 am. At 5:20, we left home to head to the race which starts at 6 am.

The start is near the old basketball arena near MU. This year we parked at the Campus Inn and I was able to use the restrooms one last time before walking to the start.

There were 138 registered runners and it was difficult to see who was there, but I recognized and talked to several other runners before the race. Some were planning to run the first half and then drop out. Hugh and I entered most of the registrations into a spreadsheet last night so we would be ready to post times today. Quite a few runners wait to register until the morning of the marathon since there is no penalty and they probably wait to see if the weather is going to be decent.

Temperature at the start was about 60 F, 93% humidity and fog. My goal was to try to run as good a race as I did on this course last year when I ran it in 3:10:12 and placed 7th overall. As usual, it was difficult to see the watch for the first couple miles, but I held back the pace and let the faster starters go ahead. At mile 2 my time was 14:48 which I felt was a nice conservative starting pace. At this point, I decided to pick it up a little and see how I felt and ran mile 3 in 7:03. Miles 4 – 7 were all 6:45 – 6:58. I was told I was in 7th place at about mile 8 and then passed my first runner shortly after.

From this point until the first half (at the top of the worst hill), my pace dropped a bit on the hills, and on the worst hill it was 7:42 which was much better than last year when I ran 8:15 on the hill. I was wearing the Timex GPS and heart rate monitor today. Heart rate climbed to 160 on the hill. At 13.1, my time was called out at 1:33:00. I still felt pretty good so picked the pace back up to 7:06 for mile 14.

I passed 3 different people the rest of the race. I found it unusual that I was passed by some different people than the ones that I passed. There was no passing back and forth the same person. I alternated between 6th and 7th place. At about mile 19, the guy ahead of me was starting to walk and I easily passed him. The hill in mile 20 always seems to tire me on this course and my legs were starting to feel a bit fatigued. I had been taking Honey Stingers every 4 – 5 miles and quite a few times I used some of my water to cool myself. The cold water down my back always seemed to help pick up the pace a little.

After mile 20, I’m thinking if I can just hold on and keep the pace at least 7:10/mi, I should set a PR for this course. I’m just not sure if I can do it, but once the road flattened out, I was able to get back on pace.

I was dreading mile 24 since it is the last hill. It really isn’t that steep, but it seems really long. I managed a 7:34 on this mile. Before the race today I hoped I wouldn’t slow down the last few miles. I did slow down, but it was less of a slowdown than last year. Mile 25 was 7:29 and the last 1.2 was 8:43 so I ran all miles less than an 8 minute pace this year. Last year I had 2 miles at 8+. I pushed myself a little on the last 1.2 and it felt like a strong finish. I didn’t even see the clock at the finish, but checked my watch once I got my medal and plaque (3rd in age group of 35 – 39). My time was 3:07:42, 2.5 min faster than last year and a course PR. I was happy with this time and I placed 6th overall out of 113 people that finished. Both guys that beat me in my age group were 35.

There were water stations about every 4 miles and sometimes more often. I took water at all the stations except one even though I didn't always feel like drinking. A couple entertaining guys on the course riding their tandem bike gave me water once and also offered me a cigarette and some M&Ms at some point, but I declined.

The Timex Bodylink was very useful in helping me set a pace for the entire race it seemed to always have a signal. I also picked up the pace a little when the heart rate dropped into the 140s on the flats. Average heart rate was about 150 - 153.

Everyone always likes to run negative splits and I’m sure a few people did on this course, but it is tough since the second half has more hills than the first half. Although the hill at the end of the first half is the worst hill.

No pain or cramping issues until after the race. My left calf almost cramped when I took my shoe off to get in the ice cold pool at the finish. I couldn’t stay in there very long since it was too cold. My legs are feeling achy already, but muscles aren’t feeling tight as last year. After about half hour I ate a banana and grapes, and watched more people finish. It’s fun to watch people finish since some of these runners I know didn’t sign up until today.

We had 1 runner from Moscow this year, and several out of state. The race results
One of the local news stations covered the race and we posted the news video at the Google Video website. I spotted myself near the beginning, but it is difficult to see. At 1 min into the video to about 1:06, you will see some headlights ahead of a runner which is me. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any other pictures and I’m not sure if anyone was taking pictures or not. I also posted the data from the Bodylink to the Bones in Motion website BIM Blog which shows the elevation for the course and a map.

I have the day off work tomorrow to recover. I’m planning to walk tomorrow morning and ride the bike later. I may try running a little on Thursday depending on how the legs feel, otherwise I will wait until Saturday.

Here are my splits below. I must be improving since last year I only had 2 sub-7 min miles on this course and I had 7 sub-7 miles today. Often it is difficult to believe in your training when you are feeling so fatigued week after week, but it usually pays off every time once you taper for the race.

1-7:20
2-7:28
3-7:03
4-6:48
5-6:58
6-6:45
7-6:53
8-7:22 (Hill)
9-7:02
10-6:47
11-7:07
12-7:13
13-7:42 (Hill) (much better on the hill than I expected)

13.1-1:33:00 (last year I was 1:35:00 at this point)

14-7:06
15-7:16
16-6:57
17-6:52
18-7:10 (Hill)
19-7:04
20-7:32 (Hill)
21-7:08
22-7:16
23-7:04
24-7:34 (Hill)
25-7:29
26.2-8:43

3:07:42 - 2006, 3:10:12 - 2005, 3:18:59 - 2004

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