Monday, September 03, 2007

2007 Heart of America Marathon

Today was the 48th annual Heart of America Marathon in Columbia, MO which I ran for the 4th year in a row and my 10th marathon since 2004. This is one of the oldest and most difficult marathons in the country and attracts around 100+ people each year. I set the alarm for 4:15 (woke up at 4:10) and slept pretty well waking up only a few times. We had a pre-race meal (protein shake with banana and yogurt, and peanut butter), hydrated myself until about 4:45 am. At 5:00, we left home to head to the race which starts at 6 am.

The start is near the Hearnes building, an old basketball arena near MU. This year since Hugh was also running the race, we parked downtown at the finish and were going to take the shuttle bus to the start. As we were getting out of our car, Kurt, a running friend, offered us a ride to the start plus we stopped at his workplace to use the bathroom. We found out at the start that the shuttle bus driver didn’t show up so it was a good thing Kurt picked us up.

Temperature at the start was about 61 F, and it actually felt a little chilly to me. My goal was to try to run 3:05 to beat my PR last year on this course of 3:07:42. Hugh wanted to run sub-4 hours which would beat his Chicago PR of 4:03:41.

We used the bushes outside the Hearnes to relieve ourselves one final time. Hugh had his picture taken for the newsletter wearing his #50 for his 50th birthday. This month he will be the featured runner in the CTC newsletter. We were photographed by a reporter that was taking a lot of pictures before and during the race so maybe we'll be in the paper tomorrow.

We headed to the start line. There were at least 150+ runners that signed up but not sure how many actually started. Several runners had plans to only run X miles as a training run. At two minutes to the start, the race director announced it was time to sing “Happy Birthday” to Hugh. Hugh directed the singing with the President of the Columbia Track Club playing the accordion as accompaniment. I was able to line up in the front with plenty of room since very few seemed to want to be in the front. At 6:00 am, Ready, Set, and then silence and then we took off with the gun going off a few seconds late. Next thing I know I'm off running a marathon and seemed a little surreal for some reason this time.

I remember last year being difficult to see my watch but this year no fog and seemed lighter outside, but I checked it under the street lights for the first few miles. At the very beginning I secured a 6th place position with 5 other runners far enough ahead of me that they disappeared out of sight. I probably started out a little fast, but just went with what felt good and at the same time trying to reign in the pace just a little.

First mile was 7:02 and second was 7:13, but I’m still getting warmed up so not sure what to expect. There were a few spectators throughout the course and it was nice to see some signs of life in the dark along the course. Miles were going by sub-7 so I’m thinking keeping a 7:00 average feels reasonable. Not a lot to report about other runners since I was running alone. I took my first E-gel at mile 5 and water was available about every 2 miles. I drank a little every time but was finding it difficult. I ended up dumping more on me than I drank most of the time. I was told at about mile 8 that I was in 6th place and I noticed the sun coming up about mile 9. Mile 8 – 9 was the first hill which wasn’t that steep but seemed to go up forever. My pace dropped to 7:20 for that mile.

At about mile 11.5, Hugh’s parents were waiting at the river in Cooper’s Landing to cheer me on. A little after mile 12 I get a water stop before going up the big bad Easley Hill which climbs from about 600 – 800 feet over about 0.7 miles. A lot of people will walk up this hill, but I kept running although a slower pace. At the top of the hill another water station and at 13.1 someone gave me the half time which was 1:31:33, 6:59/mi overall pace. I’m thinking this is pretty good since my mile up the hill was 7:55 which was just a little slower than last year, but my half time is 2:07 faster than last year. At this rate, I think maybe a 3:03 if I don’t slow down. Of course, I figured I would slow down a little since the second half is worse and I’ve never run negative split on this course.

As usual for me, the mile after Easley hill was really fast at 6:50. I’m still feeling pretty good but the pace is feeling just a little more difficult. Every so often I though I could hear someone behind me talking so expected to be passed at some point. I keep running the sub-7s. I even ran a sub-7 on the hill from mile 17- 18 which normally slows me down a little. I tried to concentrate on form today running upright and looking ahead. I think this helped my upper body stay more relaxed and I was really able to push up the hills pumping my arms to help maintain the pace.

At mile 18 in Pierpont, Hugh’s parents were stationed again with a “Go Andy” sign. Also, right before Pierpont, I hear footsteps behind me and expecting it to be Tom M., but it is Stephen T. I didn’t know he was running, but he is always faster than me so I let him go ahead, but wasn’t too far behind for awhile. It was nice to have someone to pace for awhile.

I felt pretty strong on the mile 20 hill which always seems to come at the worst point and slow me down, but ran up it in 7:17 and actually gaining a little ground between me and Steve. At the top of the hill though he seems to pick up the pace and I just try to maintain about 7 minute miles. At mile 22, Tom M. passes me which I expected since he is faster than me. He was having a really good second half and would easily run negative splits. He pushed ahead and I continued to maintain the pace. Mile 22 was my last sub-7 at 6:59. Up to this point, I had run 9 sub-7 miles in the first half. (ran 5 last year) and 7 sub-7 miles in the second half (ran 2 last year).

The final hill comes at mile 23 but felt strong running it in 7:01. Mile 24 slowed down just a little and mile 25, I was ready for it to be over running my slowest mile in 7:26, but still faster at this mile than previous years. Somewhere in mile 26 I felt really strong again and that quickly faded and I felt like I needed to push to keep pace. I ran mile 26 in 7:08. Approximately the final half mile goes slightly downhill.

This year I finished in 3:04:08, 3 min 34 sec faster than last year. The clock was right on exactly with my watch. I placed 8th overall of 137 finishers and 2nd place award in the 35-39 age group (first guy in my age group was overall winner so I was actually 3rd), and a course PR. There were about 4 runners that were sub 3 hours. The winner was Chuck Engle, a marathon junkie from Utah. I was less than 37 seconds behind the 2 guys in front of me. We had a good turnout this year with 24 extra finishers over last year.

No issues at all during this race with pain or cramping. As I was walking to my car, I felt just a little short of breath, but that passed quickly. I came prepared for post race recovery drinks and drank a quart of Gatorade and had a protein powder drink. Then had a packet of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms, but they were really hard to eat since I was feeling nauseous.

Hugh’s parents were at the finish so we are waiting for him. At 3:59 we see him and he is near the finish. He pushed to the end and finished in 3:59:28 which is a marathon PR for him and he met his sub-4 goal. He said he ran the first half pretty fast and I’m guessing maybe 1:42 from what he remembered. The second half he ran in 2:17 and if you ask him about it, he will just say that this is the way he runs marathons : )

We stayed awhile and soaked in the ice pool one time. I couldn’t stay in more than a half minute since it was painfully cold. I ate some more fruit, drank some more water and then we went to Sonic. Hugh had a shake, and I had a chicken wrap and shake.

There was at least one newspaper and TV station at the beginning of the race and I noticed a different TV station at the end. The reporter that took my picture at the beginning asked my name so will have to see I get my picture printed. There were several people we know taking pictures so should have some pictures later. I posted a couple pictures below of Hugh that we were already sent.

I have 2 more days of vacation, but am planning to join my running group tomorrow and will most likely be walking. I will probably also get on the bike to help with muscle recovery. The plan is to run easy on Thursday. I’m sure I’m going to have some muscle soreness for a few days.

Here are my splits below. I have improved every year that I have run this marathon but really wonder how much more is possible. Last year I improved 2:30 and this year 3:34 so I think a sub-3 on this course might be possible. It’s hard to say though. If I can keep running more sub-7s, it might happen. 2005 I had 2 sub-7s, 2006 – 7, and this year I had 16 so it might be worth trying again next year.

13-7:55 (Hill)

13.1-1:31:33, 6:59/mi

18-6:55 (Hill)
20-7:17 (Hill)
24-7:12 (Hill)

Second 13.1-1:32:35, 7:04/mi

Overall, 3:04:08, 7:02/mi

Avg Heart Rate - 152

Link to last 3 year’s splits Split Spreadsheet

News Coverage so far:

Heart of America Marathoners all set for today’s race

Heart of America Marathoner draws small but dedicated crowd

Heart of America Marathoner part of marathon double

Rick Roebel runs another barefoot marathon

Another day, another marathon. My picture appears in this article.

KMIZ Interview with Barefoot Rick Roebel

Other 2007 HOA Blog reports:

Barefoot Rick's Heart of America Marathon Report

Giving Back

William Kone

Adam Monaghan


Hugh finishing
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