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Monday was the 52nd annual Heart of America Marathon. My number 8th consecutive HOA and marathon 25 plus18 ultra marathons. This year it was about 11 degrees cooler than last year at 57F (at home, but felt cooler) at the start and 60-something humidity. There was a pretty good north wind but didn't feel until the last few miles. A few less people than last year, but still over 200 runners. Since we live just over 2 miles from the start line, we didn't leave home until about 5:40 am, and were able to park in the Hearnes parking lot next to the start line. The convenience of this marathon really makes me appreciate it that much more and also great to see lots of familiar faces running or there to watch the start. I also liked the fact I didn't have to stand around much more than a few minutes and we were off. I was shivering just a little before the start.
Took off at 6 am and it was difficult to see my pace since it was still dark and I had turned down the light on my GPS so couldn't use it. I was able to check my pace under street lights and it was reasonable. However, I didn't feel like the pace was exactly easy. Normally, I am having to reign myself in for the first few miles but that was not the case. I had been tired most of the week even though I had cut mileage back quite a bit. I thought there is no way I am going to keep this pace. Then I thought this is a bad attitude so soon in the race and maybe I will just take a few miles to warm up. It seemed to get light pretty quickly since it was a clear day. I didn't have anyone around me that I knew for a few miles and passed the people that went out really fast. About mile 4, I saw Tom M. and looked like Ryan H. running with him. Eventually, I caught up to them by mile 5 and ran with them for a couple miles which felt good until the long gradual hill where I slowed down a bit, but still the normal pace I like to run this hill.
I had 4 gels and planned to take one about every 5 miles until mile 15 and one at mile 20 if I needed one. Also, used the water stations, but was having a tough time drinking for some reason today so had to stop at a few of them to get the fluid down. I had to pee about mile 9 and no one was around so managed to get that done without slowing too much. My pace from miles 9 - 12 was off about 20 - 30 seconds. I pretty much knew at this point no way I would be going under 3 hours this year so hoped I could keep pace to run 3:10 or less.
I got to Easley hill at mile 13 and figured since I wasn't feeling energetic, it might be a good time to try walking it this year. I had one guy pass me on the hill and another walked it with me. I think my half split was about 1:32 or 1:33 so thought maybe 3:10 was possible if I didn't slow down too much. I ended up running with the guy I met on the hill for about 3 miles and he helped my pace, but eventually he slowed down and said he would see me at the finish. My pace when I was running with him was only off about 10 seconds so thought maybe things might be improving for me.
But that was not to be the case. I slowed down 30 - 50 seconds for the next 3 miles and he still didn't catch up to me. I was told before Pierpont, I was in 13th place. I passed a couple guys after turning at Pierpont, one that said he ran with me at the Sedalia half a couple years ago. Before, I passed them one of them fell down, but got back up and seemed to be fine. Even down the hill after I passed them my pace was not that great for going downhill. A group of several guys passed me before the next uphill including Matt D., but up the hill he ran slower and I was able to stay with him. I even thought I could go faster up the hill, but decided to conserve energy for the last 6 miles. We actually held a conversation going up this hill. Matt commented a girl wearing Vibrams had passed us at some point, but we didn't speed up. Once we got to Providence (about 6 miles to go) I picked up the pace.
The pace the rest of the way was not a death march but still 7:45 - 8:20. I felt okay, but just didn't feel like a quicker pace. Maybe the excessive long runs at slower pace have finally taken their toll on me since I have been focusing more on ultras than running 3 hour marathons. I even had thoughts that I would rather be running an ultra for hours at a relaxed pace than even pushing the slightest during this marathon.
After I realized I wasn't going to reach 3:10, I thought 3:15 would be nice since that is still a BQ for me (although realized later it is 3:20 for 2012 and then 3:15 in 2012 due to the new qualifying times). This was just a goal to get me to the finish since I really don't plan to run Boston again any time soon. I get to Broadway and don't think I can get 3:15 so decide not to worry about it and just finish steady. So finished in 3:15:21, 14th overall of 209, 2nd of 24 in the 40 - 44 age group. Felt lucky to place in age group with my time this year, but Tom M. aged up so that helped me get 2nd instead of 3rd.
I had planned to go out and run more after the marathon so after about 25 minutes and still not wanting to eat anything, I took off for a slow 4.5 mile run and picked up the car to go back to the start. The car was actually not more than a mile from the finish, but I took the trail since I wanted a longer run. I had hope to do a little more but left knee was feeling a little tight. Hugh had finished in 3:52 while I was gone and was happy with his time.
I wore the Hoka, Mafate Trail shoes for this road marathon, but don't think I wear them for a road marathon again. My feet were in really good shape when I finished. There was no rubbing or toe nail problems and feet did not feel sore. These shoes are quite cushy and I prefer much less of a shoe on the road. The Hokas are a great shoe for when the legs are already sore. I do think they are better on flat surfaces so I am going to try for a long flat run next. They didn't seem to make my calves really sore for the marathon so the calves must have adapted to them. I do like the fact they seem to work other leg muscles that my Mizunos do not.
My splits from Previous HOAs are here
I like to compare each year, but this year the miles are always off a little on GPS so not exact.
|Andy on course (photo by Shane Epping)|
|Almost to the finish (photo by Oscar Chavez)|
|Andy at finish (photo by Shane Epping)|
|Hugh near finish.|