Sunday, September 20, 2015

2015 Heart of America Marathon

Heart of America was my first marathon and my longest running race streak, having now run it 12 times.  I've been training for a 100 miler in November and it is a bit difficult to stay focused and train properly for both. However, I need other race distractions before the 100 miler or I will start to lose interest. Training for a 100 miler so far out in the year is a bit stressful and I prefer to run one earlier in the year.   Training for the marathon went okay and I managed to do several of the Long Run Lunatic training runs while still doing some trail runs and a trail 50K in July. The biggest distraction was 2 weeks before the race I was severely bitten by chiggers which made focusing on running very difficult. I had to get a prescription steroid cream to heal faster and it still itches at times. I didn't run for 5 days since running made the bites itch worse and my feet were swollen for a few days. Instead of feeling refreshed for the marathon after 5 days of no running, I felt more beaten down. Then I ended up running more than I would have the week before and am still not sure if that was the right thing to do.  

The weather turned out cloudy with a start temperature of 74 with 82% humidity at 6 am according to Accuweather. It never felt like it warmed up too much since the sun stayed under clouds. I woke up at 4:30 am and we left at 5:30 am leaving 1 car downtown. Hugh also signed up for the race the day before. He wasn't too crazy about the temperature which was the warmest starting temperature in the 12 years I have run this race.

I'm not sure how many starters but there were 162 finishers down 17 from last year and I am sure there were some drops. I had a plan to pace a 3:10 and depending on how I felt I might run faster or slower. I spotted Andrew and his sister than came in from KC as soon as I stepped out of the car. We had just a few minutes before the race started. I never arrive too early since this is a small event, plenty of parking, several bathroom options, and I only live 2 miles away. I started off with a 10 oz bottle of water since the first water station didn't come until 3.5 miles and I didn't want to get too far behind with the warmer temperature.

So we are off and around the corner the first mile is downhill and unfortunately this is part of the course we have to repeat later when we come back in. After the first 3.5 miles, the course is a 17 mile loop and then we come back on those 3.5 miles plus some additional miles to finish downtown. I ran the first mile in 6:46 which was a few seconds faster than planned but okay since downhill. The second mile which is uphill I was right on pace. Andrew was close behind. Around mile 4, Alex, and 18 year old that I know running his first marathon settles in beside me and we run the same pace until around 8 miles he went ahead.

Then we hit the gravel road and Andrew catches up to me on the downhill. We talk a little but it was a little difficult to talk much and keep the pace. Usually, I can talk just fine in a marathon at this point but it was taking a bit more to focus on my pace than usual and the gravel didn't help. It was nice to get to the trail that runs along the river and enjoy the flat before the big Easley Hill.

I ran 8:16 up the portion that included Easley which turned out to be my slowest mile. My overall time was around 1:36 at the halfway point. I was able to get back on pace somewhat running a 7:25 in mile 14 and 7:12 in mile 15. I passed 3 runners in the last second but one was in the woods so I didn't realize that I had passed him. Around mile 16, it was getting more difficult to keep the pace but Still managed 7:25 average for the next 9 miles.

At this point I was checking behind and didn't see any runners. I had a hill to climb as well. I could have tried harder but ran the last 2 miles in 8:03 and 8:11. My overall time was 3:16:13, only 2:29 slower than last year. Many of my splits were very close to last year up until the last 2 miles. They were my slowest last 2 miles in 4 years.

I felt an extreme sense of tiredness after the race and felt like I wanted to lie down and go to sleep. I waited for Hugh to finish while I ate 2 Hot Box cookies and 2 small Gatorades and still felt wiped out. After he finished we went to the after party and awards at Shakespeare's. I ate 2 pieces of pizza which I really didn't even want that much. I placed 2nd in my age group and 4th overall out of 162 finishers. This is my highest placing in the 12 years I have run this race. No one broke 3 hours this year. The winning time was 3:06 and I know several runners that struggled to finish.

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