Monday, June 2, 2008

2008 Newport Marathon

I'll never forget going down to Sacramento in 2004 to run the California International Marathon...the day before the race they had a seminar where you could meet and talk to the pacers. At the time, I was trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but training-wise, I really didn't have a clue what I was doing. The 3:10:00 pacer was talking about his running background (he had actually just been picked to run Western States, which at the time meant nothing to me) and his strategy for the race. I remember feeling very confident after listening to him which, looking back now, is pretty funny...and I remember him saying one other thing...once you break 3:10:00 you move on to the next step which is breaking 3:00:00...and once you do this, "you own the marathon." Now that sounded cool...that sounded like something I wanted to do.

In reality, I've been humbled so many times by the marathon, I know I'll never own it. A lot of things have to go right for you to be successful. For the Newport Marathon this year, it's quite possible everything was perfect...good training, a great taper, finish times from the Eugene Marathon for inspiration, several recent "bad" marathons for motivation, perfect weather, lots of support, and no high expectations since I was flying home from Italy the day before the race.

Thursday night was my last night in Italy. Intially the plan was to take it easy that dinner in the hotel restaurant, go to bed early, and get a decent night's sleep before my 6:55 AM flight the next morning. From what I understand, getting good rest before a marathon is important! But the Italians would have none of have to go out on your last night in Italy, so we made plans to meet in Milan for dinner. To make a long story short, it ended up being a late night...we didn't get back to the hotel until after 1:00 AM. So let's see...I ended up getting about 2 hours of sleep. It was painful getting up that morning, but once I got going, I felt better. Only a short flight from Milan to Frankfurt and then a 10 hour flight from Frankfurt to Portland and I would be back in Oregon. I fell asleep a few times on the long flight, but didn't get much sleep. Thankfully, I remember feeling really good when I got home Friday afternoon...I think I was just really happy to be home. That afternoon we packed up and headed for Newport. My parents had rented a house for everyone to stay in and my mom made a spaghetti dinner...thank-you! It was really nice to see everyone and I was very excited for my sister, Kristin, who was running her first marathon. That night I got about 6 hours of sleep and woke up before my alarm went off.

From the start of the race I felt really good and I remember thinking a few things...I was going to be very careful with fueling today...I wanted my legs to hurt, not my stomach, so early on I pushed a little harder then I might have otherwise (mission accomplished...I hadn't been that sore after a race in a long time). I also did not drink Gatorade the morning of the race! I drank much more water than electrolyte drink during the race, and I ended up taking only 2 gels, one at mile 8 and one around mile 16. There was something else too, something that I had been thinking about for over 3 weeks...I have to admit, I was very impressed and inspired by the results of a couple runners I know or know of at the Eugene Marathon. They ran great races, above and beyond their normal performances, as far as I knew. Raille Wilson ran 2:50:16...I knew he had broken 3:00:00 several times, but as far as I knew, never by more than 3-4 minutes. Chris Highfield ran 2:55:47...I've never met Chris before, but know he's from Corvallis. From race results, I could see he was in the same boat as me...trying to break 3:00:00 but coming up a few minutes short several far as I know, this was his first sub-3 hour marathon...congratulations on a great race! My only explanation for their performances was they must have just gone for it...I think it's time to really push my limits. I wanted a spectacular finish or a spectacular crash and burn.

When I hit mile 4, I tried to back off slightly...let's not get crazy, I thought...but I was still running in the 6:30's. I hit the half marathon mark a little under 1:26:00, then the turn-around was a couple miles past that. At this point, for whatever reason, I put the hammer down and ran a few miles in the low 6:20's...part of this stretch was fueled by the huge emotional boost I got when I passed my sister going the other direction...she told me later she got a big boost too. Looking back at my mile splits, I noticed I started to slow a little past mile 20. But the Pain Train was waiting for me at the 22 mile mark...that gave me another huge emotional boost of energy which lasted about 2 miles. So at about 24 miles, reality set back in and I started to fade again...but by then there was no doubt...I was going to absolutely crush 3:00:00. I ended up crossing the line in 10th place with a time of 2:52:13...a 12 minute PR. That's still a little hard to believe, mainly because I know at some point my performance has to level off and based on my past three marathons, I was starting to think maybe it already I'm not sure what to think. My sister finished her first marathon in 4:24:03...I'm really proud of her...she did real well with the training and ran a great's such a great accomplishment. Now who's next? My marathon coaching services are free of charge at the moment.

I totally agree with the Pain Train, this is why I do this...for the occasional perfect day like this one. If there was one word to describe how I felt after the race, it was satisfied. But only temporarily, I'm not quite finished yet...I still have unfinished business in Boston...April 20, 2009 is already on my calendar.