|Waiting at the Start Brrrrrr - Photo: Randy Smith|
Dennis and I drove down to Morganton,NC (race headquarters) Friday evening to pick up our race packets and grab one for Doug and Eva as well, giving us one less thing to worry about Saturday morning. We met up with the crew at the Jonas Ridge Marathon gas station just as the buses full of runners arrived, I jumped out and quickly hit the port o john before they unloaded. We were lucky that Eva's friend Chris was going to meet us at the finish, so we loaded up our post race gear for him to shuttle to the finish and after standing around freezing for a while I got up the nerve to shed the puffy jacket and head to the start.
It was a beautiful fall morning and I enjoyed chatting with Doug for the first bit as my feet began to thaw. My toes were seriously frozen! We ran through rolling rural countryside, no worry of traffic and did a short out and back (about 5.5 miles) before turning left on an unpaved road for the 9 mile descent! I took it easy on the road section and tried to take the advice of the RD:
Miles 1-6: Run comfortably within yourself here. Your early-miles adrenaline will carry you through but don’t be tempted to overdo it. Take your goal time and break it up into 26.2 equal bites (your pace per mile). Don’t worry if you find yourself 10 seconds per mile behind goal pace over the first six miles. You’ll easily make this up over the next nine miles with no additional effort. Stay calm, conserve your energy, and remain comfortable.
|The Downhill Section Photo: Willie Lowe|
I was rolling along thinking how nice it was just to let gravity do the work and my assessment was that the grade was not so steep that it would completely trash my quads so I floated along waiting for the aid station that had gels so i could restock when enter into the equation being passed by another female. She quietly came out of nowhere looking very strong and focused, I had seen her on the road early on and now she was back pushing the pace on the downhill, checking her watch often, she had a plan. I was feeling good and wasn't going to let her go without a bit of a "fight" so we exchanged a few words about how beautiful the course is and how perfect the weather was and then it was back to business, we yoyo'd back and forth until eureka! the table with the gels! I had to grab a few as I only started out with two in my pocket (not enough), just enough of a pause for her to move ahead. I looked up and saw she was in pursuit of two other females up ahead. I took a gel and settled back in and before too long we hit the bottom and were back on the pavement (ugh)
|Wilson Creek Photo: Willie Lowe|
I had noticed at the half I was around 1:35 so maybe there was still hope in breaking 3:35?? I punched the lap button at the 17 mile marker and prayed I would remember to do the same if I saw the 18 mile mark. Much to my surprise it all worked and in a fog I think I saw a 7:48 split?? no way? under 8 min pace? couldn't be? check it again at 19? you should have figured out how to do this before the race.... I passed the aid station at mile 18.5 and saw Chris waiting there for Eva with Annie (her beautiful, non-barking! dog) hit mile 19 and checked the time, again under 8 min pace? can I do this for 7 more miles? each mile I checked, shocked me more than the last and fueled me to keep digging deeper. I had secretly wanted to qualify for New York Marathon, a 3:23 qualifying time for me, which I felt was outside my reach, but I kept thinking maybe, just maybe...what do I have to lose, if I crash in the last little bit at least I tried...
|Final Miles Photo: Willie Lowe|
|Photo : Bobby Aswell|
|Photo: Randy Smith|