This morning I drove to Huntington Beach and entered the Surf City Marathon. I left the house at 4:00 a.m. and drove 1 1/2 to arrive at 5:30. Just early enough to get a good parking space in the first lot on the beach. The weather was cool – in the low 50s, but the Expo tent was open so everyone hung out inside getting ready to begin.
My previous marathon PR was on the same course (except backwards) back in 2006. It was 3:49:15. My main goal and hope for today was to qualify for Boston – which for my age and gender means I would have to finish in 3:30:59 or less. To many it would seem that a 19 minute PR is a lot to ask, but I had set the previous PR at a weight of 195 pounds. This morning I weighed in at 173. Furthermore, the old PR was set while using the Hansen’s Brothers training plan. The one where the longest run is 16 miles. This time I did 3 20 mile runs and even included some fast finish long runs.
So, feeling particularly hopeful, I set my Garmin training partner to do a marathon in 3:27:00. I figured this way, if the Garmin measured the course long, I would still have some cushion.
The race begins with an ever so slight descent on Pacific Coast Highway, and I started rather comfortably. In spite of trying to hold back I noticed that I was getting ahead of my virtual buddy. 4 or so miles into the race, when we came to the first hill, it showed I had a .12 mile lead. That would mean I was about a minute ahead of pace. I made it up that first hill without losing any ground on my virtual buddy, and I increased my lead on him (it?) as I raced through the park to .18 miles. Right at the beginning of mile 9 is the biggest hill of the race. 3 years ago I charged up it (it was in the 21st mile then), and then paid for it later – I died around mile 23. So today I backed way off and took it very easy up the hill. About a dozen people passed me on it, but I am sure I got them all back later. The hill cost me a little of my lead as it dwindled to .10, but what the heck – I was still ahead.
At the bottom of the hill, just before PCH I heard a loud GO DALE! I looked across the road and saw Clay and Dave heading out on the half marathon. The race returns to PCH and headed northwest. There was a bit of headwind here and I felt like I was slowing a bit, but I rememeber to keep up a quick cadence and it seemed to go okay. The race turned around and headed south on PCH and I felt a little boost as the head wind became a tailwind. At this point I noticed that I was starting to become pretty consistent at passing others and very few went by me. Another GO DALE came from Clay as we crossed the median and ran on the wrong side for a bit, just to make sure I saw him. He asked if I was on pace, and I yelled back I was at least a couple of minutes ahead.
Around mile 16 the race doubled back to the Northwest, this time on the beach bike path. The path may have been a bit protected from the breeze because this time I did not notice the headwind so much. I saw the leader going by the other way and decided to see if I could count what place I was in. For some reason I figured it would be really cool if I could make the top 100. From 16 – 20 I headed northwest and I counted. A couple of times I glanced down and noticed that my lead on my virtual buddy was getting in the .3 something range. I counted 135 or so when I turned around and headed south again.
At this point I was still feeling strong, but since I have never finished a marathon strong, I decided it was too early to push much. I stayed steady, but noticed I was still passing people one by one up the pathway. At mile 22 I gave my self permission to speed up just a little.
At mile 24, still feeling strong I kicked in whatever I had left. Clay, who had now finished his half marathon (in 1:33 – Excellent job Clay) met me after the 25th and ran with me a bit.
Zach Patten joined in for the last half mile or so, and was very encouraging as I gave it all I had into the finish.
Splits (from Garmin – I also got some splits with the signs but some of the signs were way off.)
7:38, 7:47, 7:41, 7:51, 7:33, 7:45, 7:43, Mile 9 with hll – 8:07, 7:40, 7:52, 7:56, 7:42, 7:46, 7:41,7:39, 7:37, 7:46, 7:44, 7:37
Miles 21-26: 7:39, 7:43, 7:32, 7:21, 7:09, 6:53
last .22 – 1:30 – 6:47 pace
half marathon split 1:41:47
Finish Time 3:21:50
93rd place ( I guess I caught 40 or so runners in the last 6 miles)
16th place in my division….