Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Race Report: Seattle Marathon 2013

Garmin Splits

Chip Time - 3:19:09 [PB]
Overall - 126 / 2,124
Div M40-44 - 22 / 168
Shoes - Brooks Pure Flow 2

All things considered, Seattle was a pretty good race and I’m really happy that I beat my primary goal time of 3:20 going in to the race. That being said, after debriefing and gathering my info, I basically hit the wall pretty hard shortly after the Madison Hill at 34k. So even though it was a great result, it wasn’t necessarily my best race.

A week before the race Barry (having run a crazy 5 marathons, a 50k ultra AND an IronMan this year already) kindly offered to pace me for Seattle.  He wasn’t feeling recovered enough to push a sub-3 and was going to be in town with the family anyway, so I lucked into a top-notch pacer at the last minute. I knew I had pretty high expectations of myself in this race having missed Victoria Marathon as my goal autumn race but this actually made a little nervous, knowing I absolutely had to be accountable now.

I ran what I felt was a strong 3:24 at Vancouver Marathon in the spring, even with the hot weather, and after having my V02 Max and lactate threshold test done by PEAK Centre had a great summer session of solid Zone 1 training. I also ran the Dingle Marathon in early September, as a fun race where I held myself back to enjoy the views, with the intention of it being a lead up to Victoria a month later. I did better than expected, a 3:27, without suffering much, even with a 2km climb at the 34k mark.

Because of my injury a week before Victoria Marathon I ended up not running for close to 5 weeks through October. I hadn’t intended to run Seattle Marathon but I left it as a last-minute backup option depending on how training was going through November. Turns out I ran my second highest mileage month in November and was feeling pretty strong to run Seattle.

Barry found out from Jan that my stretch goal was a 3:15 and without much convincing I decided to give it a try. (I knew it would be easier to fall back off a 3:15 pace than to try and make up time from a 3:20 if I was feeling it).  (Being that I’m 44 I was really hoping I could nail a BQ in the 40-44 category before I bumped up to 45 in January).

The weather report leading up to the race was looking pretty soggy and cool so it was as bit of a surprise to have a dry, mild (12C) day but LOTS of wind on race morning.

I was a little slow dropping off my race bag so Barry and I had to rush a bit to get to the 3:15 pacer as the anthem was being sung.

We headed out along 5th Ave and settled into a comfortable pace with the 3:15 group. Feeling good, it wasn’t long before we dropped them. The writing was on the wall for the type of race it would be as we started hitting the strong headwinds climbing the overpass, and then as they continued as crosswinds along the freeway heading to the first tunnel. It felt great to get in the tunnel away from the wind for a bit and I was surprised how warm it was.

Next up was the floating bridge out-and-back and we could clearly see the whitecaps on the lake as we headed out. I used Barry as my wind block where possible but the wind was pretty unpredictable, gusting from the sides. It was even worse after the turnaround, having to hold on to my hat and hang on when the gusts felt like they were going to throw me off the bridge. :)

Once we finally got to the other side and headed down I felt so good to no longer be fighting the wind that Barry had to reign me in a bit. We headed along Lake Washington Blvd towards Seward Park. About halfway around the park we hit the halfway point of the race, about minute ahead schedule for a 3:15 pace.  The rest of the run along Lake Washington felt good and we continued to stay ahead of pace. The pace was feeling good and I wasn’t suffering.

It wasn’t until we reached 34km, the infamous Madison hill climb, that I started to struggle. Once over the top I managed a 4:26 km on the downhill but Interlaken Blvd. for the next few km’s took it’s toll as I quickly started to lose steam with the rolling end of the course. I think the 3:15 pacer passed us (alone)  at around 36km? Barry suggested another gel at this point, which I should have done, but a gel had opened in my pocket and I couldn’t fight with the other one to get it out of the sticky mess so I didn’t.

My worst kilometre was, fortunately, the last, but it was over a minute slower than my average race pace (5:46). Barry was an awesome pacer and urged me on, even to shuffle if I had to. (which I definitely was as we were heading into the last stretch towards the finish.

It felt fantastic to finally get up the small incline to the stadium and cross the field to the finish. I hadn’t been following my time so it was great to see that I would come in at a solid 3:19.

The Debrief: It definitely helped to have a pacer. I could focus on running and not be stressing on looking at my watch as much. It also helped that he could reign me in a bit at times. I probably could’ve fueled and hydrated a bit more early on. I did get water at every station but usually only a sip and I only took Gatorade once, I think. The extra energy taken to fight the wind took it’s toll throughout. Still, on a hilly course and a windy day, pretty chuffed to finish as well as I did.

Proof indeed.

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