Road Runners wow Georgetown!

One day after the August 5K Trophy Series & BBQ, 14 RMRR members raced at Georgetown.  When the dust settled, RMRR members earned six age group awards and achieved several race PRs.

Georgetown Winners

  • Front Row L-R:  Alyn Park, Deb Cunningham
  • Back row:  Keith Johnson, Dave Cook,  Scott Kukel, Jim Romero

Scott Kukel, Keith Johnson and Jim Romero won their age group, while Alyn Park was second.  Dave Cook & Deb Cunningham earned 3rd place finishes.  Congratulations to Ken Shimada, Kathy Johnson, and Scott Kukel on race PRs.  Great job, Road Runners!  Results.

Finally breaking 3:30 at Mardi Gras by Deb Cunningham

Dave  and I ran the Mardi Gras Marathon on Sunday, February 1 down in New Orleans.

I finally broke the 3:30 barrier setting a PR of 3:29:41.  For those of you who are getting older, like me, I wanted to write about how I did it.  Maybe some of my methods will help you achieve your race goal.

First, I did the requisite training – a  long run of 24-26 miles about a month before the event.  For Mardi Gras, I ran a marathon in Springfield, MO five weeks before this race.  That was a 5K loop marathon, which was a crazy course that ended up being a slow marathon, but a great training run.  Two weeks before the big race, I ran a set of 1 mile repeats.  12 x 1 mile at 7:30 pace.  I chose the 7:30 because Jeff Galloway’s first marathon guide recommended doing mile repeats at this pace for a 3:30 goal race.

Second, I chose a flat and fast course.  Mardi Gras is extremely flat.  The only hill to speak of is a highway overpass between miles 16 and 17.  In addition to being flat, it’s at sea level – a boon to those of us who train up here.

Next, I actually tapered a bit for this race.  Usually, I never do, but I decided that if this was my goal race, I should act like it and give myself as much rest as I could.  I ran shorter and slower in the week before the race.

After that, I chose to run with a pace group on race day.  I heard about the groups and decided if I was serious about breaking 3:30, I would run with the group.  My plan was to run with them until I blew up or finished.  When I made this decision, I was thinking it would likely be the blow up part.  But, I decided to go for it.

On race day, I ran with the group.  I did the walking at aid stations part to give my legs a break in the rhythm.  My pace group leader carried a sign, so it was easy to see him in the crowd and catch up by running a little faster.  We had a group of 25-30 people running together in the first half of the race.  Some of these were half-marathoners, making the group big in the early going.   I had started running in the middle of the group, but decided it was too crowded.  I settled in right off the back and cruised along. 

We ran the first half in 1:44:58, which was 2 seconds faster than my goal time.  Our pace leader then said we were going for a negative split and if we stuck w/ him, we’d meet our goal.  I made it my personal mission to stick with this guy – speeding up when he did and slowing down when he did.  This method made for a less stressful race because I didn’t have to keep calculating finish times in my head and worry about the pace.  I just followed him.  

As we got farther into the race I started believing I could do it.  My first thoughts of success were at mile 11.  After telling myself that was way too early to get excited, I focused on one mile at a time.  At 18, with 8 miles to go, I started really believing it was possible.  After that, every passing mile made me realize my dream was within reach.  I kept thinking about how much longer I’d be running – 7 more miles, a 10k, a 5 miler like my morning run, then a 5k and finally 2, then 1 mile to go.  I ignored my tightening quads and calves and kept my eyes riveted on the back of the pace group leader.

Our group kept dwindling – we were down to 6 people at the end, running in a tight little bunch.  Our pace leader kept encouraging us – telling us we were doing great and that we could do it.

That last 1.2 miles (I missed the 26 mile mark) was run at 7:48 pace.  That saved me 15 seconds of the 17 seconds I gained in the 2nd half of the race and got us the negative split.   As we approached the finish line, I saw the clock nearing 3:30.  I was thinking – nooooo – I can’t have run this far only to miss out at the end!   As I kicked with what little I had left, my muzzy brain remembered the chip timing and wave start and realized I had some time to spare.  The pace leader had talked about 30 seconds and I hoped it was true.   As I frantically reset my watch & looked at my finish time, I breathed a sigh of relief.   It turned out that  I had that 30 seconds, and that cushion allowed me to finish just 19 seconds shy of 3:30.

That last mile was what did it.  I’m happy I didn’t realize until later how fast we were going. 

I honestly didn’t feel that winded compared to other marathons I’ve run and it was the first time I can say I really noticed the lift from running at sea level.   After I stopped at the finish, it all hit me and I realized just how tired I was.  My heart rate monitor read 188 (my max, I thought) when I clicked at the finish, but somewhere in that last mile I hit 189 – probably when I caught sight of the finish line clock.  The 189 was a new max heart rate for me and explained whey I felt like crap when I stopped!

The 3:30 made it all worthwhile.  After trying to run that fast for the 13 years I’ve been running marathons, I can finally say that I did it.  None to soon, I’ll add.  At 47, I’m continuing to slow down.  This race was my best shot and a bunch of things came together to make it happen.   The biggest of these was the pace group.  Although I trained hard and was ready, the pace group provided the structure to slow me down at the start and push me at the end.  I’m not a talker when I race, but it was nice listening to the chatter within the group.  I highly recommend a pace group if you’re going for a marathon PR!

Finally, thanks for reading my blog about Mardi Gras.  Hopefully, some of the things I tried will work for you and will help you achieve your marathon goals.

Races in Other Places: 10/19/08 – 11/4/08

Fewer races this time of year, so the Races in Other Places posts will be less frequent. This post will include races from October 19th (excluding the Denver Marathon) to November 4th, 2008. That includes the New York Marathon, which had several Road Runners participating. You can watch the entire New York City Marathon — from the Verrazano Bridge to Central Park — archived on Universal Sports here.

Results from the NYC Marathon and other races results below.

Continue reading “Races in Other Places: 10/19/08 – 11/4/08”

Road Runners invade the Denver Marathon!

The 2008 Denver Marathon was held on a GLORIOUS fall day that was nice enough to make everyone forget the torrential downpour of the 2007 race. Over 60 Road Runner members raced in either the marathon or half-marathon, and several members were speedy enough to place in age group categories. Even better, RMRR members and friends staffed the all-important aid station between miles 22 and 23, providing water, Gatorade, and especially much needed encouragement to the runners.  From the runners to the volunteers: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Race results and more below.

Continue reading “Road Runners invade the Denver Marathon!”