Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Guest Blog- Brian Talon: Clarence DeMar Marathon Report

This race report was so good I wanted to share it with everyone- and congrats, Brian, on a great race.

Took the family to Keene, New Hampshire over the weekend of September 26, 2009 for the Clarence DeMar Marathon. It was a great weekend overall, Saturday was a beautiful day and Jen and I took the kids to Santa's Land for a visit with Santa and lots of rides and wild animals to visit. After the race number pick up in Keene, we met with friends Ben and Julie for dinner at the Olive Garden.....Back to the hotel to get the kids down and Emma was having a rough night with lots of crying until about 10PM.....not exactly the pre-race relaxing I was looking for but it is what it is especially with Emma's back molars coming in (Jen was much more understanding than I was). Ben and I were up well before dawn to catch the buses to the start. Before the race ran into some old friends from Somerville Road Runners and some new friends from the Thirsty Irish Runners (they are great at keeping you entertained and keeping your mind off the fact that you are about to run 26.2 miles - ask them about the textile free race)! Rained for the whole day on Sunday (race day), which was not necessarily a bad thing....the temps were cool and for the first 18 miles+ it was more of a drizzle that cooled you off more than being a nuisance. 18 miles and beyond it became more of a steady rain that started to waterlog the shoes just at the point when I was starting to get really tired anyway.

First 5+ miles were a net down hill with the rest of the course consisting of flat sections with lots of rollers. Wanted to go out in 6:45's for the first three miles and then settle into a 6:25-6:35 pace (with all of the rollers I realized that it would be difficult to maintain a consistent pace). The gun went off and there were a good 12 people or so ahead of me after a couple of miles. One runner was long gone, figured he was shooting for the low to mid 2:20's with the early pace he had set (was a bit surprised to see him again at mile 10 obviously running much slower - not sure how he finished). The first 5 miles were closed to traffic and we were treated to the start of some fall foliage with part of this section running along a slow running stream. Around mile six, I started to chat with a guy for a few minutes - he told me he was shooting for a 3:30 - told him he was out too fast so he slowed a little bit, hopefully it was not too late for him. Kept running along, chatting with a few folks along the way. Ran with the 4th place finisher for a couple of miles, nice guy who gave me the inside scope on the lead pack in front of us (included a 2:27 marathon) - decided I was fine with them dueling it out and I would maintain my pace. The 4th place guy also said he ran a 2:42 in Boston this year - so I thought best to let him fade away and continue to run my own race. Miles 13 through 18 were pretty uneventful; I was more just going through the motions without too much effort but pushing the pace just a bit. Somewhere around mile 18 I started to get that feeling that my glycogen stores were getting a little low. At this point in the race I needed to switch from "going through the motions" to making a conscious effort to keep my mind in the race. For miles 18-23 I willed my legs to maintain somewhere in the 6:20-6:40 range. Somewhere around mile 22-23 the race organizers threw in a cruel joke by winding the course over to a very steep hill that lasted a couple of hundred meters. I just took very short steps and kept moving forward. Not surprisingly that was my slowest mile of the race (6:51) but not as slow as I expected. What ever gas I left in the tank was pretty much gone after that hill and I still another 3 miles to go! Shortly after, I saw Jen, Lily, Emma and Julie drive by - yelling out the window in support….unfortunately I was not really in the mood for chatting but there presence was very much appreciated. Around mile 24 there was a right hand turn that I nearly missed, but fortunately noticed the arrows last minute (side note – the course was very well marked with volunteers at many intersections). Mile 24 (or so there was a slight downhill) so picked up a little speed on the pace (might have just been gravity working in my favor). The mile 25 sign came and I was toast, had no energy left in my body and unfortunately my mind (that kept me in the race the last several miles) was starting to slip as well. Still I am too damn stubborn to throw in the towel so I took my water soaked shoes one step at a time doing my best to thrust each leg forward as fast as I could. After what seemed to be about 20 minutes (from the 25 mile sign) I ran by another sign that said “only” .7 miles to go! I think I swore at that sign and it made me feel a little better. Shortly after, I turned onto the Main St. in Kenne….all I could see was orange traffic cones (indicating the finish) that seemed to stretch for about 12 miles or so. At the very end of the cones I could see a large group of people and thought to myself FINALLY, the finish line. Of course that would have been too perfect… I approached the group they all pointed me down another street to the actual finish line. I took that last turn hard and my mind was back in the race….100 meters to go and I could see the finishing clock at this point. My mind was ready to have a nice strong finish and get in under a 2:48. Unfortunately, my mind did not signal my legs of that plan. In my head I was running a lot faster than my legs were actually running so I must have looked pretty foolish out there with the top half of my body completely leaning forward with my legs doing there best to keep up. I had no form and was far from graceful at that point but finally crossed the finish at 2:47:54. I could tell I was not looking my best as about 5 volunteers tried to usher me over to the medical tent. I sat down for a minute, caught my breath and was fine a couple of minutes later – although I sure am happy that the marathon is not 27 miles because I cannot be sure what would have happened. Great day overall with good conditions, wish I had gone out the first three miles a little slower, might have helped me those last few miles. I pushed my limits in the race to the very edge and it worked out in the end. I learned lots from this race which I will apply to the next race and continue to improve the mental aspect of the marathon. Ben had a great race as well, hit his goal time of 3:30 on the dot and the Thirsty Irish and Somerville crews all ran well as too, an impressive feat since they all will be running between 2 and 4 more marathons over the next month of so. Before the drive home, we hit a local brewery for pub food and a couple of pints of beer.

My splits are below – as mentioned, it is hard to maintain a consistent pace on this course with lots of varied terrain. The splits alone don’t tell the story as the 1st half was much easier than the second.

6:21, 6:39, 6:22, 6:38, 6:22, 6:12, 6:14, 6:25, 6:17, 6:10, 6:20, 6:46, 6:16, 6:18, 6:17, 6:14, 6:26, 6:13, 6:26, 6:14, 6:20, 6:19, 6:42, 6:51, 6:13, 6:41, 1:24 (last .2 miles)

1st half 1:23:48
2nd half 1:24:08
Finish Time 2:47:54
5th place overall

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