Its been 4 years since i've ventured off the trail and back onto the road. i've been craving a road race this past year for who knows what reason. i wanted to be a better "runner" then just seeing how fast i can run up and down hills or through rock littered trails. up until '09 i was a straight road runner. never touched a trail in my life. in January '10 i did the bandera 50k and i sucked at it since i had never run off road before. i guess i didn't learn my lesson and i signed up for hells hills 50 miler 3 months later and still only trained on roads. since that race in April 2010 i haven't done a long run or race on roads since. i've been wondering if i've lost my speed on roads or not. not that i was ever that fast on roads. (3:08 marathoner and never really raced a half or 10k on road) i figured i had lost some speed since i usually run a comfortable pace on roads and nothing more. ever. but i wondered if my endurance and fitness would allow me to run a faster marathon time.
this wasn't the best test in the world since i didn't really specifically train for it. no im not making excuses that i didn't train, but i was wanting to at least focus a little bit on it and do some sort of long run on the roads or some speed training of some sort. i ran hurt 100 5 weeks ago and i haven't really done much since. just relaxing and some running here and there.
about 3 or 4 days before the race i got motivated again and was feeling good. i decided it may be fun to give it a go but i changed my mind about 300 times since i didn't really want to drop 140 bucks on a race that i was pretty sure would turn into a suffer fest. and that it did.
the day before i asked some fb friends if they were running it and since i opened my mouth i guess there was no turning back. i signed up at the expo got my road shoes ready. (same road shoes as my 08-09 road races) my original goal was a sub 3:45 (7:15 pace). since i didn't feel like i was in shape to go for that i upped it to 3:53 (7:30 pace). i figured i would start out at about a 7:25 pace and see what happened.
i stuffed 4 gu's inside the pouch of my bottle and 4 gu's inside my shorts and was ready to go. i figured stopping once or twice to refill a bottle was a hell of a lot more convenient then trying to grab those little ass cups from the sidelines. my girlfriend and i walked from her apartment over to the start and got ready to go. she was doing the half and aiming for 2 hours so she lined up next to the 4 hour marathon pace group. i wiggled my way through the people and got next to the 3:10 pace group. i figured everybody up here must be running a 7 minute pace so this should start out smooth right? no. i guess some people don't understand the reason behind corals. one thing that kills me is all the people trying to be "elitist" by showing up wearing their gay ass boston jackets. nobody cares if you've run boston or qualified for it. let your actions do the talking.
within a mile it was spread out enough to where we were all going the same pace. with all the chaos, i didn't really look down at my watch at all the first mile. i just ran what was comfortable. it turned out to be a 7:15 mile which felt perfect. i decided to roll with it until it felt uncomfortable. through the first 5k, 10k, and half marathon my miles were all between 7:15 and 7:20. it felt perfect so i didn't question it at all. what i did question the week before the race was that my body isn't used to the 4 hour high intensity stuff right now so i did question my endurance big time. i didn't really care because i knew that no matter how bad things got, i've been through it all by now. 4 years ago, this was my first ultra. i struggled the last 5 miles but i question how bad it really was. this year at about mile 15 my 7:20 miles became a struggle. i managed 7:25-7:35 pace from 15-20 but i was no longer fun. i got passed by a couple of people but i wasn't in the most competitive mood on this day. by the time i hit the marathon mark i gave up on my pace and just ran. i knew an 8 minute pace was my "natural" pace and i knew with that, that i would still come in under 4 hours. i hit the marathon mark at 3:17 and was on the ultra out n back at this point.
one thing i noticed was it felt like a totally different race at this point. one, i was running through the grass instead of the concrete. two, people all of a sudden became more friendly. it felt a tad more like an ultra. people waved to each other. people actually said words of encouragement to each other. and three i started recognizing people from other races. up to this point i was taking the gu's that i was carrying, and sipping from the bottle in my hand. i never broke stride to pee, to poop, to refill, to eat, nothing. i basically treated this race and one big self sufficient section. probably not the smartest thing only drinking 20 oz, but i figured i wasn't going to die so i didn't care. i would have plenty of time to rehydrate at the food truck park or at the gingerman after the race.
i struggled the last 5-10 miles and watched my time slip from 3:53 to making sure i was sub 4. i turned back onto the regular course at the 29.5 mile mark for the final mile and a half to the finish. i watched 3 other ultra runners cross the finish line about 20-30 yards ahead of me. i didn't really have a competitive edge or maybe that's just an excuse cause i was all tapped out. i either meet my goal or i don't. since i missed my original goal i just didn't care.
did i enjoy it? i guess so. it was fun but i think i should have sat this one out. i wasn't in shape for it and i need to take it more serious. the worst part is getting done and knowing you have a road race on schedule for 4 weeks later. my main motivation to do this was to train for a 50 miler on march 23rd. i would like to average about an eight minute pace at that. i'll be a little more serious for the next 4 weeks for that one.