Steamtown Marathon Race Report

I’ve been aiming for a 3:30 marathon since the BlisterBurst marathon in June, and started the Pfitzinger 12/55 plan in July with that number firmly in mind. Overall, training went REALLY well, and I averaged 42mpw over the training plan, as opposed to the 24 mpw I averaged over my previous best marathon training period.

Two days before the marathon (Friday) I started feeling ill, and stayed home from work and guzzled OJ and green tea with Echinacea. I spent much of the afternoon suffering from a very upset stomach, and I was getting nervous about the race. My last pre-race run was an enjoyable 5 miles in a light drizzle with a friend, and I started to feel better. I ended up going out that night, partaking of probably too much beer (5 or 6) and not getting to bed til 3. The next morning I had to get up at 7:30 to start the 7.5 hr drive to Scranton, which lengthened to 8 hrs with all the hydrating I was doing and the resulting potty breaks. Made it to the race expo at 5:10 (it closed at 6), checked in at the hotel at 5:45 and promptly decided that I was not going to make the Runnersworld Forums FE at 6. Instead, I relaxed for a few minutes and then headed to a little Italian restaurant down the street. Enjoyed my linguini with rose sauce over the latest issue of Runnersworld, then headed back to the hotel. Hit the pillow by 8:15pm. Funny how driving all day after only getting 4 hrs of sleep will do that to you.

Jumped out of bed after a GREAT 9 hour sleep. Danced like a fool around the hotel and heartily appreciated the fact I’d thought to pack a breakfast food, including a toaster. Was on my way to the bus pickup when Bob, someone I’d met on the runnersworld forums, called. We arranged to meet at a specific parking garage, and when I got there I met 4 other friends of his: Mike, who was considering running 3:30 and his wife Cindy, who was aiming for 4hrs and her first BQ, Allen, who was aiming for 3:35, and one other fellow whose name I don’t recall. The bus out to the start went pretty quickly, and soon we were being greeted by the Forest Hills cheerleaders, and a whole whack of volunteers. I tucked my “good luck runners” ribbon in the back pocket of my ‘canada’ shirt, and we headed to the gym. I was a bit antsy and kept wandering, but the time to head to the starting line came soon enough. I started with Mike, who Bob had told me ‘was a machine’ who would stick to his pace dead-on. I was a bit concerned about the fact that his PR was 3:45, and he didn’t seem too confident is his ability to run 3:30. Ah well, we’d start off together, and go from there.

The water stops were every two miles, and I’d already decided to walk them; I lost 12 lbs after Columbus last year (roughly 10% of my body weight) and I attributed a fair amount of that to dehydration. I decided that it was smarter to take a few extra seconds to get a good amount of fluids. That’s why my splits are SO far off; you can tell where the water stops are.

So the breakdown:

1 0:08:47  
2 0:08:16  
3 0:08:05  
4 0:07:23 A nice downhill. Way fast, but I was glad to get some of that time back
5 0:07:54  
6 0:07:43  
7 0:08:16  
8 0:07:51 First gel. I tell Mike how great I’m feeling.
9 0:08:11  
10 0:07:52  
11 0:08:18  
12 0:08:04  
13 0:08:07 I think our half time was 1:45:45 or something.
14 0:08:29 Bathroom break. By this point I’m getting uncomfortable with the splits, and think about leaving Mike.
15 0:07:59 I take a donut hole that’s offered to me, because how often do you get to say you ate a donut hole while running a marathon? I hit this split at a good pace, Mike was at 8:07 since I’d caught up with him after my bathroom break. I tell him I want to continue on this pace, and we part ways
16 0:07:53 This is the ‘rails to trails’ part of the course. Feels great.
17 0:07:31 The crowd is incredible here! I’m grinning ear to ear, and flying. Obviously.
18 0:08:07 Still feeling good, time is only off b/c of the water stop. I think I GUed here. I raise my arms in mock triumph at every photographer, and at random other times too. The crowd is great!
19 0:07:45 I’m grinning ear to ear, and I actually feel little rushes of emotion. This is INCREDIBLE. Today is my day
20 0:08:11  
21 0:07:54  
22 0:07:42  
23 0:08:04 Ok, isn’t this about where there was some annoying hill on the elevation chart…? Take my last GU for good measure.
24 0:08:25 Ugh. Here it is. I decide to take it easy and walk some.
25 0:07:59 Back on track. There really hasn’t been anyone passing me, except on my walk stops.
26 0:07:46 It really sucks to look up ahead and see a huge hill at this point. Some woman tells me to focus on the 2nd traffic light, b/c it’s all downhill from there
0.2 0:01:20 And it was! I pull out the stops, and the ole legs haven’t forgotten how to go fast

I finished strong, and concentrated on looking good doing it, not focusing on my watch as I cross the mat, so it MAY be off my a second or two.

Goal: 3:30
Watch time: 3:30:05

First half: 1:45:45
Second half: 1:44:20

Can’t get much more perfect than that!

I finished up, grabbed a water, got my pic taken and met Bob. Mike came in at 3:44:57 (a PR), his wife at 4:00:37 (she BQed and PRed!), and Allen a bit later. Great day!

The trip back to the hotel was a bit harrowing as the routes were still blocked for the race. I made a few requisite phone calls to share my happiness and checked in to see how my friends who’d run Towpath and Chicago did. When I pulled off my shoes I was a bit surprised to see some blood had soaked through my socks; the side of my big toe hurt, but I hadn’t thought it was that bad. Actually through the race it was only my feet that hurt, most notably my big toes. It appears as my mileage is increasing, I’m starting to pronate more and more. I may have to seriously look into some extra strengthening exercices to see if I can overcome that at all. Other than that, I feel pretty darned good!

Off to meet up with some fellow Steamtownies for dinner in a bit, and then relax before heading back to Columbus in the morning. I really feel like today was an ideal race; I was thinking as I was running how a bad race can either motivate you to run again quickly, or to quit, and how a good race can probably do the same. I will run Columbus next weekend, but I honestly have nothing to prove. I ran a good race, I felt strong, heck, I had a decent negative split, and I reached my goal. What more can I ask for?

  • wonderful….absolutely wonderful.

    i’ve found your journal in the RW Marathon Forum…hope you don’t mind me reading. nice training. you’ve earned this. recover well. a pint of haggandazz helps a lot…i know it did for me 🙂

    -ryan | the rookie

  • I was checking your blog and the steamtown site all afternoon/evening. Sounds like you had a hell of a strong race. I’ll get the complete low down on Tuesday. Have a safe drive home!

    The gang in OH ran well. Meredith qualified for bean town.

  • thanks – I’m assuming this is Bridget 🙂 Yeah, it was a great run! See ya Tues, you can let me know how the relay went.

  • I came over from the link you left at RW marathoners forum. I started to the Steamtown Marathon, anyone? anyone? post. Great blog – I meant to do one for Chicago last year – I should have written things right away. I think I’ll keep a blog for Steamtown – training and race report. Thanks for sharing – that hill at the end sounds pretty bad. I’m hoping to break 4 hours – maybe this is the year.