Sunday, October 18, 2009

Marathon Makeover Marathon Recap

A Runner's Ramblings: Volume 4; 20th Edition
505.3 miles raced in 2009

Race: Marathon Makeover Marathon
Place: Jackson, MS
Miles from home: 1803 miles
Weather: 40-60s; cloudy to clear

My Comeback From Injury Train had its next stop in Jackson, MS at the Marathon Makeover Marathon.

After an especially turmoil-filled week for me personally, I was happy to touch down with my hosts for the weekend on Thursday afternoon. Friday morning, after appearing on the Marathon Makeover show on SupertalkFM, I headed over to the expo to sign books for all the wonderful people here to challenge themselves at either the 13.1 or 26.2 mile distance. After this I headed to the Jackson Street Fair to give a speech and provide some inspiring words for the people gathered. A hearty flock were there but even with a heathly ego, I know that while most might have enjoyed my talk, they were eagerly awaiting the announcement following my speech. That announcement? Which person would win a brand-new car!

That's right! For those entered in the marathon or half (as well as a few other ways to be counted in the drawing) there was a real good chance they could win a brand new Honda Fit.

The winner? Teresa Adams, from nearby Madison, MS was the lucky one and all agreed a nicer person could not have been the recipient. The night's festivities soon ended and it was off to bed.

Race Morning:

A 7 AM start time would have been good to avoid any potential heat (such as how warm it was on Thursday in the Magnolia State) but perfect weather for racing awaited us with cool temps and cloudy skies. Too bad I almost missed it.

6:33 AM:
I woke up with a start. Somehow I had not heard my alarm. I had 27 minutes to get ready, drive 6 miles and get into the corrals for the start. Not ideal!

6:52 AM:
I parked my car and began sprinting towards the start. I hopped a fence as the Star-Spangled Banner was playing and a sweet southern accent said: "Hun, do you need this?" In my haste of jumping over the fence, I had torn off my timing chip. Good lord that was close. I told her I most assuredly did and had my heart blessed for about the 37th time since stepping foot in the state just about 48 hours earlier.

First 10k : 6:35, 6:58, 6:48, 6:51, 6:32, 6:47

The race started off with a little jaunt through town after leaving a mall parking lot.

Not exactly the most scenic place to begin a race but logistically it was wonderful. Plenty of parking and space to warm up. And if you think about it, who cares much about the beginning: you don't see much of it after you leave!

We then spent the next 5 miles running on two sides of the Spillway near the Ross Barnett Spillway. A very serene first few miles were run in absolute solitude with trees to our right and the Spillway wall to our left. Then we turned the corner and went up a quick hill leaving the protection of the earthen spillway behind before heading back in the opposite direction. Now fully heading north into the teeth of a wind (which we had not felt at our back the opposite direction) with the water on our right.

Around mile 4, an extremely fit man named Leonard went sprinting by. Knowing he was one of the potential winners, I decided to hang on to him for a bit, which explains the 6:32 minute mile. But when I realized I was not in shape to do this the whole race, I fell back a bit and began running with Rich, who was running the half and Brett who was running the full.

To The Half: 6:41, 6:43, 6:43, 6:59, 7:00, 6:50, 7:07

As Brett and Rich had been running directly behind me prior to the turn, I had no problem running behind them and letting them take the bulk of the win on the spillway. As Leonard pulled away and the half marathoners split to go to their finish (which sounded wonderful as the wind did not abate regardless of where we turned) Brett and I chatted some more. We enjoyed the areas around the spillway which had docks and boats scattered here and there.

Heading into a neighborhood section of the course, Brett and I were a little perturbed to have some morning traffic right up our butts. Something which will be undoubtedly remedied, it nonetheless was a little bothersome to Brett and me. As we closed in on the midway point, we asked the volunteers how many people were in front of us. A few runners had been so far in front of us at the split that we did not know if they were halfers speeding along or marathoners racing out of their minds. We were told there were only two in front of us. The race was on.

To Mile 20: 7:06, 6:45, 6:55, 7:02, 7:13, 7:13, 7:02 (1:29:33)

Unfortunately, another thing that was on was my need to use the bathroom. So shortly after the halfway point, when I saw a portapotty being used by the construction of some random house on the route, in I went. When I emerged, Brett was 100 yards or so ahead of me (it was a record time use of the portapotty, thank you very much) and solidly in third place. I spent the next few miles watching Brett get further in further ahead. I was quite pleased with my time through the half and was wondering exactly what the second half held in store for me. Would I run a 3:03 or would my ebbing energy make me shoot for the elusive 3:04. Two identical 7:13 minute mile made me think the 3:04 was what was happening.

I crested a hill right before 20 and a couple of fans said to me : "Go get that guy!" I answered in a fashion which, in the shortest fashion possible my feelings on extending that effort: "Meh." They laughed and I laughed. And then suddenly energy filled me.

The finish: 6:52, 7:10, 7:12, 6:50, 6:54, 6:37

Flying down a slight downhill, I felt 100% rejuvenated. I could just barely see Brett in the distance but knew he was probably not catchable. I was just concentrating on using this surge as much as possible to get me to the finish. My next two miles felt good but did not exactly show the speed I was hoping as I hit each mile marker.

We left the closed highways of the race and joined Ridgeland Multipurpose Trail for the final few miles. Trails like this always give me trouble as their almost-always present undulation this late in the race kills me. Sure enough, right before mile 23 up a nice little rise we went. However, I powered through as I wanted to be done and done fast. At the top of a hill, a guy on a bicycle said to me: "You look far stronger than they guy in front of you. i think you can get him." Something about the look of the guy made me think that he knew what he was talking about.

Sure enough, down in front of me, Brett was no longer in non-catchable distance. But did I have enough real estate left in the race to make up the difference? I figured i could try and when my next mile was in 6:50 I knew I had a good shot. With each twist and turn, Brett became more and more reeled in until finally, around 25.3 or so, Brett literally did a double take to see if anyone was behind him and there I was, about 30 yards away.

The entire time I had been tracking Brett down, I had an idea in mind. When I finally caught Brett, maybe 200 yards before mile 26, I said to him: "Do you want to tie?" I figured it was a fitting end result for a couple of guys who had worked together for so long and then were once again so close at the finish. I mean, it wasn't for the victory, it was not big deal and I thought it would be a nice gesture. To his credit, or naivety, Brett said: "No. Whoever had the best kick at the end should win." I shrugged, hit the last little hill with gusto and his final words of "But thank you for the offer!" hit my back as I rushed out of the fastest final miles of any marathon I had ever run.

As I know I never ever want to run a marathon time right over 3 hours again, I gave all I had in the final yards to make sure I never need to in order to knock out all of the remaining sub 3:10 times I have ever run (which still include a 3:01, 3;02 and 3:04) as I cruised in with a 3:00:57 finishing time in third place.

There to bestow me with my finishing medal was good friend, and owner of her own massive PR in the half-marathon, Pam.

"I dub thee, Sir HotPants."

After the finish and a quick interview, I rushed back to my host's house to grab a quick shower and then rushed back. As the race was giving out copies of See Dane Run to the age-group winners, I had to be on-hand to sign them. I got back just in time to see another friend, Trina, run her first ever marathon in a time of 4:42:56. as she was nervously hoping to "just break 5" the night before, I was elated for her!

All told, I had a wonderful time in Jackson. this bodes well for my recovery as, even though this just over 3 hour marathon, on a relatively easy course (barring the wicked wind which whipped around all day) took some effort, I would not have thought this time was possible just 6 days after my 3:06 in Long Beach, with all I have gone through lately. As such, I am hoping my efforts will continue and will culminate in lowering my PR again come this November when I feel I will be back in racing form.

Leonard did indeed take first over all with a nice 2:55 finish. Not bad at all for a 54 year-old man!

Congrats to all the Marathon Makeover finishers who themselves pushed past their own limitations and completed their own tasks at hand. Now onto bigger and better (and faster!) things!


ilovesteaks said...

ok, I see that you were wearing Spiras. Do they feel any different from traditional shoes?

Congratulations on another fine race!

Dane said...


Not sure what you mean by "different" but I seem to do very well in them.

Thank you!

ilovesteaks said...

Isn't or wasn't Spira shoes banned by the USATF because the shoe is constructed with a spring as the cushioning mechanism? I'm just curious as to how they feel and if you feel like they give you any advantage. I mean afterall you still need the fitness to be able to run fast. I guess I'm asking for a shoe review... perhaps a separate blog post is in order?

Dane said...

Not exactly banned per se but yes that is the sow company.

No, they in no way give me any advantage whatsoever. Shoes help, but you are right, it is the internal machine and the legs that made the difference. Ryan Hall could run in work boots and beat me by twenty minutes in a marathon.