Charlottesville Marathon - A surprise PR!
Charlottesville Marathon was my 25th marathon over the last four years and the 18th towards my goal of running a marathon in every state. I knew that Charlottesville would be a very hilly course and not fast. The date however worked and I looked forward to spending the weekend in Charlottesville with my family especially since this was a Saturday race allowing me to enjoy Saturday and Sunday around the fun college town of the University of Virginia.
Unlike last year when I ran a marathon every month except for July and August, this year I wanted to focus on getting faster and promised to take more time between long races this year. My last marathon was in February and I rested and did not run a marathon in March. In March I set a new PR in the half marathon with a 1 hour 32 min run at Charlotte's Corporate Cup. I know that is not that impressive of a time as I know so many runners who have run sub 1:30 with ease. For me, however, that 1:32 felt like I was flying. A few weeks ago I finally broke 20 minutes in the 5k after having run at least 50 5k's over the past four years. The week before Charlottesville I ran a 5k PR of 19:31 and was off to a strong start in 2011.
I always have the same three goals entering a marathon. Finish, break 3:30 and set a PR (previously a 3:20). A realistic, mid range and a reach goal. I really did not think or expect that I would set a new PR at Charlottesville. The two variables that are so hard to prepare for went in my favor. I slept great the night before the race and awoke rested and ready to run. My stomach digested better than usual and felt good at the start. Add in a nice cold morning and my confidence on the starting line was high.
I always travel with a running book by Alberto Salazar that i enjoy reading the night before a race. I was reminded of the following quote in his book:
"I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we're all cowards."
- Alberto Salazar
At the start of the run I was not nervous and was looking forward to running. I had tapered all week not running at all until the marathon and my legs felt great. I divided this run in my mind into the first 13 and the second 13 miles. I went out strong with miles between 7min and 7 :20 pace. The first half of the course was beautiful. Large homes with beautiful horse farms. I hit the halfway mark around 1 hour and 36 minutes. I knew it was only a matter of time that I would pay for going out hard. My first mile above 8 minutes came at mile 18. Legs were hurting and a increased focus would be required so as not to give back those minutes I had banked. I know it is not the best strategy but it has worked for me in all of my PRs in all distances. Mile 19 back under 8 min mile at a 7: 34 pace. Mile 20 - 7:44, Mile 21 - 7:26. Mile 22 -7:40 mile 23-7:49. miles 24 and 25 took back some banked time running them in 8:20 and 8:19. Final mile 7:45. Crossed finish line in 3:18:27. I could not maintain the 1:36 pace run in the first half as I ran a 1:42 second half. I gave back some precious minutes but banked enough to get that coveted PR.
Below is the search for my marathon results on marathonguide.com. It may not get me into Boston next year with the new system but it it sure nice to see the BQ next to my name. After next year my qualifier will drop from current 3:20:59 to 3:15:59. Running this 3:18:27 on a very hilly course gives me confidence that I could see the new qualifier on a flat course in the future.
The link below shows my finish at the marathon with the support of my wife and kids. (The high five was my 3 year old daughter).