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Monday, September 21, 2009

Winding down to 10/11/09

Lewis & Clark Half Marathon.
Lewis & Clark Half Marathon, St. Charles, MO., 9/13/09.
Finish time 01:58:56.

I ran the Lewis & Clark half marathon on Sept. 13 in St. Charles, MO. I really like running races in the St. Louis area, mainly because the crowds are always supportive, and the scenery is always nice. This was a big race, with the half-marathon field maxed out at over 5000 runners.

This run was a trial run for the Chicago Marathon in a couple of weeks. My goal was to stay at close to a 9 minute-per-mile pace and finish in close to 2 hours. I wore exactly what I plan on wearing for Chicago, carried the same fluids, and the same nutrition during the run.

I finished in 01:58, which is where I wanted to be at the half way point for the marathon. I finished feeling good after a rather rough start for the first five miles due to some nagging shin pain, probably caused by my lack of stretching as of late- lesson learned.

This past Sunday, I ran the CARA Ready to Run 20 Miler along Chicago's lakefront. This is an organized run, and not a race. There are no timing chips, but there are regular hydration stations, mile markers, pacers, and a post-run party.

Once again, I missed starting with my 9:00 minute pace group, so I was on my own, again. To make matters worse, my Garmin decided to die around mile 9, and I had no other way of timing my pace. From here on in I was going to do the next 11 miles on feel alone. This could either be the worse thing that could happen, or the best.

For a newbie marathon runner like myself, I don't recommend this! I've never run big miles without a timing device of some kind. When I saw some runners bunched together along the route, I knew they were being paced, so I would run up to them and ask what pace they were in. I made my way up through the 11:30, 11, 10:30, and finally the 10 minute group. I never found the 9:30 and 9:00 minute pace groups, so being ahead of the 10 group, I knew I was somewhere close to where I wanted to be.

I've never been more in tune with what my body was doing. My legs get a funny feel in them when I'm running below pace, and they want to go faster. I could tell when my breathing was not where it should be, and the rhythm of legs vs. arms at my marathon pace was easy to find on my own. It was a complete learning experience, though unexpected as it was.

I finished the 20 miles in a personal best of 03:09 (old 03:15). To my surprise, there was no clock at the finish, so I had to ask around for the time. Fortunately, I caught a glimpse of my start time being exactly 7:00 a.m., and never thought I'd be happier hearing "10:09". Still, I'd much rather have that Garmin with me.

Running without knowing what time you're going to get to the end isn't my idea of fun, but I had a grand time anyways. It was exactly the confidence booster I needed.

Bring on Chicago!


Blogger Emily said...

this is how i run my races, but smart to do it in training too. no timing/pacing devices, just every-mile check-ins with my body.

in marathon, the check-ins usually go "am i feeling ok? do i think i could keep this up for 2x, 3x, 4x, this distance? how relaxed am i? let me relax anything that's feeling a bit tense. anything starting to hurt that i should fix?" etc. or at least they do for the first half of the race. by mile 18, they're usually something of a "can i still feel my feet? are they still attached?" sometimes a visual check/confirmation is needed. (yes i can still see my feet, that must mean i still have calves and legs overall.).

but all in all, forgetting the time and letting my body go beyond my mind gets me through the race.

congrats on the 20miles! see you at chicago!

p.s. i'm bib 8666.

12:55 PM

Blogger Jesse said...

Thanks Emily. This is something I haven't practiced much and should do more of. It was quite eye opening.

3:36 PM


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