Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cape Cod Marathon (long edit)

7:55 AM - what a day! .94 mi./8:16 warmup (in two chunks); windy and cold (39 degrees) at the start (8:30 am) - started easy, felt great, not much problem with the wind; ran in 9th place for the first few miles, then moved up to 6th around miles 5-6, went for lead chase pack and caught up by 7-8 miles, then ran alone in 2nd place from 11-22, before catching leader between 22 and 23 miles and maintaining to end (slowing a bit) with a very satisfying PR - 2:28:54 (unofficial) and 1st place finish! USATF-NE Marathon Champion!
splits:
mile 1 - 5:35.5
mile 2 - 5:38.1
mile 3 - 5:39.4
mile 4 - 5:36
mile 5 - 5:36.3
mile 6 - 5:41.7
mile 7 - 5:42.3
mile 8 - 5:40.9
mile 9 - 5:43.8
mile 10 - 5:36.8
mile 11 - 5:36.7
mile 12 - 5:50.5
mile 13 - 5:34.5
mile 14 - 5:27
mile 15 - 5:30
mile 16 - 5:43.1
mile 17 - 5:33
mile 18 - 5:43.5
mile 19 - 5:47.2
mile 20 - 5:41.4
mile 21 - 5:47.8
mile 22 - 5:43
mile 23 - 5:42.8
mile 24 - 5:44.4
mile 25 - 5:46.4
mile 26 - 5:55.5 (into wind)
 (1:16 for last .22)

The night before the race was crazy - Heather, my dad and I drove down from Hamilton after the Cape Ann League XC meet, and arrived at the Lawrence School just before 6:00 pm to pick up my number. It was already raining and windy and dark, but we headed out for a few miles from Shoreway Acres where we stayed on Shore St. (first mile of the course) It was a little surreal running through the puddles into the teeth of the forty and fifty mile per hour gusts but I was glad to have company for the night before the race run. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant downtown (forget the name) and I loaded up on homemade noodles, bread and roasted potatoes. I even had a dark Italian beer (forget the name of that, too - La Rossa, maybe?) Dinner was later than normal, but with no kids to put to bed (they stayed in Hamilton w/ my mom), it was easy to crash as soon as we got back. I kept an eye on what the weathermen were saying and it wasn't promising, but I tried not to dwell on it too much as I closed my eyes, knowing I probably wouldn't get much sleep.

I was up every one to two hours during the night between pre-race nerves and windows that sounded like they were going to be blown in any second. Race morning dawned (around 6 I got up) and the rain had stopped but the winds were still whipping past our second floor room. We grabbed some coffee and a bagel at Dunkin' Donuts before the sun came up and saw Martin Tighe and a contingent of Whirlaway guys (Alliette, Spinney, Fram and Smilin' Dave). Then we headed back to the hotel for a free breakfast which started at seven. I was quiet, but not as ornery as I usually am on race morning. I had gone back and forth about my expectations for the race during the night, assuming I would have to alter my plans due to the inclement conditions. All along during my training I had been telling people I hoped to break 2:30, but I wasn't sure how realistic that actually was, having not attempted the distance since Boston '07.

At about 7:55, we left the hotel - Heather and my Dad in the car, me on foot. I jogged over to the start in sweats, trying to generate a little heat with minimal effort. I saw a couple friendly faces, including good friend, John Barbour, which helped lift my spirits. I left my layers with Heather at about 8:15, opting for a hat and gloves, long sleeves under the CMS singlet and shorts. Also included were the adidas adios I picked up at Marathon Sports in Melrose on Thursday night and ran a few miles in on Friday. I found a spot up front with my CMS 'mates and chatted a bit about expectations, which we were all a little reluctant to have at that point before the cannon went off.

I felt really good in the early going and the sub-5:40 miles were clicking by with ease. I ran for a couple miles with Justin Freeman, Hari Iyer, and Tom Deeg before deciding to try to close the gap on the group ahead of us. There were four guys running together, about 20 seconds up on us, who had stayed about that distance ahead since the first mile. It took me about 2 miles to reel them in and then I had moved past them after a couple more miles.

Two short funny moments during the early miles, when I was feeling good and had a sense of humor. Just after mile 7, where Davisville Rd. crosses Brik Kiln Rd., my dad stood on the side of the road with snacks for me. I had prepared several bags of sport beans, a couple bags of gu chomps and six bags of honey stinger waffles (each bag had half a waffle, broken in half again). As I approached, my dad asked, "Do you want anything?" and I yelled back, "You got any waffles?" and then watched as the surrounding spectators chuckled at my request.

Later, around mile 11 (I think), a little girl cheering told me I was in second place and I asked if she thought I could catch the leader, hoping she would yell, "Yeah!!" or something equally enthusiastic. Instead, she paused, and then let out a weak, "maybe." as I raced past. Given the size of the leader's margin at that point, I couldn't have expected anything different.

I started asking Heather to tell me how far ahead the leader was, because I hadn't seen him, and I learned I was about 2 minutes back before halfway and by 19 miles I was 3:20 behind him. (More on that later.)

Mile 12, which was one of my first miles alone, was kind of a struggle, as the early racing caught up with me a bit as I realized I had outrun anyone I would have been able to work with over the second half of the race. I also had a watch which was not giving me good information as I had programmed my Garmin the night before to split each mile automatically, not thinking that the miles measured wouldn't match up with the miles actually run. I knew I was a little under my goal pace, but I had to do quite a bit of watch-checking and figuring to convince myself of what pace I was running. With noone around, except the race officials on bikes, I was free to do this, and remembered to snack on something every couple miles. The first guy who rode alongside me was pretty intense with his traffic management and screamed at most vehicles while violently gesturing them to pull over and stop. Being used to running with cars around, I'm not nervous of them running me over and am used to altering my path a little to avoid them, but he insisted they make way and I thanked him for it. Unfortunately for him, he got a flat just after 15 miles and had to pull over himself. I was shortly joined by another quieter official, who rode nearby dropping behind me so I could run the tangents on the curves and occasionally offering words of mild encouragement or advice about the terrain changes. The hills kept coming, but they kept going and my pace (I thought) was staying pretty consistent. When I hit 20 miles in 1:53 - flat, I knew I was in good shape to break 2:30 and actually was still under 5:40 pace by about 20 seconds. My elation was short-lived as the climb at the start of mile 21 took my concentration, and I wondered about running 6's the rest of the way. Coming out of Woods Hole, though, I saw John Barbour again, and his encouragement (and the memory of his own sub-2:20 story) kept me moving onto Surf Drive.

My first bike guide had alleged that I would have a tailwind all the way in from 23 miles on, so I was looking forward to that. What I wasn't expecting, at 22 miles, was my current bike guide to say, "He's only a minute up; it's yours for the taking." I dropped it down from 5:43 pace, to 5:42.8 pace in an effort to overtake the leader. When I saw him around 23 miles, though, it was obvious I wouldn't be needing my kick. He had evidently paid for the fast early pace and was only jogging to keep forward progress going. I waved and uttered a soft "Good job." as I went past and headed under the overpass to the elvis rest stop, where my dad and Heather expressed the emotions I was unable to while grinding out the last three miles. They screamed and leapt and smiled to beat the band and I just kept trying to put one foot in front of the other without thinking too hard about it. I wouldn't say it was a pure tailwind, but it was more behind me than in front of me, at least, and with the sun starting to peek through the clouds, I was feeling better than I would have ever expected at this point, and certainly better than I deserved (I think this is called "grace".)

I ran through a couple puddles, which wasn't great, it felt good at first to feel the cold water on my feet and legs, but that quickly turned to stiffening, especially when I made the next to last left turn onto walker street and headed right into the wind for that last mile. Heather and my dad were both on walker street, my dad right near the 26-mile mark and Heather right near the corner (even as I recall it, my eyes get watery)
then I made the last turn onto main street and mustered a final push but tried to smile and enjoy it and take it all in and appreciate the sacrifices of everyone that helped me to get there and then I was across the finish line and the watery eyes came back for a second and I hugged my dad and Heather and tried to hold that piece of tin foil still on me while the wind kept blowing it off; i talked to bob fitz from ne runner and some local reporters and told the story about the little girl at mile 11 and then talked to some other finishers and got in the car to go back and take a shower. Unfortunately, in the car I tried to push my left shoe off with the toe of my right foot and I got THE WORST cramp in my right calf and I started yelling like a little baby and my dad pulled the car over and came around to my side and bent my toes back for me and that calf is the only thing that is really sore three days later.

9 comments:

  1. You lived up to your blog title by running to get the prize. Well deserved win and PR Patrick!

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  2. I must say that was well deserved. You put in the work and it paid off. Nicely done, congratulations!

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  3. Patrick,
    Great write-up. It made me think back to my Clarence De Mar race. All the little crazy things that go through your head when you finally break away. Congratulations on your win, it was well deserved.

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  4. I wish I could say 'unbelievable' but I believed it even before the race! Well deserved for sure. I had a feeling during the race you'd take it and Greg H. confirmed it for me as I eventually came across the line. VERY happy for you man. That was truly awesome!

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  5. Thanks for all the congrats, guys!

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  6. Great report.
    Man, what a tough day on a tough course and you were just totally prepared and totally resolved to nail it. Great cap to a great season. Huge congrats to you!

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  7. Nice write-up Pat. Enjoyed every word!! I got so excited as I read the last paragraph even though I knew the outcome already :)

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  8. Fantastic job, Patrick! I'm really happy for you. Enjoy the feeling. I had a strong hunch you were gonna take all the marbles a couple weeks leading up to the race. You know those solo training runs where you picture yourself winning the big race? Well, I tried but I kept picturing you winning it, knowing all that hard work you put in. CONGRATS!

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  9. Great job. Congratulations. Keep rolling into 2012.

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