Outer Banks Marathon 2007

November 11th, 2007

I’ve joked in the past that with every marathon I learn something new, and that I’m really sick of having to keep learning things! But true to form, I learned an important lesson in this year’s marathon, even as I think I approached my race the smartest yet. The idea was to use the "10/10/10" approach; miles 1-10 at a 10min/mile, miles 11-20 at a 9min/mile, and then (if I was feeling it) the last 10k (miles 21-26.2) at an 8:30min/mile. This would have been absolutely perfect on a completely flat course. What I didn’t take into account, though, was the elevation profile for the Outer Banks Marathon.

The first ten miles were fantastic. I ran the first mile with Butch and Chris, which was a real joy, and I felt a tiny bit bad when I left them towards the end of that mile but they had a different pace plan (and were also doing a run/walk, which I wasn’t) so when they stopped to stretch I took it as a sign to keep going. Running through woods, along the water, and then around the Wright Brothers Monument? Fantastic. I felt bad for anyone who ran the half marathon if only because they missed all of this amazing scenery, the best part of the course by far.

Miles 11-13 run through the Nags Head Woods Nature Preserve; the first two miles on a packed dirt road, the third mile on a narrow off-road trail, and all three of these miles are extremely hilly. I should have shifted my planned paces around a bit to compensate for this; planning on not pushing here and expending the strength elsewhere. (As crazy as that section was, though, I must admit that I really liked it. It was gorgeous.) As it is, looking at my splits below, you can see a huge dip on speed for that off-road mile in particular. Additionally, miles 14-19 are at a slight uphill grade and along a highway, which is less than fun and also sapped my strength more than I’d have imagined.

Of course, some things you can’t compensate for. Around mile 14.5, a car tried to pull out onto the course and only stopped when I screamed at it—all of about a foot and a half from me. Shaken, I continued on, but a minute later my right calf seized up and never really let go. Now I’m not saying that me having tensed up from the near-miss from the car made the calf tense up, but I do think that it contributed. I stretched as best I could for a solid minute and then continued on. I must admit I was sad that my parents, Suzanne, and Charlie never saw me up until that point in the race because I was definitely not looking my best from that moment on!

I pushed on as best I could, stretching a tiny bit every mile or two, and starting at mile 20 taking little 30-second walk-breaks because my knees were starting to ache as well. When I started the 25th mile, I was aching so much that I just had to walk the vast majority of it. I couldn’t even face the "just 2.2 more miles!" that I kept telling myself, finally making a deal that when I finished mile 25, I would start running again and not stop until I was done. And sure enough, that’s what happened. I didn’t get the sub-4:22 finish I was hoping for (I’m fairly convinced if it hadn’t been for the calf problem I would’ve hit that), but I did the best I could, and this was the first marathon for which I didn’t enter it with a run/walk plan. And hey, a 4:29:06? I’ll take it.

Next year? I’m going to tackle my race the same way, but will pay more attention to the course map when doing so; if necessary I’ll shift some of the planned paces around to better compensate for what’s ahead. Little by little, I’m getting there.

Mileage Mile Times Time of Day Total Time Overall Pace Notes
0 7:22 AM 0:00:00
1 11:02.5 7:33 AM 0:11:02 0:11:02
2 09:51.3 7:43 AM 0:20:54 0:10:27
3 09:47.7 7:53 AM 0:30:42 0:10:14
4 10:02.7 8:03 AM 0:40:44 0:10:11
5 09:45.7 8:13 AM 0:50:30 0:10:06
6 09:37.3 8:22 AM 1:00:07 0:10:01
7 10:28.5 8:33 AM 1:10:36 0:10:05
8 09:43.0 8:42 AM 1:20:19 0:10:02
9 09:51.3 8:52 AM 1:30:10 0:10:01
10 09:40.3 9:02 AM 1:39:50 0:09:59
11 09:24.8 9:11 AM 1:49:15 0:09:56 The start of the very hilly, trail-running, nature park. Why did I not remember this was coming?
12 09:17.6 9:21 AM 1:58:33 0:09:53
13 10:35.6 9:31 AM 2:09:08 0:09:56 Finally! The hills (which were alive with the sound of runners cursing) ended just after we finished mile 13.
14 09:03.5 9:40 AM 2:18:12 0:09:52
15 09:42.7 9:50 AM 2:27:54 0:09:52 And then Greg’s right calf exploded. (Funny, in the past it was always lefty.)
16 09:33.1 10:00 AM 2:37:28 0:09:50
17 09:26.9 10:09 AM 2:46:55 0:09:49
18 09:33.2 10:19 AM 2:56:28 0:09:48
19 09:40.8 10:28 AM 3:06:09 0:09:48
20 10:12.6 10:39 AM 3:16:21 0:09:49
21 10:26.0 10:49 AM 3:26:47 0:09:51
22 10:24.2 10:59 AM 3:37:11 0:09:52
23 11:21.8 11:11 AM 3:48:33 0:09:56 The nasty part of the bridge to Manteo. Worse than MCM’s 14th St. Bridge in terms of going straight up and then down.
24 10:53.6 11:22 AM 3:59:27 0:09:59
25 16:34.2 11:38 AM 4:16:01 0:10:14 Walked a lot, just could not run anymore. (Or at least until the end of the mile.)
26 11:35.8 11:50 AM 4:27:37 0:10:18
26.2 01:29.4 11:51 AM 4:29:06 0:10:16 A 7:25min/mile pace! Ha! Gotta love that brief adrenaline burst.

(Lest you think I’m completely nuts, I should point out that I made an Excel spreadsheet where all I had to type in were individual mile times, and the starting time, and it filled in the rest.)

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