Sunday, October 16, 2011

The 2011 Hartford Marathon

I did it! Yesterday I completed the 2011 Hartford Marathon which is my second and I'm happy with the results. I missed my goal of finishing in four hours but not by much.
Actual time was 4h 13m.

The weather was perfect and the entire race from registration to caring for finishers at the end was well done. My time was 4h 13m. Not bad considering that is 8 minutes faster than my first marathon 28 years ago(Ocean State Marathon). Mike and Mollie came in at 4h 2m which was on plan for them.
Aiden with me after the finish

I prepared well by loosely following several marathon training guides. I had been in "taper mode" the past two weeks and adjusted my nutrition as well. Friday night I could not stop thinking of the race, how I would do things, and how I could push myself at the end. Therefore I wasn't well rested. Good thing I was sleeping more in the days prior to the race. Saturday I woke at 4am and had a light breakfast of whole grain toast, coffee, a banana, and two egg whites. I wanted some energy but didn't want to over do the food volume. I headed out at 5am for Hartford. Got to a close by parking lot as did many other runners. To kill time I went over to the park to watch the setup and then up to the XL center. Grabbed another coffee at the Starbucks then back to the car for final preparations. Once all organized I headed to meet Mike, Mollie, and Denise.

The race was crowded with @10,000 runners lined up because the half and full marathon runners started together. It was exciting. Between the heightened anticipation and the extra coffee I was jittery and ready to go. We started at 8:00am. The first few miles were through downtown and easy. My pace kept getting faster and I had to force myself to slow down. When I looked at my Garmin it was near 8/mile which was way too fast. I would slow down then creep back to the fast pace. After about 7 miles I settled down to an 8:50ish pace. The course twists and turns through Hartford and along the Connecticut river. Great park down by the river. Once we crossed into East Hartford I realized it was time to get focused for now we had a long out and back route to South Windsor. I was doing great staying close to a 9/mile pace. That was the game plan all along. As I headed north on the main course the professional runners were already coming back towards Hartford. I didn't see Solomon Too the first place male at 2:21 but I did see Erica Jessman, the first female who finished at 2:45. The final turn back to Hartford was around 17 miles which was a welcome sight but also a motivator because that's what I considered the final stretch. I was good and passed Mike and Mollie who were still going north towards the turn. But at 19 miles my foot started hurting. Inside sole was sore. Not a twist or sprain but just sore. I was slowing down and getting tired. Eventually Mike and Mollie caught me and went on ahead. I was OK though but too focused on my foot and legs. As I was passing 22 miles I started short breaks of walking......just couldn't keep it going. But started up running again with occasional walking breaks mostly around the water tables. Then I turned after 23 miles towards Hartford. Looking at the office buildings I realized the end was near. It motivated me to work at finishing strong. I was beat and it became clear that in the future I must incorporate a 23-24 mile training run. But I crossed the river and was in downtown now within a mile of the finish. I struggled to pick up speed so I could make up and seconds/minutes lost from my walking. I came around the corner and saw the finish line and the timer was at 4h 12m which was great to see. That meant I beat my 1983 time at Ocean State yet at 57 years old. That was the best part of the day. I was glancing left and right down the finish shhot trying  to find Chris, Kate, and Aiden. I ran across the finish line overcome with emotion that had built up over the prior 13 months of training....I did it!

They handed me the foil warmth wrapper....I went over for a long drink from the water fountain.....received my metal and then stood there in a daze. Relishing the fact I accomplished an significant task of running 26.2 miles after years for poor physical condition. It felt good.

Soon Chris and the kids found me. Aiden had his little sign and was running around excited. I was thrilled. Then disaster started to set in.....I was very weak and extremely light headed. I didn't tell Chris at that moment but felt something serious was wrong. I laid down. I was very dizzy and disorientated. I couldn't even sit up. I laid there for about 20 minutes while Kate found some food. I believe two things happened(which I need to remember for my next marathon). First, even though I drank at the water stops, I was severely dehydrated. Second, I only consumed two "gels" and not Gatorade during the race. The last gel was around 14 miles and only half at that. I believe my energy stores were gone. I should have had a gel or two more between 14 miles and 24 miles. Stupid. Or at least drank more Gatorade. Live and learn or should I say almost die and learn!

I recovered within the hour to feeling good with just sore legs and back. The cheeseburger Kate found for me was great.

Link to results:

I'm thrilled with my overall performance. For my age and training I am satisfied with this marathon and now am ready to move on to another. I know I can be sub 4 hours with a bit more training.

My final stats:
1168 place of 2308 finishers.  Official time is 4h 13m 22s. My half time was 1h54m. My 20 mile time was 3h 2m. My overall pace was 9:40/mile. I also came in 45th of 85 in my 55-59yo age group.

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