September 10, 2008
Last weekend was the big weekend – my first marathon of the year, my first step towards a Boston Qualifier, and a true test of my current training program.
I arrived on Friday in Albuquerque at 12:30AM, eight hours later then expected, due to bad weather at the Dallas Airport, and the ensuing flight cancellations. I woke up the next morning at 5:30AM, with my jetlagged body thinking it was 7:30AM. So I didn’t get a lot of sleep then, nor did I the night before the race because of the 3:45AM start.
Talking to other runners, many of them were curtailing expectations for the race because of the high elevation (went up to 6100 ft), the hill at the beginning, the possibility of heat, and the early start. I kept my expectations the same, shooting for a 3:30, even though my best time was a 3:54::59, and I had to deal with all those factors I just mentioned, and far less then an ideal amount of sleep. I didn’t think the eleveation was high enough to be a factor, the downhill section would be steep and long enough to make up for the uphill, and I just kept reminding myself that my legs had not felt better before a race ever. I was completly healthy, and wasn’t about to make any excuses, I just wanted to go out and run the race I knew I was capable of.
The race was to start at 5:30AM, so I took the earlier shuttle out there, and started my warm up and drills. It’s the first time that I’ve actually done a warm up before a marathon. I was hoping that this would help me run faster in my first 1-3 miles, rather then spending those warming up.
The race started in the dark, on the far right lane of a desert highway. There weren’t any pace groups, and people weren’t necessarily lining up in order of likely finish, since there were only 260 runners, so few that the starting position really didn’t make much of a difference. With no sense of how fast I was going, I came through my first mile in 9:30. This was slow, as I was hoping to keep an 8:15 going up the initial hill. I started to hear the voice of common sense – it’s high altitude, it’s uphill, it’s the first mile of the race. Then I told myself, “no, I’m not running that race”. I’m going to run that 3:30, not settle for another 4 hour race. I picked up the pace, but still had little sense of how much. I didn’t see a mile marker #2, so I checked my watch after that, 7:30 pace for #2&3. I had overcompensated. I tried to slow it down, and settle into a good pace, but then I came in at a 9:22. I didn’t feel like the early hills were all that steep or were taking a lot out of me, but I do think they were a big part of why my initial pace was so erratic.