The banner said “Start”, but it may as well have said “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter”.  After having mild temperatures all week, suddenly we had summer-like temperatures and the humidity characteristic of the Mid-Atlantic.  It was only 6:30AM when the race started, but it was already in the mid seventies.  I had warmed up very lightly, but was already sweating profusely.  Packing in closely with other bodies generating one hundred degrees of heat made it feel like an oven.

I was in perfect position, right behind the 3:10 pacer when the race started.  With the half marathoners starting with us, the crowd was rather thick, and I found my position was not so perfect after all.  It wasn’t even the first mile, but I could still feel that heat.  I needed to get out, find some open space away from the pace group.  I knew I’d loose the effect of drafting, and the comfort and steadiness of a pacer, but these were trade offs I was willing to make in favor of getting some separation from other mobile heat-generators.  I found my opening, ahead of the group.  I’d stay here for a while, and let the pace group catch up to me, hopefully when it had thinned out a bit.

My first mile was a 6:51.  Of course this was unsustainable, it was just part of the maneuver I made to get away from the group.  I needed to slow down.  7:03.  Fine.  7:11.  Perfect.  7:00.  OK.  7:09.  I was starting to put some time “in the bank”.  The first half of the course was rather flat but the second half was hillier.  It was also going to get hotter.  Having some cushion for a second half slow-down was not a bad idea.  This was the way to do it – a few seconds at a time.  7:13.  6:55 – perhaps a downhill mile?  I drank at every aid station along the way.  I’ve mastered the art of drinking while on the run, so even though I drank every 2 miles, it hardly slowed me down.  The key is to pinch the top of the cup shut, leaving only a small opening at the bottom.  That way as it’s splashing, it stays in the cup.  The small opening makes it like drinking out of a water bottle.

7:14.  7:02.  I was steady.  7:22 for mile 10, after a slight uphill.  If this hill was insignificant, then the hills in the second half must have really been something.  I focused on keeping my form light and easy.  If it doesn’t come easy, it can’t be sustained.  7:06.  7:04.  Another slight hill getting back into the Fairgrounds for the halfway mark -7:32.  I had built myself a cushion, but it was a measly 1 minutes, 13 seconds.

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The Frederick Marathon is Tomorrow and I feel confident in my fitness.  There were a number of goals I set out for myself before starting my training, which I thought would indicate that I was fit enough for a 3:10 (7:15 min/mile) marathon:

  • Be able to run a half marathon in 1:30:00 or faster
  • Be able to run a 26 mile training run at an 8:15 pace
  • Be able to run 16 miles at 7:15 pace
  • Be able to run 10 1 mile repeats at a 6:15 pace

In the past couple of months, I’ve met all but the last of these goals.  I’ve had a number of amazing runs for myself.  Without further ado, here’s a summary of races and key workouts:

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