Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Race Report: Marsh Post Marathon (5.2 miles)

Webb: It has been a little more than a month since Timberman 70.3. A month of mostly eating, drinking, sleeping, working and not much exercise. This was our time to be a little lazy and try to accomplish some deep recovery. That was the plan anyway. And we nearly made it too, if it hadn't been for those meddling kids who cajoled us into two more races.

Elle: Jorge Martinez of E3 Training Solutions and BTT convinced me we should do the Max Performance Buzzard Bay Sprint Tri (a separate race report). Even though we did take it easy, we also made sure to fit in some workouts, like bike-hill-repeats up Arlington Heights and a Walden Pond swim with BTT followed by a bike workout on the Charlie Baker TT route. But we worked out sparingly. I could almost feel my fitness slipping away.

Webb: About the same time, our friend Craig told us about a race he was timing/directing for his run group. Even though I was well into Sloth and Gluttony, I agreed. Here is the thing: Craig cares about racing. The little things that annoy you at a race probably drive him insane. So even though this was to be an informal gathering of runners, I knew the distance would be accurate and timing done right. I've really wanted to do one of his races and with no real priorities out there it wasn't going to interfere with the overall training plan.

RACE REPORT: Marsh Post 5.2 Mile Road Race

Webb: As I understand it, Craig and a bunch of his usual crew have a 2.6 mile looped course they run regularly. He/They got in their minds that it would be cool to run it as a marathon (10-laps plus 285 yards). It would also allow people to run other distances. There were six races: 2 loops (5.2 miles), 3 loops (7.8 miles), 4 loops (10.4 miles), half-marathon (13.1 miles), 7 loops (18.2 miles) and the marathon (26.2 miles). We all started at the same time, so the half-marathon group was .1 miles behind us and the marathoners another .1 miles behind them.

Elle: We woke up to a cloudy, dreary morning, and I have to admit, I wasn't super psyched about hauling my slower and slightly heavier butt out of bed. But we wanted to support Craig, so we got our butts in gear and headed out to Cambridge. When we got to the 'race site' we saw that is was going to be a fairly small affair, just a handful of runners out for the fun of it. Craig has a couple of tables set up with nourishment - snacks & drinks, and a big race clock. People slowly showed up, and before too long, it was time to start the race. Craig led the marathoners out to their start line, the half-marathoners to theirs, and so on.

Running Craig's race in Cambridge
Webb: We stepped to the line to await Craig's command. I wasn't feeling great but I wasn't feeling terrible either. Mostly, I was unsettled by the half-marathoners and marathoners starting behind us. I definitely felt like the rabbit that leads out greyhounds. At the signal I took off way too fast. I kept telling myself to calm down and ease into the pace. Then I would tell myself, "don't get caught until the 1-mile mark," then it became the 1.5-mile mark, etc. After my first lap I still had not been caught by anyone. This motivated me to keep the gas pedal down. The odds simply were not in my favor not to get caught. I pushed on until somewhere between the 3 and 3.5 mile mark. I had given into the idea these guys would catch me so I dialed it back to collect myself for a final push in the last mile. At the 4-mile mark I was still alone out front.

Elle: I was surprised how fast Webb started out of the gate, and I struggled to keep up with him. I was definitely feeling the loss of fitness! But I trailed him for most of the race and was able to keep him close enough.

Webb: This was definitely a new experience for me. Once again came to me: "Everybody Hurts." I dug into my suitcase of pain and crossed the finish line without being caught. Success! I looked back to see where Elle and others were. The top marathon men were not far behind me. I think if it had been a 5.3-mile race they would have caught me.

Winning in our age group and setting
course records is easy when you're
the only one in the category...
Elle: About a quarter of a mile from the finish Webb got away from me, and the top 2 marathoners passed me. Holy crap, they're fast! I just didn't have it today. But I felt that I got a good workout in, and I pushed it. Just not hard enough.

Webb: Um, it was hard enough to win first place and set a course record.

Elle: Yeah, because we were the only ones racing in the first year it was held.

Webb: I had a great time. From now on, this is how I want to race. First, the entire crew, the competitors, non-running runners, their friends and families, all of them, were just a great group of people. They set up a table at the finish that allowed those runners doing the longer distances to have special needs items available. Plus, there was a ton of extra food that they offered to all the Bostonians and Cantabrigians who were out running that day. Second, I ran much harder than I would have predicted. There was something about the small size of the field and the informal nature that motivated me to run hard. It seemed to have more value. And the trophies prove it.

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