Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tri-Cities Marathon

Race Date: 3/30/2011
Rene & James
 Last October (2010) I wanted to do the Tri-cities marathon, but since my plantar fasciitis flared up I didn’t want to risk causing more injury since my “A” race was Ironman in June 2011.   This year I had a lot of endurance training built up after doing Ironman so I wanted to utilize it on a few late season races. I did the Sandpoint Half Marathon in September and if everything went well I planned to do the Tri-cities Marathon.  Everything went great so I continued building my run.  I ran 105 miles in September and ~125 miles in October before the race.  We decided to stay at the Hampton Inn while in Richland which the girls really liked since it had a pool, Jacuzzi and a breakfast buffet.  Our room was on the outside facing the Columbia River…beautiful!
My goal for the race was BostonMarathon Qualification (BQ) for my age/gender which is a sub 3:15 overall time or 7:26 pace.  I wanted to run this marathon last year because the cutoff for BQ at that time was 3:20 or 7:38 pace.  They lowered the time by five minutes.  My longest training run for this race was 18 miles.   I felt I was ready but wasn’t sure if I could hold a sub 7:26 pace for 26.2 miles.  I was confident hitting 20, but after 20 (the wall!) it was no man’s land.  This is my second Marathon not including Ironman.  My first was Portland in 2008.  My personal record (PR) was 3:30. 
Running solo
The Cable Bridge
                James, who was three weeks coming off of racing Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, decided to race this marathon also.  I met up with him at the start of the race and Rosi and the girls met up with Cindy to cheer us on.  As the race started, my strategy was to hold sub 7:15 pace as long as possible. I was going sub 7:10 for most of the beginning of the race.  There were about two hundred racers and they spread out pretty quickly. As the course got up next to the Columbia River it was BEAUTIFUL!   This was the most scenic race I have ever done.   It was very serene as I was almost running by myself.  There was one guy in front of me and one behind me.   I was surprised when the guy in front of me stopped to take a picture of the Blue Bridge.   I understand though, it was a site to see.  You could see the silhouettes of the other runners crossing the bridge.  The young darker complexion guy caught me and passed me at around mile 6.   I saw Rosi, the girls, and Cindy at about mile 6.5, it was great to see them.  I gave the girls a high five and I was feeling great!   I passed the picture taker guy going over the bridge, never saw him again.  The other guy I paced into Columbia Park (5 miles) out and back.  I thought I would see Rosi and the team at mile 11 but I didn’t.   I saw Amy and her crew (relay team) as they drove by and cheered for me.   At mile 13, the pacer fellow started slowing down hitting 7:30’s I knew I couldn’t slow down so I passed him at this point.  I passed a lot of the “early starters” moving up towards the Cable Bridge.   I still felt really good going over the bridge, I felt so good I was thinking I could go sub 3:05 or sub 3:10.  I was flyin!    At mile 17, I was glad to see the family one more time before the finish.   Mile 18, 19…still feeling good!  I saw two other racers in front of me.   I was about twenty five feet behind one of the runners and the engine was running smoothly….then it happened…I hit mile 21 and my left quad tightened up.  It was painful to run.  I stopped to try and stretch it out but it didn’t help.  THIS is where the race really starts….how much pain can you endure?  I knew this was “the wall” and I had to fight through it.  I continued to run slower with shorter strides.  Each step was painful.  The guy in front of me wearing the five-finger shoes started walking!  Really?!  I passed him.   I knew I had to push through.    I was going slower than I wanted, hitting 8:30s.  All that time I banked earlier I was being lost.  At mile 24 is the I-182 Bridge, someone was gaining on me.   I looked back as he got closer and realized he was a relay runner; he passed me going over the bridge.  Next up was the 50 foot downhill, the quad did not like this hill, I struggled down but kept going.   Rosi and the girls were at the finish line waiting for me.  For most of the race I was fifteen minutes behind James and he finished at 2:55.  It was 3:09 and I was nowhere in sight; 3:10 rolled around and I still wasn’t there.  Rosi and the girls didn’t think I was going to hit my sub 3:15 target.  Then they saw me come around the corner at 3:11!   I heard Rosi yell, “You have four minutes left!  Goooo!”  I could hear the girls and James also cheering for me.  I picked up my pace and ignored the pain the best I could.  I put up my arms and crossed the finish line at 3:12:53.  I did it!! Boston Qualification!! I was so happy to have hit that goal.  It made the trip and everything worthwhile.

I grabbed a water bottle, chatted, had an orange wedge, took some pictures and limped.  My legs were really tight. My legs were definitely worse off than finishing an Ironman.  When I tried to get in the car to go home my left leg wouldn’t bend.  Once at the hotel (less than a half mile away) I put my legs in the Columbia River (ice bath).  It felt good to numb them.  Shortly after that I want in the Jacuzzi and I was able to bend my legs and walk a little more comfortably.
Finish Time: 3:12:53.8
Avg Pace:  7:21.7

A BIG THANKS to my wife and girls for the support and coming out to cheer me on!!