Thursday, June 25, 2009

Marathon Day - Day 112

Saturday, June 20, 2009: Marathon Day in Duluth, Minnesota. The day was clear and warm. A half-marathon started one hour before the marathon. At that time, the temperature was in the middle 60's with the humidity showing 99%. It was at least as warm at the beginning of the marathon at 7:30 AM. I decided to go into the starting area bin and stand with the group near the expected 5:30 time pacer. Sweat was running like in a sauna, even before the group began moving. One of the race sponsors, Cliff Bars, has a pre-race sign-up where individuals that expect to run a particular pace, get a race singlet, and carry a placard and balloons indicating the pace time (3:30, 4:00, 4:30, 5:00, etc.) This allows those who want to run with a pacer to easily see where to run within the crowd (6,300+ runners were in the starting bin today). Due to my slower running lately, I decided to pace out with this group. It took over six minutes to cross over the starting chip reading pads after the race began. The pace was a slow walk for most of that. After crossing the starting pad, the race pace was fine and within my training pace. I actually decided to increase my pace and passed the 5-hour pace group before the six mile mark. The conditions were still quite warm but a good head-wind breeze took place between the six and nine mile section of the course. Even with the warm conditions, I did not take any water until the ten mile water tables.

My pace continued to be within my training level through the half-marathon mark. For some unknown reason, about that time, my left ear plugged much like happens when going through an elevation change. I ran with it for a little longer, but within the next mile or so I decided to alternate walking and running to see if the ear plug would clear. But it did not. I continued the alternating walk 1/2 mile, run 1/2 mile until about the 20 mile marker. At that time, the 5:30 pace group was around me and I decided to pace with them for a while again. I did this through the section of the course when the run is going up Lemon Drop Hill. The group pacer switched to a walk at that time, but since most of my training is up and down hills, I kept on running. I ran most of the rest of the race through downtown Duluth just doing the walk during the water stops to sip a bit of water and to pour water over my head to cool down. Some of the water was quite warm at this time so I actually took separate cups of ice and poured water into the ice to cool it a bit. This was the first marathon that I have actually poured water over my head as a cool down procedure. As the race entered the last mile, I even implemented my tradition (from early marathons and races) that I did not want to let anyone pass me during the last mile of the run. It was mostly the case with just a short section when I slowed down a bit and a couple of runners did pass me. But, it was a good finish and I felt fine going through the medal line and while getting my finisher shirt and pre-race bag. So, I completed another marathon. This was Grandma's Marathon number 24 for me and marathon number 37 in total. I will probably run another!

Marathon results : Entrants: 8,377; Starters: 6,366; Finishers: 5,983 ... My summary: 5:34:47 (gun time), 5:28:33 (chip time); 5,024 out of 5,983 finishers; 3,244 out of 3,710 men finishers; 70 out of 104 in my age group : 26.2 miles completed!

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