Sunday, September 25, 2005

Quad Cities Marathon 2005: Whew!

Well, it has been 5 weeks since my Leanhorse 100 mile walk and I decided to kick off training for my next ultra. (24 hour Centurion walk at the Ultracentric 24 race in Addison, Texas on November 26-27)

So my first training walk was the Quad Cities Marathon. Background: I walked this race in 5:13 last year, and walked the Andy Payne Marathon (Memorial Day Saturday in Oklahoma city) in 5:25; the latter was 6 weeks after a tough 100 mile trail walk at McNaughton.

I decided to drive up that morning from Peoria (95 miles away) and when I got outside to walk to my truck, I found it hard to breathe due to the stifling heat and humidity. And that was at 5 am!!!! I thought "oh-oh".

We were treated to a gentle rain shower at the start, but that was to be fool's gold. I got into a rhythm right away. I was supposed to be training, but the first mile came at 11:23, which is too fast for my conditioning level on this day. However, instead of backing off, I told myself I wasn't expending much effort (yeah, right) and kept at it. I was to pay for that later!

I came off the I-74 bridge, went through Bettendorff, and settled in along the scenic roadway to Davenport. We had the Mississippi River on one side and large houses on the other. At about mile 5 (still doing 11:4X miles) we entered a riverside bike path.

Then past a stadium and up a steep bridge into Rock Island. I was still doing ok; still working off of runners and making some attempt to use legal racewalk form (straight knee) by keeping the front part of my stride more of less under my body. I still felt reasonably good here, though my legs started to tire.

But then it gradually started to warm up, and the half-marathon folks turned off. Still, I had several groups of runners to go after and I went after them. I caught three who were to see me again; one elderly 50 state type, one younger woman who was mostly walking but mixing in some jogging here and there, and this older lady who had a nice, compact marathon running stride.

Miles 10 through 16.5 were on the Rock Island Arsenal; sights included a golf course and river, historic limestone buildings (form the Civil War era) and other quiet areas. I started to slow right around mile 13; the pace (which I hadn't trained for) was taking its toll.

Miles 14,15 and 16 were in the mid 12 mpm range. But strangely enough, I was still passing people. That was to change at mile 17, which was just off of the bridge off of Arsenal Island.

The cruel part of the course (aside from the heat) is that you are oh-so-close to the finish line at mile 16.5, but you still have some work to do! Going away from the finish line at that point is tough.

The stretch out was along the river, and the faster runners were on their way back. It was fun to cheer for them as it took the mind off of the pain. But it cost me; I slowed to the mid 13's (mpm) during this stretch. I was still competing though. At about mile 17, the older lady with the efficient running form passed me and I wasn't to see her again, until after the race. In the last 9 miles she put 18 minutes on me! That is good pacing.

Also, I saw something a bit strange. There was a woman with, well, no easy way to say this, with the biggest rear end I've ever seen on a marathoner. She passed me at about mile 18 (she was running). But, she also had a very nice, quick, efficient marathon stride; she looked as if she were not working at all. One normally doesn't see marathon runners at that pace looking so good (unless they are elderly, which she isn't). My guess is that this lady has some talent; at a normal size she would probably be winning awards at these events. If I were a coach, I'd tell her that she has the potential to be pretty good at this.

Anyway, the course then joins a bikepath and goes around an industrial plant. The Mississippi river is on one side. It then wanders past some newer houses and around a nature type area; these are miles 20-22. By then I had slowed to the high 13's and was dying fast.

People around me were dying too; we gave each other words of encouragement.

By mile 23, I was into the "just get the believing thing over with". The 50 state guy passed me at mile 22, and the lady who was mostly walking (though had jogged earlier) caught me and walked a few strides with me. My thighs were trashed and I had slowed to the 14:40's; I had stopped competing and was in "survival".

The last mile has you looking at that finish banner which never gets closer! I more or less easily strolled that in 15:09, as I was not going to be breaking 5:30, and really just wanted to get through it. My thighs were twitching and my stride was a bit unsteady in spots.

Legality? Forget it; had judges been there I would have had a ticker-tape parade of red cards.
(bent knees). I was going too slow to be comfortably legal at this point.

Afterwards, I got to talk to Pat Helm and Jerry Crump; both runners who had placed in their age groups. Pat was happy with her time. Jerry wasn't; 3:48 is an excellent time for an older sexagenerian on such a tough day, but he still remembers his sub 3 hour days (as a younger grand master; 50+). Pat and Jerry were mentioned on my 4'th of July race post.

For those who like numbers, here is my demise (I used the decimal form instead of the colon form for times as &^%$# Microsoft Excel loves to give you formats that you don't want).

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