Last night in Little Rock, put me in a haze -- Grand Funk Railroad, We're an American Band
Some spectators at Sunday's Little Rock Marathon weren't just loud. They got political.
I can understand, sort of, the Obama "Yes We Can" signs. That can be a marathon mantra. Then there were women with Hillary signs telling us (specifically many Texan runners whose primary is this week) to vote for Clinton. "Hillary is the real agent of change!"
I don't get it. I don't know how that's supposed to inspire us.
Nothing against Hillary. I would be equally perplexed if Ron Paul supporters lined the course (none did). I say: no politics in the marathon!
Couldn't sleep much the night before my second marathon. Maybe four hours. Instead of just staring up at the hotel room ceiling in darkness, I got up and went to the starting line at 5 a.m. ... three hours before my race started.
Volunteers were already very busy. I got to see a couple hundred walkers start the marathon at 6 a.m. They had to start early because it takes them more than 6 hours, and the finish line closes at 2 p.m.
The walkers are adorable. Super slim elite runners with athletic attire will conduct warmups with a serious expression later on, but these people of all shapes, sizes and clothing just stand, grin and converse with one another like they are going on a museum tour. Some wear backpacks. I (I'm the only runner up that early) and all the volunteers happily cheer them on.
My motto for my first marathon in Chicago was "Prepare for glory" from the film 300. Or something asinine like that. In Little Rock I just told myself no pressure. All I wanted to do was have fun and beat my hideous 5:59:48 PR.
The weather was warm (50s on up to 65) but not a problem. I deliberately went at a 9 to 10 minute pace. Although I do shorter races at a 7 to 8 pace, I was very worried about how I would handle the final six miles.
There are moderate hills from miles 6 to 13, and then you face Monster Hill ... the biggest bump on the course that takes you up to 517 feet elevation. Monster Hill didn't look the way I pictured it in my nightmares. It wasn't a deal where you go straight up and then down. It was like a spiral ramp ... intimidating just because you couldn't see over it. You had no real perception on where it would end. That goes on for three miles.
I had slowed to a 10 to 11 minute pace by the time I reached a lengthy, flat, out-and-back portion in a park that reminded me of Sequiota. At mile 23 my legs cramped up and I had to start walking. It felt demoralizing, but a lot of people were walking at that point.
Then a cool thing happened at mile 25. Supergirl appeared. An attractive young woman with the whole cape and S on the chest bit. She was walking fast trying to pace another lady dressed as some female superhero I didn't recognize. The unknown superhero was struggling to keep up, but Supergirl said: "Just jog the soreness away."
I decided to take that advice too, and I suddenly started running at a decent pace like the ladies were. It was the oddest thing. I was walking with soreness one moment, and then I was running with no difficulty. Thank you, Supergirl.
Luckily I was moving well when Brent Barnett (who ran the half) photographed me close to the finish.
My chip time of 4:47:10 easily beat my Chicago time by more than an hour. Unlike Chicago, it wasn't real emotional. I didn't cry. There was just a nice sense of satisfaction of covering the distance. It's challenging.
Here's my big question: Why did I falter at mile 23?
Did the numerous hills finally take a toll on me? Was it a lack of sleep? Was it from doing a 5K race the day before?
Or, was it simply the fact that I never ran that far nonstop before and it was foreign to me?
How can I better handle those final three miles?
I think the answer for me is to just do more quality long runs and maintain a strong mileage base. I don't think I'm necessarily doing anything wrong, but there's probably something I can do better.
Forgive a long post, but here were my estimated times per mile (as indicated on my Garmin) in case anyone has advice on how I can more intelligently pace myself.
Mile 1: 9:44, Mile 2: 9:17, Mile 3: 9:30, Mile 4: 9:36, Mile 5: 9:34, Mile 6: 9:48, Mile 7: 9:34, Mile 8: 9:50, Mile 9: 9:36, Mile 10: 9:57, Mile 11: 9:51, Mile 12: 9:58, Mile 13: 10:02, Mile 14: 10:02, Mile 15: 10:21, Mile 16: 10:15, Mile 17: 10:27, Mile 18: 10:24, Mile 19: 10:36, Mile 20: 10:52, Mile 21: 10:52, Mile 22: 11:10, Mile 23: 12:37, Mile 24: 14:28, Mile 25: 18:08, Mile 26: 14:23, 0.66 remainder: 6:16