2013-02-17 - George Washington's Birthday Marathon

26.2 miles @ ~9.7 min/mi

http://zhurnaly.com/images/running/GWBM_2013_Caroline_and_z.jpgAt a time of 4:13:57 my eighth GW Birthday Marathon is also the fastest, a ~6 minute improvement over last year's result. Pacing is ugly as usual, with the first half in 2:02 and the second half 10 minutes slower. Freezing temperatures, sporadic snow flurries, and northwest gales gusting into the 30 mi/hr range make for a frigid experience on exposed legs of the course, and the few runners venturing to wear shorts find their exposed legs quite red. Sheltered downwind segments are comfy warm in contrast.

For the final two miles of the race I push hard but can't quite make Kate Abbott's pre-race prediction of 4:11. At the awards ceremony I'm startled to hear my name announced as Third Place in the 60-69 year old male "codger" cohort. The slightly-staggering gentleman whom I sprint by in the final half mile blitz — "Excuse me, Sir, passing on your left!" I warn — is in my age group and comes in only 11 seconds behind me. Whew! I give my prize, a $5 Starbucks gift card, to DD Gray who needs the caffeine more than I do.

During today's race for variety the left ITB aches, instead of the right ITB problem I had last month. There's also the usual left-foot metatarsalgia, but it's not too bad. Following the pre-race counsel of colleague Kristin I make a conscious effort to "soften into the experience" and relax even when working hard. This seems to help, especially during the final dozen miles.

The Tarot card that turns up pre-race is "Judgment", XX of the major arcana and in the Osho deck renamed "Beyond Illusion". Indeed, the event does pass judgment on me, and the illusion of a Boston Qualifier (BQ) time vanishes. Perhaps another day.

Kind Ken Swab drives me to and from, takes the early start, and finishes strong. Comrade Megan O'Rourke is super-cheerful and fast as always, doing the last two legs for a relay team. Dear ultra-friend Caroline Williams likewise is ultra-happy, as is always-active Jeanne Larrison. John Way is super-speedy on a relay team, and Jim Yi Dang likewise cruises well. Before the race Jim realizes that he has no water bottle. I give him a bottle of Gatorade I've brought along. Fortunately for me, shortly thereafter I find a mostly-full bottle of orange juice in the trash, perfect pre-run hydration. Woot!

(Caroline Williams and ^z - photo by Christina Caravoulias)
Phil Hetzler chats with me about "ramping down": realizing that one is running one's last 50 miler, last 50k, last marathon (today may or may not be his last), etc. Phil introduces me to his young friend Sarah who is taking up the torch for the next generation.

One near-disaster strikes at mile ~7, the first aid station: after I refill my bottle with Gatorade I can't find the lid anywhere. A woman looks inside the nearby garbage can and discovers it there. Whew! Without it, my race would have been far more uncomfortable.

During the walk from the finish line back to the Greenbelt Rec Center 45-year-old John Hord, who finishes just behind me, says that when he went raw-vegan he took an hour off his marathon time. If I thought that would work for me, I would definitely try it. John confesses that he also lost a significant amount of weight, which accounts for some of his speed improvement.

The Runkeeper app and the Garmin GPS wrist unit agree to within 1%. My mile splits are roughly, by the Garmin: 8:45 + 8:35 + 9:16 + 9:17 + 9:07 + 9:49 + 8:56 + 9:05 + 9:46 + 9:22 + 9:43 + 9:14 + 9:24 + 9:45 + 9:29 + 10:00 + 10:21 + 10:19 + 10:17 + 9:48 + 10:22 + 10:08 + 10:01 + 10:48 + 9:37 + 9:55 and the final fractional mile at about 8:07 min/mi. These mile splits should probably have ~5 seconds added to each, to allow for the Garmin total distance over-estimate of 26.35 miles.

Past GWBM results for comparison:
      5:11:17 — 2004-02-22
      4:49:20 — 2005-02-20
      4:59:58 — 2006-02-19
      5:04:30 — 2007-02-18
      4:43:37 — 2008-02-17
      4:30:20 — 2009-02-15
      4:20:09 — 2012-02-19

It's another great day!

(Jeanne Larrison and ^z - photo by Christina Caravoulias)

^z - 2013-03-05