Monday, November 4, 2013

Striped Socks, Red Sox and Darned Socks: An Accidental Marathon (11/3/13)

On course - striped socks and all
Photo by Jim Pawlicki's better half - KrissyK
Race: Manchester City Marathon
Location: Manchester, NH
Goal Time: 3:22 - 3:32
Actual Time: 3:13:40 (PR, Boston Qualified!!!!)

For big races - marathons, ultras, important 10Ks, (shot put flights) - I like to wear these gold and black striped soccer socks.  But, the day before Manchester I questioned whether I should wear the striped socks. On one hand it was the culmination of the USATF Grand Prix and a marathon; on the other hand, I was only going to run Manchester as a training run since I have California International in five weeks.

The night before, at dinner with my cousins - Jason and Jana, Jana (a long time runner herself) had wondered what I was going to do for my race.  I convinced her I was just training.  In fact Monday to Saturday, I ran 58 miles. So, I spelled out the training run plan:

Miles 1-6: Easy miles between 8min/mile and 9min/mile
Miles 7-16: Marathon Pace between 7:00 and 7:15/mile
Miles 17-20: Easy
Miles 21-24: Marathon Pace
Last 2.2: ??

While I was not running it as a race, I still needed to be ready to run a 26.2 mile long run.  I made them not only go to dinner early with me, I had also not gone down to see the Red Sox championship parade "Rolling Rally" early in the day on Saturday. A part of me was disappointed to miss the parade "Rolling Rally".  Watching on TV when Jonny Gomes put the Commissioner's Trophy on the Boston Marathon Finish Line (yes, that's what it's called: not the Stanley Cup or the Lombardi Trophy or even the Larry O'Brien Trophy) was emotional for me.

"This is our @#$%&*# City!!"
Another part of me was perfectly fine missing the parade "Rolling Rally".  As Jason described it, he ran into several people obviously intoxicated yelling things as intricate as "#$%& Yeah, Sox Rule!"  and "ORTIZ BABY!!"  And this was four hours after the parade "Rolling Rally".  I figured there would be two types of people there: drunk people and people annoyed with drunk people.  I didn't want to be either.

My plan went pretty well to start.  I took it easy the first 6 miles, between 7:50 and 8:10.  Taking it so easy I went out of my way to high-Five the cheering Jim Pawlicki (who told me to stay in the tangents). Then at the 6 mile mark I dropped down into Marathon Pace.  Steadily I was passing everyone and eventually caught up with Deb around mile 10 and wondered how her sock was doing.  I didn't ask, since if it wasn't holding up my question would be a reminder.

An hour and a half earlier Deb, Jenn and I had been putting together the finishing touches on our marathon preparation in the upper lobby of the host hotel.  Deb ran into a problem.  Her sock had a hole in it that had her toe sticking out.  She tried to adjust and put it on backwards.  However, this was not an acceptable solution for Jenn.  The host hotel was hosting not only the marathon but also a large quilting bee.  Jenn went into one of the small conference rooms and asked a woman at a sewing machine if she would darn Deb's sock.  The woman was more than happy to oblige...

Deb getting her socks darned at the quilting bee
I had told Deb I'd see her later when I slowed back to easy pace and she passed me back.  Usually when I'm running marathon pace and it's not during a race I'm always counting down the miles to when I can stop.  But - probably since it WAS a race - I wasn't having that problem.  Around 13 and a half miles, I was running near Robert who had been biking around the course.  He told me to catch up to Karen who was only 20 seconds ahead.  I convinced him I was soon going to slow down.

At mile 16 when I was supposed to slow down.  Instead, I told myself "one more mile."  At seventeen, I said it again.  Then at 18 I figured I could try to catch up with Karen and help her in the wind as best I could.

At mile 19 and a half, I caught up.  By then I realized that if I kept running a good pace - 7:35ish per mile - I could get a personal record... and Qualify for Boston (my goal for California International).  So while I had specifically had the conversation with Culla and Bradley that I was NOT going to go for a PR/BQ.  I said fuck it and did. (Culla did agree I did the right thing and tell me today: "PR's are so tough to get.  Especially after your get better and closer to your potential.  When you have a shot, never waste it.")

There was one last nasty hill from mile 20 to 21.  The considerably smaller and lighter Karen just flew up the hill and away from me.  Robert and I laughed - she's a carbon fiber Roubaix and I'm a 1987 steel hardtail Rockhopper.

Karen and I - probably around mile 23
photo by Robert Cipriano
By mile 22, I knew I was going to BQ.  I also knew I couldn't get cocky or stop working.  At mile 23 I dreaded maybe hitting the wall like I did at Providence. Once I made it through that, I was just trying to stay within myself.  I was definitely slowing down the last two miles.  However it wasn't hitting the wall and dropping from 7:30 miles to 9:45 miles - at least not yet.  After an adventurous loop of old factories that included a hurdle and ducking under several trees, all that was left was a two block uphill, a turn and then 0.3 miles straight to the finish line.

I passed the 26 mile mark as it the clock flipped to 3:12:00.  I was going to make it.  I was going to PR and BQ!  Tears started welling up in my eyes; I had to be shown how to get through the cones because I could barely see.

A bit excited to finish with PR and BQ

I came across fist pumping at gun time 3:13:48 and chip time 3:13:40 - 28 second PR and BQ minus 1:20! Robert quoted me from mile 13.5: "yeah 'I'm going to slow down at mile 16.'"

I got home and celebrated with Cinderella's Pizza and a liter of Westmalle Tripel.

Shoutouts -

Karen and Liz completed their respective series age-group wins!
The Men's team came in 7th
The Women's team came in 4th
Masters' Women took 3rd

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