Having ran the Portland marathon in October I decided to run another one this season, the race would be the Clearwater Marathon on January 21st, the place where I ran my first marathon 5 years earlier. My time in Portland was 3:29:59 and I felt that I could beat that time as I’ve had a little more time to train and also had 2 10K races under my belt, but with very little other speed training. So race day came and you never feel quite ready, where did all that time go, I was hoping to train harder and then all of a sudden it’s time to taper. Over the 3 weeks leading up to the race I did run 21, 18 and 15 miles as I only had 3 runs more than 10 miles from November 12 with the furthest being 14 miles. I’m not sure why I didn’t train little smarter, I think I was just taking it easy around each of the 10K races and didn’t want to get injured so just took it easy. Then it’s just around the corner and I should be thinking about tapering and instead it’s time to put some serious miles in. For the 21 miler, I decided to run along part of the race course that runs through my town. It was good to run this route and remember some of the feelings and emotions I had on my first marathon. The weekend after I was in Miami and ran 10 miles with my friends then ran another 8 after that. I decided to run 6 miles around my goal race pace, somewhere under 8 minute miles, however I only managed 2 just under that (7:58 & 7:59) and the other 4 around 10-15 seconds slower. It was hard and my legs were tired, not the confidence booster I was hoping for with race day 2 weeks away. For my last run I was only planning on running around 12 miles but decided to run the remainder of the marathon course I didn’t run 2 weeks earlier, it was a cooler day and I just ran easy so my legs felt okay as I didn’t want to get to the race with heavy legs.
Race day came, the forecast was around 57 degrees at the race start time of 7:05am, warming up to the low 70’s by the end of the race with sunny conditions, not bad but not ideal. I jogged really slow for about a mile getting ready for the race and thought about my goal. I was hoping for 3:27, a little slower than I though a couple of months earlier but I just didn’t have the training to push it more. There’s a 50K, marathon, half and 5 miler all starting at the same time going along the same route. The first mile goes over a bridge, then about 4 flat miles before another bridge, 7 more before the third and last bridge and the back half contains 3 overpasses and a mile long run up a slight gradient. The night before the race I had gone to a local stake restaurant and had a 20 ounce Prime Rib with 2 vegetables and a glass of red wine. On the morning of the race I just had a glass of water and a Will Bar in the back of my shorts, most of my training had been fasted runs with no GU’s or energy bars so I was somewhat confident I could do it, but not positive when running at race speed, but willing to learn. There would be water and Gatorade at the aid stations along the course, I hadn’t had Gatorade for over 6 months but knew I would have to have some along the route.
The countdown began and off I went, careful not to get caught up with all of the fast runners competing in the shorter distances but fast enough to still be near the front. We started the climb up the bridge and I felt fine, I didn’t want my heart rate to spike so tried to keep that under 160. My first mile was 7:24, a little faster than planned but I felt under control. The next mile was 7:14 and then 7:26, I slowed down a little as I knew the second bridge would be coming soon and the 2 before that were 7:39 and 7:20. Going over the second bridge was 7:27 and was definitely harder work, I was now on Gulf Blvd and about 3 miles away from where I live and where my wife Judy would be waiting for me and I settled into a 7:30’ish rhythm. The sun was shining by now and I was feeling a little dehydrated early in the race, it felt like there should have been more aid stations and I now started having a little Gatorade. Judy was there at the 9 mile sign, she took and picture as I ran by. Around mile 10 a small group started to pass me, it was the 3:15 pace group with the pacer and 5 other runners. As they passed me the last person in the group said “good job” or something and I remember having the reaction I’m not done yet and I kicked to stay with the group.
A couple of miles down the road and I was still with the pack, now at the front with another runner. Our Sunday morning tri group had ridden south this week to avoid the race and were now starting to pass the group on the other side of the road. They started to shout over to me, “great job Dave”, “looking good Dave” etc. I felt like a star and someone in the group commented about me being famous or something. It was such a huge boost and kept me going. We made and turn and went over the last of the 3 bridges, then we had a mile incline, nothing steep, but you do start to feel it. At the end we make a left and then follow the Pinellas Trail heading north to the finish line. It was now mile 16 and a couple of the group had dropped of and now it was my turn. I was amazed I had hung on this long and was on target to get a PR but knew I couldn’t hold it with the lack of training. I fell back from the pacer and the remaining survivor and was now running alone to the finish. I was hurting, my legs were tired and so was I, when another runner from the pack was now on my heels. I was determined not to let him pass as I knew it could be the first of many. I’m stubborn and dug real deep and managed to increase my speed and put some distance between us, that was the last time I saw him until after I crossed the finish line. Mile 21 was my slowest mile, somehow I managed to get a little quicker over the next 5 miles and as I got close to the finish I could see 2 other runners. I think that was about the time I ate my Doctor Will bar, until then I had ran fasted and took no Gu’s, it has more fat than Carbs and I think it helped me. I made it my mission to try to catch them, my 26th mile was 7:37, almost a minute faster than the 21st and I passed one runner in the sprint to the finish but just wasn’t able to catch the other.
I finished 8th overall, with a time of 3:23:14, 6 minutes quicker than Portland and just 4 minutes of my PR from 5 years ago. I’ll take that. What was amazing was my hip actually felt pretty good, I had a slight limp but didn’t feel anywhere near as bad as my first marathon. I think the MAF training and Ketogenic lifestyle was really helping me. I really feel I can break my PR if I put in better training, perhaps next year. When I got home I stood in the pool for 30 minutes to help with the recovery, the water was probably 50 degrees, my legs and feet were freezing, but I think it helped.
The following week I did race a 5K in a local town, I felt worse after that than the marathon. I think it was a gentle reminder you body needs time to recover after a marathon, I will be spacing out my races moving forward to stay healthy. Good luck chasing you dreams.
This is a picture of the second female that finished a couple of minutes behind me.