After the fast 50k on the New River Trail, and the plod around the Medoc Trail Marathon the preceding two weekends, I would be lying if I wasn’t expecting a huge amount of awesomeness -- huge swathes of awesomeness in fact, at the Ridge to Bridge Marathon.
26.2 miles with a net elevation loss of 2,700 ft, cool weather and then there is me having found a little speed through the summer. So yeah I had great expectations.
The race director warns us on the website that running downhill for practically the whole distance wouldn’t be easy – “LOL WTF?” were my thoughts; I mean look at me, gravity most certainly is my friend.
I set a goal of under 4 hours. Now, let’s go back in time a few years. For my second and third marathon, I set that as a goal – sub 4. I kept getting injured though training for that speed. These injuries coupled with the fact I just figured I would never get the sub-4 meant I ended up deciding that I may as well go further instead – yes failing at sub-4 marathons was a significant factor that steered me to ultras.
Back to Ridge to Bridge……
The first 16 miles or so – yeah, I was well on target for sub 4. I flew down the hill, putting plenty of time in the bank. Now then, a couple of things come into play – it was cold first thing at the start, close to freezing. With that kind of elevation drop it gets warm quickly – maybe total temperature change was 30-40oF – so by about 16-17 miles, the warmth was a factor.
The last few miles are either flat or very slightly downhill. Except that is not how it feels. After the steep drops earlier in the race, it very much felt like an uphill climb – I heard someone describe it as like “running through peanut butter”. An my pace was suffering. Sub 4 still looked good, but the banked time was getting spent quite quickly.
This is when David (the RD) adds his own special brand of torture. You can see the finish line, you can hear lots of cheering, and I also started thinking “perhaps my Garmin is actually right” (it had been fairly consistently reading 0.2 miles more than the mile markers – and I am used to that knowing that the GPS technology is not perfect.). But not to be – there is a wonderful loop of the parking lot to be done. Running round this loop, I knew it was going to be tight – just to pile on the torture, there is this tiny little hill just before the finish line. That was where the energy totally ran out. When I did cross the finish line, I stopped my watch and looked down, 4:00:01. Shit. If only hadn’t walked up that tiny hill. Shit.
I saw David and he congratulated me. I asked if he could confirm the actual chip time: He looked it up on the computer, then pointed at the screen and smiled. 3:59:58.8. Yeah! 1.2 seconds to spare.
Onto the next marathon 2 weeks later. City of Oaks Marathon. The inaugural City of Oaks (in 2007) was my second ever marathon.
I didn’t want to set any high expectations being as it was a week out from Javelina. Take your time Jimbo and get a nice last long training run in.
It was a perfect morning for a run, and I went way too fast at the beginning. This was the biggest race I had done since OBX in 2008, and the crowds at the start made a change. And I found myself riding on others’ coattails.
Ebeneezer Church Road, from about 12-17 miles in I think. A long stretch of mainly uphill roadway that got very old. Especially as I could see the trails in Umstead state park. When I did eventually get to Umstead at the top of Gralyn Rd, it felt like a kind of homecoming. It is so much more enjoyable running there.
With 10k to go, I was beat, yep, I paid the price for going out early. It was all about just finishing now. (And getting a beer at mile 23 )
Approaching the finish, I high-fived everyone I could see and even broke into some spontaneous dance (so good that on my way back to the car, I was congratulated for my finish. LOL WTF?), and then crossed the line. 4:32. Overall, I am happy with that.
So, there you have it. The last 5 weeks has seen 3 marathons and a 50k. A PR 50k and a PR marathon among them. I am coming out of it all free of injuries a little leaner, a touch meaner and ready to kick some Javelina butt. Whoah there Jimbo, careful what you say lest you upset the ultragods. What I meant to say is. I am coming out of it all free of injuries, a little leaner, a touch meaner and ready to respect the hell out the Javelina course……..