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Once a padawan, now a freaking Jedi. I run really far, I write a bunch, and have super powers that allow me to grow amazing facial hair.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Race Report: The ORRRC Marathon

I wasn't originally trying to front load my race schedule, it just kind of happened that way. Some races I signed up for because they sounded fun, some because I have a score to settle, or in other cases I enjoyed it before and am now a repeat customer. I signed up for the ORRRC marathon for only two reasons. One, it was only $25, which is like 75% off of what most marathons cost. Two, I misread the title and I could have sworn I was signed up to run a Lord of the Rings themed marathon, where orcs would chase me down the course. Sadly when I showed up at the starting line, I looked a little out of place dressed like Aragorn.

I thought the two gingers were Rohirrim... you know... the horse people.

The website for this race made the claim that it was Ohio's oldest marathon, and that they proudly offered a no frills, bare bones race. Honestly this sounded kind of nice, because I don't need half the crap  they do at marathons... live bands every mile, fitness expos, overpriced pictures and souveniers, or even the pre race dinners and after parties. I run because I really love running, all the other add ons don't appeal to me, I don't run for novelties like putting a 26.2 sticker on my car or getting a custom plaque with my finishing time engraved on it.

Training in between Shamrock and the ORRRC went well, I did a couple longer runs around 12-15 miles and kept up with the low fast miles. I knew I was going to be faster at ORRRC, I just didn't know by how much. I felt pretty confident going into race weekend, despite it only being two weeks after the last one. On a side note... I really think my recent conversion to vegetarianism is paying off. My recovery time and endurance seems to be increasing in a significant way. 

I worked the night before, but still did really well with my race eve caloric intake, much more effecient than the beer I drank before Shamrock. I know what you're thinking and I know you're judging me right now... but come on! It's still carbs and the race was sponsored by Yuengling for cryin' out loud!

I got up at some ungodly hour the morning of the race after taking in about 5 hours of sleep. Even though the race started at 8AM, it was still at least an hours drive from my apartment, and I had no idea what the check-in process would be like or how long it would take.

Very happy to be up at 5AM.

I of course arrived to check in an hour early and was in yet another predicament concerning my attire. It was in the low 30's when I got out of my car, but it was a really dry cold, so very manageable. Then I overheard that the wind was supposed to pick up a bit, so I went from singlet to singlet with my jacket... which AGAIN ended up being tied around my waist. Check in was effortless, so I ended up just sitting in my car for a long while sipping on some Speedway coffee. 

The starting line was behind the local YMCA in Xenia, and with significantly less than 200 runners I was really glad I didn't get lost, because you definitely could have driven past without knowing anything was going on. I knew my friend Mikayla from the Bigfoot 50K was running too, but hadn't seen her yet. I did recognize her fiance among the spectators who inadvertently (just kidding, it was probably intentional) took a picture of my ass.

Downtown District in the Sprawling Metropolis of Xenia, OH

I started out very slowly, just trying to warm up my legs a bit, then not very far in I recognized Mikayla's "Mad to Live" tattoo, and pulled alongside to say hi, see what her goal was, etc. I didn't feel comfortable being seen running alongside a dwarf, or umm midget, whatever they like to be called... I can't remember, so I said my goodbyes and picked up my pace. 

The course turned a few times through town, with slight inclines here and there before hitting a long stretch of road that led to a bike path. I was within seconds of the same pace I had at the start of Shamrock and playing strategies off of some of the people around me. I eventually settled into a group of four guys that had a comfortable pace. Being the marathon runner I am, I didn't check the course map at all before the race, so I had no idea of where anything was. I soon lost my pace group as they were just running the half. After they, and pretty much everyone around me, split off to the left I was alone for a good portion of time, but could see two runners way ahead of me. The game I played for the next hour was to catch them. This actually became a really great idea, and kept me from slacking off in my pace.

The course then left the bike path, joined back up with the road and did a wide loop past several farms. This portion was really enjoyable and almost nostalgic for me because it reminded me of doing my 3 mile loops back home in rural Pennsylvania. Early into the loop I had caught the first of the two runners I had been chasing, paced with him for several miles until we came back around, and then I let him pass me, his pace was just a bit too fast to be comfortable and I couldn't find my breathing rhythm for some reason.

Not too much longer after I let him pass I hit the bike trail again and finally reached the half way point. From then on it really seemed like I was on a normal long run, and I wasn't really concerned with anything. This made for an enjoyable second half, where I joked with aid station volunteers, bullshitted with fellow runners who were either in more pain than I was or taking the race much more seriously than me because they weren't as happy go lucky. Up until the last few few miles I was very much in my running induced state of extreme happiness.

Towards the end as it approached 11:45 AM I knew that my super supportive and beautiful girlfriend Kayla and her son Braxton, were probably just getting into Xenia to see me cross the finish line. This brought me quite a bit of motivation to maintain my pace, but I could feel the cramps coming on, and there was nothing I could do about that.

Adding on to everything I was continually looking at my watch, trying to do the math of my projected finish. I knew I was really close to being on pace to breaking 3:40 for the first time. I shed my jacket for the final 6 miles, started aggressively using my remaining gels, and pounding water. The cramps kept coming and I kept being reduced to a walking pace during the home stretch. I was passed by 3 or 4 women in the last few miles (which after checking the results I saw that they were actually the front running females, so I didn't feel too bad.) and was largely by myself.

I came off the bike path, with under a mile to go, and ran with a gimpy stride towards the YMCA finish line. The cramping was so significant that my MOH run didn't look nearly as bad ass as it usually does, and I took an extra kick in the balls when I looked up at the clock to see that I was probably not going to get my PR.

My official time was 3:42:56 which is 1:58 slower than my current PR... BUT it was a solid 6 minutes faster than VA Beach just two weeks prior. Honestly, with my race schedule being so packed this year and having three more shots at running a marathon PR, I am quite pleased with where I'm at.


Official Time: 3:42:56 @ 8:31/mi

43rd of 168 Overall
36th of 123 Men
3rd of 6 Men 18-24

1st 6mi:  44:15 @ 7:23/mi in 19th place (This pisses me off, clearly I need to work on consistency)

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