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2013 Outer Banks Race Report

OBXBib On November 10, 2013, I ran the Gateway Bank Outer Banks Marathon.  This write up is a report on my performance.  I trained using the 3:25:00 Boston Qualifier plan outlined in the book Run Less Run Faster.  You can find summaries of those workouts here.

If I can find some time, I may do an additional report on the actual event.  Two thumbs up is the short version on the event, though.

Finally There

At 7:10am on Sunday, November 10, after 16 weeks of focused training and no less than 77 workouts, I was finally at the starting line for the Outer Banks Marathon.  Despite only four hours of sleep before the race and waking at 4am (had to eat and then catch the shuttle to the start), I actually felt good and ready to run.  The air temperature was about 50 degrees and the forecast was perfect.  I removed my “donation” pull over and laid it on the ground beside the starting corrals.  At 7:20am, the elites started and thirty seconds later, my corral was off and running (no elite corral for me :-)).

I’d trained to run the race at a 7:49 pace, and I really wanted to make sure I didn’t start too fast.  If there’s one lesson I keep learning the hard way over and over again, it is ‘Do not start too fast!‘.  If I could hold the target for the first twenty miles, I’d try to run the last six at a faster pace.  Thanks to my GPS watch, I could see I was too fast about the first half mile, so I slowed down.  I hit the first split at 7:47.

After a faster second mile at 7:42, I worked a little harder to slow it down.  Third mile, 8:00.  That put me right on 7:49, I see sawed up and down for a few miles, but through mile seven, I was right on track.

I had a problem, though.  This early in the race, I expected to still be feeling good having to dial it back as in my last few training runs, but I was struggling.  My heart rate was too high for this early, and I was having to push too hard to keep my goal pace.  This was not good.  We weren’t even to the off road section yet, where I expected to have to give extra effort.

The first trail hill

The first trail hill

As we entered the off road section at around mile ten, I was still hanging in there, right at a 7:50 pace.  The first two miles of the dirt road, didn’t seem too bad.  The ground was pretty firm, but fairly undulating.  The scenery was nice.  I managed 7:54 for mile eleven and 8:08 for mile twelve.  At about mile 12.5, we turned off the dirt road onto the real trail section.  It was straight up a short, steep hill, then up and down hills for about a half mile.  I didn’t think it was all that much different than the Harbison Forest trails I run occasionally.   We exited the woods and my mile thirteen split was 9:19.  Ouch.  Overall pace per mile had slipped to 7:58.

Doing the Math

Now, I’m not a math genius by any means, but I knew this meant I’d have to run around 7:40 miles the rest of the way to meet my goal.  I tried to ramp it up a bit.  Mile fourteen was 7:42.  OK, not bad.  Mile fifteen was 7:44.  Not horrible, but I still wasn’t finding a groove, though.  Mile sixteen proved to be a struggle at 8:15.  I gave one last super effort on mile seventeen for a 7:50, but that was the last I’d even come close to goal pace.

Mile eighteen was 8:15, and I officially hit the wall during mile nineteen, coming in with an 8:55.  After that, I just resorted to ‘just finish’ mode, running as much as possible but having to walk every so often.  I felt terrible.

The most brutal of the last six miles was mile 23, which included the bridge.  I had an awful 11:14 for this mile.  After that, I did manage to close with increasingly faster miles of 10:28, 10:20, and 9:28.

My official finishing time was 3:42:30, an 8:30/mile pace.  Believe it or not, this was a PR for me by 5 minutes and 10 minutes faster than my spring marathon this year.  I was 14th of 76 in my age group and 125th out of 1,112 overall.

Official results can be found here: http://www.precisionrace.com/outer-banks-marathon-results/

Here’s a chart of my split times.  The blue line is the actual times. The dotted line is the goal, and the red line is the pace average.  Unfortunately, this chart follows a similar pattern to my other marathons.

Splits Graph

Splits Graph

Conclusion

So what happened?  How did I end up 17 minutes off my goal.   That’s quite a miss.   I wish I knew. I did run less and did run faster.  After all, it was a PR.  Am I happy with that?  Honestly, no.  It is a character flaw, I guess.  Mr. Malcontent.

My training success seemed to indicate I’d be much closer to the goal.  I really expected to be on track the first twenty miles and then possibly struggle to a 9 minute pace over the last six miles, if I hit the wall.  That would be a 3:31-ish worst case.

My best explanation is the long trip up the day before (complete with broken down car and emergency car rental at the Fayetteville, NC airport) and lack of rest the night before really hurt more than I expected.  I suppose the extra effort required on the trail section didn’t help, but it wasn’t any worse than the hills around my house where I trained.  Everything else seemed to be on track – training, weather, nutrition.  Maybe I’m just slow.  Who knows.  I guess stuff does happen.

So what’s next?  Not sure about that, either.  I’m contemplating the next move.  I do know, however, I will NOT wear a Batman shirt for my next race.  What seemed like a fun idea at the time turned a bit annoying by the end of the day as I received way more than my share of Go, Batman!, along with chants of the old TV show theme song and one old guy pointing out his Chuckie T high tops with Batman logos.  It was fun high-fiving the little kids, though.

Batman at the Finish

Batman at the Finish

POFIFOTO!

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