Sunday, June 19, 2011

Perfect Weather for Grandma’s Marathon

For nine straight Grandma's I’ve wished for 55 degrees with a tailwind off the lake, and yesterday it happened. A few brief sprinkles got us all wondering if the 70% chance of rain would become 100%, but it didn’t. At Sky Harbor airport on Park Point, the temperature remained about 50 degrees with an east wind (tailwind) of about 20 mph the whole time. It doesn’t get much better than this. I carried a butt pack containing a poncho and gloves, in case of a downpour, and an extra shirt in case the temperature wasn’t as predicted. None of that was necessary - I felt great in a short-sleeved T-shirt.

Because I ran a marathon two weeks ago and have another scheduled a few weeks from now, I decided to run conservatively, and hooked up with the 5:30 pace team. Yes, there is one that slow! They would jog for five minutes or so, then take a 30-second walk break, and thus stayed on the necessary 12:30 pace. I did it differently, running for 30 seconds and then walking fast for 60 to 90 seconds until they caught up, which worked better for me. A couple of times I made a bathroom stop and then had to catch up, but that was no problem. I stayed with them to the top of Lemon Drop Hill, about mile 23, then started walking less and running more, and went out ahead to stay. Finish time 5:24:03, 12th of 17 in my age group of 70-74. Marathon number 53, still 35 states run with 15 to go.

The right knee hurt a little most of the way, but not enough to slow me down. It even hurt a bit when I walked, which is new. The worst problem, though, was the left hamstrings, which got sore by the half-marathon. The nerves controlling that leg felt strange, tingly, and I wondered if I would lose control of the leg. But the problem slowly subsided, and by the end of the race I could sprint to the finish without pain. Now I wish I had analyzed that pain a little more carefully, because I don’t know if it really was the hamstrings - it seems more likely that it was nerves in that area.

Calves, especially the left, gave notice that they might cramp up as they did two weeks ago, but they never cramped. Last night the right calf cramped in my sleep though. Ouch - it still feels bruised. I’ve heard that a tablespoon of pickle juice is helpful in preventing night leg cramps, but haven’t yet tried it. The vinegar? The salt? I assume they mean DILL pickles ...

Oddly, I have finished all of the last three marathons within two minutes of the same finish time, without trying, even though they were at widely different altitudes and temperatures, and had different race objectives. In this race, the objective was to simply take it easy, enjoy the perfect weather, and not get hurt, and I ran that way until the last three miles. Then I actually finished the last 10k of the race three minutes faster than the first 10k. Today I feel pretty good. It’s a masterpiece.

Splits: 11:42, 11:50, 12:59, 12:01, 25:02 (2 mi), 12:27, 12:26, 12:36, 12:34, 24:58 (2 mi), 28:32 (2 mi & bathroom stop), 35:45 (3 mi), 12:37, 12:21, 25:35 (2 mi & bathroom stop), 11:58, 12:01, 11:29, 11:36, 11:40, 1:54, total 5:24:03, pace 12:21.

I traded places with this Florida runner a dozen times in the race, and we finished together:

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