Monday, March 3, 2008

John+Paul+George+Ringo=2:42:10







This is the blog bout the Napa Valley Marathon, where I received pacing help from the aforementioned Beatles-or at least having a few of their songs from “1”, a cd of their #1 hits, stuck in my head for the majority of the 26.2 miles!
There had been less limping since my last rolfing session on Wednesday night, so there was reason to be cautiously optimistic going in. I remember feeling so bad 24 hours before my 8k eight days before Napa, that I’d considered skipping it, and it turned out well, so…
Abby, Hannah, and I drove to Grass Valley Friday night, stayed with her parents, and headed to Napa after doing an easy 4 miler on Brewer Rd. The drive was nice, and the traffic wasn’t bad, especially considering the extra 2,300 that had filled the race.
Personally, I think it’s a mean trick (for a connoisseur of wine & ales) to have those 2 things at a pre-race expo, but it was nice for Abby & the in-laws. While I was picking up my shirt & number, they started the fun. There was one wine in particular that blew all of our socks off (I only had a sip J)-Luna Vineyards Sangiovese. Holy CRAP was it good! The pasta feed was very well done, with 5 pasta choices (I had 4) , 4 different salads, bread, dessert (only one bite, but it was awesome too) and of course, wine. Joe Henderson spoke at our early sitting, while Joan Benoit Samuelson spoke at the late dinner. A+ for the dinner overall. Anyone considering a spring Marathon in 2009 should consider this one as everything from the expo to the finish and after was well done.
I’d made a deal with myself to only buy a bottle of Silver Rose Merlot (my favorite wine from our 2006 Napa Valley Trail Half-Marathon trip) if I were to hit one of my goals (2:45 or top 10). The start of the race was literally in the street to the west of Silver Rose, so I had to overcome the urge to just hang out there till they opened @10.
The day was quite windy, but with any luck, we were going to have more of a tailwind, and that’s how it worked out for the most part. It was a swirling wind, so we probably had 10 miles of tailwind, 3 miles of direct headwind, 7-8 miles of crosswind and a few miles of calm. My goal pace was 6:18, and at the mile mark I’d run a comfortable 6:16-and the leg was feeling ok! I was surprised as the miles went by that the leaders were still in sight (although the field was fairly deep, the winning time was slower than the last few years)…I hit mile 2 & 3 in 6:17 each (18:50 @mile 3). There were two guys who’d picked up the pace and I went with them barley noticing the change (at first). Mile 4 was half downhill, and we got our first real tailwind as well…I think my legs had warmed up by this point, but I was still surprised when we hit mile 4 @20:39 for a 5:49 split. *Side-note: I don’t take splits when I race, I just glance at my watch, so these first few are from memory, but as the race goes on, I try to use my head to do the math and set the goal for the next mile to keep me distracted. After 18:50 I tell myself that 24-24:20 is the goal for the next split, etc…)
After the fast mile, we were hitting rolling hills with a couple noticeable climbs, but our splits remained between 6 flat and 6:20 for several miles, usually around 6:05. The fan support was surprisingly good – the aid stations were every 2-3 miles, and I alternated 2 oz water with 2 oz of Gatorade, with 2 GU packets @12 and 21 miles. Between aid stations there were clumps of people cheering complete with signs, cowbells, etc, that weren’t expected, so it was a nice distraction. The view for most of the race was also great, so finding something to focus on (in addition to “Lady Madonna” & “I Want To Hold Your Hand”) was not hard to do. As the pair I’d been running with began to slowly pull away with 6 flats -I think they ended up 4th and 5th-I either ran solo or briefly played leapfrog with a couple runners. My goal for the half had been sub-1:22, and I hit it side by side with Jonathan Osbourne (OR) at 1:19:forty-something. It was at this point that I realized I was running a slightly faster pace than at Jed Smith 30k a month earlier (6:06 compared to 6:07). Needless to say this made me happy as I was still feeling pretty good-the training miles were paying off!
I ran with Jonathan for several miles. We decided to help each other reach our goals of 2:45 and 2:47, and since we both were under 1:20, I was trying to encourage him by letting him know he could (theoretically) run 6:45’s and still hit his goal. After several miles when we thought we’d slowed, only to still hit 6:05-10, we started to separate. He’d finish 16th, under his goal by well over a minute.
I’d gone from 10th/11th at the start to as high as 6th. I’d hit mile 20 @2:02:00 (6:06), followed by a 6:01 & 6:11 (still @6:06 overall) before turning off the Silverado Trail. I was still feeling so-so at 22, but when we turned we went from crosswind to strong headwind, and I slowed to 6:28 (23 @2:20:40-6:07). The headwind kind of finished me off as I’d been tiring for a few miles while holding pace, but 23-25 was a bit slower as I dropped back to 8th place while hitting hi 6’s for both miles. I was probably at about the same pace til a half mile to go, before picking it up, and then going back under 6:00 pace for the last 0.2. Since there were 8 runners within 3.5 minutes behind me, I’m glad I didn’t hit the wall as I had in November-no miles slower than 6:50, and only 2 of those.
The runner that ended up 7th, 20 seconds in front of me, was in a different age group, so I decided it wasn’t worth the pain to go after him, and I was happy with being under my goal time. I’d finish 8th in 2:42:10 – 6:11 per mile – 2nd in the 30-34 AG, 9-10 minutes off the leader. Photos will probably be up on marathonfoto.com in the next day or two if anyone is interested (I think I was bib 2271).
The hot soup was nice at the finish, and I’d take advantage of the PT & massage before going back to the hotel to soak…I know heat isn’t always the best idea after a long hard effort, but it sure did feel good! I had plenty of ice as well.
For post-race recovery, we proceeded to go wine tasting at several wineries (5?) by the time we had dinner. I ate and drank water/Ultima throughout the day, so I actually felt quite good considering. I had a pain in the right bridge of my foot from mile 9 on that was a nuisance, but for most of the day I was mobile enough for stairs (both ways). By 9 pm, up was ok, but I had to walk sideways to go down-a tendon in my left knee rolling over the bone didn’t help. I went in the pool before bed to try and regain some range of motion. Monday morning’s “I don’t want to get up but I should really do this run” was an exercise in futility, and I probably looked high or crazy as I shuffled down the street with running form that most resembled a seizure (28 minute 5k), but it served it’s purpose as I was able to go farther and faster today (still easy though). After a couple days off cross-training I hope to resume regular running as the Grand Prix season (and the TRT 50k) loom on the Horizon.
Anyone interested in good wine-Luna Vineyards is on the south end of the Silverado Trail and has taken over as my favorite of the valley.
Sorry this was so long, but it was a marathon after all…
If anyone has any race stories, please share as I enjoy living vicariously through all of you…Peter Lubbers run Lake Tahoe blog is an awesome way to stay in touch and keep motivated for running.
Happy running…see most of you on April 6.

Chris

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