Black Panther (Cat) 26.2

Black Panther (Cat) 26.2
Salem, MA
Saturday, March 2, 2013

Results
26.2 miles
Finish: 3:06:53
Marathon #84
Marathon-A-Month #17

Race Report

SONY DSC

Two and a half months after pulling up lame with injury in the lower calf, deep within the Soleus muscle, on the side of the Chelmsford Bike Path in early December while on a run with my bud’s Dave and Jay, I was finally able to get back to health and running hard.

During this time I was (somehow) able to keep my marathon-a-month streak alive by limping through the New Year’s Boston Marathon when my injury was at its peak, and then by doing the Cape Cod Frozen Fat Ass 50K, where I miraculously came in 2nd place overall even though I could not run any faster than an 8 minute mile. Neither of these were smart, but I did them nonetheless to the tune of the streak at 16!

This meant I needed #17! Insert Black Cat 20.

A quick study of the course map showed that I could double up on a portion of the course (mile 3 to 6, including the turnaround at 4.5) plus an additional .1 miles per doubling) so that I would get marathon distance in a timed event where the clock at the finish would read my marathon finish time.

My goals coming in were to notch another marathon and after a warm up test my legs with marathon pace effort.

And that’s what I did.

When the race started, I was well in the pack chatting socially with friends and fellow Goons: Jen, Ann, Karen, and a few others.

By mile 1, I eased into a slightly faster pace, perhaps running a comfortable 7:45 to 7:30.

That’s when my buddy Tim came from behind to my side. Tim and I chatted together and with those around us through to the turnaround at 4.5 miles on this double-looped course.

Mile 5 came in a total time of 38:30 (7:42 pace). By this point, it was time to get into marathon race pace effort. I qualify race pace *effort* since I didn’t plan to look at my watch to see the actual pace I was running. I just wanted to get to the same effort of when racing a marathon. I figured with me having had no quality runs through most of December, all of January, and nearly all of February, race effort would be slightly slower than my true marathon pace (6:50).

In hindsight, I was probably running 6:55 to 7:05 in those middle miles through to 24.

The first loop was smooth yet uneventful. I came through in a time of 1:13:56 (7:23 pace). Pace for those five miles was 7:05.

Now making my way out on the second loop to the turnaround, I started counting runners in front of me as they were coming back. I was surprised that although I was running easy, or at least had been running easy for the first five miles, I was pretty far up in the race, and there looked to be few, maybe two, Master runners ahead of me. Even though I was sure I could catch several of these runners by the end of the loop, I decided that there was no glory in this race in finishing high up and that I should stick with my original plan of logging marathon distance. Spying results after the race was over, I learned that I would have been 2nd place Master runner. But no matter.

To the turnaround I went, back .1 miles beyond mile 16, and then as I should have continued straight, I turned around to do this 3.1 loop again. And then I did it again.

To this point I was running a touch easier than marathon pace effort. I figured I was on target for a 3:10 marathon, maybe 3:08 or perhaps 3:07, fastest. I was within myself but now working quite hard, as expected. What wasn’t expected, mainly due to ignorance, was how hard running a marathon really is. I say ignorance because I do this often. I set myself for wanting a goal, such as logging a marathon, without thinking about the pain that comes with it and the amount of work required to see it through.

The work came for me as I passed mile marker 15, which for me was mile 21.2. I was buoyed when I realized that I was on my way to a decent marathon time and that I was actually feeling in control. Part of this was to be expected, as my effort was purposely just shy of marathon pace effort, but part was a little surprising (in a good way) due to the length of my absence with injury.

By mile 24.2, the day was finally catching up with me. I was still in control, still powering forward, but now feeling as if my pace was falling slightly. I didn’t fight it too much, as I wasn’t there to bury myself but rather to get in an honest marathon-distanced run.

Mile 24 (7:01), 25 (7:13), and 26 (7:17) went quickly enough.

As I rounded the final corner with the school and the finish line in sight, I wondered what the clock would read. To this point I had not looked at the race time, nor did I know my pace, so the gift was the prize of seeing the clock for the first time.

I hoped it was a 3:0x. In my heart I knew it would be.

Finally, the clock was visible. It read 3:06:53 (7:07 pace).

Photo credit Brent Doscher

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