Sunday, May 6, 2007

Time on Legs - Race Day!

The day began really early with a 4:30 am wake up. I was not sure what the day would bring since it had been cold and raining for the past two days. The weather people promised us more of the same for race day. To my joy I could see that there was clear sky over the foothills where the race was going to start. My running partner Dean picked me up and we arrived at the busses at 5:20 am. We had it easy; the marathoners had to catch the buses between 4 and 4:45 am. All racers had to ride the bus since they were closing the road for the race.

The mini-marathon, 15 miles, begins at Gateway Park. The park is a few miles up the scenic Poudre River Canyon located just outside of Fort Collins. The temperature was about 38F but the sky was clear and we were going to have an excellent day.

My goal was to complete the run in 2 hours 30 minutes for a 10 minute pace. Dean was using this run as a training run in his preparation for the Coeur d’ Alene Ironman in June and he would run the entire way with me. All I could think about was what Joe Henderson said in his book “Run Right Now”, that the race was the reward for the training. All that time on the treadmill, out in the cold and the many hours of pounding the pavement was all so that I could enjoy this race.

The first 5 miles of the race were the best. A gentle scenic downhill along the Poudre River. It was very easy to settle into a quick and comfortable pace. I wanted to make sure to keep the pace under control early into this race and the temptation to go fast was great. I resisted it a little, but was running much faster than my planned 9:45 pace.

Miles 6 and 7 went well leading up to the only real hill on the course. It was here that the lead male marathoners passed us. They had begun their run 45 minutes prior to ours.

The hill on this course is like most of them, too long and too steep. I managed a 9:30 pace up the hill. I knew that this was going to get me later, but felt real good and could not bring myself to slow down. Here I was passed by the lead female marathoner who with her 2:46.33 finish would qualify for the 2008 Women’s Olympic Trials as well as set a course record. Dean also had to leave me for a bit to find a port-a-potty. Turns out a tree worked just as well.

Up to mile 10, I was feeling pretty strong. It was clear that my training had served me well. My average pace was running at 9:35. This was well ahead of my planned run and I was beginning to wonder where or when this would all catch up to me. That happened at mile 12.

Mile 12 to 14 is still a bit of a blur. My legs were a little on the numb side, but it was my lungs that were hurting. I knew I had to get my breathing under control. To do this I slowed my pace and concentrated on regaining my breath. At mile 14.5 Dean looked over at me and asked if I was alright. The simple answer was, no. My legs were numb, I could not feel my hands and the world was a little crooked. His response was, “Great, you have run this race just right!!” He then said that it was only 5 minutes to the finish and that I could do anything for 5 minutes. He still had his funny with him.

The last half mile to the finish was all about determination. I had worked hard to get here and I was going to finish strong. The crowds were awesome and the cheers were loud and enthusiastic. That is what this race stuff is all about. The great crowds and the realization that you have worked hard and ran the race you wanted to run. I ran a better race than I expected. My finish time was 2 hours 24 minutes and 39 seconds, a 9:38 pace.

I was able to stick around a watch a friend, the youngest marathoner, finish at 4 hours 33 minutes. I was also able to cheer Shirley from the Humble Triathlete as she ran to the finish. Yes Shirley that was me who yelled out your name on the final stretch.

What a great run!!


MarathonChris said...

Great race report Cory!!! It looks like your training served you well and you had a fantastic race! It was also nice that you had a friend along to help you get through the tough stuff at the end.

Congratulations on beating your time!! :-)

Susan said...

Excellent race report! I felt like I was there. I am super impressed with your speed!

Maddy said...

What a great time SPEEDY! The race report was great! I'm glad the weather cooperated for the race.

And you got to see Shirley! Awesome!

You should be proud of your accomplishment! Well done!

CewTwo said...

What a great report. I frequent the area due to my Jeep. To imagine running that area would be breath taking.

Dean's humor must have been uplifting when you needed consolation and got humor instead. I liked both of you for just telling that story.

Congratulations on besting your time!

Maybe next year for me...


Kevin said...

Congrats Cory!!! Hope the feeling in your hands and legs has come back!! ;-)

petra duguid said...

Cory, well done! What a pace and what a race report! Great stuff - and the beginning of the rest I think.. But first sit back and enjoy this for a few days, it's a wonderful feeling..

ShirleyPerly said...

Congrats on a great race, Cory!!!

Thanks for cheering for me at the finish. I didn't run as fast as I'd hoped but I definitely have new respect for all you who run at 5000 feet every day. No wonder you guys really rock at sea level races!

Alex said...

Congrats on the race Cory!

It turns out that we were both running in races on the same day! Keep up the good work!


IrishBlue said...

Wow, Cory, sounds like your race went really well. Congratulations!! It does make all of the training worth it, doesn't it?

Thanks for the race report.