Sunday, February 20, 2011

Shortening My Stride Got Me Closer To Duvall

To drive 200 miles round trip for a Half Marathon doesn't make sense, does it?

It may, if you do it once in a while, but as a regular business I am starting to believe is silly. But silly and all, that's what I do, and will continue doing. Rational? Even in days like today, where I suffered so much during the race, I still performed better than in a regular long run.

At 5.30 am I left home to Birch Bay, 5 miles away from the Canadian border. It was a long and lonely drive now that daughter is off to a new adventure. For two months I was spoiled with her as my companion; the driving to those races was easy and fun.

For 100 miles I was guided by an almost full moon (good, I lost my glasses and I am nearsighted). The skies were clear... and you know what that means, it is cold!!!! 27F / -3C. After picking up my packet, my face was already frozen. Jogged for half a mile to keep myself warm, and got back to the start line where I didn't recognize any face (I run mostly in Seattle area and South Seattle, but not North, where I only run 3-4 times a year).  As all pre-registered runners have the bib with their names on, I killed time reading their names. The guy that was in front of me was Duvall, with a Triathlon jacket.

Ready, set, go and there went all the first liners, including a couple of marathoners in singlets and shorts. These guys were pretty much naked. Maybe their plan was the 5:30 min/mile? I've seen this gear at these temperatures for a 5K or 10K but for a marathon? Not even the elite field in NY run without arm warmers or gloves.

The scenery couldn't be more gorgeous. The bay as blue as could be, with the peaks of the mountains in the background, as white as they could be. The view permitted me forget that I had no legs. At least, I didn't feel them. They were frozen. They were each, a long one-yard 'legsicle'. At mile 3, I started to slow down to 11 min/mile, and decided to change my strategy. I targeted people: Duvall was the chosen one. After shortening my stride the pace went to 10:15. Duvall got closer. As soon as I "forgot" to think about the stride Duvall separated from me. Now that my legs finally warmed up, I focused on my stride for the next 2 miles. At mile 5 I passed Duvall.

A little after mile 6 it came THE hill. A hill that didn't look that bad, but felt miserable. 200 ft gained elevation in one mile and I almost bunked. I didn't take my GU at mile 4 because I didn't feel like it.  I had slowed down to a pace above 12 min/mile. I was thirsty and hungry and stopped at the water station at the turnaroud (~mile 7.5) for a GU. Duvall passed me, and he was gone. Tried to reach him going down the hill, shortening the stride, but my legs were in trouble, and Duvall was out of my sight. A couple dressing my same colors (black & red) also passed me uphill. We started a passing game, I passed them downhill, they passed me in flat areas, and that was it. They stayed ahead of me.

At mile 10 I was dead. I wanted to stop. I would've done it if training alone, but it was a matter of pride. The day I DNF it will be because I got sick, got cramps, or because a physical condition that won't let me continue. Though the leg power was gone, at least I still had will power.

"Three more miles"; "only a 5K"... yeah right. "Assume you are in a marathon and is mile 23". I was pulling tricks out of my hat. Nothing helped. I was in bad shape. Then I saw Duvall, he was far enough that it looked impossible to reach him. There were two guys in their 40's running close to him. Also there was the black&red couple. At mile 11 the b&r wife got vitamin or something; she sped off and left. I tried again to shortening my stride and it worked. I passed the husband; then passed one of the 40 yo guys. Mile 12, Lizzie, is over. Passed the other 40 yo guy. Only Duvall is left to chew.

0.3 miles before the finish line I reached Duvall. I had an incredible nice pace: 8:15 min/mile. He stuck with me. Quarter of mile, 0.2, 0.15 we are side by side at 7:45 min/mile. 0.05, Duvall put the right gear and chewed me by 9 seconds. The good thing was that Shortening My Stride Got Me Closer To Duvall.


Petraruns said...

LizzieLee - isn't that interesting - about shortening your stride! Next time fight and chick Duvall...

200 miles seems a long way to go but I do it - it helps and its good. How's the coaching going?

Jill Costantino said...

Contests it was so cold. You did super!