Thought for the Day

Monday, October 29, 2001

Silicon Valley Marathon 2001

Sunday was a perfect day for a marathon in San Jose. The prediction had been for a big rain storm to come in some time Sunday, but it just stayed overcast enough to keep it cool for the whole morning. It was never too cold, either. I didn't feel the need to wear any more layers than a t-shirt and shorts at the start.
The places for different paces to line up were well marked behind the starting line. I started to line up toward the back of the pack, but the signs were spread out, and there was a lot of open space. So the announcer started to encourage everyone to move up, closer to the start. I ended up close to the middle.
When the race started, I was pretty well packed in, but no one was concerned because of the chip timing. We just walked slowly forward as a group. Someone said that there were three thousand registered for the marathon, but that doesn't seem right. It seemed like there were fewer runners than last year, and there are only results listed for about 1500 on the web site.
Then we got to the start line and as soon as people's feet hit those pads, they started trying to run. I spent a while trying to get to a place in the pack where I could go at a comfortable pace, but there were people dropping back from the front, going slow, and people sprinting up from the back.
I wasn't sure what my pace was like. I felt comfortable with my breathing and it didn't seem too fast. I didn't see the first mile marker. They are really hard to miss, because there's a big, white, helium filled balloon with the marathon logo tied to each one, and there's almost always a water station nearby. But I was on the left side of the road, the marker and the water must have been on the right.
I didn't even notice until I heard the sound of paper cups hitting the ground. I looked to the right and there were cups all over. I looked at my watch and it said 00:08:03. I never did see that water station or mile marker. I still wasn't sure we had passed the marker until I heard some other runners talking about it.
Ooops, Going out too fast again. What do you do when you go out too fast? Do you crank your speed back to where it should have been, or do you go even slower, because you know you put too much into the start? I tried, really, to slow down to my goal pace of 8:35/mi, but I was still cruising along at an 8 minute pace. I stayed pretty close to that through the first 9 miles, then I started to hit the miles at the 8:35 pace. I took a portajohn break, and came out only one minute behind what had been my target pace when I hit mile 10.
By the half, I was a little over my target pace, but I knew I was dropping fast. I was still thinking about 3:45 until mile 15, when I started to think about maybe coming in under 4 hours.
I hit 19 miles in about 3 hours even, which would have been okay, if I had anything left for the finish. Mental toughness might have gotten my a better time, but I had a couple of things working against me for the last three quarters of the race.
First, I had this negative internal dialog going on. I kept saying to myself, "Well, this is par for the course. You didn't put in enough mileage, you went out too fast, and you didn't pace yourself well." The other thing working against me was that all those things I was telling myself were true.
I did the last three miles jogging and walking. In miles 20 to 23, I could do stretches of a hundred yards or so at a pretty strong pace by making a conscious effort to switch from using my choppy, shuffling, "this is killing me" stride, to lifting my knees, pushing off hard, going through the full running motion. But after a while I would fall back into the shuffle. And after a while, I couldn't even bring myself to make the effort.
Still, I finished, and I was proud of myself for making it. I was glad to get my medal. I was smiling quite a bit. I'm sore as heck today, but I'm not depressed about it.
The Tech Museum is on the street between the marathon finish and the food tents in Cesar Chavez Park. The museum has inspirational quotes from Silicon Valley tycoons engraved in some of the outside walls. As I was passing it yesterday, I saw this quote from Gordon Moore, cofounder of Intel, "If everything you try works, then you are not trying hard enough."
I need to think about how much I want to invest in marathon running.
I think it would do me good to run more short races for a while. On the other hand, the California International Marathon is December 2, which is just about enough time to recover from this one and taper for that one.

:-)

SPLIT TIME PLACE
10k: 0:50:30
Half Marathon: 1:54:19
19.2 Miles: 3:00:30
FINISH: 4:34:29 967
Division Place: M 40-44 144

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