Well things have changed significantly since last year. Last year I was late in training for the Grand Rapids Marathon. This year I am trying to catch up after taking 3 months off after the marathon. I ran this race last year as a training run the day after a 10 miler. This year I ran as a fitness test. I really like this race because it is relatively small and low key and it has a great course. The first three miles are generally uphill and the last three are generally downhill. The only real goal I had for today was to finish in under an hour.
The race started with the first mile gradually uphill. I knew my fitness was not great so I had to concentrate on holding back. I kind of naturally fell into a group of women running at about 10 minute mile pace. I comfortably rolled through the first mile in 9:56 and was feeling good. I stayed in the group for the second mile which went uphill a bit more then downhill to cross the Huron River and back up. My focus was to keep the effort constant on the uphill even if I had to slow down. The second mile was 10:04. This is where the race started to change. First is started raining and second I started to pick off people who started faster than me. The rain really was little bother other than it made my sunglasses fog up. I moved the sunglasses to the top of my hat and they ceased to be a bother. I moved through the third mile in 10:04.
The half way point was where I allowed myself to pick up the pace. I was also moving out of the group of women and actually passed a couple of guys. The fourth mile was fairly rolling but net downhill and I managed to run it in 9:34. In mile four and five I was out of the group running at 10 minute mile pace and out of touch with the faster runner, basically alone. The fifth mile was completed in 9:18 and in fairness was a net downhill. The sixth mile started with what I will now call “heartbreak hill.” My heart rate jumped up and my pace plummeted. I think I crested the hill at 12 minute mile pace and a 178 heart rate. Then the race finally turned downhill and would stay that way to the finish. I managed to recover and get my heart rate down to 170 and the speed back up. I finished the sixth mile in 9:04 and could see the final turn. No reason to hold back now. I gave it everything I had. Especially when I could see the finish clock turn 59:00. Since my goal was 1 hour, I had to hit it. I think I crossed just after the clock turned an hour. The race had a timing mat at the start so I may have actually beat the hour. I won’t know for sure until the official results are posted.
Overall, I am happy that I made my goal time, but now I am going to set up the training plan for the Martian Marathon. This will be my third marathon and I am hoping to go under 5 hours. Hopefully this will be a good kick off.