Monday, February 8, 2010

Surf City Marathon!


Overall:131 out of 2353
Women:14 out of 963
F 40-44:3 out of 141
Age/Grade:71.22% Place: 52
Finish:3:23:40 Pace: 7:47
Tag Time:3:23:40
Gun Time:3:24:12

"Welcome to the pleasure dome" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood was my opening song for Surf City. I think it was absolutely fitting and since it was a surprise it felt like a glimpse into a crystal ball. "Don't give up and don't give in" and "We're a long way from home...Welcome to the pleasure dome" pretty much sums up the 13+ minute 80's rocker. Needless to say it was fitting start to my fastest marathon time, yeah!

My high school friends and I have been reminiscing about all our antics as extremely energetic youth. Our high school days were filled with some serious fun and not much control other than our need for adventure. We can't seem to talk about an event without going over the tune of day as we blasted it in one of our cars doing things we shouldn't. I loaded my entire IPOD with 80's tunes and rocked my way though the marathon one hit after another.

When Cheri and I arrived to pouring rain and some pretty gusty winds we did nothing but roll are eyes and talk about how this would be just like home. We were pretty shocked to wake up on Sunday to a dark but clear sky and not much wind by the time we lined up. With 22,000 runners in this race it would be a busy one. To bring order to the event they had 2 start waves for the marathon. They started one group who was supposed to contain runners going for sub 3:30 finishes. One minute later they would start the second wave. When I went to line up they wouldn't let me in the first wave. It was full. That was just fine with me because that meant I was right up front for the start of the second wave. I was actually first out of the gate for about 10 seconds! I am not sure how they determined who got in the first wave of 500 because many of us caught a bulk of them within 40 seconds of our start time.

Andy came out to cheer Cheri and I on, crew us if we needed and run with me for 10 miles. It was a total gift having him out there. The course is flat and fast but winds around so much I had no clue which direction I was going. That played in my favor. It kept me distracted and focused on the moment. I honestly think a marathon all out effort should play that way. Staying focused on the moment is the best way to keep your mind on the task at hand...running as hard as you can without dying! I got in a groove immediately, strong and steady. I was a bit fast and my dream goal of 3:20 was looking pretty good. Even with some serious park path weaving, some sharp turns and a couple of tiny hills I felt good about my effort. By mile 14 the sun was bold and felt so good. The wind was calm and I was on pace. I saw Andy at around mile 13 smiling and snapping shots. He jumped in, took my shirt and asked if I needed anything. I was good to go and was anxious to get his company at mile 16. I carried 7 gels and 3 salt tabs. My lululemon running bra has inserts for support cups. I don't need them and I pull them out and toss the support cups in the garbage. However, I do use the slots for my gels! I stuffed 3 gels in each side. It was easy access and not at all bothersome. The only negative was the bizarre looks when someone was trying to figure out what was wrong with my chest. How come the lumps and bumps were so big and when I would reach in and grabbed one folks were nervous. Anyway, it worked perfectly! I ate a gel every 3 miles, took a salt tab at mile 10 and two at mile 19.

I started feeling the love in my hips and feet (metatarsals) at mile 16. I knew I was going to slow and started to do math in my head. If I could maintain an 8 minute mile for the last 10 I would have it. It seemed perfectly doable, right? Andy jumped in and we ran. Not a bit of talking as I was pushing and focusing. My lower back was sore, my feet were sore, my legs were beginning to feel the deep fatigue, it was getting hot. Those are all my excuses and thoughts. I just loved it though. Andy and I wrapped around onto the boardwalk for 6-7 miles. It was brutal. It seemed to go on forever. The beach is long! Lots of folks out watching and lots of people around made the race interesting. The amount of general people using the boardwalk meant keeping an eye out for a dog or a child while still running like a dead zombie with just one foot in front of the other at your current top speed. It also made for some great motivation as all the people cheered as they drank their refreshing cold beers.

At the turn with 5 miles to the finish I knew it was going to be tough grind. My heart rate was dropping and I knew if it sagged into the 150's I was not going to get 3:20. I pushed and pleaded with my legs to spin. Please, please, please go around faster. They really wanted to but couldn't. I was seeing 158 and I knew I was not going to pull under 8. I got a couple of them under 8 on the last 5 but not enough. The seconds added up but I never gave up. I ended my musical journey with "Bang your head" by Quiet Riot. I felt that was a fitting song for my final sprint to the finish. I truly spent it all out there. I held nothing back and it was awesome. I loved riding the edge, feeling wild and untamed. The cautious calculated planned rooster stayed home and I am paying the price today. My legs are swollen and my legs have various areas of pain. It's so cool.

This was around a 4-5 minute PR for me. I am really happy with the day but I would do a couple of things different in my training next time. The biggest issue I had was not my speed as much as it was my body's ability to handle the pounding at that fast pace. I have no doubt I could run a 7:36 pace on flat pavement for 26.2 miles but I need to put in some longer than necessary pace runs. I think my body needs to have more experience doing exactly what I want it to do on race day. Since I am asking it to step way out of my speed range I need to train it there longer. I don't need more prep time but I think I need a couple of 24 mile M-Pace runs on my legs. 18-20 will not do for this body. Although I think I would like to test my theory I'm not. I am simply too excited to start hill repeats in the gorge...another type of "pleasure dome"!


  1. Yes, this would do it I believe
    >>> "a couple of 24 mile M-Pace runs on my legs"

    You have the speed and your huge endurance base, I think maybe your body just doesn't know how to run that fast for that long ... as you said.

    I'm a road runner first and only a trail runner out of necessity (to run ultras), so I know how to train for a marathon. But as you know, my focus is ultras these days so I don't even do the MP runs any more. When I've done them, I've usually been successful.

    I've never understood people incessant need for speed work. It's the MP runs that do it I believe.

    So yeah, back to the hill repeats! More fun anyway right?

    - Tony

  2. Awesome time, Ronda, and loved how much you loved the pain. So you:) Congrats!

  3. Nice work! I always carry gels in my sports bra - I think it's totally normal.

  4. You rock girl. I knew you would do it - Congrats on an awesome finish. Very impressive run time!

  5. Nice job! And way to endure the pain dome - um - pleasure dome!

  6. Nice Work Ronda!!! I want to run hills in the gorge with you guys!!!

    ps...way to think outside the box, inside the chest pocket, whatever...killer gu stash discovery!! I love it.

  7. Rondaaaaaaaaaaaaa way to move those legs as fast as they wanted to go :-)

    You did awesome... now go play on those Hills, ahh I am so jealous coming from Flat FL land.

    DO YOU HEAR my TREADMILL GOING UP to 12% to 15% as I train -- LOL

    wait until I train for Hardrock one day, I will have that sucker up to 32% inclines -- haha