Monday, November 21, 2016

Eco Catalina Marathon

Saturday I ran my marathon. Going into the race I knew two things:

  1. I hadn't covered anything close to the distance. My longest run this year before Saturday was 13.5 miles. I ran frequently but never very far. 
  2. I had done lots of running on trails but nothing was overly technical. 
 Friday I took the train to San Juan Capistrano. It was a beautiful day so I decided to walk to Dana Point.
 From Dana Point it's a 90 minute ferry ride to Catalina Island. The water was flat which made for a smooth ride.
Race morning was stunning. The sun came up to clear sky's and cool temperatures. Overall it was a perfect day to run a marathon. 

Going into the marathon I know those two things would come to get me. My plan going in was to take off easily and play the race by how I felt. The race itself is really hard. There is no other way to explain it. That's why I wanted to do it. 

Start - I set my target HR rate to my MAF zone and kept it there. The first 3.5 miles is up hill from roughly sea level to 1500 feet. To say I was running slow was an understatement. I went through the first mile in roughly 150th place. I stayed at that effort through the hill and by the top I was in the top 50 or better. From that point the course begins to roll with lots of single track and lots of steep climbs and descents. I kept my HR in check and felt great. At mile 13 it felt easy. 
I eased the effort up at this point not to race pace but more to tempo. If felt good to run with my form. I knew every step I took was further than I had gone all year. I kept the effort going and really started going through the field of runners in front of me. The effort still felt "easy". At mile 19 there is a section called the crush. It's a tight rolling single track and it bit hard. For some reason I started to feel the race here. At Mile 20 there is a nasty hill that simply goes straight up. You can see the top from the bottom and not a single person is running. I power hiked this hill and felt good going up. 
At the top of the hill there was an aid station where someone offered my Ibuprophen. I passed, filled my bottle and carried on. By Mile 23 I was wishing I hadn't past. Here's where course knowledge and techincal running would pay off. 
I've done the Catalina Marathon. At 23 miles you hit the twisting turning road (basically the way we came up through the first three miles). At mile 23 of this marathon the course goes along the mountain top. Avalon, the finish looks to be a half mile straight down and we are running away from it. At roughly mile 24 we went up over a ridge and dropped straight down a single track. It was steep, rutted and rocky. My legs were shattered at this point and it was everything I could do to get down. People were passing me right and left. By the time we hit the road with one mile to go I was mad. I opened up the pace to a full effort and crossed the line. 

The pain of that marathon will be with me for a time. I did the race because it fell on November 19th and this would have been my brother's 57th birthday. I knew any pain the marathon was causing me was nothing to the pain of knowing you would die from ALS. 

It's a good life.....