Before running CIM last December, I signed up for the Huntington Beach Surf City Marathon, which was a mere 2 months after the CIM. Why? As a back-up BQ race in case I didn’t make it at CIM? Just for fun? No and no. I signed up because I was seduced by the Surf City Marathon tech shirt and medal.
Since I had already qualified for Boston at CIM, there really wasn’t any “urgency” for this race, other than to finish with a respectable time and collect my medal. So you can imagine, the 7 weeks of training was half-hearted. I missed one training run each week for the last 3 weeks due to laziness.
What’s a respectable time? Ideally under 3:45, but under 3:50 would be acceptable. To lighten the pressure even more, I decided to run “without my watch”. Technically, I would run with my watch, but I would not look at it during the entire race. Instead, I’d pace myself based on “perceived effort” and see how I’d do.
One thing about running a local race is that it takes away a lot of the pre-race anxiety. What made this race even more relaxed for me is that half of this course is run on my usual haunt. This is my turf.
The night before the race, I laid out my running clothes. Instead of the usual dull race gear, I told J that I’d run “pretty” for this race.
It doesn’t get any prettier than a neon pink top paired with a neon yellow running skirt.
So how did the “running by perceived effort” work out? It worked out, but not as well as I had anticipated. I went out too slowly for the first 2 miles, averaging about an 8:50 minute mile. I did eventually get into the “zone” between miles 5 and 13, with an average pace of 8:15 minute mile, picking off the 4:00 pace group, then the 3:50 pace group, and eventually the 3:45 pace group. Then BAM! Head wind! Pace started to slow into the 8:20s, and significantly at mile 21 (8:40s). I started drafting off the guys ahead of me, but eventually picked them off one by one until I had no one to draft off of, and I was running alone. Then it was miles 24 & 25…a 9:26 pace! This was about the time when I started thinking to myself, “I should have just bought the medal from Ebay.” I started slowly picking up the pace for the last mile, but when I saw the 3:45 pacer running along side me I booked it. I decided that I was not going to run slower than 3:45. I crossed the finish line, looked up at the clock, 3:45:33. Shit! But I remembered that that was gun time. I looked down at my watch for the first time during the entire race, 3:44 (my watch doesn’t show seconds past the hour mark). Final time – 3:44:47. I BQ’d by a mere 13 seconds. I really squeaked by this time, but I did it, proving that the first time wasn’t a fluke. I am Boston squeaker material!
Finally, I’ve decided not to race for the rest of the year, and never again will I run back-to-back races no matter how pretty the tech shirt or how cool the medal.