I'm really starting to love the smaller marathons. The Fox Cities Marathon had a grand total of 1,100(ish) finishers, and despite the small total, the organization, crowd, course, and finishing area was top notch.
I was coming into this weekend unlike any marathon I'd run in the past (for those keeping score at home, this was #12). I was using this run as a bit of a training run for upcoming events (Milwaukee in two weeks, and the Fall 50 in a month). I was also coming in without my normal training of speed work, intervals, and long fast runs. During the last month or two, if I had a chunk of time to run (which as FEW and FARRRR between), I would use it for a long slow run in preparation for the 50 miler. Because of these things, I really didn't know what to expect. In all honesty, I was hoping I could run 3:30. 3:30, I felt, was optimistic. Less than 2 months ago, after all, I was finally getting over back-to-back bouts with Lyme Disease and Shingles. Not exactly my idea of a great summer.
My dad and I were on the road for the hour drive up to Appleton by 6:15, and we arrived with very little problem at about 7:15. (Again, really liking the small marathons!) After about a 1/2 mile jog/walk to warm up, I was chomping at the bit. I found the 3:30 pace group and after what seemed like an hour, we were off. This was a great course that made its way through 9 different cities, each one seemingly out-doing the last with enthusiasm. Almost every aid station (22 in all) had a theme, also. From Gilligan's Island, to MASH, to Wheel of Fortune--complete with a wheel for the runners to spin!--it was a blast. Just before the half way point was the steepest hill on the course. It could have been a bit rough to get up, if it weren't for the "scream tunnel" assembled by teenage volunteers. I haven't been to Boston to experience the Wellesley Tunnel, but I'll never forget this particular group at mile 12 in Kaukauna.
I went through the first half in 1:44 and change and was sure to keep the Gatorade flowing, but more importantly, getting the water down too. I had learned something from Madison--too much Gatorade Endurance equals revolt from the tummy.
Moving into the second half, I started picking up the pace a bit. I stuck to pretty much only water, and only a sip at each aid station. I didn't walk at all, so that probably had a lot to do with only getting a "sip," as I am absolutely terrible and drinking and running. As I'd pass one runner, I'd look ahead to the next. I looked to simply continuously pick off the runners and keep a solid pace, without pushing too hard. I've trained with heart rate monitors but have found it a lot easier to simply follow my breathing rhythm. I watched my breathing to make sure I was never going too hard, but I felt like I was getting stronger as the miles came. It was quite a feeling!
(It's true--I never walked during the second half. But I came ohh soo close when I passed the great fans outside their house enjoying Mimosas.)
The marathon ends with a loop around a park, and that part got rough. I lost my breathing rhythm and by mile 25.5 was gasping. Still, I really wanted to finish strong, and the possibility of a sub-3:20 (and 10 MINUTE NEGATIVE SPLIT) was pushing me along. I love the feeling of finishing strong down the chute, but this time I didn't have much. And this time...I have one complaint about this event...
The Fox Cities Marathon also has a Half-Marathon. And a Half-Marathon Walk. AND a Marathon Walk. All these events make the organization even more impressive but also create a quagmire in the finishing chute. Even if I did have a "kick" at the end, I'm not sure I would have been able to because of all the people. SEPERATE THEM NEXT YEAR!
Alas, the finish came and my chip time was 3:19:19. I was happy yesterday, and even more so today after looking at my splits:
- My split at 10K was 48:07 (7:45 pace). My split from Mile 20 to the finish, or the last 10K of the marathon, was 44:55 (7:14 pace).
- I ran the second half in 1:35:07 (7:15 pace)
- From Mile 13.1 to Mile 20, I ran 7:18 pace. So, when you consider my 7:12 pace from Mile 20 to the finish, MY NEGATIVE SPLIT HAD A NEGATIVE SPLIT!
So considering all of this, the 1month100miles.com journey is going great! I'm already re-thinking my goals for Milwaukee in two weeks, and I'll keep you posted on that...