Monday, September 18, 2006

The Agony of the Equinox

I had a tough day at the Equinox, but in the end it was the best I could do. Came down with an ill-timed cold mid-week, which kind of hit the low on Friday night when I could barely sleep. Saturday's weather was near perfect, if not a little warm with 50s and 60s and overcast. With the cold I knew that goal pace on this tough course would be a warrant for a DNF, so I backed off and kept it easy on the hill sections while trying to keep it steady and strong on the flats and downhills.

The first 9 miles (1:00:55) went by quickly as I settled into a very solo effort in 7th place about a minute behind the 2nd pack. The Ester Dome Climb is usually strong a suit, but I had to just keep it going. Crested the 1,700 foot climb at 12.4 in 1:32:15, and the half in about 1:37, and moved in to 4th place, which I held for the next 11 miles. Felt decent/good through most of that, but there were 4-5 runners not far behind. By 20 (2:26:50), which had mostly been on trails and dirt roads, I was feeling confident that I could hold the pace for a 3:08 or 3:09 and 4th.

I struggle sometimes on the downhills (especially on pavement), and sure enough, got passed at 23.5 by a masters runner whom I've always been able to beat, but he's very solid marathon runner. It was just his day, and he hit the 24th mile in 6:15, compared to my 7. Responding to that was an impossibility. So I held 5th all the way to 25, when another runner came from behind. I ran as hard as I could to drop him. It was like running the last mile of a cross country 5k all out, but at 7:00/mile pace. With 200 to go I put on on final burst and maybe got a stride or two, but he mounted a counter attack at 100 to go and I could not respond.

So I finished this rugged trail-road marathon in 3:10:48, for 6th, only to clutch my knees for a moment before collapsing in a heaving heap. Not a pretty sight. After a minute or two someone finally came over an helped me up, and my now worried wife took over from there. Felt pretty woozy for the next hour, but they kept plying me with food and drink and eventually I bounced back. In hindsight what can I say? Somewhat disappointed in the time, because I've been running at that level all year. But on this day I ran as hard as I could for as long as I could. You can't ask for more.

Oh, and next year? I'm doing a 9 mile segment on the relay!


Blogger BB said...

Rog- You wrestled with the M-beast and emerged bloodied but not beaten. Maybe it wasn't the high note that you hoped to finish the season with, but by any measure your summer was a season to savor in the recollection (for which the long AK winter should provide plenty of opportunity:-).
That course looks pretty fine- I've always wondered why their aren't more true trail marathons out there. Anyway, 3:10 on that mother is nothing to sniff at. Good job and good tracks to you this winter....

2:50 PM  

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