Sunday, November 01, 2009

Inland Trail Marathon

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: *almost* nothing feels as good as running strong at the end of a marathon. It had been a while: nearly all my recent efforts have been marked by either a gradual slowdown or an outright crash and burn. But I was determined not to let that happen at today's Inland Trail Marathon. I would be running it for the third consecutive year of the four years of its existence. It is fairly scenic, very straight, very flat and very well managed for such a small race. I always run fairly well there, in part because the weather's always perfect.

Today was no exception on any of those counts. The weather was once again exceptional: mostly cloudy with very light winds and temperatures in the forties. I ran most of the first half with Chuck D. We both wanted to pick it up about half-way, but we both figured that Chuck would pick it up faster than me. I hit that half-way mark on this out and back course at about 1:42. I had been thinking that it would be 1:40 and that a 3:20 finish would be nice. Regardless of the time, I just wanted to be strong through the finish.

Chuck was well ahead of me as I turned and picked it up to a 7:30 to 7:45 per mile pace. He ended up with a great second half and a great all-round effort. I think I hit mile 20 at about 2:33 or 2:34, and I picked it up just a bit more, to 7:30 or better for each of the final 6 miles. I passed several people, including one guy who turned out to be in my age group. I finished very strong and crossed the line in 3:20:30, good for the age group win. Note that the opposite occurred (I was the one passed in the final mile) at the Towpath Marathon a couple weeks ago.

It may be obvious, but I'm very happy with this one. I finally did what I thought I was capable of, and I actually got that rush as I finished strong. Just to temper that optimism just a bit, here's a disturbing trend of my Inland Trail times for the past three years: 2007: 3:14, 2008: 3:17, 2009: 3:20. I'll try to reverse this in 2010.

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