Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Scorecard

Fall has arrived, so I’m getting into the crazy part of my race schedule.  I ran six marathons in September, including at least one every weekend.  Here’s how I did.

On September 6, I ran the Elroy Apple Dumpling Day Marathon in 3:27:31.  I placed second overall and first in my age group.

The weekend of September 12-14, I ran the Tahoe Triple.  I finished the Emerald Bay Marathon in 3:55:18, the Cal-Neva Marathon in 3:56:41 and the Lake Tahoe Marathon in 4:06:36.  All of those were course PRs.

On September 20, I ran the Tamarindo Beach Marathon in Costa Rica, finishing in 4:14:37.  I struggled with the heat and humidity.

Finally, on September 28, I ran the Quad Cities Marathon in 3:39:18.  For 20 miles, I thought I could overcome a cold to break 3:30, but my pace proved to be unsustainable and I came unglued in the late miles.

By my 3:30 or Bust standard, it wasn’t a good month.  Out of six races, I only broke 3:30 once.  Of course, I knew going in that some of these were going to be slow.  The Tahoe Triple races would be tough even if they weren’t on consecutive days.  I also knew I would be hard-pressed to run fast in the tropical conditions in Costa Rica.

Looking at it more subjectively, there were four races where I was happy with my times for the course and conditions.

Obviously, I was pleased with my result in Elroy.  I met my time goal and won two awards.

This was my third Tahoe Triple, and I ran much better than I did in my previous two attempts.  I won the Masters Division in the Emerald Bay Marathon.  It was the first time I ran the steep downhill miles without beating up my legs, and it was also the first time I did the long climb to Spooner Lake without having to take walking breaks.  In the Cal-Neva Marathon, I beat my previous best by more than 28 minutes, breaking four hours for the first time.  In the Lake Tahoe Marathon, I had a course PR by seven minutes and placed in the top 25 men, even though many of the other runners weren’t doing the triple.  I’m happy with all three of those results.

I was disappointed with my result in Costa Rica.  It was obvious in the early miles that 3:30 would be an unrealistic goal, but I wasn’t even able to break four hours.  I walked all the hills in the last six miles.  That’s not a strong finish.

I was also disappointed with my time at the Quad Cities Marathon.  This race has a fast course, and I wanted to take advantage of that.  Yes, I had a cold.  That explains why I couldn’t run as fast, but having an excuse doesn’t make it a good result.  It was one of only two opportunities to break 3:30 this month, and it slipped away from me.

Despite being happy with my results in four of the six races, I’m still slightly disappointed overall.  If I had broken 3:30 in the Quad Cities in spite of the cold, I would look at it as a good month.  I had only two good shots at 3:30, and one got away.  Oh well.

While my race results were mixed, it was definitely a good month for training.  I ran 293 miles, with just over half of that total coming in races.  That’s the most miles I’ve ever run in one month!  I’ve never been a high mileage athlete, but I’m trying to gradually ramp up my mileage as I train for the Across the Years 48-Hour Race.

October will be another busy month.  I have seven marathons scheduled, and I’m considering adding an eighth.  I know at least five of those will be slower than 3:30, but I’m hoping to keep them all under four hours.  One of my goals for the year is to run at least 52 marathons or ultras.  I only have 33 so far, so I need to pack 19 into the next three months.  My manic fall racing schedule will force me to make some compromises on my times.

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