capital city marathon race report

This morning I did the Capital City Marathon, my second 26.2 mile run within a month. 

The stars were aligned for a good day of running.  The event is small, but well-organized.  The course is attractive, with rolling hills on country roads around Olympia Washington.  Several friends were doing the race, including three other members of our Ragnar Relay team (Hazel, Richard, and Paul).

I’d decided to do this as a training run.  I did not know how I’d perform in a race three weeks after doing the Free State Trail Marathon, so had no real expectations.  My goals were to finish under four hours, and to feel good about my run.  One of two isn’t bad.

I headed down to Olympia the evening before, to avoid having to wake up at 4:30 for the 75 minute drive and the 7 am start.  In retrospect, I might just tough it out next time.  As things worked out, I didn’t have much of a chance to enjoy the town.  All I did was to settle in, and rest up.  I can do that at home and save $100 for a hotel room!

I got up at 5:30 to eat and enjoy a cup of nice jasmine tea.  After eating, and doing the other things one does before a long race (a.k.a. find their happy place), I wandered over to the start area.  Packet pickup was a breeze, and I had some time to mill around with friends before the gun went off.

The marathon course is sort of a figure eight.  We run on the half-marathon loop until just before the six-mile mark, and then embark on thirteen mile loop before rejoining the half course.  There’s a steady uphill trend between mile one and four.  Then we level off until mile eight when we do a steeper up and down.  In the beginning, the inclines weren’t a big deal at all.  Most are pretty gradual.  Later in the race I’d feel differently.

My mile splits for the first twenty were consistently on the faster side (for me).  Mistake!  I think this was a by product of me futzing with my running form over the past couple of weeks.  I’d been experimenting with a higher cadence (above 80 strides per minute).  My experience had been that I could go faster, but I had not tried this out on a longer run before the race.

Anyway, the combination of higher cadence, the rolling hills, and higher temperature combined to grind me into dust by mile twenty.  I first noticed fatigue well before the halfway point, but did not slow down (stupid!).  Getting towards the end of a several mile-long climb, I just simply ran out of gas.  At the twenty mile mark, I was trending to a 3:49.  Over the final 10K, I gave away nine minutes of time as I walked a bunch.

It’d be interesting to see how I could have done by doing flat 9 minute splits before mile twenty.  I’d like to think I could have had some reserve to kick a bit after 20, but can’t be sure.  I finished in 3:58, so I met my time goal.  However I’m not happy with the type of race I ran.  The only reason I was able to finish in under four hours was the nice two mile downhill stretch heading back into town.

But there are days like this, and it’s still great to be out there running and enjoying the warm sunshine.

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