Sunday, October 17, 2010

JT Wants Me Dead: A Duke City Marathon Race Report

It is true, JT wants me dead but that will have to come a little later. Today I ran the Duke City Marathon, a race I said I’d never do. I said I’d never do it not because it is a bad race but because it just isn’t all that interesting a race for someone who lives in Albuquerque. However, earlier this year the GeekGrl and I ran the Turtle Marathon in Roswell, another marathon I said I’d never run, and we had a really good time. Then and there the GeekGrl and I decided that since New Mexico is our home state and there are relatively few marathons, six total I believe, we really should run them all.

So since I am back to training mode and running longer and the GeekGrl is in full taper for Javelina I signed us up, her for the 5K and me the marathon. She was mighty disappointed to be running the 5K. She complained to me “I REALLY want to do the half” but I wouldn’t relent. Speaking to her as a coach I told her there was no way she was going to run a half marathon the weekend before her first attempt at a 100-miler but I told her she could run the 5K as fast as she wanted, which she did.

I headed out for the marathon not having much of an idea what to expect. I know my strength and endurance is really good but I am not trained for marathon running right now. Pretty much since Leadville all I’ve done is race and recover with some 4 to 10 mile runs in-between. I figured I might run in the ballpark of four hours, maybe a bit longer. I also decided to continue my experiment of pushing harder from the beginning of the race to try and narrow down just how hard is hard enough.

At the Do-Wacka-Do 50K I discovered that an average heart rate of 160 from the beginning of the race is too much and I exploded around mile 21. Today I thought I’d try a starting average heart rate of 150 and hold that until the half-way mark and then if I had it in me I’d push harder on the way back.

Right from the starting gun people took off like we were running a 10K. I started to get caught up in it but thought better. I looked and my heart rate had already spiked to 157 so I backed off and let all manner of people surge past me. I hung back and made predictions as to when I would pass this person or that. Some folks looked like I’d probably catch them by mile 15 if at all, some I figured I’d catch within six miles but what amazed me were all the people blowing past me that looked like I’d catch by the end of the block.

So I was cruising along not paying attention to my pace until my heart rate was a solid 15. When I hit 150 I stole a look at my pace and noted it was an 8:47. That seemed too fast. I thought I should be running more like a 9:15 or so but my HR was where I wanted it to be and this was an experiment so I just thought, “Well, let’s see how long I can ride this out” and I just kept going. The miles kept ticking by and I still felt comfortable and my average pace was still dropping. I was really tempted to just slow down even though my HR was rock steady at 150. It took a lot for me to convince myself to just let come what may.

By mile six I was already starting to feel a little tightness in my legs and immediately thought that this was way too soon to feel anything. Six miles into a marathon you should still feel like you just started but I stared again at my HR and convinced myself to just keep going. By the time I hit the turn-around I was hitting mile splits that were in the low 8:30s to high 8:20s and I was actually feeling a little better than I was at mile six.

Now was the point in my plan where I decided that, depending on how I felt I would try and speed up. I was feeling good but I was also running pretty fast. I decided to just hold my current pace and maybe try and speed up a bit at mile 20. I figured that even if I wasn’t able to speed up at that point and were somehow able to maintain my current pace I’d still break four hours, which was my secret goal but not something I really thought I could pull off.

I had been passing people without being passed myself since about mile five but as I closed in on mile 15 the people I was passing were getting smaller and smaller and they were fewer and farther between. By mile 20 I was starting to pass people who looked like they were actually running pretty well but by mile 23 the people I was passing were either doing the marathon shuffle of were in a full blown death march. Despite the fact that at this point we were all mixed in with the back of the pack half-marathon runners and a random assortment of half-marathon walkers the marathoners were easy to spot.

As I entered the final three miles I was struggling to hold my pace but managed to keep it below 9:00. When I hit the final mile I began to pick up the pace again and was able to squeeze out just a little more and I crossed the finish line in 3:47:04. I was pretty stunned because that is only 25 seconds off my marathon PR and that was run at the Ogden marathon, which takes place at fairly similar elevation but which has some really long downhill sections. The Duke City marathon takes place at an average elevation of 5,000 feet but is pretty much flat except the rollers that start about 2.5 miles from the turn around.

So when I finally got home to check my Garmin data I see that the course was measured by my Garmin as 26.35 miles not 26.2. I am used to my garmin being slightly inaccurate but it always registers shorter not longer. The GeekGrls Garmin measure her course at 3.15 instead of 3.1. If I go with my data for average pace and distance than that would put me at 26.2 in 3:45:55, a PR by 44 seconds. I’d love to claim that but I’m sure that would raise more than a few eyebrows. However, I can still claim to have run the fastest average pace for a race that was advertised as a marathon so I guess I’ll go with that.

The best thing, however, is the fact that I ran a negative split by about two minutes. Even better, my negative split was so small that I take it to mean I ran almost a perfect marathon because, I guess in theory, if you started out as fast as you possibly could without dying at the end you would run a perfectly even split, which I damn near did.

Hooray small negative split! Hooray Beer! (my nod to Red Stripe, I can’t get their adds out of my head recently.)

So, I claim that JT wants me dead because he put the evil thought into my head that we should run the Zane Grey 50-miler next season. Zane Grey is most certainly one of the top three hardest 50s in the country if not the hardest. I have a few friends who have run it and they say it is super rocky and you are basically getting lashed the whole way by cactus and dry branches. It’s apparently a lot like getting flogged by a cat-o-nine tails for several hours. Hell, it took Anton Krupeca just over eight hours to finish Zane Grey and he can run Leadville in 16 hours.

Why JT, why?


  1. That's an impressive time! Congratulations. Great that you can 'just' knock out a Sub4 like that. Awesome work!

  2. That's fantastic! Way to shred your secret goal.

  3. awesome Brian! Congrats on a no-PR, PR! :-)

  4. Congrats on the run! Smoking time and you made it seem so easy. Just imagine what would have happened if you were actually training for a Marathon!

  5. Nice Job on Duke City!!!!

    and come on.. its only 50 miles.. so it says its the toughest roughest meanest 50 around.. sure sure.. lets go SEE!!!

    and it will be fun! and we'll compare cuts afterwards!!