My marathon finish results were still pleasant despite coming up short!
This year the Bellingham Bay Marathon was near perfect conditions for each of the 5K, half marathon and full marathon courses. I had personal set a goal to run the full marathon under four hours. The day shaped up with an excellent temperature and no wind conditions to speak of. As the race took place, I only faced a couple factors that influenced my performance that could be identified in a way where it’s worthy to take note and learn for future performances.
My basic plan was to go out slower than race pace for the first 10k. My idea was to finish the last 32K with a strong race pace. I took the time to print out my split times to wear on my wrist for easy reference. I had calculated to the very minute for each of the water/hydration stations along the course.
I use a Garmin FR70 runner’s gps wristwatch. I had calibrated the device on a short 3 mile course at my local school track. At the beginning of race day I felt confident everything was set up for a perfect run. I did start out slow as planned with some early jitters and nerves that caused me to want to run faster than my planned slow start. But all in all, I kept my pace under control.
As I checked in with each of the mile banner markers set up along the course, I begin to notice that my calibration was off just a little. My gps was indicating that I was making more distance that actual mileage. So, in a best case scenario I attempted to compensate for the difference in calibration. It wasn’t until I reached the 10K flag that I realized that I had not compensated accurately and had completed this split faster than I should have.
By the time I reached the 13.1 midway maker and read the course timer, I realized that I had governed my pace according to what I thought was appropriate but was actually well over 6 minutes ahead of my desired time. This was a daunting realization that I knew would wreck havoc on my last half of the marathon course. I had left too much effort on the first half of the course and would not have the strength to finish as strong as I had hoped to finish with.
Mile 22 was when I had very little strength to contend with the race pace I had desired and knew at this point I was not going to gain any of the lost time that had slipped away to my diminishing pace that I was able to maintain. I had slipped to being over 6 minutes behind my planned race position.
At the finish I crossed the finish line at 4:09:55. I was near 10 minutes over my goal time. This was disappointing for me, but in comparing my time with the previous year’s PR, I had cut 22 minutes off my PR time so that was still very pleasant for me.
Take away lessons: Take extra measures to ensure the accuracy of the gps calibrations. Maybe consider running with a pacer, to ensure a more even pace throughout the course. What about you? What have you learned from one of your recent performances?