BQ Baby! Pocatello ID
Warning – this is a long report (but has a good ending).
Tuesday before the race on Saturday, I am in my usual computer chair being highly productive when I see someone commented on a thread on which I commented in FB for the 50 States Marathon Club. It was on the thread “Is anyone running Boise next weekend?” Curious what was said, I click on the thread and start reading. I start to lose it when there is reference to the race being cancelled! WTF, 5 days before the race because of road construction??? I picked this race (Freakin’ Fast Marathon) since it had a 4000 foot elevation drop from start to finish and finished at an elevation around 2800 feet after flattening out around Mile 21. I thought it would be my best chance to BQ since I do run well in downhill races. Guess my quads are built for it. After short bouts of anger, despair, and a few tears I remember there is another race in Idaho that weekend in Pocatello. Fortunately, it was on the same day so I could make use of my plane tickets. Also, fortunately the Race Director there opened new spots by increasing the cap and checking with those signed up whether they were actually coming, and if they weren’t, offering them a deferral to next year. Classy move by the RD. Pocatello was my original choice for my final BQ attempt for 2016 until I found the FF marathon, so I was familiar with it and it was considered a good BQ course as well. It was also downhill, but had much less overall elevation drop (1500 feet) and basically leveled off after Mile 13. It also finished at a higher elevation of 4500 feet which concerned me. Finally recovering from the initial shock, I signed up and changed my attitude from a negative and pissed off state to convincing myself I will still do this. I trained harder than I did for Colorado where I missed a BQ by about 5 minutes on a similar course just 4 months earlier. So I figured I still had a decent shot though I went from a high confidence level to a I think I can do it.
As I got packed and ready to fly out, I couldn’t help but being a little concerned. Was someone telling me I shouldn’t make this trip? Several weeks back, I luckily avoided serious injury from a high speed bike crash, a fall while running, and a projectile blow to the ankle from the lawnmower. All this happened in a 2 week period. I started thinking about those things which just amplified my concerns. I’m not particularly superstitious but there is a little of “fate” belief I have I guess. Ok, then off to Boise. Flight gets delayed about a half hour but no big deal since I had a 3 hour layover in Minneapolis. We leave the gate and a thunderstorm hits. We get delayed another 1 ˝ hours. Again, thoughts enter my mind that maybe I shouldn’t be doing this. Anyway, make it to Minny ok and find out my next flight is delayed almost an hour. Ok, now I have time to eat my pad thai as planned at the Pei Wei inside the airport. Nope, find out they don’t have that on the menu there. So off to Subway to eat something “safe”. Next door is an Asian restaurant so I check it out and see they have pad thai. I decide to try it and it was very good to my surprise. So I get on the plane for the second part of my trip feeling satisfied. I get to Boise after midnight, so I have to get a cab since the hotel shuttle stops running at midnight. Darn delay. Finally get to my room and to bed about 2, which is really 4 my time. I decide to sleep in since I arrived so late.
Next morning I am up and wide awake by 6:30. Crap. So I do my 1 mile loosen up run, get a light breakfast and go back to sleep. I had hoped to nap for an hour and a half but that was cut short when they ran a loud vacuum outside my door just a few minutes after I fell asleep. I pack up and walk next door to get my rental car to make the 3 ˝ hour drive to Pocatello. I stop for a good breakfast at the Original Pancake House (large and delicious baked apple pancake). Service is slow so I am behind schedule. I get to Pocatello about 3:30, check in at the expo and then the hotel just across the street. Very organized at the package pickup. Sweet backpack that can be used at the drop bag, already identified with a luggage tag. Could have picked up a bag of potatoes but I didn’t think they would be allowed on the plane. After calling Ann, decided to drive the course even though I was behind schedule. I wanted to eat about 5, 5:30 at the latest. After nearly running out of gas while driving the course, I make it to dinner at 6:30. Pull into the Texas Roadhouse and the parking lot is packed. Crap I thought. But, I get seated at the bar, have exceptional service, some really good salmon with my baked and sweet potatoes, and I am out of there by 7. Get back to hotel, lay out my stuff and get to bed about 9:30 which is about an hour later than I wanted to do.
Race morning! Came too early as I woke up at 1:37, went to the bathroom and then tossed and turned until about 3:15 when I decided to get up and get ready. I get to the bus by 5:00 and get on the first bus. It was only a 15-minute ride, so I am at the start about an hour before the start. I hit the porta john, get some light jogs in to loosen up and I’m ready. Or, should I say almost. I could not get my Garmin to stay on and I made sure it was fully charged the night before. Great, I have to run with just my stop watch so I won’t know my pace until I hit the mile marks along the course.
The starter sounds the horn, or gun, or whatever as I have no recall of that. It’s a cool, crisp morning (40 degrees) still 45 minutes before sunrise so it’s pretty dark. I am wearing gloves, a throw away long sleeve shirt over my tri top which I like wearing for races, as well as a garbage bag with holes for my arms. My pace seems fast but it is downhill and I get to the first mile mark in just over 8:30. Perfect I thought as I did want to run the first half in about 8:20 - 8:25 pace so that was a good warm up mile. 8:20 was a little faster than I originally planned but the last 13 miles this day would be in a west or northwest direction where a 10 mph head wind was predicted so, I wanted to get a minute or two ahead. Somewhere towards the end of the second mile, I almost catch the 3:35 pace group and I realized I might be going too fast. Sure enough I hit the second mile in 7:48. I decide to fall back of the pace group but keep them within my sights. Employing my run/walk method of about a 6 minute run to ˝ minute walk I would get close to the pace group just in time for my walk break. Mile 3 I shed the garbage bag. Somewhere between Mile 4 and 5 I decided to take my running hat off to slide it in my shorts as my head was getting warm as the temp started to rise a little. In doing so I forgot about my sunglasses that were on my hat and they went flying. Nice, snazzy ones with yellow temples that match my top that I bought at the expo. They hit the pavement and one lens pops out, and one of the nice snazzy temple pieces snaps in half. Crap, no sunglasses for when the sun pops out. For certain, I will end up with a migraine later. Now, I say to myself “what else could go wrong now”. No Garmin, no sunglasses. Will I get hit by a car next?
I quickly turn away from the negative thoughts and focus on the 3:35 pace group still just ahead. I figure if I can keep somewhat close to them through the first half, then I’m in good shape. As the sun starts to come up, I am thankfully shielded from direct sunlight in my face by the small mountains that lined the course. The miles start to peel away. It wasn’t until at least the 12 mile mark before the 3:35 pace was starting to distance themselves a little from me. At that point I just ran how I felt. I hit the halfway point in 1:48, 2 minutes ahead of plan. Perfect! I’m feeling good and now the course turns to the west just as the sun gets high enough to directly shine on me. I hope I have enough in me to fight the wind now. The next 6 miles are the key for me. My plan called for roughly 9:00 pace the rest of the way, except for 3 of the miles (16, 17, & 21) that had some hills where I planned about 9:30 for those. I missed the Mile 14 mark for some reason. Probably because I was concentrating on getting past the slower half marathoners who started just before I got to the halfway mark. When I get to the Mile 15 mark and hit my lap button, I see I ran those two miles in 8:15 pace! Now I am some 3 ˝ minutes ahead of plan. And, there is still no wind! Now, the 2 miles with some hills. They didn’t seem too bad and I manage those miles in about 9 minutes each. So now I am over 4 minutes ahead of plan! Mile 18 and 19 go smoothly where I am catching a 9:10 pace group for the half marathoners. My cushion is now nearly 5 minutes! The course turns to the NW and now the wind comes out of nowhere and it is directly in my face. It’s stronger than predicted too as I am sure it’s about 15 mph at least. I fall a little behind that 9:10 pace group and hit the Mile 20 mark with a 9:15 mile. Still around 5 minutes ahead of pace. Now Mile 21, which has the worse hill which isn’t horrible but it is a gentle incline for about 1/3 mile and it is into that strong wind. Taking extra walk breaks along that mile, I reach Mile 21 in 10:22. So now I’m still nearly 4 minutes ahead of pace with 5.2 miles, with no more hills. Just the wind to contend with.
Still not knowing my pace, and having no pace group near enough to help me out, I am running by feel. I know I only need around 9:45 miles to hit 3:50, and 10 minute miles to be under 3:52, the mark at which I was pretty sure would get into Boston. Mile 22 – 9:59. Ok, maybe I can pick it up a hair. Mile 23 – 9:40. Good. I start to feel it. As I tear up, I force myself to focus as I still had a long way to go and that wind was only to get stronger as the day went on. Mile 24 – 9:48. All right, looking good. I hit Mile 25 – 9:51, and now I know I have Boston but I wanted to break that 3:50 mark so I could register before the final group and know for sure I am in earlier. As I push through the final mile, I finally get relief from the wind as we make a left turn to go into the park where the finish line awaits. There is a slight downhill, which fuels my confidence, before another turn to the left where the wind is at my back for the last ˝ mile or so. I run steady until I take my final walk break just before the 26 mile mark. I hit the mark in 9:46. I now need to finish in 1:59 or less to beat 3:50. I pick it up as much as I could without risking a blowout, I reach that finish line in tears, realizing what I had just accomplished. With screams and a loud BOSTON yell, the crowd of runners around the finish takes notice and many are giving my high fives and smiling. I get my medal and get through the shute where my emotions are leaking out my eyes profusely. What a day! After calming myself down, I retrieve my fancy drop bag where I hid my phone. I make the call to Ann at 10:10. (I had told her the best case scenario would be to expect a call no earlier than 10:15). She answers all excited since it was only 10:10. I ask her if she wants to spend our next anniversary (April 25) in Boston. The eyes start leaking once again.
Marathons: Missoula 7/9, Wineglass 10/1, LVM 11/12
1/2 Marathons: TBD
Other: Big Fish Sprint Tri 6/10, Frankenmuth Oly Tri 8/6, MI Titanium Half Iron Tri 8/20
< --BOSTON HERE I COME!!!!!!!!