The opening 10K or so went exactly accoding to plan. I went out painstakingly slowly, simply by sticking with a group of 3 other guys. My plan was to open up with a 22 minute 5K, and I actually ran the first 5K in 22:40. Came through 10K in about 45 minutes, feeling good.
At this point, the wind was very strong and I was feeling the itch to start racing. There was snow and ice on this part of the course, and the group I had run with started to disintegrate. I'm not sure when I started going "race pace" but it was somewhere around 12K. Drafting became really important in the wind, and I had fun leap-frogging from group to group. THe last 5K of the 13M loop had less wind and good traction and this is where I turned on the music and started going fast.
I wondered where in the field I was, coming into the stadium after the half marathon. By looking at the bib numbers, I knew I had passed several marathoners but didn't know what place I was in. Up ahead, I noticed Kim Hammerich; he took second place in the 6-hour race we did in October. He is on the 100K national team and has an 8:07 100K PR (!). In the 6-hour race, I briefly caught and passed him around halfway, only to crash and nearly drop out. Kim ended up running 76K that day, compared to my 66.
I caught Kim and we chatted a little bit. He told me that the marathon would cap off a 200K week for him. 200k! I have run 109K in a single week once, and it felt like I was going to die. Okay, that's not counting Transalpine, but we didn't really run all the time there, either. He is training for the next 100K World Cup race.
He told me he would try to hold on as long as he could, and I was fine with that. He flies through aid station, whereas I take my time to drink and eat. I also stopped to pee once, so over the next 5K I either caught back up to Kim, or had him draft off of me. Going through the half marathon, we were told that we were third and fourth.
Going over the hills, through the snow, in the wind, felt very lonely. Kim had let go and was nowhere to be seen. The next guy up was too far ahead to see. Or was he? Once in a while, I could see him on the next hilltop. Slowly, he got closer and closer. When we finally got out of the snowy section, he was maybe 60 seconds ahead of me and I figured I should be able to catch him. At the 32K aid station, I drank two big cups of coke and ate a GU. I wanted to run the last 10K in 40 minutes, so I planned to run right through the 36K aid station.
There is a section on the last bit of the course where it's a slight downhill, the wind was coming from the back. I had an extreme sense of runner's high. The music was good; the legs were turning over quickly, without any fatigue or pain. At 3 or 4K to go, I caught up to the guy in second place. This was Poul Petersen, who is another fast ultra-marathoner. I overheard him tell someone at the start that he ran 50 miles in recent 6-hour race. That's amazing; think about it: it's two marathons in 3:06, approximately. He may have been at the end of a long training week, too, or maybe he was having a bad day. Coming up on him, I had hoped he wouldn't latch on; I would hate to sprint at the end of a marathon. But as I got close, I could tell how much faster I was going and it turned out to be a "clean pass".
My time was 3:02. Not bad, given the conditions! I don't think the slow start cost me all that much in the end. I felt good and could have kept going for a while. All in all, it gives me confidence for the 50K at Hell's Hills in Texas in April. We are also planning on doing the Copenhagen Marathon in May where I think 2:40-ish is a realistic goal. In short, I am psyched for what's to come.
The Girl ran a 3:37 (2 minute PR). Again, in those conditions, it's a very good time. If she is healthy for Copenhagen, she should be able to run in less than 3:20. My training plan for her is paying off, almost moreso that I expected. Her weight is the same as last year, when she ran slower in much better conditions, so her theory of "ligther is faster" doesn't hold water anymore. Even her running form has changed over just a few months; it just looks more composed and fluent, because she is used to a fater pace in pratice.
Fewer women run competitively here, so she lacks competition. She enjoys running with the men, but doesn't really get fired up the same way she does when she races other women. I think it would be a good move to get her into some fast shorter races in the spring.
Next up: next round of the cross country series on February 6th.