Friday, May 21, 2010

Copenhagen Marathon Preview

Oh boy. The marathon is getting close. Before most races, I am nervous but also excited. Before this one, I'm nervous and just want to get it over with.

I have raced three marathons in my life and all three have been miserable experiences. I ran the Copenhagen Marathon when I was 22 and 23 in 3:08 and 3:09, as I recall. Both times, I did what young guys often do: started out fast and finished slowly and in pain. The first time wasn't 100% bad, mainly because I didn't know what to expect and that seemed to make the race go by faster. The second time, I remember cramping up in my legs and abdominal muscles after the race, while throwing up. I vowed never to run a marathon again but did, anyway, the same summer. This time, it was the Paavo Nurmi Marathon in Ironwood, MI. Same thing: cramps and vomiting and a promise never to do it again.

Fast forward ten years, and I have run a few ultras with mixed success. This winter/spring, I have even run (but not raced) two marathons, in which I have started out slowly and sped up at the end. This last one was in 2:50.

If only there was another big race after Copenhagen, so I could sandbag this one under the guise of using it as a training run. But this is, unfortunately, the target race and there will be no starting out slowly. I may as well state my goal: 2:42 (ie. Steve Quick's PR. He has PRs in all the shorter distances that I will never beat but his marathon PR is weak, comparably). Some might say that cutting 8 minutes off a 2:50 "training" marathon shouldn't be too hard, but when I look closer, I start to worry. I'll be going for a 6:08 per mile pace, which amounts to 38:20 per 10K. Now, I don't think I can count on running negative splits on Sunday, so I actually have to start out running the first 10K in 38:20 - or less. See, that seems pretty fast to me and it makes me realize that I am risking a complete collapse in the second half of the race. In fact, I could end up running slower than the 2:50.

So, yes, I have been toying with running without a watch and simply going by feel. It sure would make for amore enjoyable experience.

There are other worries. I seek out small races where I have a chance of winning; and this to the point of now having been in a race for years, where I couldn't line up in the front of the pack. I can't do that on Sunday; the fast people (including women; I will get chicked on Sunday!) will look at me and wonder who the old, fat man is. There are 12,000 runners all starting at once. There are probably going to be fences and corrals and guards and a fair amount of agoraphobic activity on my part. I should rightfully be able to line up near the start, say close enough to see the front. But I'm not even sure I can find the front with all the people there. I worry a lot more about this than I should.

I have even devised a cop-out plan if I get stuck somewhere in the middle of the hoard of runners: just start out slowly and enjoy the day. What a thought, huh?

The Girl has tapered by running the least this last week I have ever seen her run since she was pregnant and injured. Instead, she has biked with the triathlon club and swum several miles. She is ready to rock and will easily PR. She won't break 3:20but it will be close.

My claim to fame during the Copenhagen Marathon will be my friend Justin Stakston, who is coming over to run - and win - the race. Justin has a PR of 2:27, so winning might be a tall order. He could podium, though, which in itself is huge in such a big race. I know the course snakes around the city, so I am hoping to see the front group a couple of times. I should mention that the Copenhagen Marathon is one of the few big city marathons in Europe that doesn't offer money prizes, which means there is no group of second-tier East Africans showing up to lay claim to the top 10. It's usually won in low 2:20s by an elite (but non-pro) foreigner or by a fast Dane, especially when the marathon doubles as Danish Nationals (it doesn't this year).

Finally, there is an issue with my right foot. It goes back to this winter, when I ran obsessively on snowy trails in heavy trail shoes. A point on the outside of my right foot, which I think may be the insertion point of the short peroneal muscle, has been aching. Just aching but not enough to stop me from running or racing. It warms up and goes away during longer runs and races but comes back afterwards. I thought it would disappear for good during my marathon taper, but instead it has come back even worse. I don't think I will feel it during the marathon but I fear that it might turn into a real injury afterwards.

Report follows.


olga said...

Funny, I just told girl my prediction of 3:22. So, how come you're planning to run smart race with even splits, and she wants to gun it first half and then hold for a dear life and risk slowing down away from even previous PR? I fear that...but one can never learn unless tries. Wasn't her (and your) last "training" marathon a great example on how to reel in the speed? Anyhow, I bet you'll feel funny not be in the front. Weird, hu? Do wear a watch though. Don't sandbag - you won't, it's just nerves talking. Go kick ass. You are in great shape.
p.s. foot issue - I always have old or new injuries nagging when have an "A" race this weekend:)

sea legs girl said...

The idea of running without a watch is a good one since you never remember yours anyway and then ask to use mine :). Honestly, no matter what your strategy, you will run a fast time. You are just a smarter runner with more endurance than you were in your first marathons.

SteveQ said...

Yeah that PR of mine sucks - even the 2:39 on a downhill mismeasured course sucks. Just don't try to do it like I did (I hit the half-way in 1:14:29)

And if you can just relax and have a good time out there, well then you're better than me in another way!