Sunday’s Santa Rosa Marathon was almost more about the Pocatello Marathon for me than it was about Santa Rosa. I needed to get on track mentally for Pocatello, and that’s exactly what I did. I could have been faster that I was today, but I couldn’t be happier than how I am right now.
I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately, running only one Boston qualifier since I went 3:10 at Fargo on May 22. There have been pretty fair reasons for some of the slower times — pacing duties, challenging courses at high elevation, high heat and an injury to the IT band in my right leg. However, I’ve been doing a fairly good job in my training lately and I’m confident I’m regaining a bit of the speed I surrendered in June and July.
I’m eyeing next week’s race as a huge opportunity, but I wanted a confidence booster. I know I can run fast and I think I can run fast now, so I wanted to go out and get it done today. I wasn’t necessarily dwelling on putting together the race of my life, but I wanted to see some success.
Santa Rosa’s course is pretty nice. It’s flat and fast, peaceful and scenic. It’s in wine country, although it was more of a scenic run through the woods. I would have never known I was near vineyards if you wouldn’t have told me, but it was still a nice run through a well-developed trail network. About eight miles were run on gravel paths that weren’t optimal for footing.
I wanted to go out, run by heart rate and not fear a bonk. That’s exactly what I did and I was pretty happy with how it went. I stayed under control, not letting my heart rate creep beyond my target rate of 170-172. Each of the first seven miles were between 6:48 and 6:59. Mile 8 was 7:00 on gravel. I felt fairly quick, with good stride and turnover. And really, that’s all I needed from the race to give me confidence. I kept at it and started to feel some pain by about mile 10. I slowed a bit, but it wasn’t significant.
I hit the half in 1:33 and change, but knew with the pain I was feeling that I probably wasn’t going to come in sub-3:10. The course was two loops of a 13.1-mile route and I knew I’d be slower the second time around. I figured I was a lock for a sub-3:15 and a BQ, though.
I kept rolling, picking up some momentum and moving past some people between miles 14 and 18. I was actually in good fighting shape for a 3:10 at 20, needing 7:15s or so the rest of the way. I didn’t have the fight, though, and faded with miles in the 7:30-7:40 range over the final 10K.
I crossed the mat in 3:12:58 according to my Garmin. I took 10th overall and 3rd in my age group. I didn’t put together a tremendously solid race, but it was good enough and it gave me the confidence boost I needed. I’m running a downhill course next weekend, something I’m very strong on. I know, everybody is faster running downhill than uphill, but downhill running is a strength of mine.
I wanted something to convince me I can reasonably go after sub-3 next weekend and I’m convinced. I think I’ll be able to head out and run in the 6:35-6:45 range for a while. Ordinarily, I might feel a bit guilty about going after a PR on a downhill course, but I’ve run those before and there are no free miles. They beat the heck out of your quads and can be a disaster. And of course, I’ll never apologize for anything I accomplish in my 41st marathon of the year!
So, mission accomplished in Santa Rosa. I ran a decent race. I knocked some of the rust off my wheels. And I ignited my competitive fire as I head into a PR attempt.
40 down, 21 to go. Look out, Pocatello. I’m coming to get you!
I accidentally had my camera on video, so I had to take a screen cap of a paused video. Terrible!