Saturday, November 29, 2014

Spinx Carolina Marathon Race Recap - AKA How To Regroup & Enjoy The Run

(Yes this recap has taken me five weeks to write. What can I say? Life happens. In any case, please enjoy.)

Happy to have Marathon No. 5 in the books!
This race did not turn out to be what I had hoped and planned for it to be.

At. All.

The Spinx Carolina Marathon was to be my flat (or at least flatter) marathon. I was supposed to PR. Not only was I supposed to PR, but I was to smash it as I aimed for a time between 4:30-4:35.

But alas, none of that was to be.

The Spinx Carolina Marathon was my worst marathon time-wise, so no PR by rather a PW by nearly 26 minutes. The course wasn't as flat as I led myself it to be.

Yet, in spite of it all, I made the most of it and enjoyed the run.

After all, how could I not? It was a GORGEOUS day for a run. The scenery along the course was beautiful. And I had the best support crew (a.k.a. my lovely bride Genople) waiting for me at the finish line.

All along I had hoped and trained to PR this race. However, training did not go as smoothly as planned. I logged the fewest miles ever during marathon training in part to me adjusting to my new role at work.

At the start and ready to go!
Despite that, I felt I was still in line for a good race. If not a PR, definitely another sub-5 time.

That was until I unwittingly sabotaged myself.

Nine days prior to race day, there was a blood drive at work. I'd donated with no issues before in regards to running. A day or two later, and I'm back to normal.

However, the blood center asked me if I'd like to do a double red cell donation since I was a great candidate and my numbers were perfect to do so. Without hesitation (and thinking), I said yes.

Big mistake.

Well, it was a mistake for me to do so that close to race day. I failed to realize how drained I would feel, especially during running.

That said, I do not regret doing the donation. I know I helped save someone's life with it. I will donate again, but I will be smarter about when I donate.

As the story goes, lesson learned.

So my goal of 4:30-4:35 did not happen. Instead, I finished with a time of 5:33:40 - my slowest marathon time by 27 minutes.

Oh well, I knew it could be long day, so I decided to make the most of it.

The goal - the finish line!
My red blood cell and iron count was going to be lower than normal due to the donation, so I decided to go as fast as my body would allow with the knowledge that I might have to pull out of the race. This was something I was mentally ready to do.

Fortunately, it never came to that. While my legs did not exactly want to go fast, especially late in the race, I never once felt like I could not go on.

The morning of the race, I felt good. It was race day. I mean, how can you not feel the excitement on race day. While I felt good, there was a sense of apprehension in me. I just wasn't sure what the day was going to hold for me.

As the race got underway, I focused on trying to keep a nice, easy pace. And the first 8 miles went fairly well. My goal was to try to keep within a 10:30-11 minute/mile pace, and I was able to do this early on. My splits for the first eight miles were: 10:28 / 10:23 / 10:32 / 10:56 / 10:49 / 10:41 / 10:51 / 11:02.

It was during Mile 9 that I slowed up to take in my first GU gel. (Salted Caramel FTW!!!) However, it seemed at this point when the energy I was feeling began to slip away.

Mile 9 wasn't too bad as I did it in 11:58. However, things really began to get slower from there.

At Mile 18 mark. I knew a PR was not in the books,
but it did not spoil my run.
For Miles 10-19, the splits went like this: 11:31 / 12:54 / 12:40 / 12:52 / 13:36 / 12:24 / 14:48 / 13:25 / 13:41. This is also were the bulk of the elevation was on the course. The map on the Spinx Carolina Marathon website said there was only 380 feet of elevation game for the entire marathon. LIES!!! Lies, I tell you! My Garmin determined there was 760 feet of elevation gain - twice what the map said there was. Granted, this still was the 'flattest' marathon I've ran, but I wasn't truly prepared for this.

Also, there was hill during Mile 16 in a subdivision in Traveler's Rest that rivals Noelton from the Knoxville Marathon. In fact, I believe this hill was steeper.

Despite my slower splits, I had some beautiful scenery to enjoy. The course ran through Furman University's campus twice and winded out to Traveler's Rest and through some beautiful subdivisions.

At Mile 18, I knew my PR hopes were long gone as was another sub-5. I texted my bride to let her know because I didn't want her waiting at the finish line worrying about me as I was not going to be crossing it when I originally thought/hoped.

The lake on Furman University's campus. 
Like much of the first 8-9 miles of the races, the majority of the final 6-7 miles were on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. While this course did not provide much crowd support along way, there was always bikers and other runners/walkers on the trail offering support and encouragement along the way. Having people lined up along the course is always nice, I enjoyed this set up because there always seemed to be a passerby with an encouraging word right when I needed it.

Miles 19-26 were a struggle. My body wanted to go, but my legs just weren't willing. It was like my body was trying to go 70 mph while stuck in first gear. It just wasn't going to happen, and my splits definitely show that: 14:43 / 14:51 / 14:29 / 15:13 / 13:23 / 15:52 / 14:05.

Fluor Field's Green Monster.
It was really clear I had nothing in me as I got down to the final stretch. In all of my previous marathons, I had a pretty decent kick - running a sub-10-minute pace down the home stretch. At the Knoxville Marathon, I also get this surge of energy as I enter Neyland Stadium and race down to the 50-yard line where the finish is.

Not so this time.

One of the reasons I wanted to run this race was because the finish line was on Fluor Field - the home of the Greenville Drive, an affiliate for the Boston Red Sox. The stadium is a mini-replica of Fenway Park, complete with its own Green Monster.

As you enter the park, you race along the warning track around the outfield wall and then race down the warning track down the third-base side to the finish line near home plate. As much as I wanted to go, go, go, I simply did not have any kick. My pace for the final 0.2 was at 11:42/mile.

Making my way across the finish line!
I might not have had much of a kick, but this was by far one of my favorite finishes as my bride was at the finish line, standing by the folks handing out the medals, taking photos of me coming in. Seeing her there made me quickly forget how long of a day I had out on the course.

It wasn't my day, but that's OK. I finished a marathon and enjoyed the run despite all my struggles.

This is a great race with a gorgeous course. It is very well supported and well ran, especially considering they also have a half marathon, 10K, 5K and a kids' fun run also with each race having it's own course. Only the start/finish line areas are the same.

The only disappointing parts of the race were the shirt and medal. They were both generic in nature as they related to all of the events. Neither the shirt or medal had the date of the event or mentioned that it was the marathon I ran. Both are nice, and the medal (especially its ribbon) are very high quality, but they are underwhelming.

Greenville, though, it s a great place to visit. My bride and enjoyed our weekend there. After the race (and a couple hours of rest), we walked downtown for dinner and then toured the area on foot.

All in all, I recommend this race. It's in a great locale, ran well, and has one of the most picturesque courses.

1 comment:

  1. I really like these marathons in which athletes have to cross different hurdles to reach the milestone in short time.