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Run Efficient: Maine Marathon

Monday, October 1, 2012

Maine Marathon

It was probably ten years ago that I mentioned to my father I'd like to run a sub 3 hour marathon.  I remember him stating "it's only a matter of training."  I think it was shortly after my first Vermont City Marathon in 2002 with a time of 3:48.  In 2005 I ran it again and PR'd with 3:45.

The next time I really put weight to the thought of sub-3, and verbalized it was last October, when I told a friend that among my goals for 2012 I wanted to break three hours.

The training was effective.  Two months of mostly road work mixing Jack Daniel's running programs with advice from friends, family and what felt right.  It took six weeks to 'get in the groove' and feel like changes were taking place, but worth the intensity.  All hill work was scrapped, and the focus switched to increasing the tempo runs and spending as much time close to pace as possible.  There were still ups and downs though.  A run was either really great and confidence building, or quite horrible and humbling.  With all the different training practices out there it was tough to stay with just one for the duration.  I really wanted to continue the experiment and try-it-all.  Next time.

Alison, Louie, Francesca and I arrived at the Back Cove at about 7:15, a half hour before the start.  Right away David and Mindy pulled up, followed by Nathan.  The TM contingent was already forming.  After a short chat and pit stop it was time for a warm-up jog and the start.

5 minutes to go...and it's that way
Meandering my way through the crowd I found Bob Dunfey who I'd chatted with a bit over the last few weeks and learned he'd run 124 marathons, 26 of which were under 3 hours.  Really impressive man with a vast array of ultras to his name as well.  He inquired about my goal, previous race times, and instilled some sagely wisdom, basically saying "you've got it." 

The starting gun interrupted the announcer mid-sentence, and we were off!  The first few miles went by relatively calm, chatting with a few people from all over the place.  Mike from PA and I talked for a while and discussed pace and goals.  My goal was to stay as close to 6:45 as possible and hopefully have a negative split.  We ran for quite a while in a pack of six or so including one of the top women.  

I ate a gel around mile 4 and continued to sip water at most aid stations.  Unfortunately I missed Alison and friends at the intersection of 1 and 88, and also at the next four places we were going to meet up.  They got stuck in traffic and the few places they were able to get to I'd gone by already.

Val and Mindy were cheering runners on the course and I think I notice their Bad Ass shirts first, then realized it was them (badasseries).  The turn around for the half marathon runners came and went, and around that time the second place female took over the lead.  A few miles later, John from Hawaii, (now living in Portland) and I ran together and chatted about Hawaiian trails and the local trails and area Monsters.

I'd seen Ian, James, and Jim on bikes earlier in the day, and around mile 11 they pulled up beside me again.  Ian held out a flask of whiskey pulling me along for a few steps, tempting my taste buds, then replaced it with a much appreciated gel.  Jim threatened to moon me if I didn't speed up, and James' encouraging words gave me a lift.  They were quite succinct with their message, "you're just on pace, if you want to break 3, pick it up." 

The turn down Gilman Rd. was crazy.  Ton's of spectators cheering on, a massive crowd, and the first sighting of the lead man.  Down the hill, a right turn, a brief dirt road section, and the half way point, 1:28:56.  Okay, game on now.  I was definitely feeling the pace at this point, but confident I could still get it done.  Focus on pace, lean forward, open up the hips, run from your core, not the legs, relax, smile, enjoy the effort.  I cycled through positivity and mental mantra's hoping to maintain, and possibly increase a bit.

On that loop we saw a lot of inspiring people moving steadily through the now pouring rain.  Many relay runners, walkers and a few groups of military men in full gear including heavy packs.  Everyone was in high spirits passing thumbs up, positive words, and smiles all around.  Just awesome.

Ian, James and Jim were there again as we climbed the hill approaching 88.  Ian passed me another gel and the three continued to ride with me a bit more.  Really fantastic.  I had my Garmin set to beep every mile so I could monitor my progress, but it was off by a bit and would sound (when I heard it) just in sight of the real mile marker, 50 or so yards away.  This was discouraging as I knew my average pace was slower than what the watch was telling me.  So when James asked if I wanted to know my split time I took it thankfully.  I think it was mile 16 when Ian jumped off the bike, ran along with me and gave me the beta.  "You're on pace for sub-3, run consistent for a few miles, then kick it in."

Mile 19 and Alison, Louie, David and Mindy were there cheering.  Louie gave me a cup of Nuun, and Alison gave me a few gels.  I was really excited to see them and it charged me up for sure.  Shortly thereafter Zak sprightly joined me and began pacing and encouraging me through a few miles.  Jim turned down his road and sent a few more words my way.  Absolutely great to have him there as well. 

The thirty percent chance of showers turned to 100 percent downpour but with comfortable temperatures the running was perfect.  I just felt bad for the spectators and bikers getting soaked though and really appreciated their infectious support.

I saw Ian again with about 5 miles to go.  He offered me another gel, but at this point I'd taken four and knew I'd had enough.  My legs were feeling the effort for sure at this point but I was certain I had it in the bag.  With my rough math I figured if I was able to muster 7 minute miles I'd still be under three.

Three miles to go and I took another gel.  With only water consumed along the course I worried about losing energy and low electrolyte-induced leg cramps, which were already threatening with mild spasms.  The last thing I wanted was to stumble before the finish like I did at the Pineland 50 last year.

I think I'd passed a few marathon people in the final 10k, but it was hard to tell with the mix of relay runners.  Once on the Back Cove I recognized a guy I'd seen from the start about a quarter mile ahead.  My goal now was to avoid the leg cramps, finish strong, and pass the runner.  Ian must have seen the determination on my face and he whispered to me, "go get him."  It felt good to gain another position, but if felt fantastic to know the end was near and I'd attained my goal. 

Seeing the finish line was pure elation and the final push was definitely all I had.  With a huge crowd and screaming people I hit my watch at 2:56:10.  Done.

What a fabulous time and with tremendous support from all.  Thank you to everyone who came out, crewed, and supported.  Your energy helped me through the miles for sure and the fact you endured the rainy conditions makes it even more precious.  Thank you!

Mile splits off due to Garmin discrepancies.  (about .03/mile)

Mile 16:41.81
Mile 26:39.51
Mile 36:37.31
Mile 46:46.08
Mile 56:47.23
Mile 66:49.24
Mile 76:45.32
Mile 86:55.76
Mile 96:52.78
Mile 106:54.17
Mile 116:30.78
Mile 126:39.94
Mile 136:47.49
Mile 146:39.41
Mile 156:46.48
Mile 166:39.8
Mile 176:52.37
Mile 186:25.48
Mile 196:27.16
Mile 206:19.13
Mile 216:40.03
Mile 226:24.38
Mile 236:34.76
Mile 246:44.54
Mile 256:42.46
Mile 266:43.02
Last .39   2:22.98


At October 1, 2012 at 1:43 PM , Blogger ZMON said...

Impressive effort Jeremy - keeping that pace is just ridiculous and you were really focused, fantastic to witness.

At October 1, 2012 at 2:17 PM , Blogger unstrung said...

Floored. Twenty-six sub-7 minute miles. Amazing. I love that you had good support out there too.

At October 1, 2012 at 5:08 PM , Blogger Jeremy Bonnett said...

Thanks man. Really great having you out there!

At October 1, 2012 at 8:26 PM , Blogger Sparkplug said...

Wow. Amazing Jeremy. You put in the effort and training and it paid off - way to go!!

At October 1, 2012 at 9:25 PM , Blogger middle.professor said...

Excellent racing Jeremy. Truly. The negative split is impressive on your first marathon (yeh the others don't count). Congratulations. BUT, you need to give any prizes back because you didn't race unaided!

At October 2, 2012 at 4:56 AM , Blogger Jamie said...

You could not have executed that any better. Well done. Bummed I couldn't make it and cheer you on, but I was thinking of you constantly as the morning went on. So stoked for you!!! Great report and glad to hear things went about as smooth as they possibly could have!

At October 2, 2012 at 8:16 AM , Blogger Jeremy Bonnett said...

Ahh, gotcha Jeff. I'm confused though, aren't all races aided?

At October 2, 2012 at 2:59 PM , Blogger middle.professor said...

you are only allowed water/sport drink from what they are providing at the aid stations. Gels you carry yourself. This is a complaint the sub elites have of the elites as the elites have their own water bottles at the aid stations so can fill them with what they want. A women last year was not given a marathon win because she took a water bottle from a spectator on the course. I suspect most marathons don't give a damn. Clearly its a stupid rule. In ski racing you can take all the aid you want from coaches/friends. Random spectators frequently hand over ski poles to racers who have broken theirs. Still, in running, I like following rules!

At October 2, 2012 at 3:59 PM , Blogger Jeremy Bonnett said...

Good to know. It was actually a last minute decision to only carry a few gels with me. The night before I basically figured why not just get a one or tow from Alison along the way.

Thanks for filling me in, it's good to know the etiquette for next time.

At October 3, 2012 at 9:37 AM , Blogger pathfinder said...

Great race Jeremy...amazing to shave that much time off your PR and still had minutes to spare. My one and only (so far) road marathon was on this course...I wanted sub 4 hour and got a 4:02....

At October 3, 2012 at 3:57 PM , Blogger middle.professor said...

The string of sub 6:30-6:35 splits there after mile 17 is stunning. Well executed man.


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