Monday, February 21, 2011

Dark Miles and Presidential Climb

Disembarking at Vineyard Haven via the island ferry, Island Home, the Marthas Vineyard 20 Miler commences with the firing of a cannon. I find myself in the absolute back of the pack having to weave past hundreds of runners to get to a comfortable running space. A tailwind helps, gusting 20-30 knots, but soon after finds me on the side of the road tying my right shoe. Minutes later, I’ve moved back into position before pulling over under the warm sun-splashed seacoast as we head to Oak Bluffs.

This underprepared start has me concerned as the miles begin to peel underneath through 2-6 with a focus to even split this 20-miler. Our running of Nantucket sound is sweet as a surge put me in a group of four runners and a strong tailwind. Around mile 8 I notice other runner’s breath in the fast approaching cold front that drops the temperature from 40 degrees to 32 and a cloud cover that remains for the race duration.

Mile 10, in Edgartown has us take a right turn; and the next stretch is four miles of cross-island bike trail running bordering hemlocks into the wind. There are a number of very long hill climbs that wears on the pace leading to believe a 64:28 split is going to have a fair amount of give back. Second gel goes down at mile 13 only to be felt later around mile fifteen. Its here, realizing a 2:10 wasn’t going to happen and the runners who passed me in the dark miles, 10-14, were starting to be reeled in. A combination of taking in more fluids and resurgence of maintaining race pace puts this run on a sub 2:12 tempo. I’ll be happy with that.

The next five miles has three turns and an opportunity to dig deep and focus on the mental training for Boston. This works by breaking down the distance to smaller chunks and repeated goals to build confidence. A few more runners passed finally puts all the women behind and close to pulling in one more master before the finish.

Age Group: 2\43
Place Overall: 16\346
2:11:38 for 6:35\mile pace

A 3:30 am alarm starts the next morning to head to Mount Washington for a hike with friends. Another year of adventure and memories as this winter climb is always prone to the dangerously erratic weather. This year brings temperature in the middle single digits with wind gusting to 85 mph on the summit. There were some windblown bare rocks around Lions Head and a very stiff headwind up the steep trail. Near the top were several tennis court sized ice patches that amazingly the crampons keeps me in place as I braced for strong wind gusts. The photo on top has me behind the sign for support from being blown over.

A fairly uneventful summit down, leg cramps on the ride home, to complete another weekend closer to the Boston Marathon.

Going into the MV20 Miler the McMillan Calculator had me at a 2:10:11. With the above result the new marathon equivalent performance is 2:55:19.