Ran the Moab Marathon for a marathon pace tempo run as the opportunity presented itself. 2:35:20, first place. Felt very strong.
Race results are available here.
This race was a rather interesting experience. Six years ago I volunteered to help my friend Curt, who directs a number of local races, to help with his website. This eventually led to me becoming in charge of timing his races. Timing a race means you need to be at the start when it starts, and at the finish when the first person crosses the line. I also need to get a hard run in that day. The logical solution to that problem is, of course, to run the race. I have a back-up person who knows enough to push the button for me, and in case I get beat, for the winner, but otherwise I am in charge. So I have two conflicting goals - to win the race with enough margin to take care of potential problems with the computer, and to arrive at the finish line with the blood sugar level sufficient to operate the timing equipment for a couple of hours. Fortunately for this occasion, Curt does not go out of his way to recruit a strong field, which allows the timing to go smoothly.
As you can see from the Course Map and Elevation Profile, the race starts at the Dead Horse Park, follows Hwy 313 to the junction with Hwy 191, then two miles south towards Moab along 191, under the bridge, and back to the Archview campground. First 8 miles a gradual climb on rolling hills at 6000 feet, then downhill to about mile 19 with some rolling hills in the middle, then pretty much flat and rolling to the end. Last 2 miles on dirt.
This run was going to answer an important question for me. Do I need long runs to do well in a marathon, or are my 16 milers with a 10-13 mile tempo in the middle sufficient? Since the St. George marathon in October I never went longer than 16 miles in one run.
Curt sounded the horn, and we took off. Tried to recruit some company in the first minute, but everybody said they were shooting for 3 hours. So I went alone. Steady 6:00 pace through the first 8 miles. Not bad at all - at 6000 ft with rolling hills going up I was expecting about 6:10. Ate a banana at 6 miles.
Then a turn, and we got some tailwind in addition to the downhill bonus. Maintained 5:30-5:40 pace up until 16 miles. Got a low fuel signal at 12 miles, and drank some Powerade. Less than ideal, but better than nothing. Drank some more at 15, if I remember right.
Then some headwind came. I got a side ache on the right. This could be just an irritation from the headwind, or could indicate that the liver is running out of fuel. Slowed down to 6:00-6:10 pace, and costed to 20. Half in 1:16:34. 20 miles in 1:56:32.
Refueled with Powerade at 20. Tried to be thorough and drink the whole cup. Refueled again at 22. The side ache is gone, and I am feeling very energetic. But now we have some serious headwind and we are going slightly uphill. Was very happy with a 6:30 and 6:44 miles. I was expecting 7:00. Then under the bridge, and two more miles on dirt. But it is slighly down, and with a solid tailwind. Feeling exceptionally good. Too bad it is dirt road, and there are no quarter marks to pace myself. I wish I were in the Provo Canyon. Now if only I could stay on the course. There are so many trails going in all directions. I still see the cones - that is good. With about a quarter to go I saw a mark, but somehow I ended up taking a wrong turn and when I got to the finish, a barbed wire was separating me from the chute. This sure makes for a good story for an April Fool's day - crawling under a barbed wire at the end of a marathon. Could not have thought of a better joke if I were trying to make one up.
The marathon did not end there for me. Fortunately I had enough time to get changed, and even tried to find a radio station that had the LDS General Conference. No luck - will have to catch a rebroadcast of the first session later. Another almost three hours of timing the race. The marathon is still not over, though. I've got General Conference and a drive back to Provo coming up ahead. I think I am going to tell Curt I will not time a race on a General Conference day again.
However, I am very happy with what I learned today. Adjusting for the conditions of the course, I had probably just run an equivalent of 2:27 in St. George. What is more important is that I felt strong on the last 4 miles, probably strongest than ever in a marathon. So I have strong reasons to call this race a success.
As I suspected, going long is not what does the job for me to prepare the marathon - it is going medium long, but fast. I also learned something about refueling. Powerade has simple sugars. They give me a funny feeling during the first 10 minutes after the intake, but then the body cleans up the mess and I feel strong. My intuition tells me that a more complex sugar would work better. Maybe I should try Ultima.