Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sub-3 at the River City Marathon!

On Sunday, I joined about 135 marathoners and around 225 half marathoners for the first annual River City Marathon/Half Marathon in Sacramento. This point-to-point race was held on the bike path along the American river from Negro Bar in Folsom to Discovery Park, close to downtown.

My one and only goal for this race was to break 3 hours for the first time. Training went well and at one point I was playing around with the idea of shooting for an even faster time, but I really wanted to "knock the bastard off" first, before attempting anything even faster only to hit the wall and miss both targets. Add to that a prediction of roughly 90-degree heat (the race started at 7, so the heat would only play a role in the last hour or so) and sub-3 would be challenging enough.

I did one 13-mile training run on the course two weeks prior to the start and I had run other sections of the trail in past Helen Klein 50K/50M races, so I knew what to expect: a flat and fast course.
The Finish
Prior to the race, I was fortunate to get training and racing advice from all kinds of great runners. Alan and Scott shared some of their training schedules and George Farmer and V. Neelakantan turned me on to some interesting training techniques such as the fast-finish progression long runs. Marathon Junkie Chuck Engle, who actually runs sub-3 pace teams, recommended not to bank seconds or minutes but instead shoot for dead-even splits all the way, with a 1:30 first half and so that's what I set out to do. I soaked up some final advice from Haile Gebrselassie and I was ready to go!

The marathon started promptly at 7 a.m. In the first 5 or 6 miles I moved from 12th place to 4th and then moved into 2nd place at the one and only climb of the course (a bridge over the American River). First place was out of sight at this point, but I could care less--I was just focusing on maintaining even 6:52 spits and any sort of placing would be a bonus.

I hit the half marathon at exactly 1:30 and had to weave my way through over 200 half marathoners. By mile 16 or 17 I caught up to the front runner, who had slowed down a bit. From here on I would be paced by the "lead-bike," operated by super-fast runner and volunteer Brad Lael, which was kind of exciting.

I continued to pick up some half marathoners and got into a great rhythm, always hovering right around 6:52. I chatted briefly with Brad, but then tried to focus on my breathing again. Vicky, Sean, and Rocky would meet me at the finish line and Sean had brought his bike and he met me with some Gatorade with about three miles to go, which was just what I needed. Two weeks earlier, Rocky had volunteered to crew for me on his bike for the entire marathon, but unfortunately he broke his arm snowboarding.
The Hardware...
Miles 18 thru 24 felt the easiest of the entire race for me, but I had to give it my all in the last two miles to make it under 3 hours. with 1 mile to go, I started speeding up in order to make sure I would not need yet another marathon to break 3 hours. I ran a 6:10 mile and knew I had it locked up when I made the last turn with the clock in sight. I almost missed the turn to the finish chute, but fortunately Rocky yelled out that I had to make a right turn off the bike path and I crossed the line with 10 seconds to spare (2:59:50)! Naturally, I was really excited about the time (mission accomplished) and it was a nice bonus to win the race overall, of course!

Nachos!--a nice second (or third) post race meal at Dos Coyotes in Folsom
Although the course is USATF certified for the distance, it appeared to be roughly 0.15 miles longer on my GPS watch and I heard others say the same. (distances ranged between 26.35 and 26.66). It turned out to be a hot day, so even though this was a fast and flat marathon, hats off to all the finishers (especially first-timers) who were out there in the heat for many hours! Thanks to Robert and Lisa Mathis for putting on another great event on a much larger scale than the usual ultras and to all the volunteers who came out to help.

Next Up: The Spring Run 10K in Nevada City on the 25th of April.


Turi said...

Wow, Peter, that's awesome. Congrats on knocking that goal off!

SnowLeopard said...

WOW Peter! Congrats! You make it sound so easy~ and make me want to go run one!

Chihping Fu 傅治平 (超馬阿爸) said...

Peter, congrats to your sub-3hr marathon and overall win. It was really hot Sunday. You're impressive and so productive at every distance.

Hope you recover well for the next Sprint/g Run 10K!

Chihping (look forward to seeing you at Oracle 5K)

Dave - Atlanta Trails said...

AWESOME job, Peter! sub 3-hour is incredible.

You must also be in first place of the ultrarunner.net series now, right?

Scott Dunlap said...

Sub-3 in the heat! Amazing! I hope you and Rocky are recovering well.

GOMS-Hayward said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Congrats on your sub-3 through an end-of-race kick! The next quarter hour goal has less bang for the buck (I gave up on it), so hopefully you feel like you can die now, at least from the marathon point of view...

Jean Pommier said...

PR + win, nice job, like Scott at Ruth Anderson. What a weekend for you guys!

Farther Faster

olga said...

Fantastic run, Peter! Sub-3 in negative split, yeah! Looks like a beautiful day too.

slowrunner77 said...

i feel the need to point out that your last miles, especially the 6:10, blew away anything I've run over the last miles of a marathon...i can only dream of finishing that strong! Way to go...at this rate, you'll be sub 2 hours in a couple more years, right??? I'll have to show Abby the picture of Vicki - she was wondering ifshe really exists :)

Sean Lang said...

Nice job dialing in your pace and training to get that sub 3!

Gretchen said...

Way to execute your race plan, that's awesome Peter!
It took me more than twice as long to run my marathon on Sunday. :)

Norma Bastidas said...

wow peter! that's fantastic, i wonder what you ar eputting in you water.

well deserved


anil said...

Congrats Peter! wishing you many more.

Catherine said...

Missed you at Daffodil Peter. I had forgotten you were doing this race. When Larry D mentioned where you were, I knew you were going after 3 hours and would get it. Congrats on a great race.

Between you and Gretchen, I feel kind of wimpy just doing a 5K Sunday :)

PS. Larry will be happy to have his warm-up buddy back for NC. Good luck there.

Anonymous said...

Peter -- Wonderful to read of your continuing success. Are you still at Kaazing? Still miss working with you, even if the work involved software error messages! Susan S.

Peter Lubbers said...

Good to hear from you, Susan!
Are Janet and Deb still there with you?
Yes, I am still at Kaazing.
Drop me a line at my yahoo mail address (peterlubbers AT yahoo.com)

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