Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Race Report: Pocono Mountains Run for the Red Marathon

This past Sunday was the 5th running of the Pocono Mountains Run for the Red Marathon (Pocono Marathon). I knew this was going to be a much different marathon experience than my previous 3. I am not the type of runner that can remember every detail about how I was feeling. what I saw, etc... during each mile. Instead, I'm going to split up the race report into 3 parts.

Part I: Start & miles 1 - 8:
The start at Clear Run Elementary School

The start was at Clear Run Elementary School in Tobyhanna, PA. The first sign I knew this was a small race came when I picked up my bag that I would pick up at the finish. There were no fancy bags with my bib number and a UPS truck number, no pre-printed tags, rather I was a given a trash bag (the plastic kitchen type) with my bib number written on it with a Sharpie. Truth is, I really didn't care what they gave me as long as my stuff was waiting for me at the end. After 2 trips to the port-a-potties and the National Anthem, I was off and running.

The first 8 miles of the course featured rolling hills along Memorial Blvd. and Route 611. Coach Jeff told me this was the part of the race where I should settle into my pace. Because the Pocono Marathon is a small race, I didn't have to waste too much time at the start bobbing and weaving  and wasting unnecessary energy. I found my rhythm and watched the miles pass by. Just passed the mile 8 marker I saw Mrs. and Lil Ansky, and TK (who graciously hosted us in her home for the weekend). I had no problems seeing them as they were a part of the small group that came out to cheer on the runners. I knew TK would be Tweeting my progress so I yelled out "1:06." I was pretty much on pace.
Coming through at Mile 8. That's me on the far left

Splits for miles 1 - 8 (based on my Garmin): 8:04, 7:58,  7:42, 8:19, 8:23, 8:21, 8:28, 8:15

Part II: Miles 9 - 19:
This is the down hill portion of the course. Coach Jeff told me to relax and to hold my pace. He said too many runners make the mistake of taking advantage of the downhills by running too fast and they pay for it at the end. I tried to hold back but it hurt more to run at a slower pace. I did the best I could to hold the same effort I did for the first 8 miles. I came through the half at 1:48:10, a little ahead of pace but nothing to worry about. At mile 16 I saw my cheering squad. Lil Ansky stuck her hand out for a high-5, I slapped so hard I thought I took it off (I apologized to her after the race). I forgot to yell out my time but I think it was between 2:13 - 2:16. At mile 18.5 there was a quarter mile hill that got my attention after running down hill for so long. I was feeling good as I approached mile 20 but I knew the hardest part of the course lay ahead.

Coming through at mile 16

Splits for miles 9 - 19: 7:45, 8:23, 8:43 (I need a pit stop at mile 11), 7:55, 8:21, 8:11, 8:28, 8:07, 8:18, 8:14, 8:40 (this includes the quarter mile hill).

Part III: Miles 20 - Finish
This is where the race would get tough. Thanks to Twitter friends, Bill and Michael, I knew there were several hills between miles 20 and 24 that get your attention if you're not ready for them. This is where incorporating hills late into my long runs paid off. While many runners were walking up these hills, I was able to run the hills and pick people off along the way. I saw my cheering squad again just before mile 24. Even though I was hurting, I was able to crack a joke "am I done yet?" as I ran by.

Coming through at mile 24

The last of hills came at the mile 24 marker. It wasn't long, it wasn't nearly as steep at the (in)famous "hook" from my most recent half marathon, but man did it hurt. From there it was slightly downhill to flat into Stroudsburg. Mile 25 was through a residential part of town. Many residents were outside cheering us on and offering whatever words of encouragement came to mind. Mile 26 was mainly through the business district of Stroudsburg. The home stretch came when I made the turn into the Stroudsburg High School complex. The final .2 mile was on a "old school" cinder track. After a quick look at my watch I knew a 3:40 marathon was well in hand. The only question was could I get a sub-3:40. I mustered every ounce of energy I had left and took off for the finish line. As I got close I heard an announcer call out "and here comes #256, [insert real name], from Teaneck, NJ!" How cool is that! You certainly don't get that at a big marathon. Once I crossed the line, a volunteer wrapped a mylar blanket across my shoulders and another volunteer said to me "let's make this official" and put my finisher's medal around my neck.

I made my way to the infield and finally looked at my watch. 3:39:46. I had to look again, 3:39:46. That's a PR by 13 minutes. TK was the first to find me and asked me how I felt "gassed" I replied. TK brought Mrs. and Lil Ansky over and it was time celebrate.

Splits for miles 20 - 26.2
8:46, 8:20, 8:41, 8:52, 8:28, 8:39, 8:31, 2:42

After rehydrating with several cups of Gatorade and eating a few pretzels,  I gathered my stuff and we drove back to TK's house. I cleaned up, enjoyed a heaping plate of baked ziti, and 2 Sierra Nevada Pale Ales. I also hopped on Twitter and Facebook and was overwhelmed by the number of congratulatory tweets and messages I received. Words cannot express how thankful I am for your support and encouragement. When we got home, we went out for a celebratory dinner. I was still wearing my medal around my neck. The proprietor of the restaurant came out to chat and asked me about it. After telling him that I'm fresh off marathon #4, he told me I had an energized fatigued look. Definitely a fitting description.

I would be remiss if I didn't end with a few "thank yous."

First to my wife, Mrs. Ansky for putting up with me during my training. Not only is Mrs. Ansky my wife, she is also my dietitian. Every step of the way she made I was eating correctly to keep up with my training.

Thank you to my daughter, Lil Ansky. In her own almost 9 year old way she put up with a lot as well.

Thank you to Coach Jeff. A while back he tweeted and posted on his Facebook page the following "we don't work miracles, just unleash potential." Enough said.

To TK for being such a gracious hostess, for shuttling Mrs. and Lil Ansky through the back roads of the Poconos (her spectator report is much more eloquent than my race report), and for being a great cheerleader.

Lastly, thank you again to everyone that offered their support, advice, and encouragement during this training cycle. I definitely left it all out on the course yesterday. I am beyond thrilled that it was able to come together. Thank you for coming along for the ride.

I'll post some final thoughts in a separate post. As for what's next....once I enjoy some much needed rest and recovery, I do have some plans for the rest of year and a longer term goal. Stay tuned.

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