As you all know, Newport is probably my favorite marathon, except maybe for
Boston (can you say: comparing apples and oranges). For whatever reason, I
have always run fast times at Newport. Yes it is a mostly flat course but
that doesn't fully explain it. Clay and I were talking about that this
morning and trying to figure out why most people run such fast times there.
The first 2.5 miles or so of the course is rolling with a lot of turns,
which don't help. After that you go down to the Bay and do a long (20 miles
or so) out and back stretch along the bay with a mile long hill at mile 25
followed by a .2 mile descent to the finish. A couple of ideas why it is
while mostly flat there are a few undulations to work other muscles
the weather is usually great (no exception this year) with not much wind
after you get away from the ocean
the long out and back curves along the bay so you don't see a long flat
stretch in front of you
clean Oregon coast air
oysters at mile 10.5 :-)
friendly small marathon where it is very easy to find other runners to run
For whatever reason, this is has always been my goal marathon for the year.
I've run my three fastest ones here (3:20:30 - 2002, 3:18:41 - 2004,
3:19:08 - 2005). This year, I was pretty sure that I didn't have a PR in me
since I haven't trained as much but I thought I could run around 3:22. With
that in mind, I lined up at the start with Dick Decker and Van Phan. Van
was going for around a 3:20 and Dick was going to try to hang on (he did a
lot more than hang on). I could tell immediately that Dick had a lot of
energy. He was talking my ear off and we missed the first mile marker :-).
But at mile 2 we got calibrated and then headed back to the park at the
start before heading down a hill to the bay. Van got a little ahead of us
but not much as we could keep her in sight. Miles 4 and 5 take you past the
finish and up the hill at the end of the race and down the hill on the other
side. Dick and I thought we were going a bit too fast but it felt pretty
15:38 (first 2 miles), 7:22, 7:24, 7:24 - 37:49
Now we are on the flat and ready to get into a steady pace. Unfortunately,
I really need to take a brief porta-bush break and peeled off from Dick and
Van, with whom we had met up. After turning off the course onto a side
road, doing my thing (I'm sure that brings a pretty picture to everyone's
mind), I was back off. I didn't try to catch up to Dick and Van but tried
to keep up with them (Dick was wearing a bright red singlet so was easy to
see). In a bit, I started running with a woman who looked a bit familiar.
It turns out she is Linda Samet from Corvallis who Meghan might know. Her
goal was sub-3:25 so we decided to run together (she was hoping to get
closer to 3:20 but anything under 3:25 was good). We continued clicking off
miles at a steady rate even though I thought we might be going a tad too
fast. However I was feeling good with no aches or pains so I didn't slow up
(big mistake -- I'm no POTUS-to-be).
7:55 (porta-bush break), 7:25, 7:26, 7:35, 7:24 - 1:15:34 (37:45)
Soon we started seeing the lead runners coming back to us, which is one of
the things I really like about the race. We all share the eastbound lane of
the road and it is small enough that there is no congestion. Mary H, going
for the Masters course record, was third woman but the first two looked a
bit younger so I was hopeful (she ended up setting it and getting the
money). Then David Wang, one of my Boston teammates, came cruising by
looking fresh as a daisy. Then Prez Steve Yee zoomed by smiling since he
knew that today he was going to clean my clock. Clay wasn't far behind.
Linda and I kept up our steady pace with her doing most of the talking and
me worrying about the splits :-). We passed the halfway point in 1:39
exactly, which was a bit slower than the last two years but it seemed fine.
I figured I would slow up some the second half but at this time was still
contemplating 3:20, if I could hold it together.
7:40, 7:31, 7:34, 7:35, 7:25 - 1:53:19 (37:45)
As I write this, I'm amazing myself at the consistency of those three 5 mile
segments. Well, it is about to change big time. Linda and I were still
running fairly consistently and the turnaround is about mile 15.5. Van had
moved a little in front of Dick who still looked strong. I was still hoping
to catch up to him since our distance apart was staying pretty steady and
Dick has been known to go out a little too fast. Little did I know it was
my turn to crash and burn. Miles 16 and 17 felt fine but I noticed that the
effort was getting harder and suddenly I dropped 12 seconds in mile 18.
Mile 19 was another 13 seconds and mile 20 another 12. Linda was also
slowing but felt a lot better and she went on ahead. The frustrating part
of those three miles was that I was trying to find a pace where I could get
back into a steady pace but every mile was getting worse. It wasn't a very
7:36, 7:33, 7:45, 7:58, 8:10 - 2:32:23 (39:04)
OK, now it gets really ugly. I'm getting pretty frustrated with not being
able to turn my legs over any faster. I didn't really have any aches or
cramping just no energy to push the legs. So the times continued their ugly
trend. Of course I was still doing all sorts of calculations to see what
I'd have to run to finish in 3:23, then 3:25, then alive and walking.
Unfortunately nothing worked. My day was over and I just wanted to get to
the finish. I shuffled the last 10K and ended up 4 seconds better than my
worst Newport time (that was my first Newport and I wasn't going for a fast
8:32, 8:35, 8:42, 8:57, 8:51 - 3:16:01 (43:38)
The last 1.2 miles are a mile uphill (always my slowest mile) followed by a
.2 mile descent.
I don't have much of an explanation for such a big bonk. I knew I wasn't in
great shape but I really thought 3:22 wouldn't be that hard. The last two
years, I've basically run the same marathons as training runs before Newport
so I had the long runs. But, I didn't have the supporting miles. Anyway, I
was/am obviously disappointed. I'm not sure if I will try for another fast
marathon this fall (I have a couple of training marathons -- Grizzly in
August and Skagit in Sept -- on the schedule) or wait until next year.
Everyone else had some fantastic runs. Mary blasted the Masters course
record, David Wang broke 3 hrs, Steve Yee came tantalizing close, Clay set
an almost 4 minute PR, Ron Friend won his AG by over 30 minutes, lots of BQs
(Sara, Lori, and others too numerous to mention) and PRs (Van ended up
shattering her PR) were obtained, and Dick Decker kept up a consistent pace
and finished unbelievably strong. At the awards ceremony lots of NoWDeads
and Maniacs collected hardware (somehow I got 2nd in AG since most 50-54 men
must have been somewhere else this weekend) and I won a real
honest-to-goodness crab pot -- something every vegetarian Jewish (crab is
not kosher) boy needs. It was interesting packing it into Ron Sklar's Prius
for the drive home. If any of you want to go crabbing on a boat, let me
know. Elaine hasn't seen it yet (she is currently at work) but I don't
think it is something that will be hanging on our walls (not a lightweight
item). It will either become a lawn ornament or go on Craigs List.
Again I had a great time at our (I now call them "our") houses and spending
lots of time with everyone who stayed there.
About the only good thing about my effort is that I'm hardly sore. By
slowing down so much over the last 8 miles, my leg muscles feel great. I
got a little blister on the bottom of my foot but I could probably go
running tomorrow. However I promised myself before the race that I would
take most of this week off and I'm keeping that promise. But I will be
working on my second 50 marathons to get my long term goal of 100 before I'm
That's about it (more than enough) for now.