My 5th Marathon, and final race of 2011, is now in the books. I finished 15th overall and set a new PB of 3:44:17, and yet……there was no real enjoyment in any of those achievements. Yes, I was happy once I crossed the line knowing I had run my fastest ever race, but the whole event up to that point was just completely flat. (The most convoluted statistic I could find was that I was the 3rd fastest 30-39 year-old that resides in the Cayman Islands).
I forced myself out of bed at 3AM, plenty of time for some breakfast, stretching and even a spot of housework before the 5AM off. Living so close to the start line I could leave the house with 30 minutes to spare, walk up and still have 15 minutes to stand around waiting for the gun to sound.
For once I was actually towards the front of the corral, instead of having to fight my way past all the people going slowly I was the one causing the congestion! There wasn’t the nervous/excitement at the start that I normally get, despite having my favourite tunes on to get me in the mood. This could possibly be attributed to the relatively small field (100 doing the marathon and about 500 doing the half), and also you are only told to get in the start corral with about 5 minutes to go, so everyone is milling about up to that point.
I had decided to run the first 10M at a steady 8:30 min/mile pace and then see how things were going and take it from there. It was a rather strange feeling to be running down the same familiar roads like a normal Sunday morning, but to have a couple of hundred other people right around you too.
Basically nothing of note happened for the first 12 miles (except for my music stopping working) until I met up with Sarah and Max who had come out to see me (this is the reason for the smile on my face in the photo), I saw them again as I set off on the second lap which gave me a real boost. It’s no surprise that I set the two fastest miles of the race the two miles that I saw them.
The second lap was only more interesting than the first one as it hurt more! Apart from the water stations you would be hard pushed to tell there was a marathon going on at all. There are so few people out on the road, and we are all spread out by a couple of hundred meters or so.
After the two quick miles through town and starting the second lap I had the wind behind me so I put in a few quicker miles until I got to 19. By this point the sun had come up, so the temp was rising. I turned at the final checkpoint with exactly an hour to get back to break my PB and get under 3:45. All I needed to do was keep at roughly the same pace, even a little bit slower. I managed to do it with 40 seconds to spare, but it was a real struggle. My times dropped off by 10-15 seconds a mile. Not exactly hitting the wall, but I was tiring quickly. In fact if it hadn’t been for one of the marshalls on a bike that paced me the last mile and a half I would probably have missed 3:45, possibly even the PB as I felt like the wheels were coming off into the 20mph head wind we had for the last 3 miles. When I say paced, what I actually mean is make sure none of the looney drivers knocked me over as none of the roads get closed for the event.
I had been doing the calculations in my head for the last few miles and was sure I was going slower than I actually was, so thought I had missed the PB (I was too confused or tired to think about looking at the total time on my watch, I just had the splits!). When I came round the corner and saw the finish I thought the clock said 3:48, but my eyesight betrayed me and I realised that as it clicked over to 3:44.
I received my medal, and met up with Sarah and Max who gave me a lovely framed, hand painted Cayman Marathon picture and we walked the short distance home. The advantage to being so close was that within 15 minutes of finishing I was in our hot tub massaging the lactic acid out of my legs and relaxing.
I wasn’t too stiff, and the only real problem I had for the rest of the day (other than being a bit sleepy) was stomach cramps from so much Gatorade and Clif Bloks.
Now just the small matter of recovering and getting ready for Disney in less than a month!