Saturday, 12 June 2010

Squeezing in the Newport Marathon on the Oregon Coast

Last weekend I used the Newport marathon as an excuse to see the Oregon coast in June with Amy. I assumed Oregon + June = hot, but was soon told that rain is more normal and it doesn't get very hot either. Luckily, for the two full days I was there, it was unusually sunny and even shorts and T-shirt weather.

With Comrades only six days earlier, plus 40 hours of flights and airports to get back from it, I was still a bit crippled. The left knee soreness I've had on and off was making me limp badly for the first two days after the ultra, but the recovery compression tights were on the whole time, including the long journey home and I felt just plain sore in the muscles by the time I landed. Comrades always destroys my legs much more than trail races thanks to the faster pace and hard road surfaces, but I was able to do short, very light jogs by Thursday.

Friday was another very short, very slow jog and I didn't feel prepared to run further than about five miles. I only entered the Oregonian marathon on the off chance I'd be ok to jog it, so if I had to DNS, so be it. But I lined up on race day in bright sunshine with knee-high, compression socks on. Given the race didn't count, this was the time to try new stuff out and the compression tights seemed to work, so why not give the school-girl-style socks a go too. Paula Radcliffe uses them and she seems to know what she's doing, even if it makes her look silly.

I jogged off with the 800-strong field along the coastline and felt reasonably good going at 3h marathon pace, but decided to opt for a gentler 3h09m time since I like filling in marathon times I haven't got before (I need 3h10m, 3h09m, 3h00m and most times below 2h45m to get the full set of Boston marathon qualifiers). It gives me something to aim for and allows me to practice my pacing, which really helps in the ultras, especially.

Amy was at the 11 mile aid station, which was really just a farm offering oyster shots and didn't even have water. The course then went out-and-back so that the same point was also just before 20 miles. It's a fast course and virtually flat so the perfect weather meant it was a really enjoyable long run. I chatted to a few people and it's always good to see the whole field coming the other way on out-and-backs, which lots of smiles and encouraging words.

I jogged it in to the finish for 3h09m18s, just as planned. This time I cheated a bit, because I didn't do an even pace, but instead did 1h30m for the first half in case my legs lost all energy near the end. But I felt fine at the finish, even after the oyster shots. A fun day out and a chance to see a beautiful part of the state I'd not been too. I thought I was doing well to be able to keep up a reasonable pace for a marathon so soon after Comrades, then I noticed that Mike Wardian managed a 2nd place in the North Face 50 miler in Virginia the same weekend after going the same pace as me at Comrades. That adds to his nine or so (comfortably) sub 2h30m marathons and several longer races (like 3rd in the MdS) just in 2010. I thought I had fast recovery and didn't taper but he rewrites the book on marathoning.

Anyway, that was my last long run before Western States on the 26th. I just have to keep everything in working order since it's too late to improve my fitness now. This weekend (on the 13th) has the US trail running half marathon championship, conveniently in Bend. So that's my last race and a chance for speed work now my legs are probably, maybe, recovered from Comrades.

I'm getting the fear about doing the longest, hardest, hottest race I've ever tried and wishing I could have fitted in more big hilly trails. I'm even sitting in a sauna each day to acclimatise to the heat, although this is the least enjoyable training I've ever done. I hope the race is worth it and this could be where I decide whether or not I want to focus on 100-milers or not. I hope so, since there are so many great ones in the world and it's the best ways to see some of the most remote places around (well, in developed countries anyway).

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