This weekend was a speed session on the relatively flat Dean Karnazes Silicon Valley Marathon through San Jose to Los Gatos and back. I'd hoped to really race this but the lack of training due to the (hopefully gone for good) overtraining syndrome meant I just wanted a decent training run at high effort.
Then I got man 'flu during the week and a crick in my neck, so I wasn't sure it'd even be sensible to start. By race day I was barely sniffling with not much of a cough and I had most of the movement back in my neck, so I thought I'd be ok to run.
It started downtown before dawn and the conditions were just about perfect, not being too hot and no rain or wind. And since the half marathon version is run at the same time, it made it difficult to tell who was in what race. Luckily I had Amy to crew for me and she was able to tell me who was ahead.
The last few years the winner hadn't broken 2:40 so I wanted to aim for that and be able to train in the following week. However, within a couple of miles there was a marathoner zooming off too fast for me. He looked like he was heading for around 2:30 and there was no point in trying to hang with that pace. At half way he was four minutes ahead and I was dead on 6 minute miling in 1:18:30, so I was right to let him go.
The miles to half way were uphill, but not too steeply, so coming back and heading towards San Jose again would be a net downhill, although only of 250ft. A hardish 20 mile run seemed like a good idea, then a cruise back to the finish for the last 10k. So at 20 miles I took it easy, yet found I was still keeping up around a 6:20/mile pace, which felt very positive.
However, my plan of taking it easy to the finish changed when I saw 3rd behind me with two miles to go. I reasoned that I might as well hold on to 2nd after 24 miles of decent effort, so I sped up and raced in the last section at full speed. At least I had another gear to shift into, and I felt like I'd not pushed things too much, which was the aim. Only 2.5 months until the Phoenix marathon where the aim is to give it everything (I'm even going to do focused training just for that race...mind you that didn't work last year when I instead picked up an injury in December).
I was really happy that the illness and neck didn't affect things and that I didn't have to drop out or DNS. In the end I ran 2:38:36, so it was a bit ahead of the time I'd aimed for, but I blame 3rd place for that.
The course was decent enough and well marshaled, plus I've now seen the Los Gatos Creek Trail and can use it to train on, so a good weekend's work. It's always worthwhile to try the local races and it certainly is a novelty to not have to get up to early to travel miles away.