Savannah RNR Marathon 2012– Go Big or Go Home

So, the Rock N Roll Savannah Marathon finally got here! It feels like we have been training for the race forever. I think that is mainly due to the fact that pretty much everyone who runs in Savannah is training for the race. So you hear about it everywhere and in turn think about it all the time.

About 3 months ago, I knew that I could make a pretty good run at a sub 3 hour marathon. It was a big motivating factor in my training. I was coming off of an Ultra and I have been doing almost exclusively volume based training for the last year or more. So, my coach hammered me with speed work, which I was reluctant to do, but now I look forward to all of the workouts. (The muggy weather in Savannah is a deterrent to speed work many months of the year!).
Long story short, my training went very well. I admittedly missed my last 18 and 20 mile runs due to family commitments and travel. Just so you know, it happens to everybody! The week of the race, I knew I had the speed I needed for the race, but I wasn’t sure if I had the endurance. I also knew that there was very little margin for error. A 3 hour marathon comes out to 6:53 pace. I’m very comfortable at this pace, but I am also quite aware that I can’t run a lot of sub 6:30 miles at the end of a Marathon. This made me realize there was very little margin of error. I needed to run a race bordering on perfect and I could not afford even 1 bad mile.
I considered starting the race at a relatively slow pace of 7:10 or so and slowly allow myself to work in to a comfortable pace and just see where my legs got me. I can still say pretty confidently that if I had done this, I probably could have come in at 3:03-3:05, which would have been a better time than I ended up with. But, what I wanted to try to do was break 3. Go big or go home. Sometimes the smartest race plan doesn’t necessary align with our goals. I think we always need to go into a race with a very solid race plan. I don’t always advocate going for broke on endurance races, but I’ve done enough marathons that finishing the race wasn’t going to be a big deal and I was quite confident that even with a mega melt down I could still run a PR. So I said F*** it and I went Big!.
So, I don’t want to bore you with all of the details, but I went out at about 6:30 mile pace. I realized quite quickly that the pace was coming easily and everything felt good. I was able to stay right on track for most of the race. First 5k was 6:40 pace, at the 10k I was at 6:44. I finished the first half in 1:28:38 @ 6:46 pace. I went through the 20 mile mark still at 6:50 pace. I knew that I had about 60 seconds in the bank for the final 10k. I just needed to hold 7:03 or so. Well, my 21st mile was my first mile over 7 minutes for the entire race, I though down a 7:03. After that, things got very very ugly. My stomach was bothering me and I was reduced to walking several times in the last 3 miles. Suffice it to say, my final 10k was not much fun!!! I ended that race at 3:09, which was almost 3 minutes faster than last year.
Now when I reflect, I look back at the race and I would not change a thing!! Could I have started to walk when my stomach went sour and maybe saved my self a few minutes by being proactive, sure! Could I have gone out slower and avoided a blow up, probably. There are a lot of things I could have done. But, it isn’t what I did. I went to this race with a specific goal and I went for it, damn the consequences. Go big or go home, I wouldn’t change a single thing about this race. At the end of the day, that is more important than any time or number!!
Coach Jim