#14in14: Western Pacific Marathon

The #14in14 continues on. This past weekend I ran my 6th run of marathon distance or further. With a little change in schedules and plans, the Western Pacific Marathon became my spring target race. The training was done and going into this race, I didn’t have any reservations or leave any doubts in my mind, last week I posted about my 3 goals for the race, which I wrote out comfortably based on weeks of training.

This specific race was selected on a number of requirements:

  1. it’s date based on my other target race 
  2. it was drivable the day of 
  3. most importantly it was a Boston Qualifying race per USTAF’

I really like that Brazen Racing events are that they are extremely well organized and they offer a day of the race packet pick-up. With the day of race pick-up, I jumped in my car and headed to Fremont at 4:00AM to tackle the 2 hour drive.

well organized and easy to find staging area

The drive was pretty easy especially in the early morning with very few cars on the road. Once I got to Quarry Lakes Regional Recreational Area in Fremont, I found the prime parking spot. You know the one closest to the port-o-potties and packet pick-up and everything else. To be fair, every spot was close to everything you needed as a runner since it is a small race the area wasn’t overly impacted with tons of traffic and all the hoopla of bigger races.

awesome tech shirt FTW!

The staging area with all of the packet pick-up and other pre-race booths were well organized and easy to maneuver through. It took only a couple of minutes to grab my bib, safety pins, and shirt. Shortly after grabbing my swag I ran into Professional 1:45 Pacer, Erin herself! She was doing what pro pacers do at races, you know hanging out and hanging out, well to be honest, I don’t know what pro pacers really do because their work is highly guarded by security. The rules of being a pro pacer are like that of Fight Club. (*Erin being referenced to as a Pro Pacer has nothing to do with her being a Pro, I just like to call her that)

With bib and other swag in my possession I still had about an hour before I started the marathon, so I decided to jump back into my car listen to some jams and get my gear ready for the 26.2-mile journey I was ready to take on. I also made sure I was consuming some fluids at this point throwing down some Nuun Hydration

With my bib pinned onto my new Bib Rave singlet, I was ready to make my way to the start line area. With small races, the beauty of the start line area is that you can make your way to the line just minutes before the horn. At the start area I saw Erin and was formally introduced to Anil, who I have been chatting with through Strava. It is always nice to put a real person with the digital / social media person we get to know through training and running.

photo cred: #Pro145PacerErin

At the start, I knew it would be important to try to find some other runners that would be running the same pace or at least around the same pace as I. With the fastest pace group being a 3:15, I knew I would have to either find a pack to run with or run alone for most of the course. I quickly found 4 guys who were shooting for a sub 3 hour group, however we quickly dismissed one of the runners after we started talking about pace and race strategies. Most runners in the group were shooting for 6:45-6:50 / mi pace, which is right under the 3 hour mark. However, the one runner who was quickly dismissed stated he was going to try to run 6:30’s, as a group the other 3 runners said that is well under 3 hours, his response … “Oh”.

With a 10 second count down and the blow of a horn, we were off and running to see what the next 26.2-mile journey had in store for us today. The first couple of miles were ran inside of the Regional Recreational Area, before making our way long a canal pathway. The course was pretty simple to follow, as it consisted of an out to a turnaround, a back to the regional area, then past the entry way of the regional area heading to a second turnaround before making our way for the final 2 miles within the recreational area. All of the course was either gravel or pavement, with most of the course being gravel.

Heading out along the canal I was feeling pretty sharp, running around sub 7s, exact times for each miles I don’t keep rather I know where I needed to be for certain miles for the race. With the sub 3:05 goal, the buffer is always being at mile 20 at or before 2:20 into the race.

As for the race description, there really wasn’t much to break down since the race had some miles of long straight stretches that became somewhat lonely very quickly until about mile 12.5 where the first turnaround took place, there I would see the other lead group as well as at the turnaround coming back and seeing many of the other marathon runners making their way out to the turn.

This long stretch would again be a bit lonely until about the 6.5 mile out marker where the half marathon turn around took place, but even then it was the tail end of the half marathoners that would remain on the course.

Honestly, this recap is about the glitz and the glamor of what I saw on the race, but rather it is more of what happened and where the race broke down for me. Yes, the moments where goals A, B, and C were lost.

All three of my goals seemed to have dropped off all around the same time. Somewhere between miles 16.5 and 18 is where everything shutdown. I literally felt like my race just wasn’t on for that day and at that point it became a run. After the mile 16 mark, I was still running 6:50ish per mile, which would have gotten me to the finish line under the 3 hour mark. Then suddenly my legs just got tired, I wish I had more than that, but it was just one of those days that happens.

After seeing and feeling my body more cruising from mile mark to mile mark, I felt that overall I started to labor a little more than normal through the next few miles. During these next 2 – 3 miles I still wanted to see where could I be by mile 20, if I could still hit the magic number of 2 hours 20 minutes, then I would still have a realistic shot at getting one of my 3 goals.

I got to the mile 20 marker just after my Garmin read 2:20, which meant I had a shot, however my body was not ready to kick back into race mode and tackle the final 10k with anything more than just a run. At this point I had to do a systems and mentality check. My legs were tired and mentally, what really was there on the line except my goals?

The next 10k would be something that I didn’t expect, going into the race, I was hoping that the final 10k would involve a surge of energy, though as every marathoner knows the final 10k is always the toughest, no matter how well trained you are for the race. The last 10k would involve myself running at an easy … more like very very easy pace … while reminding myself it is just running. I have gone out before and made the mistake of being so invested in my goals and not meeting them, I didn’t enjoy the day running. Since that moment in 2013 at the LA Marathon, I promised myself that every race would end with a smile. I have done just that up to this point and wouldn’t make today any different.

With a couple of miles left in the race, I was back into the Regional Recreational Area where I could see the finish line area and hear the MC calling out runners names. With about a mile to go, I saw some familiar faces with Erin and Albert (another fellow TSFM 2014 Ambassador) snapping some photos and providing me some words of encouragement to finish strong.

To be honest, I did make a final push for the finish for 2 reasons, the end of the race was nearing and most importantly there was another marathoner just a few yards behind me. Yup, the next to cross the finish line would be 9th place overall. So with a last minute surge, I broke for the finish and crossed the line with an official time of 3:15:30. This finishing time was good enough for 9th overall and 2nd in my age group, putting me about 13 minutes behind the winner.

Even after the race, I started to reflect on my goals and what I had done on the course. Less than 2 years ago I would have been ecstatic with a 3:15:xx finish. Now fast forward to today where a 3:15 is a bad day on the course, is pretty F’ing amazing. Obviously, I was disappointed with not hitting my goals, but taking a look at where I was and where I am now is pretty fun. In December of 2012 I hadn’t even broken the 3:30 mark in a marathon, since then I have ran seven marathons under 3:23:00.

Albert, Erin, and I with all smiles.

After the collection of bling, I celebrated with some laughs with Erin and Albert as well as congratulated the overall winner Brian Callejas, who I had gotten to know along the course as well as through Strava. 

Who photo bombed who in this photo?

Finishers medal and Age Group bling.

Have you raced lately? How do you handle aborting from your race day goals during a race when things just aren’t there?

One thought on “#14in14: Western Pacific Marathon

  1. I know this wasn't your goal result but I love that you have that smile at the end of your race and take it as a part of the whole experience. As we all know, marathons (even for crazies like you who run 20 miles on a weekday “because why not”) through curve balls at us and you never really know what might happen on race day. But great perspective, great performance, and a big fat congrats from me!!


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