Sunday, February 23, 2014

2014 El Paso Marathon Race Report

Race Date: 23 February 2014
I had registered to turn this race back in 2013, but lack of training and a nagging IT band injury after the January Harbison 50k led me to skip that race. I would not do another race that year. This time around – things worked out. I had not thought about this race until I was making plans to go to Juarez for work. I checked to see the race date and it worked out perfectly. I could fly Saturday, race Sunday, and work in Juarez Monday and Tuesday. My training was only slightly better for this than the Harbison race 7 weeks earlier. Instead of one double-digit training run (10 miles), I had two! I had a 10 miler, and then a steady 15 miler 2 weeks before the race.  That was encouraging. Of course the week after my longer run, I had a cold and it snowed enough for it to be too slippery to run. My expected plan was to run as far as I could, then walk it in. I was only in it to finish and didn’t care about a time.
Race morning began with a short walk from the hotel to the expo center area/finish line where we boarded busses for the ride up the mountain. We began on top of XXXXX and the 1st 4 miles were downhill. It was brisk and breezy up top, but most people stayed on the busses as long as they could. Once the sun came up, it was just fine out.
We started right at 7am and got into our paces. The real downhills began about mile 2, but by then I could already tell I was working harder than I should have been. The views were nice, the road was wide, but cambered. I skipped the aid stations as I had my water bottle. Once we wound down the mountain and came into town, we still had a few hills before it flattened out completely.
1st eight splits:
 1-9:27 2-9:28  3-8:40  4-8:27  5-8:05. Yeah – that last one was fast.
6-8:28  7-10:35 (uphill/water stop) 8-8:44
At this point, we were running thru the edges of El Paso past shops and stores. It was about to become flat. I was laboring already, the sun was overhead as it had been since we came off the mountain and there was no shade whatsoever.
Miles 11-17 were on the same road…mostly straight, with nothing but sand to the left, and alternating walls and (abandoned?) houses for much of it. I started taking walk breaks about mile 12 or 13 and had little enthusiasm or desire to run mush at all after that.
Splits:
9- 9:31  10-9:35  11-9:58  12-10:14  13-10:53. I hit the halfway in 2:12:49 (and already my slowest ever).  14-11:56  15-11:04  16-11:23  17-11:47
So 9 more miles and I was at 2:47. We were just heading into Ft. Bliss for a bit and I was getting to the point where I was about to start walking the rest of the way. Mile 20 was the best mile – right beside the parade grounds and the officers quarters. As I grew up a military brat – I appreciated this area. Also – it was the most “green” area on the course! One wonderful volunteer (could have been a resident for all I know) was giving out frozen Gatorade slushies. I had low energy at this point and was hungry. I missed the aid station fare that ultras provide – and I missed the bananas at the previous aid station. There were a few hills, up and down thru here, and I was only walking by mile 22. The glazed donut gave me a little spike of energy just before then.
Splits:
18-14:31  19-12:31  20-11:37  21-13:29  22-13:00  23-14:10  24-14:12  25-14:25
It was good I walk as fast as I do as I knew going thru the base that I would end up with a sunburn. I had a couple to walk with for a little bit as we hit the downtown area. Nothing too exciting in terms of buildings, but we knew we were getting closer.
I was finally getting to familiar grounds near the hotel/expo center and I knew the finishing chute was around one more corner…so I started a jog. As soon as I crossed the first mat, I walked. I guess the photographer was taking pictures as you crossed the three mats (so the pictures look a bit odd as I went thru the chute).
Last 1.2 miles: 16:30.
Finish time: 4:51:37
Almost exactly an hour slower than my fastest time and 40 minutes slower than my typical time. But as I said – I was only in this to finish – and I did.
I was sore for a few days and walking up/down stairs was difficult, but I recovered and got right back to training. That's one other good thing from walking so much of the course.
PHOTOS: