I ran The Tupelo Marathon in Tupelo, MS. This was my first race that was Heart Rate governed (to keep an even effort).
I ran Tupelo, MS Marathon on September 2. This was a "redemption run" from the incredibly hot 2012 Boston Marathon. (Boston was so hot that it was difficult to run well, so I needed to "redeem myself" by running well in another marathon.)
==== BEFORE THE RACE ====
BACKDROP: I started running (beyond light
exercise levels) in 2008. I’ve now run 7 marathons (Nashville, Drake Well,
Tupelo and 4 consecutive Bostons starting in 2009).
My PR was 3:26 (Drake Well in Titusville, PA). I'm 52 now. I've been
training by heart rate for all of 2012 (may have started late 2011) but this
would be the first race that I would use heart rate as my guide, because at the
beginning of Boston 2012, my heart rate belt battery died, so I only have bogus
data for that race. When I say HRR, I'm referring to percent of Heart
Rate Reserve. A day or two before, I drank a lot of water, ate a fair amount of
pasta and avoided fiber.
OBSERVATION: Tupelo has a half... sort of. The "half" is
a 14.2 mile run. I've still not found out why the 14.2. If you find out,
enlighten me please. Yes, I asked Google. :)
DAY BEFORE: On Saturday, after packet pickup,
I drove the course, a large loop that you don't quite finish; you turn around
and go back the way you came (thus the elevation profile is a basically a
mirror image). None of the hills were too significant, so I could be
efficient down hills too. The water stations were approximately every 2
miles, so I planned to drink a little more at each station than in prior races.
Cars were not blocked, but were not a problem either.
OBSERVATION: Cool idea by the course designers... it was new to me. We
turned around right at mile 13 (and had to run .1 more to cross the pad at
13.1). Thus, all the mile markers served double duty: mile 12 the same as
mile 14 (written on different sides of the same marker). The finish was
just a little back from the start.
PRERACE: I got a good night sleep and the
hotel allowed me to return and shower (before 11 on Sunday) so I'd stay there
again just for that. Cool. I left the hotel at 4:15 AM and arrived at the
race at 4:30 AM for a 5:00 AM start... it was plenty of time (try that at
Boston). I went down to the meeting area (only 100 feet or so) and could
feel the 74-75 degrees with the expected mugginess (97% humidity had been
projected). In training, I can handle it, but this was a race. Oh well...
make the best of it.
The starting line was a thin line that we
missed. The staff had to back us up and show us. After a bit, a man at
the line gave just a few instructions, then said something like "we're
informal here... so.... GO!"
==== THE RACE ====
MILE 0-5: I started just like usual... way too
fast, but caught myself very quickly by looking at my watch. I was doing
sub-7 minute pace for about a couple tenths of a mile. It's hard to grow out of
that newbie mistake. I settled in to an average 7:30... That was still
too fast, but not too bad. I should have been doing 7:45 or even slower
because it was slightly up hill. Fortunately, the temperature and humidity
did not really affect me much here because many of my training runs are in the
exact same conditions. The darkness was not bad. We did have some moonlight in
spite of cloud cover. I also likely had it easier because I run at this time
HR OBSERVATION: I noticed that my heart rate
was higher than in training runs even though the conditions and speed were very
similar. I was very glad I had read about that happening. I had hoped to
stay under about 75% HRR (160 BPM) for the first half, but allowed higher 160's
because of what I had read (many have 10-15 BPM higher in a race: This is the article). I had to let my feel calibrate how I interpreted the
MILES 6-20: By mile 7, I could see some light,
by mile 10 it was fairly light. I finally settled in to what I should
have been doing all along... about a 7:46 pace. I was keeping my heart
rate around 80-82% of HRR (168-170) most of the time (this was maybe 14 BPM
higher than a similar training run). This felt about right. In retrospect I
might have lowered it a couple beats. Around mile 15 I thought about
picking up the effort a little, but decided to reserve more for mile 20 and
beyond. Definitely a good call.
Most of this was constantly rolling hills, and
I was able to get back on the downhills, most of what
I had put into the uphills because nothing was too
steep. Here is where my hill training has paid off. Strength… yes, but maybe
more is the feel for how much to slow up hill and how much to increase for the
downhill. It was evident that I’ve improved in that ability.
MILES 21-23: I picked it up a couple notches,
but knew I had to hold back a little as I was becoming fatigued and
increasingly hot. I did pick up my heart rate to 84% of HRR (173). This was
OBSERVATION: I saw the runner just ahead of me being chased by 2 dogs. Was he
unfortunate, or did he have an unfair advantage? He beat me by about 8
Mile 24-25.9: I picked it up another notch,
but knew I just could not pick it up any more and endure. My mantra became
"just maintain reasonable speed and don't worry about any
faster." I thought I might negative split this one... something I've
been wanting to do, but haven't done yet. I was
incredibly hot by this time, and really was wishing they would have provided
frequent stations at the end. I needed to poor it over my head, but had to just
"bring it on in" as I was.
Mile 25.9 - 26.2: Knowing how close it was, I
opened it up... difficult at this point. Amazing how a hidden finish can make
me assume that it might be inches from each visible meter of surface I see. The
305 told me that my pace for the last .35 miles was 6:20 (felt even faster)...
I hit 95% HRR (190 BPM). Most runners sauntered across the finish pad...
I was going full-bore and had some in the crowd encouraging me to give it all
as I streaked through the gate.
DIRECTLY AFTER: I never even noticed the
people handing out medals located directly after the timing pad. I couldn't
stop anyway because my body doesn't handle sudden stops well, so I knew I had
to jog for a while, as I always do. I swung by for water, which I immediately
pored over my hot body (not that kind of hot) and kept jogging around. Checked my official time, jogged for a while more, then returned to
find the medals.
RESULTS: 3:24:03, breaking my old PR by ~2
minutes. This is a BQ-5:57. I was 12th overall (330 registered), first in
my age group (50-55). Unfortunately, I didn't negative split, although I came closer
than ever (about +1:17). One day I'll get that mark of a more mature runner.
The next day I had some DOMS, but not too bad. By the 2nd day, it was all but
HOW WAS TUPELO?... it's a great marathon, fun, quirky, and yet at the whim of the weather. Just
from the elevation profile, it certainly can be a fast run. It's not
breathtaking scenery, but it is beautiful.
Some will love and some will hate the skulls on
their art (including the large 3x3 inch medal) and the mantra “trample the weak;
hurdle the dead.” They are very well done though. I have an odd attraction to
them. What would Freud say about that? By the way, Tupelo is the birth
place of Elvis Presely. Is that why this guy
has a mic??
OTHER USELESS OBSERVATIONS
- The half marathon medals are the coolest ever…
they are like a torn-in-half full. Love it. (Sorry for the blurry
- The shirt given is a long sleeve shirt, but is
not technical… it’s made of cotton. If you run this race, set your expectations
accordingly. I expected technical, so was disappointed.
- The weather here seems to vary a lot, but sadly,
the average is not as cool as one might like, and the humidity is not as low as
one might like.
- My Average HR was 170... (my max is 199) and for the 2nd half was 172. I hit 190 at the end.
BORING PERFORMANCE NUMBERS ETC
(% is of HRR - 198 max as of a couple years ago... resting 44 in 11/2011)
Mile Pace EleChg Avg. HR
170 (82%) 175
(80%) 170 (82%)
+14 171 (82%)
174 (84%) 177
Graph of elevation and HRR (using the way cool Sporttracks... and the way cool add-in Elevation
A photographer caught me in my push at the