Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Another Race Report

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At the age of 47, local masters runner Dave Haaga ran a 2:43 for the 26.2 over the weekend. For all of you out there who think you're "too long in tooth" to run good times, read this report. Oh, and Dave has been running since HIGH SCHOOL! So he isn't a "new" runner. I believe he also PR'd in the 5k last year or the year before (fact check needed...but I know it was sub 17).

Dave Haaga B & A Trail Marathon (Severna Park, MD) race report 3/1/09

Weather: 31 degrees, north winds 12 mph (in our faces approx. mile 6 to 19), intermittent snow flurries (dodged a bullet on this – first big snow of the winter hit later that evening and into next day).

Finishing time/place: 2:43:27 (chip) 2:43:29 (gun), 3rd of 246 finishers, first master, broke masters course record (previous record 2:46 from 1997).

Excuses for coming up 54 seconds short of PR (from National Marathon 2008):

1. I’m 47 years old. Give me a break.
2. Lost a second or two each time (6—8 or so) that we went over slush-covered bridges on the bike path.
3. I was very close to PR pace till mile 24, when I lost approximately 40 seconds by getting confused about how to follow the course at the one noteworthy detour (course is basically slight downhill bike path for first quarter of race, back up for second and third, and then back down to start), stopping, backtracking, and then finally sorting through the conflicting advice I evoked with my articulate, this-is-your-brain-on-not-enough-glycogen question “What the f... do I do?” (in fairness to me, this was only after getting nothing in response to a couple of loud “which way?”’s—the two ahead of me being out of sight at the time) I emailed next day to suggest placing a course marshal at the confusing T-intersection with pavement markings going each way, and the race director said there were supposed to have been “six high school girls” there. Hmm.....maybe it would be better to assign one next time).

Pacing: Very even. I hit 5 miles in 31:00 (6:12/mile) and 20 in 2:03:58 (6:11.9/mile – could really feel the surge taking it down a tenth of a second). Next three were 6:15 or so, then 7:00 in the mile 24 debacle. After that, I ran 25 and 26 in 6:20 and 6:10, respectively. Final average 6:14. didn’t get a half-split exactly, but the guy who ran the accompanying half-marathon and was right near me most of the first half finished in 1:21:33, so that’s an estimate.

Mentality: Very nervous beforehand due to achilles issue and especially to poor times in workouts and in tuneup races (e.g., I came through 10 miles in the marathon a second faster than I’d run in a 10-mile race new year’s day) December/January. Swept along a little faster than intended by a pack of half-marathoners (one of them, apparently the most popular guy in town, was named “Dana”, which is close enough to “Dave” that I basked in the frequent recognition he received from fans, volunteers, and other runners. He told me later he’s been a local high school teacher and cross-country coach for 20 years, so I guess that’s why everybody knew him), but felt comfortable enough in first half.

After the half people left us, there were just two guys way ahead, barely in sight (they ended up running 2:40 and 2:41), and nobody just behind me (4th was 2:48), so mile 13 to turnaround at 19 I was on my own and just tried to concentrate and not let pace drift. I’d reread the race-day chapter in Advanced Marathoning in the bath that morning, and they describe halfway to 20 miles as the “no man’s land” of the marathon, 20 to 26.2 as the part that “poorly prepared marathoners dread, and well-prepared ones relish”. My brain power was already on low, so I found it sufficiently entertaining for this stretch to keep thinking “only 5 more miles till the part I relish. 3 more till the part I relish....Gatorade at next aid station....water next........” etc., mixed in with an endless loop of the Taylor Swift CD I listened to on the way to the race.

After the mile 24 detour I was a little discouraged, knowing that PR was now out of the question, and I was pretty much assured the bronze medal. Fortunately, random arbitrary motivational ploys seemed to help me get it back in gear (“must beat my second fastest marathon........must beat women’s olympic trials standard.....”).


1. The “Stick Man” need not even be present to put me in my place. The boss of DC/MD/VA 45-49 is Mark Stickley of Winchester, VA, who won our age group at the national masters track championships last year in both 5,000 and 10,000 meters. He shows up in the DC area occasionally to administer beat downs (e.g., beat me by a minute and a half to win the age group in Twilighter 8k in Rockville last summer). I found out after the race yesterday that the two kids (well, 24-year olds) who beat me are employees of Mark at his running store. Coincidence? I doubt it. They must have been sent there as a job duty.

2. Cal Ripken “Iron Man” award goes to....... As noted above, for a couple months, starting with a bout of pneumonia (approx. mid-oct to mid-nov), I was doing really terribly. Same training schedule, or just a bit more volume, relative to last year, but key workouts and races much much slower, with an overall subjective sense of weakness. Any time I ran hard at all, or uphill at all, I just wanted to quit. Many hypotheses were entertained, including sudden catastrophic aging, until I realized that my symptoms fit perfectly with iron deficiency anemia. Started taking daily multivitamin with iron early February and have felt much better since. Even so, I thought 2:50 would be upper limit goal for this race, so I was thrilled with the outcome.

Thanks for reading! -- Dave

1 comment:

RM said...

In fairness, I should take the blame for the 6 high school girls not being there. It was my fault.