knoxville marathon – report

I ran the Knoxville marathon this weekend. Running 26 miles on a warm spring morning with a few thousand other runners seemed like a good idea. I faded a little at the end so fell just a bit short of my goal of 3:30, but all things considered I’m very happy with the race.

Overall experience
It’s not every day I get to race with thousands of people, so the sheer spectacle of these city marathons are a unique experience. As a trail runner primarily it’s not exactly my cup of tea, but it’s still fun to hit the road occasionally. The stations were packed with volunteers and the road crossings were seamless thanks to dozens of local police. Running through Market square downtown with hundreds of cheering spectators was pretty uplifting as well.

I was one minute ahead of goal pace by the half, and two minutes ahead by mile 20. After that I started to get a cramp in my lower back and gluteus muscles. The pain stiffened me up and my pace drifted above 9 minute miles for the last few miles. I felt like I had the endurance to go faster, but my body started to rebel against the effort. Detailed results

The constant rolling hills caught me off guard, so instead of an even pace, I was fluctuating between 7:30 and 8:30 most of the time. I was a little distracted by the other runners and all the cheering crowds and commotion. I got a little caught up in the event, its hard not to, but managed to mostly keep my cool and not go out like a mad man and bonk in the first half.

Lessons
I need to work on my core strength and flexibility. If my back cramps hadn’t kicked in I’m sure I could have made my goal time. I’m not fond of these workouts but apparently they are getting more neccessary, especially now that I’ve added more mileage. Whatever weaknesses I have become apparent after a few hours of running. The stronger I make my body the better.

MAF training seems to be working ok. I was confident my endurance was adequate, but still had some doubts about not doing any speed workouts. I’ve come to understand that speed drills are mostly useless for long distance running unless you’re a top athlete or you just plain enjoy speed training for its own sake. I’ll be continuing my MAF base training for now and see where it leads me.

I’m planning on running Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon in November, just to see how much I’ve improved by the fall. Other than that its trails trails trails for me. To be honest races on pavement are just too tough and boring to do too often.