Thursday, November 10, 2011

CRC success at Spinx Marathon - Race Recap

Marathon Recap of Greenville Spinx Marathon (10-29-2011) by Matt McGuire. Congrats Matt on a terrific race and thank you for sharing.

Growing up in Boston, my end goal for my running career was always running in the Boston Marathon. After a mystery injury sidelined me during my Junior and Senior year of college (as well as 4 years afterwards) I didn't think I would be able to achieve that goal. Then just as randomly as the injury showed up, it disappeared, and I started to get back into running. After a few successful months, I set my sights on Boston, though I wasn't quite sure about the whole qualifying thing.

I found a training plan online and starting my training. A few months later I was running in my first race since college, the Baltimore Marathon. With a little help from a pace group, I crossed the finish line at 3:09:30, right under the qualifying time for Boston. I immediately started my training for Boston and couldn't wait for April to roll around. Boston was everything I thought it would be, with a huge after party from my family and everything. On top of all that, I got a new PR, crossing the line in 3:07:10. With that goal crossed off my list, I had to figure out what was next. 3 hours, thats what.

Only problem was, I still didn't quite know how to train for a marathon. I decided I needed to find some people who knew what they were doing, and came across the CRC online. I started running Tuesday mornings at the Miner's run, and enjoyed having some fellow runners to push me for once. Ben Hovis was then kind enough to put together a plan for me, which proved to be very successful. My mileage topped out at 74 miles vs. 50 the marathons prior, I added speed work and took my long runs well below the 8 minute pace my previous online plans recommended.

I picked Greenville Spinx Marathon because it was local, it would be a lot more low-key than Boston and my wife could do the half marathon too. Thankfully, the weather was perfect, low/mid 40s, sunny, and the rain that was there all night before had left. I decided I was gonna break the race up into 5 mile chunks to manage my times a little better but also allow myself to respond to how I felt and not micromanage it too much. There were about 600 runners for the marathon, and I found myself starting on, well, the starting line.

I went out with the lead group of 15 or so and went through the 1st 2 miles at 6:10 pace. Then I settled in with 2 other runners and went through 5 miles at 32:30, 1:50 under pace and feeling really good after my taper the last 2 weeks.

Miles 4 to 8 I was pretty much 20 seconds between the guy in front and the guy behind me. I took a pit stop at mile 8, and quickly caught up with a pack of 4 that had passed me during my stop. I ran with these guys from mile 9 to mile 16. I went through mile 10 in 1:07:26, 1:13 under pace. I was still feeling really good, and felt that staying with this group would be beneficial through mile 20. Miles 10-15 had the only hills that the course really had and I went through mile 15 at 1:42:13, :46 under pace.

I had to make a choice around mile 16, and decided for another quick pit stop, which dropped me about 30 seconds behind the group. I was pretty much by myself for the remainder of the race, and that includes the spectators. I think I had passed 2 since mile 8. I picked up the pace to try and catch back up, but they had also picked up the pace as well. It was about to get a little lonely.

Right around mile 18, I felt my hamstrings tighten up, first my right, and then a mile later my left. They continued to get progressively tighter as it went on. I came through mile 20 at 2:14:58, 2:20 under pace, and I felt really good about breaking the 3hr mark. With the 2 mile always being my track event, I decided to turn the last 6.2 into 3 2 mile runs. Mile 22 was 2:28:59, 2:03 under. Mile 23 put me in at an 8:45 split, which made me very nervous. I didn't find out until Mile 24 that it must have been mismarked, but I had fallen well off the pace during that 2 mile stretch. I was only 2 seconds under pace through 24, and my hamstrings were hurting!

Mile 26 was uphill through downtown and I was glad to finally see some other runners and spectators for some extra energy! I came through 26 at 2:58:30, dead even to the pace, and I knew I had to move it. It was right about there where it merged with the half marathon, so all of a sudden I had to dodge other runners. I may or may not have yelled once when I got cut off as I tried to go into my sprint.

The race finished around the warning track of a minor league baseball stadium (side note - it's a replica of Fenway Park, so being from Boston, that was pretty cool) and I could see the clock ahead. I went into full sprint mode, my calves getting completely locked up, and I pushed through it to cross the line in 2:59:57! 2 seconds to spare! Then I had the awesome feeling of accomplishment and severe pain, but I was excited to be able to call myself a sub-3hr marathoner! I ended up finishing 8th overall, and 1st in my age group, which one me a SWEET coffee mug! haha

Thanks again to everyone from the CRC and all my running buddies that helped push me through all the miles and to help me reach my goal! You guys are a great group!


  1. Awesome, it was a fun race and nice post. Thanks for sharing ! Congratulations for a great job well done.

  2. What a great race Matt!! Congrats