Friday, October 16, 2009

No Jell-O shots in Steamtown??

I mentioned earlier this month that top local runner Danielle Walther had a "super secret" goal of going sub-3:00 at the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, Pa. Missed it by that much.

Still, Danielle's 3:00:37 was a PR by more than 27 minutes, and was good enough to make her the day's fifth-fastest woman -- 49th overall out of 1,890 total finishers. She also earned an elite start in the 2010 Chicago Marathon.

After giving her quads a few days to heal, she hopped on her computer Thursday night and banged out for us a recap of her experience at Steamtown, a downhill marathon that was name-dropped on a recent episode of NBC's "The Office":

"For starters, it was COLD. The Weather Channel promised 40; at the start, it was 33. I was cold throughout, but that is much better than being too hot.

The first 10 miles felt pretty easy. Naturally, because [that part of] the course was primarily downhill. [But] the downhills were a lot harder on me than I anticipated. Making sure you didn’t hit the pavement too hard and too fast was difficult, and once I finally got to the flat it felt like running slightly uphill because I had gotten so used to running downhill.

The second 10 miles went really fast. I was chugging along -- averaged 6:50 per mile. During my training, I had started to feel pretty tired and sore by mile 17, but I made it to 20 feeling OK and on pace for my sub-three hours.

At 20, my hamstrings and calves started to tighten up, but nothing so bad that I could not maintain my pace. At 21, my quads went from feeling fine to burning. I knew they would start to bother me at some point due to all the downhill running, but I was surprised just how suddenly [the pain came on].

Although I cruised through Mile 22 still on pace, the wheels were starting to come off. There were no Jell-O shots at Mile 23 as promised on 'The Office.' The hills started right at the end of mile 23 with the steepest climb of the day. I was too tired to curse the course designer. ...
During those last four miles, I was pushing harder than I had the previous 22, but my legs just would not go 6:50 pace anymore. I averaged 7:10 for the last 4.2 miles.

At the top of the very last hill, at which point you can see the finish, someone had set up speakers and was continuously playing 'Born to Run.' As a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, [this gave me] one last burst of energy...

The overall atmosphere was really good for a small marathon. There were a good number of fans spread out on the course, the only time there really were not fans out cheering was when we were in the woods for three miles. Some people set up their own aid stations and handed out water bottles, oranges, lollipops, and Vaseline sticks. It was truly impressive.

I was incredibly lucky to have a huge cheering section throughout the course. Between my parents and my future in-laws, there were six people screaming for me at a total of nine different spots. They were even counting the women in front of me and telling me how far back I was or how close the woman behind me was. It made a huge difference. The biggest help was running with my training partner and having help staying focused, motivated and on pace.

Despite not hitting my super-secret goal, I am really happy."

Danielle, the leader in the women's overall standings for the 2009 Run For Your Life Grand Prix Series, will run the LungStrong 15K in Lake Norman Saturday. It's the final race of the series, but she technically doesn't even have to run it to clinch the title.


Julia Vertreese said...

Congrats, Danielle! Although I'm the 6-hour marathoner (and proud!), I have a huge amount of respect for your discipline and determination to reach your goals and for what your body goes through to get you to the finish line in 3:00:37. Simply amazing. Kudos to you!