Tuesday, October 30, 2012

No Room for Error: a Recap of Ridge To Bridge Marathon 2012

Lately, I've made no effort to keep secret the fact that Ridge To Bridge Marathon (R2B) was to be my first honest attempt at qualifying for Boston.  Up until now, all of my goals, while lofty, have been reasonably within my ability level.  Either they were to finish a given ultra-distance (OSS/CIA 50-miler), or to break a fast time milestone for a shorter distance (LKN Rotary 10K, Charity Chase Half-Marathon).  For R2B, I would be racing "fast" for a longer time than ever before.  Breaking a 3:05 for BQ was--I thought--just beyond my ability range, or at the very edge of it.  3:05 works out to a 7:03 minute/mile pace.  I planned on keeping a 7:01 overall pace to allow a little wiggle room.  Any more wiggle room and I would run the risk of burning out my energy too quickly.  There was almost no margin for error.  To put the daunting nature of this goal into perspective, 7:00 was my mile repeat pace a year ago.  This would be my toughest running challenge thus far.
I drove up to the host hotel--Quality Inn, Morganton--the evening before the marathon and met up with Mike Smith, Bryan Massingayle, and Bryan's friends Brad and Pam.  Pam was making her 26.2 debut at R2B while Bryan and Mike were seeking sub-3:10 BQs.  I was happy to have the camaraderie of my fellow marathoners and the leisure of packing in a van and hopping over to the bus shuttle in Lenoir, rather than having to get up before 4am, drive 1.5 hours the morning of the race just to catch another half hour of riding in a bus.  Mike and I shared a room, spent a little time talking equipment and strategy, watched the first and best scene of Gladiator on hotel cable, and fell asleep before 9pm.  I don't know about Mike, but I slept like a baby.
Everyone was in good spirits as Bryan drove us to the bus pick-up at the finish area.  R2B is a point-to-point course starting in Jonas Ridge and ending in Lenoir, so most of the racers were leaving their cars and gear at the finish and catching the charter buses to take them up the mountain to the start.  That's right, charter buses; David Lee spared no expense for the participants in his race!  The temperature was in the low 40s at the starting area--perfect for running--and the foliage was peaking in Autumnal colors.  It was shaping up to be a fantastic day for a marathon.  Good.  I would need everything to work in my favor.  No room for error! 
Bobby Aswell, me, and Bryan Massingale before the start.

Miles: 1-6: REFRAIN!
After some nerve-settling warm-ups, a gathering around the starting mats, and a recognition of the national anthem, we were off.  As per my race strategy outlined in my recap of Lungstrong 15K earlier this month, I relaxed into an easier-than-goal pace in the mid-low 7s for the first couple of miles.  Bryan anticipated the same strategy and backed himself off as he came beside me.  "Discipline," I reminded us both.  He acknowledged.  Mike smiled knowingly in agreement as he slowly passed us.  Shortly after the first mile, I could see the first and second place runners on the opposite side of a hooking bend in the road, already very far ahead.  I did my best to only pay attention to my own watch.  It was not a race yet.  I caught Mike near mile 2, and he remarked that he thought the course would be more rolling.  I was hesitant to agree just yet.  I noticed friend and fellow Charlotte-area runner Emily Hansen at the aid station cheering us on.  Emily was a veteran of this race, and I definitely took her anecdotes into account when devising my own strategy. 
The next 3+ miles were a rolling out-and-back along the ridge.  I spied a beautiful gorge around mile 3.5 that was filled with morning fog.  It looked to me like a bowl of fluffy mashed potatoes.  Beautiful.  The turnaround gave me a clue how far ahead the leaders were, and how many people were ahead of me.  In second place was Shannon Scott, who had run a few miles alongside me toward the end of Salem Lake 30K a month earlier.  I also saw Clint Siemers making good time and Bobby Aswell, Jr. not too far ahead of me.  I caught up with Bobby about halfway through the 5th mile.  He greeted me and let me go.  The next mile was the longest...ahem..."climb" of the race: about 2% grade for just under 7 minutes.  I gave myself permission to work the hill a little to start negatively splitting my miles and to make sure the legs were awake for the romp down the mountain.  Aid station 2 was the same location as aid station 1, so I hailed Emily and passed my arm sleeves, gloves, and ear warmers off to her before starting my descent.  Off we go...
Splits for miles 1-6: 7:28, 7:21, 7:15, 7:04, 7:09, 7:20
Miles 7-15: RESTRAIN!
Over the next 9 miles--save for about a half mile of small but surprising uphill in the middle--the elevation dropped a staggering 2000 feet.  The course literally ran us down a mountain.  This is really what makes R2B famous--a monumental downhill that made for fast splits and potential blow-ups.  Naturally, I had to make up some time for a conservative first 10K, but in doing so, I had to bank some time for the fatigued back end of the race.  No problem, all I had to do was run a few seconds below pace for this stretch, right?  It was more complicated than that.  Firstly, I was a little too conservative on top of the ridge, and I started the drop about a minute behind goal pace, twice the gap with which I was comfortable.  Secondly, one does not just trot down this mountain dirt road.  The grade was steep a lot of the time, steeper at other spots, and downright recklessly steep for some stretches. 
The many switchbacks made for interesting scenery and precarious footing.  I easily was in the top 10% of a strung out field, so I saw and passed other runners intermittently.  The surface was a fine gravel dirt road with some larger rocks here and there, but it was more forgiving than asphalt and far more runnable than any trail.  On the numerous hairpin turns, I had to choose between cutting the tangents and treading on more rutted footing or taking the turns widely, more smoothly, and sacrificing a second or two in the process.  Over a dozen or so such turns, those seconds add up, and today there was no room for error! 
Flying downhill at the half.

I focused on maintaining cadence and form, and let the hill carry me away.  Weeeeee!  Thankfully, my mile splits were coming down very quickly...maybe too quickly.  When I saw a sub-6 minute split at mile marker 11, I thought I might be getting a little too reckless.  By the time I reached the halfway aid station, I read 1:31:35 on my watch, on pace for 3:03.  I had made up all of my time from the ridge and I still had a lot of downhill to go.  I listened to my legs.  the quads were already starting to feel a bit rubbery.  Uh oh.  That's the first sign of them eventually giving out all together.  Hopefully, they would just stay rubbery for the rest of the race and the soreness (oh yes, the soreness was in the mail) would wait until later in the day.  By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, I had written my check, and now my legs had to cash it.
Splits for miles 7-15: 6:54, 6:50, 6:55, 7:07, 6:38, 5:59(!), 6:57, [13.1 mile split: 1:31:35],6:44, 6:49
Miles 16-22: SUSTAIN!
To paraphrase Bobby Aswell, one's ability to succeed at R2B depends on his or her ability to run the last 10 miles.  If the long downhill of the mountain makes this race famous, the 10+ miles of sobering flat on the back end make it infamous.  As soon as the slope leveled off and the gravel road turned into smooth, hard asphalt, I instantly felt the fatigue of my legs.  The first flat mile after the mountain was an out-and-back during which I got to sneak a peek at much of the field ahead and behind me.  Clint stilled looked good and was pulling ahead.  After I turned around, I came upon Bobby, Bryan, fellow DARTer and BQ-seeker Tommy Wagoner, and Mike all in order.  They appeared to be trying to wake up their legs much as I was.  It took me that whole mile to get recalibrated.  Then, I found my pace again, hard as it was.  I pushed to hold my splits as close to 7s as possible.  I had to.  With the weather heating up and my energy stores only getting lower, there was no room for error.
After every mile marker, I re-did the math in my head, affirming the pace I needed to keep, wishing there was just a little more of a time cushion.  "No dice, Chas," I told myself, "you gotta earn it with every step!"  The scattered runners ahead of me were fewer and farther between.  I passed the first place female runner at mile 20, and she encouraged me, making no attempt to retaliate.  10K left, and 43 minutes in order to finish 3:03-something.  Yep, I still had to hold a 7:00 pace.  It was starting to get old, but at least the miles were ticking away.  I just had to keep talking myself through it.
Splits for miles 16-22: 7:14, 6:57, 6:55, 7:02, 7:07
Miles 23-26.2; PAIN!
In the final miles of the race, I suffered what I can only describe as a slow bonk.  My legs were hurting and felt like bricks, but this had started miles ago.  The agony slowly made its way up my body, and all of my muscles just wanted a break, even just to ease back on the pace for a few seconds.  What made it worse was that I was practically alone for most of these final miles.  I admonished myself to ignore the agony and keep pushing.  Quoth the inner monologue:
"You've hurt worse than this!  Suck it up!"
"Forget the rest of the race, THIS is what you trained for!"
"Almost there...no room for error...dig, dig, DIG!"
The asphalt gave way to perfectly hard-packed dirt road in the final couple of miles.  I think I passed a couple more people here, but I honestly don't remember.  After mile marker 25, I started counting the minutes and the fractions of a mile on my GPS watch.  All I had to do was endure a little more pain.  Half a mile from the finish, I ran alongside the destination at Brown Mountain Beach Resort and heard the noisemakers of the crowd as one or two other finishers crossed the line.  I heard someone cheering my name, but I could not recognize the voice.  I ran down one last little hill and into a final, too-long loop around the gravel parking lot.  I passed one more runner in this stretch, and he appeared not to have a kick left in him.  As I rounded the last corner for the final quarter mile, I saw that Tommy had been my cheerleader.  Tommy had dropped out of the race at mile 20 with a seized-up hamstring.  Disappointing as it was, he was still there to cheer me on, take pictures, and run ahead of me towards the finish arch. 
Mile 26 and still pushing.

There was a tiny but sadistic little uphill in the final yards leading to the finish line.  I had to beat 3:05.  I saw 3:04:xx on the gun clock.  No room for error.  I did not--could not--sprint to the finish.  It was all I could do just to maintain my pace through the final inches of the race distance.  As soon as I was sure I had cleared the timing mats, I stopped running.  A volunteer draped a thermal space blanket on me, and I ripped the timing chip from my shoe.  I was taking no chances having that thing go off accidentally and negating my time.  Official chip time: 3:04:07.  I was lucky 13th place overall, and I had placed 3rd in my age group.  More than that, I was a Boston Qualifier.
Finished...and done.

Third age group.  Nice little pottery award.

Splits for miles 23-26.2: 7:17, 7:05, 7:00, 7:19, [final 0.2 mile in 1:24], [second half: 1:32:32], [chip time: 3:04:07]
The potential for a fast downhill at R2B was the lure of many BQ hopefuls on this day.  Clint fared best out of all of us with a 2:57:xx, nearly 18 minutes ahead of his qualifying time.  That was also good enough for 6th place overall.  Fellow DARTer Dean King also qualified with a 3:23:xx.  Bobby Aswell completed his 182nd marathon with a 3:13:xx and a 3rd place age group award.  Bryan, Mike, and a few other familiar faces came short of their goals, but still finished with respectable times.  Like any R2B veteran will attest, this was adeceivingly difficult course. 
Only in the past couple of days has it registered with me...six months ago, I never would have said I had a chance to qualify for Boston.  I worked my ass off for four months and accomplished several other running goals that I thought were well beyond my reach.  All of that effort and obsession paid off...with a margin of just 53 seconds.  Truly, there was no room for error. 
In emulation of ultra-running guru/blogger Jonathan Savage, here's what worked:
Shoes: Brooks Green Silence with YANKZ quick laces.  A high performance racing flat with a socklike upper and a surprising amout of cushion underneath.  Why is Brooks discontinuing this shoe?
Compression: RaceReady LD compression shorts and 2XU calf sleeves. 
Gels: Clif Shots.  In my opinion, they taste better than GU, and that's important in a long race.  However, they do have a higher sugar/maltodextrin ratio, so they do need to be chased with water in order to clear properly.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Musings: Post-Lungstrong and Pre-Ridge to Bridge

This has been an exciting Fall for racing.  After the memorable but humbling milestone of completing my first honest-to-goodness 50-miler in June, I shifted my focus away from ultras and trail running for a four-month immersion into intensive marathon training.  I originally signed up for the Anthem Marathon in Richmond with the hopes of acquiring a respectable marathon PR that was representative of my ability.  However, after jumping through a rapidly closing registration window and getting on the roster for Ridge to Bridge Marathon at the end of October, I started to get that itch that some of my faster marathoning friends have gotten as well.  All of my intermediate-long distance races and training runs have alluded to the possibility of me qualifying for Boston—a goal I never had considered possible until recently.  With R2B being a downhill, potentially fast (albeit at a price) course, I figured…what the hell?

Fast forward.  For the past few months, I have been in full-tilt training.  I have upped my weekly mileage base to an average of about 60 miles/week, I maximized the number of quality long runs in the 18-23 mile range, and I included regimented and diversified speed work in my plan twice weekly.  The work done in the hot, humid Summer has paid off in seemingly effortlessly faster paces in the crisp Fall air.  Every race up until now has been a tune-up to my culminating BQ attempt on October 27th.

While Salem Lake 30K was the peak training race, Lungstrong 15K was the last of these tune-up races.  Being exactly two weeks out from R2B, the Saturday of the event was supposed to be a tapered long-run day of 12-14 miles.  I figured the 9.3-mile race, plus warm-up and cool-down would be just right to bring me to the prescribed mileage for the day.  Also, the race would serve as a final extended threshold workout and confidence builder before I go into the “maintain-refrain-keep-sane” final days of my taper.

Had Lungstrong been a focus race, I would have attempted to go sub-60 minutes, which would have been the logical progression from my previously achieved goals of sub-20 (and sub-19) 5K and sub-40 (and sub-39) 10K.  However, since I had run the course before and found it to be a touch long and fairly rolling, I thought it more prudent to set a pace goal of a 6:40 minute/mile average for the duration, which would translate to a 1:02 finish.  The number was not arbitrary; 6:40 was smack dab in the middle of my 10K pace and my half-marathon pace.  Also, the ever dubious McMillan Pace Calculator prognosticated a 1:02 time for 15K based on my most recent races.  So naturally, like John Henry VS the Steam Drill, I wanted to beat the pace generator.

It could not have been a more beautiful morning for racing.  I arrived at the start early, even though I live five minutes from the location, and I got my warm-up miles in while dressed in layers to fend off the chill.  My trusted friend and chiropractor, Dr. Matty Zimmerman was just finishing setting up his booth and offered his ever encouraging words.  He also asked if I wanted him to check on my talus (one of 26 foot bones) before the race.  When your chiropractor offers you a tune-up before a big event, you say “yes, please.”  After checking my alignment, rotating my tires, and topping off the air pressure, Matty waved me on and I was good to go.

There aren’t too many exciting details that stick out about the race itself.  It was more just a reminder of proper racing strategy.  First, don’t go out too fast.  This, I did pretty well with for once.  I did not jump off the line like I would do in a 5K.  I gave myself at least a half mile to settle into my intended pace.  This surprised a lot of nearby friends who expected me to shoot past them in the first 100 yards.  It felt good to slowly amble through the low gears first.  Also, in a 5K, if I go out to fast, I might hurt a little more on the last mile; but for 15K, mistakes like that get amplified exponentially as I get into the 7th, 8th, and 9th miles.  Not today.

Second, maintain equal effort.  I dialed in my pace on the first real flat section of the race, the 200 meters of Jetton Road before our left turn into Jetton Park.  The detour into the park allowed an easy downhill where my perceived 6:40 effort yielded a 6:20 downhill coast, and a 7:00 climb on the way back up.  So far, so good.  I found myself looking at the Garmin less and less and going more by feel.

Third, run my own race.  I love running in a group, and I especially love racing in a group.  Competition brings out the best in my running, and it allows me to set and reach for spontaneous mini-goals in the middle of a race like “I’m gonna catch that guy,” or “now if I could just hold her off…”  For this race though, my pace was my primary concern, so I had to do a lot of ignoring.  I should note here that after the cacophonous clearing of the starting blocks, no single runner passed me for the duration of the race.  I did not keep count of the several ones I passed, but I never attacked anyone as I often do.  I just let my goal pace slowly reel them in.  It helps that I achieved a subtle but notable negative split from start to finish.  Broken up into 3-mile blocks, I ran miles 1-3, 4-6, and 7-9 with respective splits of 20:05, 19:55, and 19:48.  The final partial mile was at a 6:20ish pace.  Qualitatively, the pace throughout felt comfortably hard, and in retrospect I believe I could have pushed a little harder, but there was no need to run myself into the ground for this last tune-up race.  I finished with an official chip time of 1:01:32 (6:37 pace).  Take that, McMillan Pace Calculator!

As a test of fitness, Lungstrong was very encouraging, but perhaps more encouraging was my newfound faith in my ability to monitor pace.  As I approach R2B (and any possible subsequent BQ attempts), I will not have a lot of room for error with regards to maintaining pace.  One mistake in the early miles or treacherous downhill could derail my plans before I even have a chance to bonk.  So here is the strategy I must program into my head.  For the first rolling 6 miles of R2B, I plan at running at BQ pace +5 seconds (7:06-7:08, including a conservative first mile).  For the following 9ish miles that contain more than 2,000 feet of quad-burning descent, I must focus on shortening my stride and keeping my turnover consistent, while hopefully letting gravity propel me to a BQ-10 second pace (6:50-6:52).  For the final 11 miles—a false flat that gradually trends downhill—I plan on holding on to BQ pace for dear life.  Many R2B veterans, and the RD himself, recommend adopting this template for a race plan.  As far as my running fitness, the hay is already in the barn.  The critical challenge that determines BQ or crash-and-burn will be the discipline of pace-making on the downhill.  I’m perhaps more excited and nervous than I was before my first marathon!  We’ll know in ten days.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Trial...Run: Salem Lake 30K

The late September week leading up to Salem Lake 30K was beautiful.  The early morning running weather was in the low fifties with clear, starry skies, and I was able to get in some high quality training runs, including a 13.1 mile marathon pace workout at 7:01 pace, an 8 mile speed workout the following day with some hard, long intervals mixed in, after which I ran another 5 miles in the evening to make 26.2 for two days.  I tapered and carbo-loaded as the week drew on to prepare for an 18.6 mile marathon simulation that I would be running at Salem Lake 30K in Winston-Salem on Saturday. 
The weather did not exactly cooperate.  The evening before and the day of the race, a combination of warmer air and rain storms descended upon the Piedmont.  Race day was bound to be muggy and wet.  In addition, 70 percent of the race would be on fine gravel/dirt road trails, so the footing would be gritty, which is somewhere between muddy and crunchy. 
No matter.  Much of Ridge To Bridge Marathon (my upcoming attempt at qualifying for Boston) would be on unpaved roads, and I had to be prepared for any conditions.  I had anticipated running in my Brooks Green Silence--a racing flat that offers some squishy cushion for marathons--but the conditions favored the Montrail Rogue Fly and its superior traction.  I also opted for knee-length RaceReady LD compression shorts, which had the same mesh pockets as the regular RaceReady LD running shorts, but with added compression to stabilize my quads and hamstrings.  After meeting fellow DARTers Todd Mayes, Clint Seimers, and Tommy Wagoner--all of whom were using this race as a marathon tune-up like me--I found my place near the front of the pack and waited for the start.
From the beginning, the race felt like exactly what it was: a strange intermediary in the large gap between a marathon and a half-marathon.  At 18.6 miles, one is tempted to race at threshold speed as if it were a heavy half, but the distance is just long enough to flirt with the stamina depleting properties of a marathon.  Since my goal was to stay as close as possible to my intended marathon pace of 7:01, I felt I should be working hard the whole time without bonking at the very end. Todd shot out ahead and out of view in the first quarter mile.  Tommy took a starting spot behind me and intended to set a more conservative pace.  Clint was near me at the start and overtook me in the first half mile.
As far as trails go, Salem Lake Park is very hospitable, even in the rain.  The wide dirt road is well maintained and never rutted--somewhere between the consistency of Umstead State Park and the Davidson College Cross Country Trails in footing.  Having run most of this course during the Frosty 50K ten months earlier, I was familiar with the two notable hills at mile 1.5 and mile 6.5; both of which I would revisit at mile 12 and mile 17.  The rest of the course is seemingly flat when compared to marathons or halves like Thunder Road or Run For Green.  What I forgot about were the nearly unnoticeable changes in elevation throughout the course that could not even be described as rollers.  These little micro-hills would add up after a while, especially on slightly uneven footing. 
The first 6 miles had the racers circumnavigate the lake going counter-clockwise.  One of the funny things about running at Salem Lake is that no matter what side of the lake you are on, you always wish you were on the other side.  Clint, who claimed to be setting the same goal finishing time as me (2:10) was nearly a furlong ahead of me at this point and was pulling away, so I ignored him and focused on another runner next to me named Nate.  Atop the hill at 6.5, the surface changed to the smooth asphalt of the Salem Creek Greenway, and Nate and I sailed down the course's longest downhill and settled into a nice conversation.  Nate's watch had died earlier in the week, so I happily provided him with mile splits as he was aiming for a 7 minute pace as well.  The conversation made the 3 miles to the 15K turnaround go by in no time.  Frankly, I was surprised I could hold a conversation while trying to maintain that pace for so long.  I saw Todd on his return leg a few minutes before I hit the halfway point.  Clint was a couple minutes behind and looking strong, and I was about a minute behind Clint.  My split at the 15K turnaround was 1:05:20, almost right on target for my goal, but I would have to keep pushing the pace to stay near my intended time. 
After the turnaround, I spotted Tommy still on his outbound leg but not more than two minutes behind me.  He was making good time and appeared to be in good spirits.  The 3 miles of greenway seemed to go by more quickly than they did on my own outbound leg.  Near the hill that led to the lakeside trail, I saw Todd on the sideline cheering me on and making sure I didn't need any more gels.  I checked my watch and saw 1:24 and change.  "I'm done," he assured me.  Still, it took me a moment to realize "done" meant "withdrawn," and not "across the finish line."  I was worried that Todd might be injured, but I later found out that he just was still in recovery after his win at a hard-run Run For Green Half Marathon.  I low-geared my way up the winding asphalt of the hill that joined the greenway to the lake trail and settled in to my 7ish pace for the hard 10K that remained.
Nate stayed stride-for-stride with me for the entire middle third of the race, even though we were pacing ourselves for a finish that was several minutes faster than his PR for this particular course.  He must have been having a good day, because he pulled away from me for a long kick with 4.5 miles left to go.  I affirmed that he was speeding up (rather than me slowing down), and let him go.  Even though he was in my age group, and thus direct competition for me, this was not my focus race of the season, and assessing my ability to hold a 7 minute pace was the main goal for today. 
Just as it had been at Frosty 50, traveling around the many fingers of the lake was getting a little old.  Even at a fast pace, you crave to see a landmark ahead of you that is not another blind curve.  After reaching the East tip of the lake and finally angling myself in the general direction of the finish, I knew I only had 3.5 miles to go, and I would have to do it in nearly 24 minutes to meet my goal.  That's not too far off of my 8K/10K pace, but with 15 miles under my belt (and a 1.5 mile warm-up), I didn't feel comfortable trying to squeeze out that kind of pace for that long.  I dug and dug, trying to be vigilantly consistent with my 7:0x pace, all while playing Math games in my head to predict what my actual finishing time would be.  2:10...not likely.  Certainly under 2:12.  2:11...hmmm.  New goal: go sub-2:11.  Going 2:10:xx was almost as good as going 2:10:00, right? 
I passed eight or ten other runners in my final miles.  For the final hill at mile 17, I slipped into low-gear and slowed my pace, but I overtook two other runners in the process.  I have finally come to realize that sacrificing a few seconds in a conservative climbing pace pays off in dividends when it comes to late-race energy.  My watch showed a race time of 2:04 seconds before I reached the marker indicating one mile to finish.  Alright, if I was going to go sub-2:11, I had to bust out a sub-7 mile for my final kick.  I toggled my watch's view screen to my "current lap" screen; the final mile was the only data I wanted to see from here on out.  I visualized the track where I do a lot of my intervals and went to town.  Six minutes and a few more runners later, I made the final turn toward the finish and spied the digital time counter.  It was going to be close, so as is always the case, I had no choice but to sprint.  Final time: 2:10:56.  Not bad.  Clint destroyed his goal and finished with a smoking fast 2:07:50.  Tommy also came in under his outside goal of 2:20 and finished with 2:19:24, kicking strongly for the last quarter mile.  Todd got in a nice 12+ miles worth of workout, but he was the overall winner in Krispy Kreme donut consumption at the finish line.
From left: Tommy, Todd, Clint, and me.  Can you tell Todd didn't exactly just finish an 18.6 mile run?

A 7:00 pace over 30K would result in a finishing time of 2:10:24, and my finishing time indicated a pace of 7:02, which is still withing the pace I would need to hold in order to qualify for Boston in one of my upcoming marathons (7:03 for a sub-3:05 finish).  Given the wet, muggy conditions, I would consider this marathon simulation a success.  I crossed the finish line feeling worked, but not bonked, and the following day, I felt as if I had run a hard half instead of a full marathon.  This implies that I had a good deal left in the tank after 18.6 miles at race pace.  At Ridge To Bridge Marathon, if I played the downhill conservatively, I might be able to save a little energy while maintaining pace and elongating the distance between me and the wall.  Whether I qualify for Boston at R2B, Richmond, or not at all, I'll be back to Salem Lake in January for the Frosty 50 once again, hoping to break 4 hours for a 50K.