The Metrodome Inline Marathon took place on March 9 for 2013. This was called the “Grand Finale” because the Dome is slated for demolition in February of 2014 to make way for its replacement. Since it was presumably the last inline marathon at the Dome, the field was opened for more skaters, and the event organizers instituted a finish time limit on wave 1 of 95 minutes. In order to skate in wave 1 you had to be able to finish below this time limit. The half marathon and full marathon skaters with finish times in excess of 95 minutes were assigned to wave 2. The last race of the day was the Team Time Trial, which is what the Metrodome race is really known for. In that race, teams of five skate together to get the best time possible. The fourth person to cross the line from the team determines the time for the team.
Like last year, I skated wave 1. However, unlike last year, I had an ambitious finishing goal. I wanted to finish in 90 minutes, which, after my last practice in the Dome, seemed like a difficult target to hit. Previously, my personal best marathon time was 1:32:53, set at the Chicagoland Inline Marathon. Going into the race, I knew I was able to finish within the time restriction for wave 1 based on this race and my 43:03 finish at the Minnesota Half last year. With that in mind, I came into the race hoping to finish at or under 90 minutes, but would have been happy finishing below 95 minutes. This especially because of my lack of training overall in February, and only having one month of hard carido training in January after spending two months focusing on weight lifting.
Start order for the race was alphabetical. We lined up on the stairs prior to the race, and the race official called the race participants in order, and released us out on the course one at a time. This is a unique race format, and it is more of a time trial style, which is odd for a pack sport, especially since all the racers are on the course at the same time for this race rather than one participant at a time. It makes the race a pack time trial, which is entirely unique. This is one of the reasons this is a great race, and it is one of the reasons it is such a hard race.
The racers in front of me hit the course, and I stepped up to the line. The race director told me to enter, and I was off. I didn’t want to come out of the gate too fast. This race requires a lot of strategy, knowing how to read your body, and having a plan about when to make the required water stop. I was hoping to have someone to skate with the entire race, but didn’t end up making those arrangements prior to the race. Going into the race expecting to skate alone or to work with skaters I am unfamiliar with. Skating this race alone is a brutal experience because of the monotony of the laps. They never seem to end when you are on your own. When you are skating with a group, it is easier to focus on the skating. Out of the gate, I caught a good line that only had a couple of people. The pace was fast, but I was able to keep up. The line fell apart after only a couple of laps, and I was back on my own. I managed to pick up another line a few laps in, and stuck with them for a while. The pace was solid, and we were at or below my target lap times for the race result I was hoping for. As we cycled through the line, pulling a lap or a little more, I got to the front of the group, pulled my lap, and cycled back. As I rotated to the back of the line, I counted five skaters other than myself.
Race rules prohibit pace lines longer than 5 people. As I moved back in the line, the sixth person meant I could not join the line and continue skating with the group. Outside of the draft, I couldn’t keep the pace, and fell off the line. One of the frustrating things about this race was that the pace line restrictions were either ignored or not enforced. I could have stuck with that faster line for a good portion of the rest of the race, but wasn’t able to maintain the speed they set. For the rest of the race, I bounced around from line to line. I found a couple of other groups to skate with, but nothing consistent. I spent most of my race skating on my own.
The race didn’t go as I had planned, but resulted better than I had hoped. I finished with a new personal best marathon time of 1:32:30, shaving about 23 seconds off my prior personal best. About 40 laps into the race, my arches began to hurt right around the point where the navicular bone joint is located. This is the same point I had a blister on my left foot after skating the Dome earlier in March. It started on the left, but eventually started on the right also. I managed to adjust my technique to compensate, but I am sure the change in form altered my efficiency likely sacrificing some speed. At that point, the goal was to finish the race. By the end of the race, I had blisters on both feet. I need to continue to work on heat molding the new boots or continue with frame adjustments. Either way, I am still breaking my feet into the new boots. I may also need new EzeeFits.
Paul Dyrud won the overall finish of the race. He set a blistering pace, and attacked hard about halfway through, going solo for the rest of the race. He was skating so fast that he passed the rest of the leaders. It was amazing to watch him in the race as he came by me. He was super low in his squat, and pushing really hard. Looking at his form, it is clear to me that I wasn’t skating low enough in the speed squat. This is something I am going to devote a lot of time to for the rest of this season. I think I could have gone quite a bit faster had I spent more time in a deeper squat, elongating my stride to use the power in my glutes, hamstrings, and quads. I am going to incorporate longer low walks and more wall sits into my exercise routine. I have taken a lot of the week after the race off, partly to recover, partly because of new obligations in parenting, and partly due to needing to shovel the large amounts of snow we received here earlier in the week. I am hoping to get back on the bike tomorrow, and be back to weight lifting on Monday, and I am looking forward to having some new direction with my training.
The next scheduled races are the short distance events in June, Roller for the Roses and Grand Old Day. These are short races, 10k and 8k respectively. I expect them to be very fast sprints. The 10k will be good practice for the Chicagoland Tour race in July, which includes a 10k points elimination race. Depending on how things go with my job search, and whether it is possible to day trip the race, I would like to make Apostle Island this year. It is unlikely, but it would be a nice addition to the race calendar.
Race video follows this post, as always. The video only has two gauges on it, a lap count and a gauge for heart rate since GPS doesn’t work in the Dome. It was a great race and worth watching if you have the time. You may want to listen to some music though as most of the sound is wind noise.