I really didn't do anything to prepare for this race. Taper? Not at all, considering this is supposed to be a warm-up for the Monumental Marathon three weeks later. On the contrary, I am at the end of my opportunity for high-mileage weeks, so I ran 10 Saturday, 10.5 Monday, and though I planned 7 each for Wednesday and Thursday, the weather didn't cooperate and I instead suffered on the treadmill for a maddenly boring 4 mile run. Add to this my inadequate training, getting roughly five hours of sleep every night, combined with a three-hour wine tasting at Ruth's Chris the night before the race, and you have the making of an interesting Saturday morning race.
I came home from work early Friday, played Monopoly with Sam for awhile (he was home sick), ate 1/2lb of pasta, then caught almost an hour long nap before going to the Ruth's Chris wine tasting with Michele. Wine tasting, the night before a race??? Well, this was not only free, but was high-end wines, combined with appetizers at a restaurant I really enjoy. The wines were plentiful, and it seemed you could taste as much as you wanted, as many times as you wanted. Products that stood out were Opus 1, Silver Oak, Quintessa, Faust, and a few others of which the names escape me right now. These wines are not in my budget ($100-200 per bottle), so it's always a treat to drink them. The appetizers included a few of thing's I either didn't want to eat (seared tuna) for fear of GI issues during the race, or just weren't my thing (shrimp, brie puff pastries). I instead opted for chicken skewers glazed with a spicy teryaki. I must have downed ten of those, washing them down with cheese and crackers, chocolate mousse in dark chocolate cups, and a few of these amazing chocolate squares (2") mounted on a bed of crushed nuts. Each time I ate one of those I could only think how I shouldn't be having another one, with a race less than twelve hours away. The sweet taste of ambrosia quickly vanqished those thoughts.
My point here? I was hoping for a race where I wouldn't embarass myself. Surprisingly, things went far better than I anticipated. The morning was cold, and I figured it was going to be long sleeve weather. I'm not acclimated to the cold yet, and the 30s are kind of a transition zone for clothing. With frost on my windshield I headed to the race (only a ten minute drive). I brought shorts with me, just in case it warmed up enough before the race. I was really on the fence about my jacket, as I didn't want to get too warm, and shedding clothing is a hassle (I don't have any "throwaway" clothes for this purpose). It was too cold for me to change, so after having a Roctane GU (first time for this kind) I headed to the start. I had planned on arriving earlier, and making today's run a long training run by warming up for two miles, running 13.1, then tacking another three on the end. Well, it didn't work out that way, and my warm-up was only 1/2 mile, after which I worked my way through the crowd (6,400 entrants) to the self-seeding area for the pace I wanted. there was no sign, but I was ahead of the 3:40 marathon group and a bit back from the 7:00 pace sign.
The race began on time and the course was narrow for the first mile; crowded but moving well. I felt really good, and as the miles ticked by, found I was running 7:25-7:45 splits. Huh? This was kind of strange, as my effort was not very high, and my heart rate was only slightly higher than my training HR. There were plenty of water points (I think every two miles), and as I passed each one, opted to continue my plan of doing the things you should never do for a race: lack of training, inadequate rest, alcohol and strange food the night before, trying new gels on race day, and now skipping water points. I figured I had plenty of water before the race, and I do drink over 1.5 gal every day. Actually, it's a hassle for me to drink from a cup while running, as I have not practiced this, and end up either choking on it or spilling all over me - I usually walk a few steps to gulp it. Since it was cold, I didn't want to get all wet, and I didn't want to slow down.
Anyway, at mile 8.5 there was a water point where I did get a cup of water, and I ran into David Klossner link to his blog, who is training for Ironman Louisville 2010. We ran together until just after mile 10, where he wanted to speed up for a tempo finish. I opted out, choosing to stay with my pace, especially with the coming hill. The hill wasn't as bad as I thought, and my split only slid to 8:15 that mile. As it was, my last two miles were 7:55 splits, and I was quite pleased finishing at 1:41:39.
A PR without training for it, and without any pain or suffering. As I look at it, if I upped the pain threshold a bit I should be able to shave a minute or two off this race. And if I actually trained better/smarter, who knows? I feel much better about the Monumental Marathon in three weeks. I haven't planned a pace, but this race helps with it. I cannot run a 7:45 for 26.2, but 8:15 or so might be sustainable. My main concern is energy management. I need to eat well during the days prior, and I think Roctane GU will be the gel for the race. I learned a few lessons at The Flying Pig Marathon, and though I had pain in my foot most of the race, my pre-race meal, combined with a real lack of sleep and the wrong gels, put me in to what I now think was simply a bonk - mentally and physically. My pace was solid until mile 21, where I really tanked. All I can do now is put a little time in and be smart for this race.
So I finished with a PR, walked around for a few minutes drinking water, and once I was sufficiently cold (mid-race I wanted to ditch the jacket), started to run again to make my long run. This plan did not work out, as Sam was playing in his soccer tournament less than a mile away. I ran over there, and after learning Gabriel was starving, brought him back to the race where I figured he could share my post-race meal. That worked out great for him, as he ate most of my meal, though I did get a cookie and some beans. Oh well, I'd wait until I got home. Returning to the game, I continued to freeze until the end (Sam's team won), after which we'd have to quickly get home, eat, shower (for me), and return for another soccer game in ninety minutes.
All in all, a good day!