Monday, November 8, 2010

Monumental Marathon Race Report 3:30:23

I went into this race with low expectations. I didn't do any structured training, core training, speedwork, or long runs. Worse, I had 3-5 day breaks between runs most of October. So, I just wanted to have a decent race, and would have been happy with a 3:45. Really, my goal was to not have to walk, and to just be under 4 hours. I simply hadn't trained for it. Not that I wasn't in shape for a long run; my endurance is decent, but a marathon is a long race.

The latter part of the week I tried to eat well, and hydrate a little more than my usual 1.5 gallons of water per day. I had a hamburger and potatoes for dinner Wednesday, 1/2 lb of pasta on Thursday, and 1/2 lb pasta Friday. I got to bed around 9pm Friday, planning on getting up around 4:30 Saturday. I ended up waking up at 3:45, and couldn't sleep any longer. I went downstairs, made some coffee, and oatmeal, and though it was earlier than I wanted to eat (I wanted to have a meal two hours before the start), I wanted to ensure I got things "moving" before I left the house. I watched something stupid on TV (I think it was part of "The Crazies"), had a bagel, some peanut butter, and yogurt, and rechecked the stuff I was planning on bringing to the race. My race belt was ready, and was loaded with twelve Clif Shot Blocks and four Gu Roctane. It was going to be cold, but I didn't want to overdress. It was about 30 degrees, with highs expected to be 40. I was planning on shorts and a tank top, with my Pearl Izumi arm sleeves I used in Powerman Muncie. I also brought my Mizuno gloves, figuring I'd need them the whole time. It would be too cold to just have just this at the start, so I went to goodwill and picked up a fleece top and hat for $5. I'd shed these once I was warm enough. In my truck I had packed tights and a compression top, just in case it was too cold for my planned attire. One thing I did this race was to make a cross to put on my back. While in dark periods during my previous races I was passed by people who either had crosses or religious messages, and they helped. I thought I'd try it for myself; maybe it could help someone I pass.

I picked up a Starbucks coffee on the way downtown, in part for the caffeine, and also to try to influence my system to finishing what I didn't finish at home as planned. I parked on Senate Avenue, which is about four blocks north of the start/finish area, and headed to the Marriot to link up with some friends. Getting to Washington Street, I stopped in the Westin, which had plenty of room to stay warm and wait to get closer to the start time. And the bathroom line wasn't bad. I went back out to the gear check to drop a backpack that had a sweatshirt, my phone and truck key, and Gatorade G3 recovery drink. I then went back to the Westin to use the bathroom, which I found had no line. The coffee worked. I then headed to the Marriot to link up with my buddies. The Marriot was a little different than the past two years, as they closed off most of the lobby to runners, which made it a little easier to find people. Note to self: The Westin is better place to hang out before the start. I did link up with my buddy Dave, and we hung out for about ten minutes before heading to the start. I had a Gu Roctane, and though I couldn't find any water, figured I'd get some at the first water point. Much of this race report is for my benefit, as I will read this before my next marathon, since I won't remember some of the detail. Like the water I drank at nearly every point was just 1/2 cup, and it was enough, in cold temperatures. I walked as I gulped it, as I have choked too many times trying to pinch the cup and gulp while running.

The starting area was packed, and I couldn't get any closer to the front than the 9:15 pace area. It becomes clear that people don't follow the guidelines, since I was passing people for many miles. I hit the first water point as planned, and decided I would hit almost every water point during the race. My nutrition plan was to alternate between Gu and Clif blocks every 30-40 minutes. As I passed mile 1, I figured it would be getting close to time to ditch the fleece. I figured I'd wait until I was headed northbound, since I'd be going into the wind for a little while. I pulled off the fleece at 1.5 miles, and ran with it for about 100 meters before I reluctantly let it go. I say reluctantly because I just bought it, and it was a decent fleece. Okay, it was $3.98, but it was comfortable. Well, I wasn't going to carry it for the whole race. My main concern was that I'd drop it and get cold.

I hit the water point after mile 2 and continued to pass people. My pace was steady and I felt good. My heart rate monitor went kaput, and though it had new batteries, I am convinced it was the cold that kept it from working. I tried cycling the watch to find it a few times, but it didn't work. I figured it would come back if things warmed up. I skipped the water at mile 3, and had Gatorade at mile 4. I also had 3 Clif Blocks. My pace was still steady, and though I thought I might be going a little too fast, I didn't have heart rate information to sabotage what I was feeling. I felt good and was just talking it a mile at a time. At mile 9 I settled into a steady 8 minute pace, which continued until mile 22. I had water and Gatorade at miles 5 and 7, and water and Gu Roctane at mile 9. I grabbed a Clif gel at mile 10, as I usually take them for future use. I skipped taking any more at the next two fuel points, as I didn't want to carry them, and was simply focused on the race. I had more water at miles 11 and 12, and I hit the 1/2 marathon mark at 1:43:46. I still felt good, and was wondering how the 2nd half would be. At this point I was occasionally passing and being passed by three of the same people, and we'd continue to do so for a little while. I got water again at miles 15, 16, 17, and 20. At mile 16 I had three Clif Blocks. Funny thing is, as I turned south on College, I blew my nose, and out came part of a Clif Block. What the?? I guess I had it hang in my throat and it just came out… As I passed through the Butler University campus, it was warm enough to take off the hat, and to pull down the arm sleeves. I was going to throw the hat away, but this was a brand new hat, and though it was only $1.49, why can’t I keep it? I stuffed it in the back of my shirt. I took off my gloves and stuffed them into my pocket as well.

During this time I prayed, thanked God for giving me my health and the ability to do this, and for the strength to continue, and began giving serious consideration to qualifying for Boston. This was my 5th marathon, and given my first two were good, and the second two not so good, I had concerns with falling apart after mile 18. This time I felt good, and did the math, figuring I could make it as long as I don't slow down. I'd make a commitment at mile 20 for the final push. After exiting the Indianapolis Museum of Art, there is a long descent (1/2 mi), and I stepped it up to make up a little time. I was still feeling good, and shortly after getting water at the Naval Armory, came to mile 20. It was time to commit. My time so far was 2:38:23, leaving me 52:36 to finish and qualify for Boston. I can do this. I was talking to myself. "Dig deep!" "BQ baby!" "Don't Bonk!" Though my pace was still steady, I had to push the effort higher, to the point approaching having to breathe on a 1/4 steps, verses the 1/6 I had been running. After mile 21 I had more water, and around mile 22 mile I started to feel tired. My calves were beginning to revolt, but I just pushed through it. I had the last of my Clif Blocks and knew the pain that was to come would be over soon. My pace dipped sharply for two miles, and looking at the time, knew I had to dig deep to make it. I started to notice people around me who I would never expect to be up here (like, people who looked out of shape). As I headed down Meridian I upped the effort, trying to decide when to make a final push. I was running an 8 minute pace at a 7 minute effort. Passing through Monument Circle, I was keeping on the heels of a couple of guys who had sped up as well, but were clearly not in distress. I knew exactly where I was, and where the finish line was. Turning north on Capitol, I kept the pace, knowing there were just three more turns. I increased my effort as I turned on New York, and as I turned again on Martin Luther King Drive, closed my eyes and gave what I had left. I made the final turn and glanced at my watch, I'd make the cutoff. "Try not to look stupid crossing the line" was what ran through my head.

Crossing the finish line and looking at my watch, I saw 3:30:27; I made it. I grabbed a bagel, a banana, chocolate milk, peanut butter, and water. I went to the results tent and got my results slip. Strangely, my finish time was recorded as 3:29:24. I’m not sure how or why, but this was in the preliminary results. Later, that was adjusted to 3:30:23, more in line with my watch. Which means I made the cutoff by 36 seconds.

There were plenty of volunteers at every water point. I never had to wait or skip a stop due to not having enough people with cups. The volunteers were great, and plentiful. The race medal is cool, the shirt nice, and I like the addition of a hat. I’m disappointed with the failure of my Suunto heart rate monitor, as the data could be useful. At the same time, it might have made me slow down. Or speed up. But hey, BQ BABY!


Mile time
1 7:56
2 7:42
3 7:53
4 7:53
5 7:44
6 7:43
7 7:52
8 7:54
9 8:01
10 8:05
11 8:09
12 7:59
13 8:02
14 8:06
15 7:46
16 8:05
17 7:59
18 8:00
19 7:33
20 8:02
21 8:00
22 8:13
23 8:39
24 8:38
25 8:13
26 7:59
.2 2.22

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Nicest Muggers Ever

I've never really been mugged, though I think I once had a close call on the A train headed from the George Washington Bridge to 72nd Street when I was fifteen years old. Two unsavory chaps wer eyeballing my overnight bag, which did actually have some valuable stuff in it (my Nikon FM and lenses). I had enough sense at the time to simply open up my bag (which had clothes from staying at my buddy Walt's house for a couple of days). I casually displayed my dirty socks, underwear, and shorts, keeping the good stuff hidden. They lost interest and moved on.

But in another sense, I witnessed a mass mugging last week. I spent the week in Orlando, with visits to Disney, SeaWorld, and the Kennedy Space Center. I have been to Disney before, am am still amazed at how good they are at getting people and their money to part ways. From the expensive food to the stuff kids must have, there cannot be any spending restraint. It would probably be easier to simply hand over your wallet upon entry, and kindly asking them to please let you keep your driver's license and family photos. And the muggers always say "Thank you." I felt bad for the families with little girls who just had to buy a princess dress to wear around the park, or go to the salon for the princess treatment (it was packed). The giant Disney store at Downtown Disney appears to be a printing press for cash for The Walt Disney Company (DIS). They were really good at it.

But, the parks were super clean, well-staffed, and set the standard for how parks should be. The boys had a great time, loved Space Mountain, and didn't nag about buying junk (maybe the drills are starting to take??). As crazy expensive as it is, I really do enjoy Disneyworld. They don't cut corners; the FastPass system is great, and even the line queues are nice. No fake backdrops, lots of shade.

SeaWorld's shows were nice, though shorter than I expected (must be a limit to the working hours set by the Whale & Dolphin Union Local 383). The park was nice, and the boys had a great time. They loved the Mantis roller coaster (very cool coaster). Gabriel has become a roller coaster fiend, and I think given the chance, will ride anything.

Kennedy Space Center

I have wanted to go to Cape Kennedy (as it was called in my youth) for four decades, and as much as I enjoy the space shuttle stuff, it is the Apollo program and the Saturn V building I really wanted to see. I was not disappointed. This is the "space stuff" I grew up with, fantasizing and playing with models of the command and lunar modules, and watching launches on television. The Apollo astronauts were the heroes of my youth (and still are). There really was much to see, and I'm really glad I went. The gift shops had tons of stuff, some cool (enough Apollo stuff (some signed by the astronauts) to construct an Apollo shrine at home), to junk (who wants an "official" Matchbox tour bus like the ones used to ferry tourists around KSC?). Anyway, KSC is a pretty neat place for people (like me) who like this kind of stuff.

Even now, I am still in awe watching launch videos: here is a sample:

Marathon Preparation
October has not been a very solid training month; I have basically gone for runs, deciding what I was going to do as I started each time. I didn't put in the miles, nor enough speed work, and had too many inactive days between runs. I'm feeling it now, as I have what appears to be the initial stage of shin splints in my right leg. Not enough to keep me out of the race, but an annoyance. I'll have plenty of time to rest after.