Sunday, June 12, 2011

Carmel Marathon Race Report

This was marathon number 6 for me. I don't know why I sign up for these things in the spring, since I can't seem to get ready for them. The hard winter and later back pain really delayed my training. Realistically, if not for that it would have been something else. Anyway, I was delusional about what I did to get ready for the 2010 Monumental Marathon, in that I didn't seem to remember the long runs I had completed. I may have not had any structure last October (I didn't), but I did log necessary miles. This time I had just one long run, and I didn't start logging decent miles and training until May.

So why was I doing this race? I signed up for it last summer. Why would a person who usually waits until the final days before the price increase sign up six or eight months before necessary? To use it as motivation to train well in the off season, ensuring better preparedness for the race, ensuring another BQ? Nope. To get a low bib number... That's just plain stupid, and I am not saying anything more about it.

As I entered race week, my plan was to get a run or two in, eat well, hydrate, and get rest. My race strategy was to simply not suffer, and to finish under four hours. Further, I wanted to minimize the post-marathon recovery, as this is the beginning of the du/tri season, and I have other events I want to do in June and July, yet have not spent any time in the pool or on the bike. How did my plan go? I managed to eat well, hydrate, and get one run in. Rest was a bust, including the night before the race. I was glad to at least have my weight in the range where I wanted (154), as useless lbs make a difference over distance.

Packet pick up and Expo

Packet pickup was simple and efficient, after which I toured the expo. I don't know why I even bother at the expos, since I generally don't purchase anything. I just look to see if there is anything that interests me. The Big Sur Marathon expo was awesome, as it went for days, was huge, with all kinds of free stuff. The Flying Pig marathon was also pretty good, huge, and with useful free stuff. Last year's Monumental wasn't bad either, though I didn't see much of interest. The Carmel Marathon expo was small, but had the usual players you'd expect. But I did see one that interested me: St Vincent has an anti-gravity treadmill. And they were giving out coupons to promote it. I learned there are three of these in the city. I simply have to try it. And the cost for future visits isn't bad. There was a bit of irony in all of this: my reason for signing up early. I don't think I had a low bib number (unless the numbers started at 5,000, which is entirely possible).

Race Day

I woke up around 4:30, and made my usual pre-race meal: oatmeal, bagel, peanut butter, and coffee. I had my race gear out the night before, and quickly got things ready to go. As a member of Falkee Triathlon, I had some body stickers to apply, but found the ones applied to my arm and legs did not stay on long enough to even make it to my car (I tried, Ryan - same thing happened at Geist). Though I left the house a bit later than planned, I arrived at the race site about 30 minutes before the race. Parking was easy and uneventful. The walk to the start was maybe ½ mile. I found the line to the facilities to purge some of the fluids I had consumed, and while waiting ran into an old buddy, Steve Martin, whom I haven't seen in years. Crazy stories of Spring Break Fort Lauderdale 1985 were going through my head after I saw him. I will not endeavor to repeat those here.

I headed to the start line and lined up around the 3:40 pacers - not that I was using the pacers. There was a half marathon starting at the same time, and it seemed most of the people were in this group. Note to race directors: I like differentiation in the bibs between events. The single line color and name difference isn't much. Why does it even matter? Vanity. When the full and half courses join again at mile 12, sharing until mile 17 or so before splitting again, then joining again in the final couple of miles, I keep catching the walkers and don't want there to be any question as to why I look red-faced, sweaty, and perhaps a bit uncomfortable, as I pass a 250lb person on the short course. Does it really matter? Of course not. It's stupid on my part, but I'm running a long course, and I want credit for it - from people I don't know, or will ever see, who wouldn't even notice different bib colors. I know. Stupid.

The Race 3:48:54

The race started on time, and I was close enough to the front that things moved out pretty quickly. The field opened up enough in the first ½ mile where I had room to maneuver and find a spot. I found myself passing people for the first mile, and just settled in for a long race. The first mile went by at 7:39, which I knew was too fast, but we had been going slightly downhill. When mile 2 split at 7:34 I thought, "What the heck am I doing?" I needed to slow down. And then the next at 7:52. I knew this would be a problem. I wanted to run in the 8:50 range, but it wasn't happening. As the race progressed, I did slow down. It just happened naturally... One of the problems for me running slower is this: I have a natural stride length and cadence/leg turnover. For me to slow down (or speed up), one of these has to change. Shortening the stride tends to start bothering my hips over distance, and slowing the cadence too much is bouncy, wastes energy, and is hard on the knees due to braking. So how do I maintain stride length and leg turnover? Training, which means in this case I can't maintain it. Eventually, the form and stride degrade into a geriatric shuffle. Well, maybe not that bad, but running efficiency goes out the window when fatigue increases. Which makes the second half of the race interesting... And I mean second half in the sense the first half is 20 miles. The second half is a 10k.

I have to say I really liked the course, with just a few areas of concern (though not worth mentioning specifics). It was pretty flat, open, and nice. I used to live in Carmel, but the course went places I've never seen. The volunteers were plentiful, and I was thankful for so many water stops. I had a drink at almost every one of them. I was thankful for the weather having cooled due to an overnight storm. The sun was behind the clouds for most of the race, except for the last two or three miles. I did see a traffic control issue when some dingbat woman pulled her minivan onto the course and attempted to drive through the runners. She was supposed to cross over the northbound race course on Carey Road, then turn south. Pretty obvious with the cones and runners. Nope. She turned north into the runners and tried to drive through them. I was about 100 meters behind her, and almost caught up, as she couldn't get around some of the people, since they were not moving over for her. Moron. I had almost reached her with the intent of yelling at her through her driver's window when she decided to bail out and turn into a neighborhood.

The miles were ticking by, and my pace seemed to be okay. I did the math in my head and thought I could finish comfortably around 3:45 or so. I was consuming Clif Shot Blocks every 30 minutes or so, and had a Roctane as well. A funny thing happened around mile 9: I suffered an injury, caused by a Shot Block. I popped one in my mouth and as I tried to chew it popped my jaw. It hurt on the right side enough that I couldn't chew for a while. And my jaw hurt for the next two days. Really.

The rest of the race was uneventful, though I walked for a minute on two occasions to try to stretch my hip flexor. I never had any dark places, as I have had in other races. I felt pretty good. The speed wasn't there due to lack of training, but I was okay. And I never pushed my heart rate. Final time 3:48:54 (8:44 average pace).

My splits:

mi lap HR
1 7:39 149
2 7:34 153
3 7:52 152
4-5 16:16 154
6 7:58 156
7 7:40 153
8 9:08 151
9 8:22 151
10 8:25 152
11 8:24 152
12 8:22 153
13 8:39 154
14 8:42 155
15 8:22 157
16 8:32 158
17 8:50 158
18 9:14 156
19 9:08 157
20 9:15 155
21 9:33 152
22 10:37 143
23 9:37 151
24 9:23 154
25 10:24 149
26 9:21 155
0.2 1:42 166


Every previous race had some level of soreness or sensitivity on Monday. This time was different. I had a little sensitivity, but felt good enough to go running. I might have been different had I pushed harder, but I have felt fine all week.

So what's next? I am already signed up for Powerman Muncie (10k/60k/10k), and the Monumental Marathon. I am trying to figure out the others. I am planning on the Blacksnake Duathlon, and a couple of the Eagle Creek sprint triathlons. I am also looking at Tri Indy, provided I am back from a trip in time. And a big one on 9/11: Rev 3 70.3 Cedar Point. I am also planning on the Fishers tri and Cancer Free Lungs 5k. We'll see what I can swing this year.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Geist Half Marathon Race Report

My report, along with any other information, is very late, as I have been just too busy with other stuff, especially with my new position at work. My "training" has been lacking, though the back issue seems completely gone. That was months of chronic pain.

So, this was my fourth Geist mini (of four held), and I always like this race. First, it is well-organized, with lots of volunteers. Second, it is not too crowded. And third, it is my home course. I regularly run the lake, and even when I don't, my shorter runs share about 3-4 miles of the same course.

And how did it go? On Thursday evening prior to the race, I started to get a sore throat before I left work. By the time I got home, it really hurt. On Friday I didn't feel so hot either. It probably didn't help that I hadn't had more than 5-6 hours of sleep each night for the previous ten days either. I woke up on race morning and had my ritual of pre-race oatmeal, bagel, peanut butter, and coffee. I wasn't feeling terrible, but not so hot either. I actually felt a bit nauseous, and my throat was hurting. Not much I could do about it. After parking and finding my way to the start, I waited for a long time to use a porta potty, and barely made it to the start in time. I had planned on using the trees and woodline, but there is a new fence making this all but impossible. I wasn't in a hurry either, but I cut it a bit too close, as I made it to my starting corral with less than five minutes to go. This was the first year for corrals, which I liked. Had I been that late before, I would have started way back.

My plan for this race was to not push it hard, as I had a full marathon two weeks later (later look at the calendar made me realize I had three weeks), and being at least two months behind in training to be ready, I wanted to make this a training run. Alas, the race started and I just ran a pace by feel, which means I was going faster than I should have gone. I didn't care, I thought I'd just go, and see what happened. The miles were ticking by, and I just couldn't help think about my ability to hold a pace on a full marathon. My endurance base has not recovered from the long wither and back injury. This should have been an easier race. Not that I was suffering, but I recognize the higher effort for the given speed. My lack of sleep and slight illness probably didn't help either, but my fitness has clearly slipped.

The race was uneventful, and my splits are below. I wall also mention it was warm and humid, which has a definite effect. My finish time of 1:43;38 is consistent with my previous races here (1:42;12, 1:46;08, 1:44:37). What was different is I was tired when I got home. Yet another sign of my endurance base slippage.

As far as the race organization, packet pick-up was super smooth, and the change to a short sleeve shirt appears to be the remedy to all previous race long-sleeve shirts being too small. I had resorted to getting an XL, just to have sleeves that almost reach my wrists (no exaggeration). The expo was just okay, and there was no schwag bag (a little disappointment). The busses to the start, and then from the finish back to the parking area, were quick and had friendly drivers. There were plenty of volunteers on the course, and there was never an issue or inconvenience getting water. There was enertainment on the course, which is always cool. All in all, this is still one of my favorite races.

Final time 1:43:38

mile time HR
1 7:24 153
2 7:24 162
3 7:36 162
4 7:35 164
5 7:56 166
6 8:04 164
7 7:49 164
8 8:17 165
9 8:08 167
10 8:16 167
11 8:17 167
12 8:19 168
13 7:48 171
.1 0.48 174