Monday, June 25, 2012

Grandma's Marathon Recap

I wouldn't say it was a GREAT race, but it was a great effort for me!  A 2:22:44 finishing time, and a 15th place finish are in the record books for the 2012 Grandma's marathon.  And of course, I wish it went a lot better...

After the race(from left: Dana, Lauren, me, Arlene)

The entire trip was another great experience, as Arlene and I flew into Minneapolis, MN. and drove up to Duluth.  We also had some really great friends in Superior, Wisconsin that were excited for everyone to be up in Duluth racing the marathon.  John and Ariel Heitzman use to live in Albuquerque with their manly 2 yr. old baby, but decided to move back to the midwest to raise another child (Ariel is pregnant and will be due in August) in the fertile lands by lake Superior.  So, it was great to see them the entire weekend.

Well, I guess I could talk about the race now.  I had my usual, half-awoken nights rest, until about 3 hours before the start of the race when I can official get out of bed and begin the pre-marathon routine.  It's nothing special; just oatmeal, coffee, and enough liquids to stay hydrated, as the forecast would be warm and very humid.  Arlene and I went to the Starbucks downstairs for breakfast and nervously ate in our hotel room.  Over 90 percent humidity would be waiting for us at the starting line in Two Harbors, so the required guzzling of water and Powerbar drink was essential during breakfast as well.  I would find myself nibbling nervously on a Powerbar as well.

Once we had all our gear ready, we headed downstairs to the shuttles.  The "Elite" shuttles were scheduled to leave at 5:45am, along with the other shuttles, but I just rode with Arlene and we enjoyed the long bus ride to the start.  It almost brought back some memories of CIM, but it wasn't cold enough for me to be shivering as much as I was on that December morning bus ride to the start.  Once we got off, settled down, and completed a short warm up to sweat even more, the start would only be seconds away.

Now, since it was warm, I was going to start off conservative and attempt to finish strong.  My first mile with the large pack of runners was hit in 5:33, and felt much slower than that.  Once many runners around me saw that split, they took off and started pounding each other over the pavement.  I tried to keep my cool, and stay within myself until at least halfway.  Even trying to keep it easy, the next mile was 5:12, and I found myself in the company of 3 other runners.  Mubarak, and 2 other runners with Utah running stores printed on their singlets composed our little 4 man pack.  I took advantage of being around other runners to share the work, and we cruised along the river road clicking off the miles between 5:11-5:17 pace.

I was able to place 8 tiny 8ounce sport top water bottles on the course, and consumed them with ease.  I also taped 4 Powerbar Energy Gels to the bottles that were located at mile: 7, 11, 17 & 21.... I think.  There were a lot of aid stations, and I don't remember exactly which ones had Powerbar Energy Gels tapped to them.  Regardless, I found myself grabbing water, ice and wet sponges at all the aid stations to stay cool, and keep my head wet.  By mile 11 the small pack started to fade, and I could sense the other 2 guys, who appeared to be from Utah start to lose contact.  We came through that mile in 5:22, and knew I had to make the decision to run my own race at my own effort.

Once I ventured on for another mile, I would see that Mubarak stayed in contact, and was running strong.  He came up beside me, and we worked together until I lost contact with him.  I started to feel that bogging sensation and checked my watch after I had missed the last 3 mile splits.  15:59 for 3 miles,  that's 5:20 pace, so I guess I wasn't slowing down much.  Mubarak still carried a decent lead on me, but I wanted to stay comfortable for the next 4 miles, which would get me to the 20 mile mark, and then I would reassess myself, and start to "hammer".  But that mentality wasn't a smart one to have.

The next 4 miles were significantly slower, and I started to lose my rhythm.  And even though Mubarak stopped ahead of me to stretch out his tight Achilles, as I passed him, I went from a comfortable 5:20 pace, to 5:30's, then 5:40's and finally running 5:50's.  The 20 mile mark came, and I knew I couldn't quite "hammer" it home.  I started to think about how to bring the pace back down, and stay positive.  I was thinking so much, that when I came up to my bottle at mile 21, I passed by the table without even noticing it.  I was about 15 meters past the table, and realized that I needed that fuel, and turned around to run back and grab it.  Believe me, it was easy to stop, turn around to run backwards on a marathon course, then grab the bottle and resume pace.  I think I ran a 5:56 that mile, so I knew I could stay strong and not hit any miles in the 6 minute range.  Only 5 miles to go, and the weather started to cool as I entered Duluth.

The clapping, and screaming of a few people felt candescent, as suppose to the silence that occupied most of the point-to-point race course as Duluth approached.  The light mist of a thick cloud loomed over the last 4 miles or so of the course, and felt amazing.  I was fading, but with the help of the cooler temperatures I was able to finish stronger that anticipated.  I was now in the 5:40 range, and actually ran a 5:28 mile for my 25th mile in the city.  I was also doing the math and calculating my finish time if I could maintain a certain pace, and knew I wasn't going to venture into 2:23 territory.  And in most cases, when you attempt to do the math, it's usually a very bad sign.  But I sorta kept it together and finished relatively strong, with a 2:22.

I was a little disappointed at first, but after realizing that this is just another race, and I have many more to prepare for, I became more content.  I also was hoping that Arlene would PR, and when I saw John and Ariel, they told me how amazing she was doing and should be on 3:15 pace.  We watched by the finish, and I saw her come in at 3:14, which is a 14minute PR!!!  So, that was exciting.  And after thinking about the course, I have come to realize that I really enjoyed that course.  It's nice a slightly rolling, but can be very fast with the right conditions!  I would definitely do this race again as a late spring marathon.

Mile Splits:

1- 5:33
2- 5:13
3- 5:11
4- 5:13
5- 5:12
6- 5:11
7&8- 10:34
9- 5:22
10- 5:12
11- 5:22
12, 13&14- 15:59
15- 5:27
16- 5:19
The joy of a marathon
17- 5:27
18- 5:35
19- 5:28
20- 5:52
21- 5:56
22- 5:42
23- 5:50
24- 5:42
25- 5:28
26- 5:40

The home stretch
The pain of the marathon

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ending the Marathon Cycle

I guess it has been awhile since I've written anything worth posting, which is mainly due to the summer laziness I've experienced and the lack/taper portion of my marathon cycle for Grandma's Marathon.  Either way, this is the final stretch of training and another marathon to tackle since the Trials.  All plans have been established, and the only real obstacle is just getting to the starting line.  I already completed my last workout a few days ago, and the mileage has decreased, leaving me with only one medium long run and a very light workout to accomplish.

Now, I can talk/write about race strategy as much as I'd like, but with this race, I think the weather is going to play a deciding factor.  In recent history, the weather has usually been warm and unpleasant for marathoners; with the exception of last years phenomenally perfect conditions.  As of now, race day should be in the 60's along with some cloud cover.  This isn't too bad.  If is does stay relatively decent, I think I have an excellent chance to run a PR and place in the top 10.  Otherwise, I will have to race the weather and play it cool.... No pun intended.

Grandma's Marathon will also be my 6th marathon, and I still feel like a novice.  I still don't know how I will feel after 18, 20, or even 24 miles.  Things could go smoothly, and as all people know who have run a marathon, it can turn rough in a matter of seconds.  I want to get the best effort out of this race as possible.  I know what I am capable of, and I feel the best strategy would be to run within my ability and shoot for a nice PR!  Another great thing about this trip is the fact that many friends will be there, and some who have never even run a marathon before will make Grandma's their debut.  My lovely girlfriend, Arlene will be shooting for a PR, as well as my buddy Dana and his wife Lauren.  The USA Half Marathon championships will be at the same location, so many great runners will be there to add to the atmosphere!  It's going to be a great weekend!    

Lost Training:
Starting on 5/21

Mon - Off
Tue - am. 8 miles / pm. 10 miles
Wed - am. 4x2 miles w/2min rest [5:24, 5:14], [5:11, 5:19], [5:13, 5:14], [5:19, 5:14] total: 12 miles / pm. 8 miles
Thur - pm. 10 miles
Fri - am. 10 miles / pm. 8 miles
Sat - am. 10 miles w/6 miles of pacing Arlene in a 10k! / pm. 6 miles
Sun - am. 22 miles w/20min tempo, 9 miles easy, 20min tempo

Total: 104

Starting on 5/28

Mon - am. 10 miles
Tue - pm. 8 miles
Wed - am. 20min tempo[3.80 miles @ 5:18, 5:15, 5:17, 5:15pace] 5 min rest, 20min tempo [3.84 miles @ 5:12, 5:15, 5:22, 5:09pace] total: 12 miles / pm. 8 miles
Thur - am. 10 miles / pm. 10 miles
Fri - Off Day
Sat - am. 12 miles / pm. 8 miles
Sun - am. 20 miles w/3x1mile [5:13, 5:12, 5:12]

Total: 98