Sunday, October 17, 2010

2010 Denver Rock and Roll Marathon

2010 Denver Rock and Roll Marathon

DNF - Actually I finished the half in 2:25 just because I want to get my stuff from the gear check.

Leading up to the race
I was pretty excited for this marathon, finally my redemption from this course kicking my butt last year.  Leading up to the race I felt pretty good until about 3-4 days to go.  That’s when I started getting that achy feeling in my quads.   This isn’t a good sign, why is it when I take it easy I get more sore than when I run hard.  This wasn’t good for my confidence and it was all I could think about.   The night before the race I couldn’t shut my brain off and I couldn’t fall asleep.  I think I might have slept for 10 -20 min a few times but I didn’t finally fall asleep until about 2 AM.  My alarm went off at 5 AM and I got up felling exhausted before the big day started. Add to this was the confusion of getting to the race on time, the previous year I took the train without issue.  This year I tried to drive downtown and it was stressful and I almost didn’t make it to the race on time.  After checking my gear and running to the starting line (race already had started) I hopped into the nearest corral which was almost my correct corral and walked up to the start.  Last year I rode the train and was at the start 1hr before the gun when off it was so much easier.

I started the race mentally exhausted.  I didn’t feel good and I thought to myself I just go slowly while I am waiting for my body to figure out its running a marathon.  About 3 miles in and I was going even slower up till then I was running nearly 11 min pace.  The next 7 miles I had to include walk breaks which put my pace over 11 min per mile.  In all my training runs I had run around 10 min pace, I was running slower and I was more and more tired every mile.  Around mile 10 my quads starting making that twitchy feeling like they are about to cramp. Once that happened I didn’t really think about it much other than “I am not going to walk the last 10mi today”.  Another ½ mile have my quads felt like they were turning into mush, I turned onto the half marathon at the fork in the race.  I probably threw in the towel to quickly but I wasn’t mentally tough today.  I wanted to go home and crawl in bed, heck I want to crawl back in bed hours ago. 


Before the race really had got anywhere it was already over.  I pulled off to the side of the road and called my wife told her to let everyone go home and please come pick me up.  My family was waiting for me at the park but they never got to see me run.   This was the toughest part about giving up, these people came to see me and I let them down.  I cried thinking about this as I ran the final miles of the half marathon.  After the race I got my stuff and got out of there as quick as possible I felt like a loser.   My wife and the kids picked me up a few block away from the finish line.  My daughter was really upset that she didn’t get to see her daddy race.  I couldn’t explain to her why either, which just made me feel worse.  It was a little easier telling my friends family and coworkers that I didn’t finish but it didn’t feel good.   If I had to go back and do it over I would have finished the marathon or at least tried to finish.  There is a lot more honor in making it 20 miles rather than giving up at half way.


1.       I put in 3 months into training for this race and zero thinking about race day logistics.  I don’t think this would have fix everything but my mind might have been stronger when things got rough.

2.       3 week taper (20 days) is the standard for most people but I not like most people.  I tried the 3 week taper twice this year and both times my legs (quads mostly) were mush come race day.  I had a good half marathon only 6 days after a 20 miler why would I need 20 days when I am ready to do after 6.  Next time I am going to do a 13 day taper and we will see how that goes.

3.       For most people running slower should conserve energy again I am not like most people.  Running slower than the planed pace as the same effect as running faster than the planed pace.
Bottom Line: I need to be more aggressive in the completion of a marathon.  Too much taper + slow pace + stress from lax travel plans = rough day

Sunday, June 6, 2010

2010 Steamboat Marathon Race Report

My wife and I drove up to steamboat the day before the race it was a beautiful drive.  On much of the drive there was overcast and at times little sprinkles of rain.  I hoped that these clouds would stick around for the race tomorrow.   We checked into the hotel and had some time to kill so we went a saw a movie and then walked around town a little and then found some dinner.   I actually slept decently much better than the night before the Denver marathon last year.  I had a dream that I slept in and missed the race which woke me up and had me franticly checking the time.  I got up at 5am and had my usual breakfast of oatmeal, banana and tea.  There were a few other runners having breakfast also which was nice to have some company.  I got on the bus at around 6am and got to the start around 6:45 well before the 7:30 start.  It was cold but I could tell that it would be getting warm soon, I thought to myself “I wish I could start now”.  I stretched a little and walk around a little before the start. 

Start of the race

I think it was probably 60 F when the gun went off, I wasn’t cold anymore.  I was thinking to myself “this is a bad sign if you’re comfortable at the start.  Almost immediately my Achilles started hurting, I haven’t had any complaints from it in weeks.  I think it was just stiff from sitting in the car yesterday and not running for the last few days.  About 2-3 miles in there was a freaking giant hill which I ran all the way up, I passed lots of people who were walking.  In retrospect maybe I should have walked up that hill with them.  Once over the hill came the much advertised down hills.  I remember seeing a classic green mile marker that said 18 I knew that when this highway ended we turn towards town and only had a few more miles left.  It was really weird watching these markers come and go.  A few miles in and my Achilles felt fine I was happy that things were looking up.  The race markers were giant orange signs and I was looking for them too, I was recording my splits in my watch even thought I didn’t have a time goal.  For the early part of the race I ran a conservative and pretty even 10 min pace.

Halfway Done

I had to climb another really big hill to get to the half marathon line.  I completed the first half in 2:14 (10:11 pace).   By now the temperature had climbed up to 70’s add that last hill and I was really feeling tired.   Most of the net drop in elevation was done and any downhill was now followed by an equal uphill.  I began spending more time at aid stations and really looking for the next one.  I was starting to question my ability.  During this time (miles 13-18) my pace slowed considerably to almost 11 min miles.  It wasn’t just me either I was easily keeping pace and even passing people around me.  Every mile seemed farther and harder than the last mile but I kept at it.  Not counting the aid stations I had run the entire first 18 miles.

The wheels fall off

I think it was just before the 19th mile the heat and exhaustion caught up to me and I finally walked.   I wasn’t just tired I was mentally exhausted.  Thinking back on it I was overheated but not that bad and my legs hurt but not that bad.  But after 18 miles my mind was weak and the pain messages that where being sent finally overpowered my tired mind.   I think that if my mind was still strong I would have kept on right to the finish.  But that’s not how it works as your body gets tired from running so does your mind and it dose weird things when it’s running out of energy just like when your muscles aren’t working properly.   Of course walking didn’t help my mind, it was a crushing blow to my confidence and ego.   Instantly the marathon changed from a race to survival.  I think I was probably running 70% and walking 30% of the time but the closer I got to the finish like the closer this got to 50/50.  I wasn’t just me that crashed out there it seemed like everyone around me was in the same walk run survival mode.  At 20 miles there was an aid station with a shower constantly running water.  Think I stood under it for 5 min until I was completely soaked.   I don’t really remember much about miles 20-25 other than I was hot and miserable.  I do remember calculating my time every mile and figuring out what kind of pace I needed to finish the race.  There was a cutoff for the finish at 5:30:00, so my brain must have been functioning a little to be able to get these numbers.   I remember seeing my time at 22 - 4:04 I only needed to do my last 4 miles in 20 min pace.  It was then that I realized that I would finish the race even if I had to walk the rest of the way.  There was a price to pay for all that downhill, tired quads.  They hurt so much and now my Achilles was getting back into complaint mode.

The Finish

Near the end I had decided that I could finish under 5hrs (a small victory).  All I had to do was run the last two miles at 13 min pace and the previous mile I had just finished in 12 so it seemed doable.  We turned off the highway into town.  By now the temperature was about 80F and there wasn’t any shade in sight.  I got a good sharp pain from my Achilles, time to walk.  13 min pace doesn’t leave much time for walking so a minute later I was running again.  My Achilles was fine now but soon after I got a cramp in my left quad and had to stop again. The quad cramp stopped me in my tracks I couldn’t straighten out my leg.  I walked again for a minute and then set off running this time quad and Achilles at the same time.   #!@!%* forget 5hr lets just finish this thing.  I walked a lot of the remaining 25th mile.  The 26th wasn’t any better I was beyond survival mode I was now part of the walking wounded.   I never even saw the 26th mile marker or recorded it on my watch.  Once I could see that finish line my eyes were fixated on that orange banner.  Every block felt like a mile a few people came nearly sprinting past me and finished.  I was about 3 blocks from the finish when I decide that I could run the rest of the way, a block later my quad cramped hard and I hobbled a step or two on one foot.  I could hear gaps from the crowd as I must have look done for only blocks from the finish.   I took a few steps walking and then starting running with a small limp now but was able to make it the last block to the finish.  1 step past the finish and both quads were locking up again.   I stopped and stayed where I was 2 feet across the finish line leaning on top of a construction sign.  It took a lot to walk over to get my timing chip removed, pick up my metal and sit down in the aid tent with an ice cold rag over my quads.  All this happened within 20ft of the finish.  Soon after my wife found me and was very supportive and helpful, couldn’t stand to have another cup of water or Gatorade so she walked to the gas station and got me some chocolate milk.  First time I had chocolate milk after a race and it was awesome.  Steak dinner a few hours later was even more awesome.

After the dust settled

After the race I was feeling a little frustrated.  I had trained much harder than I did for the Denver Marathon but the results had been similar.  I wonder what those people had thought of me a few blocks from the finish.  I would like to think that they were inspired by seeing someone injured but still being strong enough to continue on.  Even now thinking about this I am getting a little chocked up.   It took me some time to get past my time (5:02) and be proud of myself for finishing.   The marathon is so physically and emotionally challenging that just to finish is a huge accomplishment regardless of how many you have completed.   I will come back and do the steamboat marathon again someday.

Lessons Learned (Added August 2010)

I know that every marathon finished is a victory but a small part of me needs a good time as well.  I had to write this a few months later after I had moved on from this failure.  My first marathon was a failure mainly because of poor training so this time I had trained much harder but the result was almost the same (very frustrating).   It would be easy to blame the warm weather and the hills and maybe those were small factors but the main reason for this poor time was poor energy strategy.  

Let’s start with breakfast, I got up at 5 am and had a bowl of oatmeal a banana and a cup of tea.  Sounds good right well then I got on a bus at 6 am and the race started at 7:30 am.   I should have had some sort of snack about 15 min before the race started.  To make matters worse I didn’t have my first gel until 10 miles into the race which would have been over 3½ hours since I had eaten last.  What a rookie mistake, actually it’s worse because I remember eating a cliff shot 10 min before the start of the Denver marathon.  Next time for sure I will be eating some sort of snack before the race.  Strike 1!

Liquids, I have gotten much better at this over the last year.  Before I would rarely drink anything because I thought it was a sign of weakness.   During the race I drank at every water stop except for 1 the first one.  I am not saying you have to drink at every water stop especially it they are spaced every mile.  But this one was at mile 3 so that means that I didn’t have a drink until 6.5 miles.  But what did I drink before that… a cup of tea at 5am are you kidding me I didn’t really do that to myself did I?  Next time I am going to take a 16oz bottle of Gatorade to wash down my snack 15 min before go time.  Strike 2!

As I mentioned before the first food I ate during the race was at 10 miles.  So I was already way behind on fuel half way into the race.  My plan was to eat the second cliff shot at mile 20 don’t ask me why it kind of seems weird to me know too.  So by the time I was at mile 20 all I had eaten for the day was oatmeal, 1 banana and 2 cliff shots.  At 20 miles it would have been about 11:00AM, almost lunch, this doesn’t sound like enough food for me on days that I don’t run.   By the time I ate the last gel at mile 20 I had already hit the wall so it wasn’t going to help anyway.  Strike 3 you’re out of there!!!

Once I hit the wall around mile 19 it was a death march to the finish.   Had I done these thing right I think I could have survived the hills and warm weather.  So let’s make a list of the good things I am going to do next marathon. 

·         Eat a decent breakfast  (one thing I did right)

·         Eat a snack of some sort about 15 min before the race

·         Drink some liquids 15 min before the race

·         Eat a gel or some snack every  45min or about 5 miles

·         Drink at each of these 45 min snacks breaks especially the early stops

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Running of the Green Race Report

7K (4.35 miles) – 35:52

After the 5k in January I made plans to lose some weight and get in some speed work before this race.  Well neither of those thinks happened although I did get in a tempo run so I kinda did the speed part.  My run since then has been really inconsistent which isn’t great either.

I got up early and arrived at the train in the dark alone.  I was surprised to see some friends that I didn’t know were running the race.  I felt much better now that I had company and they had done the race before so I could just follow them to the start.  The biggest mistake I made in this race was selling myself short.  I should have started a few rows from the front but I actually started about a block behind the leaders.

When the race started I realized my mistake as I was running with people who were going 10 min/mile.  I accelerated into every opening I saw but then had nowhere to go and then had to slow down.  It was frustrating and tiring speeding up and then hitting a wall of people.  This continued for most of the race only opening enough for me to run the last mile at a good pace.  I think probably ran the last mile at about my 5K pace (7:15).  It did feel a little good to be passing people not stop from the beginning to the end of the race.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Polar Bear 5k

10:00AM – 39F

5K – 22:29

Even though it was in the mind 30’s it was very windy and it felt much colder.  The kids were miserable the whole time, they don’t call it the polar bear race for noting.  It has been about 8 years since my last 5K and I was extremely nervous.  Not like the marathon and half marathon I did last year where I was worried about not finishing.  I used to be so fast and I was afraid that this would show how far I had fallen.  I made some oatmeal but couldn’t eat any of it because my stomach was in knots.

I took it kind of easy (for a 5K) because I don't know how fast I can run and didn't want to kill myself in 2 miles.  I haven’t done much speed work, last year I did 2 – 1 mile repeats at 7:17, 7:04 so that’s the only thing I had to gage my speed.  I made the mistake of wearing my sweat shirt which was too warm by the end of the first mile.  I eventually tossed it to the wife and kids near mile 2.  I pinned the bib to the sweatshirt so I ripped it off and finished with the bib in my hands. 

I ran a pretty evenly paced race averaging 7:15 per mile.  I am just going to forget about previous speediness and just be happy with this time.  Now the bar has been raised and it’s time to go work on regaining some of that speed.   I realized that it is time to lose some weight,  7:15 miles is really fast for 215 lbs I know I can run so much faster if I just lost some weight.