Sunday, December 4, 2011

2011 Las Vegas Marathon Race Report

3:55:13 - 8:59 pace - 30+ min PR
12/4/2011 - 4pm start

After coming off a great (1:30) half marathon in October I thought I would primed to crush my marathon PR. But the training since then was filled with injury and burnout. In the 8 weeks before the race I got in 4 speed workouts 2 were cut short because of calf pain. A week or two before the race the calf pain died down but left behind was a more serious Achilles Pain. I didn’t know if it was injured or just sore from my tight calf muscles pulling on it the last 4 weeks. I didn’t tell anyone about this new injury. I didn’t want any of my friends or family to worry about me during the race. Deep down I was worried… real worried.

Leading up to the race:
Because of the injury I felt extra nervous during the taper, it was as bad as my first marathon. When I am really nervous for some reason my quads start getting sore (phantom pains?). Everyday leading up to the race my quads felt a little worse than the day before. I was mostly conserved with my Achilles and I almost switched to the half marathon at the Expo the day before the race. The anxiety of running a night race is awful because you can’t do anything but think about the race every second for hours before the race starts. I decided at the last minute that I would go aim for 3:40 far from my original goal of 3:20ish.

0 – 13.1 miles (8:34 pace, Avg HR 156):
It was surprisingly cold in Las Vegas, at the start it was in the high 40’s with some really cold gusts of wind every now and then. The marathon had about 4,000 runners and my first mile was pretty slow but after that I was able to settle into an 8:30 pace. I think I got about 3 miles before my calf/Achilles started hurting. I was concerned but this is how my lower leg has felt for the last month so I pushed through. The first half of the marathon was extremely boring, we ran a bunch of loops trough an area that was mostly industrial. I finished the first half in 1:52, exactly where I wanted to be and felling pretty good. I was planning on hitting the gas and running a faster 2nd half with the help of the huge crowds and awesome scenery. I was pumped!

13.1 – 20 (9:02 pace, Avg HR 160)
The marathon joined the half marathon course at 13.1 miles and ran the last 13.1 on the strip. But the half had started 20 min before I arrived and I hit a wall of people (terrible race planning) 33,000+ runners in the half marathon. The half marathoners I first encountered were running about 10:00-10:30 min pace. I was pretty frustrated and the rest of the race I spent zig zaging through runners. I don’t know how I did it but I kept a positive attitude and just kept plugging along. I saw a couple of marathoners that completely lost it and were pushing people out of their way. Maybe I was just happy that my calf had held up so far. The spectators were awesome, I have never seen so many people watching and cheering on the race.

20-26.2 (9:34 pace, Avg HR 167)
Around mile 20 the road started to open up a little (except at aid stations) and I was able to run faster. Only I couldn’t because my quads had secretly turned to jello and I am not sure why. In the last 2 months I have run 19-21 miles 4 times and my quad have never complained. Maybe the load of work shifts to my quads when I run above 9 min pace. Also my calf’s had been slowly getting worse making for a painful last few miles. Also at this point there were a lot of people walking that I had to navigate around but I kept my cool and held a consistent pace all the way to the finish. I finished in 3:55:13 a PR of about 30 minutes! Until I looked at the data this morning I had assumed that I slowed down much more when in reality my 2nd half was only 11 min slower than my first half. Also this was the first marathon that I completed without walking.

Post Race
My calf and Achilles feel great but my quads still feel like I hiked up a mountain yesterday. I am itching to go run already but I am going to stick my 1 week off plan. It’s a good thing that its ugly outside or I would have gone for a run today. I am looking forward to start training for the next marathon with what I have learned. Most importantly I need to cross train more to address that quad weakness and say injury free.

Overall: 987 out of 3766
Men 30-34: 157 out of 435

Marathon Progression
Oct 2009 – 5:19 @ 220 lbs
Jun 2010 – 5:02 @ 207 lbs (17 min PR!)
Apr 2011 – 4:25 @ 178 lbs (37 min PR!)
Dec 2011 – 3:55 @ 180 lbs (30 min PR!)

And finally some pictures
At the starting line

At mile 13 – Still looking comfortable

At mile 25 (not looking so comfortable)

Finish Line. It’s kind of hard to see me but I am on the right in the white shirt. To give you an idea of the traffic the left side is the half marathon finish.

After walking back to the hotel, my wife won $300 while I was out running