Tuesday, October 13, 2009

So What Now...?

My first marathon has been completed, what a great feeling....almost surreal. The painful memories have faded, leaving me with mostly good memories and more importantly, a little more knowledgeable about running. The marathon experience certainly was humbling to me. (I need to be humbled occasionally)

So, now that I have reached my goal, the question is, what's next? It would be easy to give up or back off of running for any number of reasons. But running feels good, it energizes me, keeps me healthy, and occupies my time in a positive way. While you are likely sleeping or watching TV, I am running.

The real question is, will I run another marathon? I am certainly leaning towards doing so at this point. I feel like I have learned many things from this first experience and can significantly improve my finish time while reducing the pain level by changing race and training strategies.

For now the plan is to build up my mileage nice and easy over the next month or so until I can get a true training plan put together. I will be logging some miles at an easy pace to build stamina, leg strength and aerobic endurance. I am also planning on joining the YMCA so that I can take advantage of some of their classes on my non-running days to build core strength. I have started reading a new book titled Healthy Intelligent Training by Keith Livingstone. It is so far a good book, very technical and based on the principals of Arthur Lydiard. Hopefully it will help me become a stronger runner while remaining mostly injury free.

Those of you reading this that do not run or exercise (especially family members) I urge you to find something that you can do to burn some calories and get your blood pumping. Turn off that TV and go for a walk while you can, it doesn't matter what you do as long as you are doing it. It's not easy, but then anything worthwhile rarely is easy. Sure, it's easy for me to say this now, there are many days I dream of flopping my ass on the couch and watching TV, but it feels so good to overcome this urge and actually do something. Do it for yourself and your family.

End of speech. When I figure out my training plan and confirm any future marathon plans you will be the first to know!

"If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." Vincent Van Gogh

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Marathon Pictures

Trying to finish strong!

After the marathon at the capitol.

After finishing.
St. Paul Cathedral

Lexy and Chelsea getting ready to cheer on the runners before the start.
Just before the start

Chelsea and me before heading to the Metrodome.

Monday, October 5, 2009

First Marathon Completed

First, I would like to thank you for following my updates. It has certainly been a great journey!

What an amazing event, all weekend I had waves of excitement wash over me. I was thrilled to be running my first marathon. I couldn’t help but talk to people in the elevator or on the street that were running, telling them how excited I was and wishing them good luck. It was and is an great feeling, knowing that you are about to attempt what many including myself consider an amazing accomplishment.

Sunday morning, outside the Metrodome, there was a sea of people in front of me. I was a little disappointed in myself because I made it to the starting area a little later than I had planned. I could not see the front of the line, in fact I was quite a distance behind the 5:30 pacing area. It’s a good thing there is chip timing because once the race started it took me 8 minutes to reach the starting line. I had no choice but to start off easy as we ran through the narrow streets of downtown Minneapolis. I passed people whenever I could but I am sure that I wasted a lot of energy bobbing and weaving through the crowd for at least the first five miles. Within the first mile I spied a runner in my age group that looked like she would be running near my goal pace, so I latched on to her. We had a great conversation during the run, talking about our spouses, families and running history; it made the first 12 miles melt away like nothing. Unfortunately she started drifting back after that and was unable to keep the pace. I still felt good so I forged ahead without her. Even though I was running with a crowd, I felt like I was out there on my own for the remainder of the race.
The next few miles went fairly well, I did not feel low on fuel at all but I forced myself to take a gel at about mile 3 because the only thing I had managed for breakfast was a Powerbar. I took my second gel somewhere around mile 10 or 11 and stuck with just water and PowerAde after that. Maybe it was because I did not fuel enough but I hit "the wall" at about mile 18. My will to keep running was sapped. I tried every trick I could think of to convince myself to keep running. I thought of my family and friends, I tried running with other people and high-fived the crowd to get fired up…nothing kept me going for very long. I really struggled with my pace, it may sound weird, but I had a difficult time slowing down. I had some 11 and almost 12 minute miles because I walked part of the way. When I would start running again, I would try to run along with a person or two but always ended up passing them, I just could not get comfortable at a slower pace. Sure, the last 6 – 8 miles of the race was physically difficult, but the mental block was like trying to move an elephant. Miles 18 – 24 are a bit cloudy, I was mentally and physically struggling and could not seem to overcome it. Finally at mile 24 I forced myself to run all the way to the finish. I was going to finish the last two miles running or they would be picking my body up off of the street. I blazed through my last mile at 9:31. It was a great feeling to be done and to know that I had made it, 26.2 miles.
Race Analysis:
Saturday for dinner, we ate at the hotel. They were short staffed and we waited an hour without our meals being delivered. We finally told them to deliver it to our room because we were tired of waiting. We ate at 8pm. Although I had pasta and ate somewhat light, it was probably a little late to be eating.
I did not follow my usual long run ritual for breakfast of an english muffin w/ peanut butter and some sports drink to wash it down. I will bring my toaster next time if I have to.
I did not feel like I needed gel at any point in the race. I took one at mile 3 because I knew I probably had not eaten enough that morning. I took the next one somewhere around 10 and then never another. Maybe I should have taken another at 17, I may not have crashed so much. I will plan this better next time for sure.
Carb-loading. I used RunnerDudes carb loading advice, fueling with complex carbs on Thursday and simple carbs on Friday and Saturday. I have used this method before long runs in the past and I do think it makes a difference. You can view the plan in more detail >HERE
For one, I did not get to the start area as soon as I should have. This cost my lots of time and energy going around people for the first part of the race. Dumb beginner mistake.
Going into the race I did not know what I would be capable of for pace. I really struggled with where I thought my race pace would be. Most of the way through my training I ran fairly fast and I did not train myself to slow down. My training was probably more geared for a half marathon than a full. I am still trying to figure this one out.
I started out a little quicker than I probably should have but I felt good. I did not feel like I was pushing things too much. Maybe I should have been running at a 9 or 9:15 pace at the beginning, would my pace have been more consistent? Hard to say right now.
Pain :
Overall, it really was not too painful. I had some discomfort in my right knee. The biggest mistake I made was to not keep walking around after the race to let my legs loosen up a bit. As I waited in line for a massage both of my calves seized up like the worst charley horse in each leg that you can imagine. It took me to the ground. Luckily I was almost inside the tent and they took me in to work out the cramps. Not enough potassium or sodium perhaps? Will have to research this one, I definitely never want to repeat it.
You can view my mile splits from the Garmin >HERE
Chip times from the race:
5K - 28:08
10K - 56:36
Half - 1:56:38
30K - 2:49:17
20 mile - 3:04:07

I was disappointed with myself that I hit the wall during the race and had such a tough time overcoming it. I was definitely a little overconfident in my abilities. When your training goes well and you run strong, you sometimes feel like Superman afterwards. Part of that runners high I suppose.
I did not finish the race in less than 4 hours like I had hoped but I really am ok with that. I believe that running my first marathon at 40 years old in 4 hours and 10minutes is more than respectable. I feel great about my accomplishment and will definitely run another marathon in the near future. I will feel even better when I can walk down the stairs again without the aid of the handrail.

Friday, October 2, 2009

This is it, packed and ready to go.

A little bit of paranoia has set in these last couple of days.

I worry slightly about every little ache, pain or twitch that I feel.

I was trotting across a parking lot in the rain and the thought of slipping on one of the yellow stripes and pulling a muscle entered my mind.

What a shame it would be if there were some freak injury just hours before the marathon.

There is certainly a little self-doubt.

More so about finishing under four hours, yet a small sliver of doubt about finishing the race without walking.

I will finish.

There is a little aching pain in my right knee....I hope works itself out.

Really, I am not so much worried about my race preparations because, I am ready.

It's the unexpected, the stuff that you cannot control.

I just remembered...you are not supposed to worry about those things.

I'm not fretting, not biting my nails or anything like that.

Just a little concerned.

Now that I have that off of my chest.....it's time to suck it up and have fun.

If you have nothing better to do, you can watch my progress Sunday morning.

The race begins at 8am central time I am bib # 4954.


Thank you again for all of your support, this continues to be a great Journey to My First Marathon!