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.


  1. What a great race report. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and this particular endpoint.Yep, I'm with you - what a tremendous achievement - 1st marathon at 40 in 4:10. incredible. hope you celebrate every step you took. so, when's the next one?

  2. Wow - I'm running my first marathon in 11 days and must say that your comments are really helpful and enlightening.
    Congrats on an amazing race! Your time is nothing to squawk at! Great job, rest well :)

  3. Great job. Let me know if you figure out how to break through the "wall"! I totally understand how you felt after 18, it is a long haul up Summit. But you are a marathoner and that is a HUGE accomplishment. Congratulations!!

  4. Wow that is an amazing time!! I am reading this with great interest as I am trying to figure out the details of my first marathon ...