Monday, October 25, 2010

Marathon # 3 - Mankato

Marathon number 3 is in the books. It was much more difficult than I anticipated, I did not reach either of the goals that I was aiming for...but it was still a rewarding experience and my best effort on that day. Sometimes that is all that you can ask for.
Fellow Daily Miler Tom and I after the race.

Before I start rambling about my marathon experience I would like to recognize some people. First, congratulations to my sister-in-law Kari who rocked the half marathon! And a huge thank you to the rest of the family, including my wife, that raced around to cheer us on throughout the run and put up with my whining about my performance after the race. It wouldn't have been the same without them there!

My coach and I had been talking about the possibility of a Boston qualifying run at this marathon. My training had gone very well this summer and I had a strong PR at the Sioux Falls Half Marathon. If you have been keeping up with my blog you will know that the thought of running an entire marathon in the 7:30's was all a bit overwhelming to me. Additionally, my last month of training had not really gone well due to my relocation and starting a new job. After talking it over with the coach, we decided that 3:30 pace (8:01) was completely obtainable and would not be out of reach by any means. This really helped take the pressure off, but in the back of my mind, I was still considering the 3:20 finish. I would wait and see how I felt on race morning, but I didn't tell of any of this to the coach.

Along comes race day! The weather forecast leading up to the race was for a 60% chance of rain all morning. It was cloudy and sprinkling on and off before the race. I ran in to fellow DM'ers Tom and Sara before the race and we had to get under a tent for a little while to stay dry. Luckily the rain stopped before the race started and never became a factor. In fact the weather was almost perfect. It was nice cool and cloudy morning, great weather for a long run!

Back to the race. I was excited and feeling good. I had decided that I was going to see how it felt to hang with the 3:20 group, I decided to go for it. Part of me said that if it was too much I would just drop back with the 3:30 group while another part of me knew that it doesn't usually work that way. After a brief pep talk from Dick Beardsley to start the race, we were off!

The pace was great, I had no trouble keeping up and felt very comfortable. At about mile 5 we approached the first of two large hills. Instead of trying to keep up with the pacer I ran my own pace up the hill and then picked it up to catch back up. I stuck with the pacer until around mile 11, then I let him go and decided that I had better run my own race.

I get pretty focused on what I am doing when racing. I really don't know what is going on so much around me because I am thinking about pace and running form and constantly evaluating my exertion level. My wife told me that I ran right by her at mile 10 while she was shouting and clanging the cowbells, I never heard her or saw her. Fellow DM'er, Jeri, told me the same thing, she was screaming at me and taking pictures, I ran right by her, didn't see or hear a thing.

Through the first 15 miles I had an average pace of 7:38, right on target for BQ, but that was all that I had. It seems that after 15 - 17 miles life gets much more difficult for me. Between 15 and 19 miles my average pace dropped a full minute to 8:37. After 19 it was pretty much a battle for survival. I finished off the race with a walk run strategy and my spirits were crushed. I was really hoping that I wouldn't have to walk any parts of the race but my calves were cramping up and my right knee was really starting to hurt. Finishing the race was painful, I had to talk myself into running any way that I could. I ran with a guy that was struggling like me for awhile for inspiration, but it wasn't enough. I even had to walk some during the last mile of the race, it wasn't until 25.5 on the Garmin that I decided one way or another that I was going to run it in the rest of the way.....and I did.
Dragging my sorry ass to the finish.
Photo courtesy of Jeri !

I heard and saw my family cheering me in just before the finish, it was a great ending to the race! It's funny how the first hour or so the pain and fatigue are so great that I tell myself I will never run another stupid marathon. What's the point of putting yourself through weeks of training for this torture called a marathon? I couldn't even remember why I had decided to attempt such a thing.

Then the pain begins to fade and the mind clears. I am starting to think about how it all played out and what I could have done differently. Hmmm....could there be a # 4?

Technical Stuff (sort of)

My fuel plan worked well for this run. I took a Hammer Gel about every 5 miles. I also took 3 Endurolyte capsules each at miles 9 and 18. I drank either water or Gatorade at every water stop sometimes even 2 cups  to stay hydrated because I sweat like a man!

I likely would have finished a little sooner had I followed the plan and went with the 3:30 group, but I will never know. Besides, I would probably be kicking myself for not doing it had the 3:30 run gone well.

I am not sure what's going on with the knee, but I will be doing some spinning and very little running this week to recover. I am definitely looking forward to some cross country running on tap for this fall!

Mankato really shined when putting on this race. There was fantastic support along the route and the water stops were great. Because it was the first year for this marathon and a limit of 2,000 runners the expo was small but still offered a nice variety. I would recommend this marathon to anyone considering it but I would also encourage you to be ready for some hills. You can't run in Mankato without running some hills!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Attitude Adjustment with the Altitude

The taper has been good to me.
I have for the most part quit worrying and thinking about the BQ.
I have quit whining and whimpering about the Missouri hills.
I have readjusted my attitude.

I am typically a very positive person. My glass is usually half full, I work hard to anticipate and prepare for the worst and work to improve on it. I generally see adversity and problems as opportunities to learn and grow stronger for the future. But, I am human. Even I have a bad day or two where the attitude stinks and life doesn't seem fair. Luckily for me, I have a great support crew within my running world which has helped me claw my way back to the top of the attitude chart.

I am back.I don't mind the hills now.I am getting stronger.They are getting easier.They will make me better.

Less than one week now until the Mankato Marathon!

If you are truly bored, here is a 52 second video of me running up one of the hills on my route. This will give you an idea of the terrain in the area.

Monday, October 11, 2010


As I write this update, there are only 11 days until the Mankato Marathon. My training has been fantastic. I have had great improvement and even surprised my coach with my progress. I ran my fastest half marathon ever a day after turning 41. There is a chance that I may even qualify for the Boston Marathon while in Mankato. Sounds exciting...but I don't feel it.

I have trained hard all summer for this marathon; I have logged over 1,200 miles so far this year. But I seem to have lost my motivation. Maybe it is because there are too many other things going on in my life outside of running right now. Moving to a new state and starting a new job are certainly a part of it. Maybe it's the challenges of my new running path. Running in the dark isn't quite the option it used to be. We are living in the country now, when it gets dark, it's black. Also, after being used to the relatively flat plains of South Dakota, the Missouri hills are really kicking my ass.
A couple of the "rolling" hills on my runs.

I know that distance running is hugely mental.
I know that running these hills will make me stronger.
I know how good it feels to finish a great race or run.
I know the rewards of perseverance.
I know that I can run 26.2 miles.
But I have my doubts. There is a part of me that wants to give up and quit. Looking at the map of the marathon, makes me question what the hell I am doing.

I have just begun my taper. I am physically and mentally ready for this break and to have the marathon behind me. I am ready to have fun with my running again.

Maybe I just need a little inspiration.