107/271 M30-34 Division
584/1537 M Division
Welp, I tried. I laid it out all on the line but came up way short. It’s actually 1:38a now and I simply cannot sleep as I now keep thinking about it…so here I am, blogging about it.
The goal today was a 3:30 finish. Obviously, I was 29 minutes shy of that and barely managed a sub-4. I think there are a few factors I should consider for today’s results. Chaulking it up to ‘It wasn’t my day’ simply won’t suffice…although that’s probably the reply I’d give to most folks who would ask about it and don’t want to hear the whole spiel. For those of you that do read this, you probably want to hear my take on it all.
In short, the wheels wobbled at mile 15, engine smoked at mile 16, took myself to the mechanic twice between 17 and 18, wheels came off at 18 and engine blew up at 20. Pushed the car for the remaining 6.2.
Here goes the mile-by-mile.
From Corral 3, I started off nice and hit 8:05 like I wanted to. This included a lot of weaving through folks especially at tangent points. I’m pretty sure I saw George blow past me and after having read that he started at Corral 4, I’m 99% sure of it. I even called out his name and he attempted to look back. I was holding 8’s so I’m sure he was 6’s…as he pretty much disappeared as quickly as I saw him. This was about 1/2 mile in. Mile 1 was 7:46.
The City Part I:
As soon as we hit the first turn, I was all turned around and completely lost my bearing. So I just forgot about trying to remember where the turns were and just went with it and tried to be cognizant of what was ahead. At about 1.5 miles in, Whitney saw me so I ran with her…as that’s what we were supposed to do (except I got to my corral a little late at the start and never found her). After a few more turns (12 at this point), I found myself on familiar Broadway and new the first tough hill was just up at 17th. Mile 2 and 3 were slower at 8:11, 8:08.
Denver City Park:
Got up the 17th street hill and managed a 7:51 for mile 4. I, unfortunately lost Whitney from here on out. Saw my wife yell ‘JGo!’ at me…and thought it was a friend at first…Amy usually doesn’t call me that 🙂 I stayed on the left because I knew a left turn was coming as we enter the first park, Denver City Park. Mile 5 was 8:03. As I enter, I continue to weave and ended up with a 7:46 mile 6. After the first mile, my splits have been all over…unfortunate because I thought this was going to be the one aspect of my run I would be able to be proud of. Mile 7 was at 7:58 and still feeling good. No indicators are flashing except the fact I did not want to hold sub-8’s through the first half of the marathon. I capped the remaining miles 8 and 9 with 7:50 and 7:57. Right off the bat, you can probably already tell that I’m running faster than marathon pace…big no-no.
Lesson #1: Take how you feel the first few miles and throw it out of the window…this part does not matter. In other words, if you feel good, it doesn’t mean jack and in fact…it would be best to stick to marathon pace.
Mile 10 was virtually non-existent and was more of the pace that I should’ve been looking for at 8:02. As mile 10 came to a close, I entered Cheesman Park. I knew this was just a little loop…but this is where most of my dynamics changed. I fella named Shawn was running next to me and we chatted for a bit. It turns out, we had the same goals for the race. So, we became running partners. That’s always nice…or is it. It became so much easier for me to lose track of what I was doing because of the chatter and in hindsight, and no offense to Shawn, I wish I did not meet him (at least not in this setting). For the next 4 miles, we ran 7:59, 7:52, 7:53, and 7:44. It was definitely fun talking to him. Those 4 miles had us exiting Cheesman and on our way to Washington Park.
It was a bit farther than I thought and became all twisted up of where we were. It turns out, mile 15 is where we run along side the park. It also turns out that the last few minutes leading up to mile 15 is when I would feel my quads complain. This was the first indicator light. I knew Wash Park was going to be a tough set of miles since I’ve run it before and I knew how many twists and turns this course had us going through it. What I did not know was that this was going to be the gravesite for my marathon. Shawn and I kept up but I made it known to him about my quads. We finished mile 15 at 8:05 and mile 16 was 7:58. At this point, we’re still in the streets along side the park. Despite the fast pace for mile 16, this was also when my stomach cramped up. I pushed through. We entered the park at mile 17 and right at the turn, I told Shawn good luck. The pain on my side was too distracting. This was indicator light #2. I tried to think what caused it and misjudged what it was…I kept thinking it was the fluids. But during mile’s 15 and 16, I also felt a little bowel movement. Throughout mile 17, I was uncomfortably looking for a port-a-potty. I didn’t find one until mile 18.5. I have never stopped to use the restroom during a race, let alone do a #2. However, because my pace had dropped and I had two indicator lights, I knew my 3:30 goal was done, so I didn’t mind doing this. I don’t know how long I was in there but I’m sure it was at least 4 min. I got out and got to running. I took my gloves off at this point as it had started to warm up (and in fact dropped one and had to double-back a few feet). As I got going, I saw Shawn coming back which then alerted me that I was now heading towards one of the turn-around’s in Wash Park. My pace at this point had dropped to about 8:25’s and mile 18 finished at 8:42.
Ah…mile 19. This was when my brain officially threw in the towel. I usually never stop during runs as I know the mental side-effects of doing so but I did. I pulled off and walked it off. I was done. The last few minutes since the port-a-potty has been a struggle. I kept looking at my watch and started inventing a Plan B…’…if I keep up 8:20’s, I can still run an ‘3:40’ish…’…those type of thoughts. That didn’t help to will me. My goal was 3:30 or bust…or is this more of a cop-out at this point? Too scared to finish 3:40? Too scared to PR? One thing’s for sure, I was more cautious…my brain just held me back at this point. Mile 19 was a struggle and it was more demeaning because I was still in Wash Park. What made it worse was that I ended up looking for another port-a-potty and had to do another #2. I finally got out of the park as I edge into mile 20. Mile 19 was 10:55…ouch!
The Initial Push
The game was over…I hit miles 20, 21, 22, 23 at 9:17, 9:53, 9:58, 9:56. At these set of miles, I felt my calves turn into bricks. They’ve been tight since Wash Park but now they’ve solidified. I just tried to hold on for dear life here… and not finishing was not an option. These miles were hard. They were long and drawn out. Runners passing me. The pain. The contemplation. The questions. Mind games also crept in where I thought I was at a certain part of the course, only to find out I haven’t reached the turn for the turn-around yet. These were huge blows to my run-esteem. The stop-and-walk’s were now becoming more frequent. The end of mile 23 was a welcome sight as I finally correctly could tell I was at the turn around.
The Final Push
I started up the bridge towards the turn-around. I imagine it would be just at the top of this really stupid bridge with it’s really stupid 2% incline. Nope, it wasn’t. It kept curving around. It turns out, it was actually 1/2 a mile towards the turn-around. Some runners tried to help me by telling me I still look good…so this would get me going for about a minute before I went into my all-too-familiar walk. Anything I did at this point was incredibly tough. Mile 24 was 11:25. Right at the end of mile 24, my right calf cramped up. It was mild but just another reminder of my increasingly degrading body. I tried to think about how I only have 2.2 miles left. I tried to think about it as a loop around my neighborhood. That mind game quickly went up in smoke. Mile 24 was 14:29 and mile 26 was 11:54. It took FOREVER to get to the finish…I mean, I knew there was a turn to get to it, and it would just never come. I’ve looked at my watch and it had already registered 26 miles long ago. I finally got to the turn and just held on. I finished, and I was finished.
I once again had a run-in with my body shutting down. Ooooh how painful it was. Couldn’t walk, couldn’t think. I wanted to throw up. I didn’t even have the 10 minutes I usually get before it sets in…it set in about 5 minutes. Most of the time, I attribute this to the lactic acid build up in my muscles and how they’re not getting flushed out. But that’s usually after I run hard at some anaerobic effort…well, if you couldn’t tell, there was none of that today as I barely finished under 4 hours. So, I’m not quite sure why it set in again today. Maybe today was a different beast. At any rate, I felt very bad because I once again put my wife through it. It’s gotta be a scary thing to watch. I promised her that I would figure it out…but along that same conversation, I am now prohibited to do another race unless my training goes well. I agreed on all counts.
This was by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. No question about it. Maybe this is a gateway to better races in the future…who knows. So here’s a short list of factors for this race. I’m not here to make excuses but these are objective assessments to what happened.
1. Poor Base Training. I never did get a 20-miler in. I did 19 miles at 8:15 pace. That wasn’t enough as I needed at least one more 20-miler on top of that for some positive cumulative effect.
2. Poor Taper. During my taper, I ran a 1/2 marathon 2 weeks before this race. I, in fact, had run that too hard but you never really know that until your body demands it, like today did. Dave always told me to ‘not leave my race in Boulder’. I think this is the reason why my quads blew up at mile 15. I also had a couple of runs at marathon pace around the block..in hindsight and because of the 1/2 marathon, I shouldn’t have done these runs. The reason I did it was because I was concerned not with turn-over, but my race weight.
3. Pre-race Diet. October was an extremely busy month for me. I don’t know how else to say it, but it was and I think it always will be (wife’s bday + our anniversay is on the same week). It would be safe for me to say that I will probably never, ever run a race in October ever again. At any rate, we ended celebrating at Maggiano’s the night before. I ate a ton but still felt comfortable..so I didn’t gorge out. I just ate a lot. This dinner was at 7p which means we didn’t really eat until 8p. I usually approach races by eating my biggest meal at lunch time and a lighter dinner as to give my body the most time to digest the food. I believe this was the reason for my two #2’s during the race. And remember about me saying being wrong about why I had cramps…it wasn’t because of the fluids…it was because of the food jostling around in my intestines that aggravated my guts. As soon as I pooped the second time, I don’t even remember thinking about my stomach cramps…in other words, they just went away.
4. Pacing. Well, most of you reading this and probably myself, would argue that my pacing through the first 15 miles was awful. And it was relative to my goals. However, I don’t really think this was the biggest factor now that I think of it. I consider my bonk at mile 20 and I predicted around mile 22. So, to an extent, my pacing accelerated my bonk to mile 20. But, everything felt fine and my breathing was awesome. My pace through mile 17 tells me that I can run sub-8’s and that’s a positive takeaway for me. This is probably the aspect I’m least proud of even though I feel it’s the least of the factors. The reason is that I believe I can pace myself really well. I know how to do it with the tools I have. For some reason, high-hopes and possibly the course and race dynamics played a huge factor in throwing off my ability to pace. That’s just the way it was. I think if I stuck to my pacing plans, I would’ve fair a little bit better. But given the first 3 factors, I think those would’ve eventually come into play and still would’ve lost my 3:30 goal. I will never know.
5. Mental Readiness. I felt ready this morning but staring at the facts, and the less than 5 hours of sleep I got was probably a factor, but only minimally. I actually had doubts that I could pull off a 3:30 today but I wiped those doubts on the first 15-17 miles. But I think those doubts were well-backed and had every reason to be in my head and I should’ve changed my race goal. But I’m stubborn and if I say I’m doing 3:30, I sure as hell am going to try. I put it all on the line today and my failure to achieve that goal was a setback. I think I’ll probably bounce back and I hope I do. I wonder if I’ll be a different runner after today. Am I going to be hungrier or am I going to be more placid about it?
On the bright side, I PR’ed the half-marathon today.
Well, that’s a wrap. This is possibly the last race for me in a while. Some questions I now have on the table is…am I really a marathoner? Should I focus on shorter races? Should I just stop running competitively (I laugh at that notion… but y’all know what I mean)? I tell everyone that this was no biggie and it really isn’t. My Boulder Marathon DNR last year hurt worse…but in other respects, this one stings really bad. Really bad. And that’s why it’s now 317a…I can’t sleep since I keep thinking about it.