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5ksandcabernets: October 2010


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Run for the Water: Race Report

Finally, a race, albeit a short one, I can be proud to write a report.

Had my first 10-mile race Sunday morning, so no matter what, it was going to be a PR because while I'd raced 15ks and half marathons, I'd never raced a 10-miler.

My legs are still kind of heavy from the Chicago Marathon earlier this month, so I didn't really know what to expect or how long I could maintain a decent pace, especially since this course seemed to have every hill in central Austin. Scenic. Exposition. Pecos. Exposition.

So, my goal was to run comfortably hard for as long as I could and if I could stay "comfortable" long enough, turn it on at the end.

Here were my splits.

1. 7:06
2. 7:03
3. 7:11
4. 7:02
5. 7:10

6. 7:10
7. 6:47
8. 6:54
9. 6:48
10. 6:42

My final time was 1:09:52, a 6:59 pace. Negative split. Fastest mile was my last mile. I'll take it. Of course, since the guys in my age group are so fast, I wasn't even in the Top 5 of 40-44 year-olds.

Like I said, a very hilly course. From just after Mile 3 to around Mile 7, there was hill after hill after hill. The good thing is what goes up must come day. My strategy with the hills was to let myself fly on the downhills and hang on during the uphills. For instance, On a downhill, my pace for a particular mile may have been in the mid to high 6s. I figured that was time in the bank for that particular mile. So, when the uphill came, I didnt stress if I was too slow and so my pace for the mile would slow from, say, 6:45 to 7:10 or so. On the flat part of the course, I easily made up the time.

As you can see, I stayed under 7:00 min/mile for each of the last four miles. Again, legs still kinda heavy from the Chicago Marathon, so I wasnt expecting this. And something else, my lungs actually started feeling better by Mile 9 and I could actually talk to the volunteers. But, my legs had no spring left in them and so I just kinda cruised until I got to the last 200 meters and then sprinted this race out.

ALLERGY UPDATE: Had my appointment with my allergist last Monday. They said nothing is wrong with me. I can eat anything. No reactions.

I know its weird to go to the doctor HOPING something is wrong with you. I mean, had they said I was allergic to gluten or something like that, then I could blame that on my marathon problems. But nope. That would be too easy.

Of course, that still doesnt mean that certain foods dont cause me problems. Its just that they dont cause allergies. So now I'll try to get with a nutritionist, work on strengthening my core and keep working to figure out why cramps derail my marathons.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chicago Marathon race report


5k......24:23....7:51 min/mile
10k....24:04....7:45 min/mile
15k....23:51.....7:41 min/mile
20k....24:44....7:58 min/mile
half ........1:42:23
30k....28:06.....9:03 min/mile
35k.....34:55....11:14 min/mile
40k.....49:13.....15:51 min/mile

I’m not sure when I felt the first sign of trouble, when the spasming in my calves and quads began and the fight to qualify for Boston ended. All I knew then, and now: That was the worst I’ve ever felt in a marathon. Ever.

The last nine miles were pretty much a death march, and I spent those two plus hours (yep, that’s how long it took me to walk/run the last 9 plus miles) going through a range of emotions, though mostly my mind went from anger to feeling sorry for myself from mile to mile.

And so, needless to say, 4:14 at the Chicago Marathon is nothing to write home about. Not when I thought I could possibly run 3:14, and no worse than 3:20. I won’t drag on here with too much play by play. You can look at my 5k splits above provided by the Chicago Marathon people and figure out just how slow I ran. But I will say this: I ate the same way that I’ve eaten before long runs. I took my GU and salt tablets at the same point in the run as I did during my long runs; I ran the first half in about 1:42, which was two minutes slower than goal pace, leaving me in good position to run a nice hard negative split. (My half marathon PR was a 1:31…So its not like I ran the first half of the marathon too fast.)

I actually started cramping around Mile 14 and gave up on trying to BQ, but when I ran Mile 17 in 7:30 giving me a total time of 2:11, I thought I was on my way to at least a PR. But little did I know that it would take me twice as long to finish each of the last five miles. Yep. I was doing 15 minute miles from 22 on. Every few minutes or so, a pace group would pass me. First, the 3:30 pacer. Then the 3:40s. Then 3:50s. It was real pitiful when the 4:00 pace group passed me.
And it wasn’t like I could just run through the cramps. Men, take your worst bedtime Charlie Horse … Women, take your worst menstrual cramping …. Then go run. That’s how I felt the last two hours. (OK, I admit, I’ve never had menstrual cramping – but u get the picture).

Yeah, it was hot. 65 at the start and 85 at the finish. But it was disheartening nevertheless because hundreds, no thousands, of people must have passed me over the last four or five miles. Why weren’t they being affected as much as I was? Am I the only one walking?

Yeah, I saw a lot of carnage, a lot of medics on the court, a lot of people sprawled on the ground, lots of people throwing up. But of the people moving, I was moving the slowest. Seriously. The only difference between me and a dead man was the fact I wasn’t wearing a toe tag.

Right after the race was over, I told somebody that I was done with running marathons. I always cramp at these things. Always. I actually thought I was past the kind of cramping that happened at the Chicago Marathon, but the pain in my legs was as bad as it was when I ran my first marathon in 2005. That means in nearly five years, I’ve learned nothing about how to make my body go 26.2.

I don’t now. I’m just tired of embarrassing myself at these races. I’ve since backed off the “never again” stance, but I wont run another marathon until I make a trip to an allergist or a nutritionist. I wanna know whats wrong with me? Why do I cramp up all the time? How is it that I can run a 6:00 min/mile pace for a 5k, but struggle to hold a 9:00 min/mile pace for a marathon?

Until I get these answers, I am done running marathons. Done embarrassing myself. Done. Done. Done.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Taper time

A year ago today, exactly 365 days ago, I was running in the Portland Marathon. Thought I was ready to go after a Boston qualifying, and at the very least run a PR. Instead, I crashed and burned and didn't even break four hours.
Today, the clock ticks down on yet another marathon, my seventh. On Sunday, I will run the Chicago Marathon. All of my training is done. All I can do is hurry up and wait.
Again, I feel good about my prospects for a PR, and as confident about qualifying for Boston. Since about mid August, my training has just taken off and I've hit every number that I've needed to hit during my training runs - Yasso 800s, 1k intervals, MGP, etc., etc., etc.
But again, I've felt good in past marathons only to start cramping around Miles 14 or 15 and then those cramps leading to a death shuffle around Miles 20 or 21.
And yet this time is gonna be different. Its gotta be. I am willing it so. I know now that my cramps are not because I went out to fast or didnt drink enough water/gatorade, or take in enough energy gels. I know now my past leg muscle maladies have been because I never took the time to stretch much before or after my training runs, thus my hips and abductors were stiff as a board on marathon day, and that stiffness led to quad and calf cramping that made running an impossible feat.
I've stretched a ton this summer, did tons of core strengthening exercises and at times was so sore in my midsection/groin area that it hurt to sneeze or laugh.
That's not to say that I "beat the cramps" this summer. I don't think I ever will (unless I run on an extremely flat course with temperatures in the 50s or cooler - which, by the way, is the forecast/course for Chicago ). But if the spasming starts this Sunday in the Windy City, I wont panic. I wont over load on water and GU and make things worse. I'll do some of the same kinds of stretches I did during my long runs up and down the hills of Austin.
Fact is, I know I can do this. I know I can run 7:40 min/mile pace for 26.2 miles. I'm feeling in such good shape right now that 7:40 pace feels really easy. My last two MGP runs have seen me settle into a 7:25 to 7:30 pace. I look down at my Garmin and tell myself to slowdown.
And that's what I will do in Chicago. My plan is to hold between 7:30 and 7:45 pace for the first 16 or so miles. I will have been out on the road for two hours at this point and by then, all the cards will be on the table. If I'm going to cramp, it will be right around this two hour mark. My energy level will be what its going to be. I will be in a good mood or in a bad mood. But hopefully, I'm in a fighting mood for the last 10 miles, and if that's the case, then, Boston, hear I come.