Friday, May 6, 2016

2016 Carmel Marathon: Race Report

As you may already be aware I pinched a nerve in my right leg at the end of October. The pinched nerve kept me out of running for a full 8 weeks. During this time I cross trained like a boss with pool running, cycling, arc trainer. That might be good enough for some people to stay in reasonable shape but when I pinched the nerve I was in the best shape of my life. I was a finely tuned machine that was crushing workouts and destroying PRs and it would prove to not be any where close to enough to maintain that level of fitness.

I have always used an 18 week training cycle but this time the injury still had me relegated to the aforementioned cross training when the start of the cycle came around. By the time I was back to running I was really out of shape and there was no way I could jump into my usual marathon build up: 7 mile runs were leaving me feeling like I got hit by a truck. I decided to use an abbreviated 12 week cycle and use the 4 or 5 weeks I had until then to just to get my legs back. Over the course of this time I was able to build back up to a long run of 20 miles.

As they say, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. I was never 100% or even close to it through the entire training cycle. As 1 injury would clear up another would flare up. It wasn't until 5 days before Carmel that I was anything close to 100%. That being the case, to actually call it a training cycle is a bit of an over statement and I was just about as out of marathon shape as I have been since I started this lifestyle.

When I realized how out of shape I was I decided that somewhere around 3 hours would be OK and I would just use this race as a base strength type of run. Running was very hard throughout this whole thing. The long runs in particular would have been very daunting to have faced alone but I was blessed to have a friend to do long runs with. I ran most of my long runs with Cliff, a friend I met by going head to head in the last few miles of the Bee Bumble 10k in 2012. We have kept in touch via facebook and local races over the years and have talked about running together from time-to-time. I knew I needed some help to make it through the long runs so I got a hold of him and he obliged. It worked out pretty good since he was training to run the Boston Marathon around 3 hours as well.

Enough about the training, suffice it to say I was unable to get to prime form and knew that even 2:59 would be a struggle. Race morning was finally here and the forecast was for sunny 70* and no wind. Sounds perfect to you non-runners, huh? Sounds like miserably hot conditions for running 26.2 miles to me.

I met Garrett before the race and he was planning on running his usual 2:52. I knew we wouldn't be running together and after the start signal was given I watched him barrel off into the distance. With no PR to shoot for and not even a respectable time given my past marathons it was going to be a long day.

That is me and Garrett behind what looks to be a very grumpy half-marathoner

About a mile in I came up on another local runner, Matt York. He's an Iron Man and has a marathon PR just a couple of minutes faster than me. Matt is a smart runner and keeps a controlled pace early on. I figured I'd latch on and just run with him. It was working well for the first several miles. We were running around 6:35/6:40 miles and I was feeling pretty good. Matt and I don't know each other well so the conversation was a nice distraction.

At one point Matt said something to the effect of "Well, if you get too far ahead of me, good luck." I assured him I was running way too fast and this was going to get ugly pretty quick. I knew I was going to blow up but I decided to just try to hold this pace as long as I could and take what comes after. It'd be a good strength builder.

At around 8 miles or so, I saw Steve Williams who i met at this years Sam Costa. I knew he was shooting for 3 hours and a Boston qualifier but he looked like he was out a little fast and I just hoped he wouldn't blow up. Steve end up finishing right around 3 hours and got his BQ so good for him!

Around mile 11 the crash began. It wasn't a total and complete collapse. I just couldn't stay with Matt any more and my pace dropped to the high 6s as I watched gap between Matt and I grow larger and larger. At this point I just wanted to hang on for a 2:59:59 marathon. I kept that delusion for another couple of miles until it became apparent that my pace was just going to continue to bleed. It was getting hot and I was out of shape.

About mile 16 I saw my family for the first time and for the first time ever I saw Hannah before she saw me and I started calling out "Hannah!, Hannah!" Hannah had a bottle of water ready for me and it was a welcome sight. My oldest daughter Kasey took pity on me and threw her bottle of water on me and it felt like heaven. My pace was still dropping but seeing my family was a great boost and while I wasn't feeling real bad yet, I sure shouldn't have been smiling like I was for the picture.

From 16 to 25 I really lost a lot of time with my pace slipping well into the upper 7s for several of those miles. Not a whole lot to say about the final miles other than that it felt like a death march for most of it. I really tried to pick it up in the final mile and coming down the stretch I passed a guy who I had been playing leap frog with over the last several miles. In the final 1/4 of a mile I was ready to shut it down but there is Hannah yelling at me "Don't let him beat you!" I found that last gear for the last 90 seconds or so and was able to maintain my position and that was really the only running win of the day for me.

Yeah this was a bad race. Yeah, I was out of shape and a lot of people would say I ran a stupid race going out faster than even my planned goal pace that I figured would be too fast anyway. I didn't get any kind of victory and there was no glory at the finish line this time; only relief.

All that said, it was a great race because it was at this race that I realized just how connected I am to running. I mentioned a few people in this report that I met through running and I saw and spoke to even more people that I know because I run. I've got to say, I love the fact that I can go to a bigger race in a city I don't live in and see a bunch of people I know because we all share a passion for this crazy thing called the Marathon.

A couple of other great points on the day. First was that both of my daughters ran in the 8k and I always really enjoy when several of us get after it on race day! Also, it was Nattie Jo's first road race and I cannot wait to continue to share this experience with her throughout her life. Foot races are a big part of the life of my family and thinking about sharing that with Natalie and other grand kids yet to be named just makes me smile.

The marathon broke my heart in November and it beat me up pretty bad in April. That's OK because  Fall will be here soon enough I will have my revenge. Looks like I've got a lot of work to do before the Monumental to ensure that I punish the marathon for what it has done to me this year.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

2016 Sam Costa Half-Marathon: Race Report

Saturday, March 19th, 2016 I ran the Sam Costa half-marathon. This was 1 week after running the 2016 Land Between the Lakes Trail Marathon. My quads were shredded from the descents and the trails and felt bad through Thursday. Also, at some point on Monday I noticed a flare up of my peroneal tendon that resulted in my right foot becoming very painful.

I started loading up on Ibuprofen on the Thursday prior. I know this isn't probably the smartest thing in the world but right now it is worth it to me to get some consistent running back in my training. My oldest daughter Kasey was running the quarter marathon so she rode down with me. There is a lot to like about this race and 1 of the best things is a very efficient race morning check in so there is no need for a separate trip to "packet pickup and expo", no need to get there super early either as there is ample close parking in the Northview Church parking lot.

Saturday morning came and my foot was a little tender but I was sure it would be manageable for the race. With the general inconsistent training over the winter, just coming off a pretty tough trail marathon a week before, and the threat of bad weather, I had absolutely no plan for Sam Costa this year other than that I knew anything over 90 minutes was unacceptable.

Out of fear of aggravating my foot and the treat of nasty (cold rain) weather, I skipped any kind of warm up. We hung out until about 8:50 AM and I walked to the start line and kind of jogged around mostly to try to stay warm. It was about 35* so just standing for 10 minutes didn't seem like much fun. The race stated right on time and I went out at about a 6:10 pace and held this until my shoe came untied around 2 miles in. I made note of the first people to pass me so I could focus on regaining position. I lost about 30 seconds to the shoe and spent the next mile or so catching up.

I think this is not to far after the shoe lace incidence
It was easy to know who I needed to catch up to because he was wearing the exact same shoes as I was. Pearl Izumi Road N2s in purple and black. You don't see much PI gear at road races in central Indiana and It's a shame that the running community isn't more aware of the PI brand. They make good, comfortable, high quality products.  I caught up to him around mile 3 and settled into his pace. Over the next couple of miles we formed a small pack with another guy and a woman.

Miles 3,4 and 5 each I still had no real plan. As each mile ticked off I would say to myself, "1 more mile and we'll count this as a solid tempo run and relax the rest of the race." But I was glad the pack had formed because it made me work a little harder than I planned and I just kept ticking off the miles and hanging on to the pack.

We hung together through about 10 miles and then the rest of the pack started separating. Having gone into the race with no plan and it being late in a race where I had worked harder than I intended, I couldn't muster the mental power to answer so I let them go. Even with my pace beginning to slip I was able to pick off 4 runners over the last couple of miles.

About a mile left to go. I like arm sleeves, they make you look fast...

In the final 1/2 mile, I was passed by a runner who was obviously finishing very strong because I hadn't seen him the entire race. The very end of this race features a nice uphill and makes for a gut wrenching finish. I have run this race 3 times now and this uphill makes me want to puke every time.

I finished with an official time 1:25:01 a little more that 6:00 minutes slow of my PR. During a normal training cycle I would have used this race as a tune up and I would have been gunning for a PR but this isn't a normal training cycle and I'm nowhere close to half-marathon PR shape. So, I am pleased with the result and will chalk it up to a good hard run in my quest to rebuild lost fitness. This run also gives me confidence that I will be able to eek out a sub three hour marathon at Carmel in April.

Another race in the books

Monday, March 14, 2016

Land Between the Lakes Trail Marathon

The weekend, March 12, 2016 I ran the Land Between the Lakes Trail Marathon. This marathon is run along with options for 50 miles, 60k, and 24k (a little over a half marathon) at the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in Kentucky which is a little over a 5 hour drive from my house.

I ran, and won, this marathon last year but due to heavy snow and rain in the weeks proceeding it last year it was moved to the roads. So, while I ran it last year, this year was truly my first "trail' marathon and I had no idea what I was in for.

As with last year, the purpose of this race was "marathon-as-a-training-run" for Carmel Marathon in April. The goal was to finish the distance and need as little recovery as possible after. Meaning I wasn't planning on going into this and trying to win. I knew I wanted to run slow enough to keep the damage to a minimum.

So my plan was maybe 7:30 for the first half and 7:15 for the second if I felt good. That is a minute slower than my marathon PR and about 25 seconds slower than I have been doing long runs in this cycle. This goes to show my inexperience with trails.

We started right on time and in fact it caught me a little off guard. I was just kind of hanging out chatting with Hannah, who was running the 24k, and all of a sudden I see the front of the pack start to organize and we are off. I'm a Pearl Izumi ambassador, know as a ChamPIon. As part of the deal we get some gear to wear at races. One of the shirts we got is super visible and very recognizable and I spot 1 near the front of the pack. I make it my goal to catch up with this guy and find out who it is.

The first and last 2 miles of the race are on the road getting to the trail from the start and getting back to the town of Grand Rivers for the finish. The rest of the course is an 11 mile trail called "Canal Loop." While I am no trail runner, I would expect that this trail would be considered "technical" since switchbacks, tree roots, rocks, creek crossings, and dead fall were in no short supply.

I cruised through the first 2 miles to the trail steadily picking up the pace. I ran right around 7:00 for the second mile and felt great. I got to the trail right around 2 miles and the pace dropped as expected. once on the trail it was 95% or more single track. I fell in line behind a couple of other guys that were also running the marathon distance. In the first couple of miles the trail was hard packed and I felt like I could have run faster but it was hard to pass and with my inexperience I wasn't sure if I should so I just sat tight in that position trying to figure things out.

After a few miles I started getting frustrated with the pace and wanted to pick it up some. I found a decent place to pass, called it out and went around off the trail. The trail hadn't been super difficult to this point and I was still feeling good plus I knew I wanted to catch up to Pearl Izumi guy.

The trail seemed to constantly ascend and descend with no real flat sections and after 4 or 5 miles on the trail i realized that 7:30 would not be a conservative pace and I start lowing my expectations and doing math. As I said I think the trail would be considered technical and as such I kept my eyes mostly on where my feet are landing trying to avoid rocks and roots and making sure I clear any dead fall. In the early miles of the race I was trying to keep my shoes dry by being precise with foot strikes near puddles, muddy sections, and creek crossings. I would give up on that entirely in the latter miles.
Around mile 7.5 and still mostly clean

In a road marathon I am cognizant of every mile. I always know were I am. With most of my concentration being on trying to stay upright on the trails though my awareness of the distance was more vague. I think somewhere around mile 10 I finally catch Pearl Izumi guy and we exchange names and talk a little. He is Troy from Louisville. He seems to be a pretty experienced trail and ultra marathoner and I find out he's running the 50 mile race. I comment on the fact that his pace is pretty nice especially for a 50. (Troy ended up winning the 50 mile race in a little over 7 hours)
My wife recognized the shirt and got a picture of Troy, another Pearl Izumi Champion, who went on to win the 50 mile. 

I run behind him for a few miles but notice that I am really getting on his heels on the ascents. My pace just keeps slipping and I again grow frustrated. I find a decent place to pass, call it out and try to slide by without contact. My inexperience shows again though as I bump into him.

We reach the second half of the loop and the trail seems to get more difficult. The footing is not near as good, the inclines seem steeper, the switchbacks more frequent.

Its not long before I realized the pass was selfish and a mistake. While on any thing resembling flat or uphill I am fine, I don't have the skill to bomb the descents and he apparently does as I can hear and feel how much my hesitation on them is messing with his rhythm. He's very cool about it though and doesn't say a word. Finally I ask him to please pass and he does.

We hit the beginning of the second loop and I could tell that the footing had gotten much worse after everyone had been through once. My legs were starting to get pretty fatigued and I knew it was going to be a long second loop. My mind started to look ahead at how far was left. I knew that was a mistake and this is where the trail really helped. It was much easier to refocus my mind on the here and now with the ever changing trail, the challenge of landing my feet on the clear over and over again and whatever scenery I was able to take in.

I was still behind Troy but now when I got close to him on the ascents I was happy to just back off. I didn't want to get upfront again because when we hit a descent he was flying down it while I was taking it very cautiously.

Not much to say about the second half except to emphasize how bad the footing got in some places. Also, my Garmin was really having trouble measuring accurately and as such had my pace much slower than it actually was. I say this because I really was getting mentally beat  up seeing paces as slow as 10:00 and 12:00 minute miles. The prospect of a time greater than 3 hours and 30 minutes just really beat me down. At this point that's where I thought I would wind up.

About mile 20 (according to my Garmin so really more like 21 or 22) we hit a humongous patch of mud. Running was a real struggle and it was all I could do to remain upright. Again my inexperience showed. I couldn't get through this patch running and actually had to stop and walk just to stay on my feet. Troy, on the other hand was able to blast through and that was the last I saw of him.

My metal game was gone at this point and I was feeling pretty defeated. It looked like I was looking at 3:45 if I could even get back into it somehow. Then, all of a sudden I'm back at the road with a sign pointing me back toward town to the finish line. From the course description I should have only had 2 miles to go but my watch is right at 23 miles. So I must have read the course description wrong. Another metal beating.

My mind was shot, my legs were shot, my spirit was nearly defeated. I saw my wife and daughter at this point and it lifts me a little but I was struggling bad and the boost didn't last. All I want to do is walk but I couldn't let them see me walk. They drive past toward the finish and I think "once they are out of sight, I'm walking." My wife pulls over and get some more pictures. My legs die and I walk anyway.
On the roads heading to the finish. I was really struggling here.

Hannah knew what was going on with the Garmin since she had run the 24k and yells out the window that my turn is right up the road. I find the strength to run again and hit the turn. It was about a minute after the turn until I could see the clock. That was the most welcome sight in a long time. I can see enough to know I'll get in under 3:30 and I am happy and pick up the pace as much as I can to try and somehow finish strong.

3:27:26 and 4th overall. My slowest marathon by over 13 minutes but given that it was on a trail with mud and hills and roots and hard passing and given that I am just really getting my marathon strength back after an injury sidelined me for 8 weeks completely and various other issues minor injuries have kept me from training consistently since the end of September, I'll take it.

I learned a lot. Trails ain't roads, descending is harder the ascending (at least for me), a Garmin can't be trusted in the woods on trails with lots of switch backs. I also learned that while I do love running fast on the roads, there is a part of me that loves the trails too and I'll be looking for more trails to run.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Comparisons to Hitler

Hitler was an evil man and you know that from the fruit of his work, the mass annihilation of ethnic groups. He was pure evil. He killed people simply for their Israelite heritage. That being the case, it's only natural in the modern American political landscape that from time to time you see various politicians likened to Hitler by their detractors. After his comments on general immigration and specifically Muslim immigrants and visitors, Donald Trump is the latest target of the "Hitler Attack"and his supporters are likened to Hitler's supporters.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no Trump supporter. I think the guy is a joke and frankly, I wish he would sit down and shut up. However, to compare him to Hitler; that's wrong. It is as wrong to the Jewish people, the cripples, the infirm, and the rest of the "useless" people who suffered under the Nazi regime as it is to Trump himself.

If you really feel the need to compare someone or something in America to Hitler right now the only valid comparison I can think of is the abortion movement, Planned Parenthood and other abortionists. They are busy caring on his work, cleansing the population of unwanted but innocent life and I guess that makes the pro-death crowd comparable to his supporters.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

2015 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon: DNS Report

The marathon is cruel. Training for it will beat you up and it will wear you down. It holds out to you the hope of glory but with that hope comes the risk of heart break. While I have been blessed and usually win the glory, I experienced this heartbreak first hand Saturday 11/7/2015 at the 2015 Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.

I have gone back and forth about writing this and after a few people have inquired I decided to go ahead and put it out there in case anyone else was wondering.

As you all are probably aware, I have been training for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon for the last 18 weeks. I had a rough time starting out and mentally and physically committing fully to another marathon training cycle but got that put behind me after several weeks and I dove in.

The goal was to run the 2015 Indianapolis Monumental in under 2 hours and 48 minutes. My previous PR was 2 hours 49 minutes and 46 seconds. This was the same goal I had and missed for the 2015 Carmel Marathon back in April. I believe the heat got me that day. So I felt this was a reasonable and attainable goal for a fall marathon.

While training started a little rocky , I not only hit the big important workouts over the course of the last 6 weeks, I crushed them. The 7 mile tempo run that haunted me and kept me awake nights for weeks before hand went down in a blaze of glory and I felt invincible at the end. The 20 mile long run with 14 at goal pace went just as well if not better. After this run I started contemplating lowing my goal time. Although it sounded crazy I thought I might have a shot at 2:45. That's a big difference but my paces in those 2 big workouts indicated I had the strength and fitness to hit that time.

With 3 weeks to go, I ran the Indianapolis Marathon as a long run at a good clip and felt as strong as an ox. As a final cap to the training cycle I crushed my half-marathon PR at the valpohalf  the next weekend running 1:18:53 which was a PR of 2 minutes and 14 seconds.

That's when things went bad. I felt beat up but generally fine after the half marathon but I had been dealing with some swelling on my right foot for a couple of weeks. I spent the next 2 days sitting all day at work. I have a stand up desk and rarely sit and I believe this sitting started something off with a pinched nerve.

Tuesday morning after my run my right hamstring felt a little tight. This tightening increased throughout the day. By Friday I could not even run. I literally took about 5 running steps and called it off. I don't.... not run. That is maybe the 3rd time in my life I have started a run and didn't finish.

I went Friday morning to see the Scott, the trainer, who helped me through the Boston Marathon training cycle a couple of years ago. He did various forms of soft tissue work on my hamstring and I left feeling better. I had a 13 mile run scheduled Sunday morning and decided to try and do it.

I was able, with the help of ibuprofen, to run Sunday but it wasn't comfortable.I ran another 8 on Monday. Again, very uncomfortable. Tuesday, with a mere 4 days to go, I was abruptly stopped at about 3.5 miles with searing pain in my hamstring.

I went again to see Scott. He worked on me some more and we decided to have me lay low until race day. With only a 3 mile run on Thursday, just to turn my legs over 1 more time before the race. Thursday I couldn't even make it a mile I got a hold of Scott and he got me into see the running doctor at St. Vincent Sports Performance.

After an evaluation by the doctor, We determined that the only option available to help was a big dose of prednisone and that was a long shot. After weighing the risks and benefits and knowing what kind of shape I was in I decided to give it a try. So with hopes and delusions I marched on toward Saturday.

Friday night as we were leaving dinner in downtown Indianapolis, the Budweiser Clydesdales were making an appearance. With my camera around my neck I tried to jog to catch up to them. The pain in my hamstring was agonizing. I knew then and there that I would not be running. Time to set the delusions aside.

I knew here that my race was not happening

This was a heartbreaking moment and the rest of Friday evening was hard to get through. On the bright side, I was able to cheer for my wife as she ran the 5k. I have never got to do that before because I'm always running as well while she is always there to cheer for me. It was nice to return the favor. I also had several friends running the full marathon and got to go out on the course and cheer for them as well. I'd never rather cheer at a marathon than run but it was nice to see my friends grinding it out.

Mary had a good race.

Garrett cruising to a second 2:52 marathon inside of 3 weeks.

Cliff in the final stretch of a PR performance

For now, I seem to be feeling much better and hope to return to running by next Monday. We'll see. Providing I am not on an extended recovery, I plan to build off of this training and race a full marathon in January in Florida.

Monday, October 26, 2015

2015 Valpo Half Marathon Race Report

This was my big tune-up race for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. I always run a half-marathon at this point in the build up to the Monumental to get a final big fitness boost, a reality check on where I am at fitness-wise and, if all goes well, probably the most important aspect is the confidence boost that I get. I got one heck of a confidence boost yesterday, 10/25/2015, at the Valpohalf Half-marathon in Valparaiso IN.

Valparaiso is about 2 hours from home which is kind of right there on the line of driving on race morning or staying in a hotel the night before. This time we decided to get up and drive. Valparaiso is on central time which puts it an hour behind us. Meaning the 8:30 AM start was really a 9:30 AM start for me.  Making the decision to drive that much easier.

I have been dealing with some issues on the top of my right foot, which is probably extensor tendinitis, for the last couple of weeks. I saw my soft-tissue guy last Friday. He worked on it some and got me feeling quite a bit better and then I spent 2 and a half days loading up on Advil. The end result was that the discomfort was completely gone or masked for this race and became a non-issue.

I have noticed that before big workouts/races I spend about 16-24 hours in a kind of melancholy state questioning why I do this and in this case why the heck I am driving 2 hours to go run a half-marathon. I think it is how I deal with the stress of knowing that I am getting ready to put myself through a great deal of suffering. The melancholy aside, Everything went as planned in the morning. We got out of the house on time, the drive was smooth, and we arrived in plenty of time for check-in and warm up.

Standing at the start line I am going through a lot of self-doubt, a lot of internal bargaining, trying to get out of what I know is about to happen and just wishing we could start and get this over with. Racing hurts and when you are racing long distances like the half-marathon and marathon you are in for a long and grueling mental and physical battle. The start signal was given at about 8:32. 2 Minutes late, not bad.

The primary goal at this race was a new PR in the 1:20:xx (old PR was 1:21:07)  and the plan was to go out about 6:10 for the first few miles and then start tightening the screws to get to an overall pace of 6:06, finish strong and break 1:20 if everything was perfect.

Mile 1 -- (5:45) The course is looping around an industrial complex to come back by the start line. I lead for about the first half mile. I had no intention of going out this fast, in fact I studied my other half-marathons both good and bad and talked to myself about controlling the first mile and not blowing up. This is exactly what happened at Sam Costa back in March and that race ended bad and I missed a PR by less than a minute. But, the pace honestly doesn't feel that bad. I tell myself to bring it down before it's too late. About 1/2 mile in another guy takes command of the lead and I'm happy to let him. I'm already ready to ditch my gloves and I toss them right at the 1 mile mark.

Miles 2 and 3 (5:54, 5:50) Mile 2 is still in the industrial park and then the course heads out on a long stretch of a highway access road. I'm still too fast but I don't really have anything to gauge my pace with and it still doesn't feel bad. I'm still running in 2nd place. I'm starting to worry that I am going to blow up big time. I remember back to my last big workout. I found that repeating to myself "All day, every day" calms me down. So when my mind starts to wander to the negative I just tell myself "all day, everyday" until I feel calm again. But I still want to slow down a little closer to goal pace. I pass a grave yard and offer the race up as a sacrifice for the souls of the bodies buried there.

Mile 4 -- (5:52) I pass a small gathering of spectators. The guy in the lead is probably a good 1/4 mile ahead of me and I have no idea what kind of gap I have on 3rd place. I don't look back in races. It's a mental thing that admits vulnerability. I'm not giving you that if your behind me. So in small races I rely on hearing, seeing shadows, and the crowd. I listen to the crowd after I pass to see how long before they are cheering for someone else. Here, I didn't have to wait, the crowd said "Good job guys" so I knew someone was close and then I hear him and see him in my periphery. He glides by me like I'm standing still.

Miles 5,6,7 (6:00, 6:05, 5:58) The course goes out on some long, lonely country roads. There is absolutely nothing to distract me from the harsh realities of the accumulating lactic acid in my legs and the distress of my cardiovascular system . The pace is slowing down, the real suffering is beginning and I am starting to get worried.

I remember something else in mile 6. I have always believed there is a reason that I run. If you know me and my history it doesn't make sense. I have always felt that God gave me this and that He is with me when I run. I don't know why yet, maybe I never will but I truly feel like it is something that I am supposed to do. John 15 Jesus tells us that without Him we can do nothing but if we stay with Him whatever we ask shall be done. I pray to God to be with me and to help me and I acknowledge that I have become the runner I have because of Him.

Miles 8,9,10 -- (6:03, 6:17, 6:11)  This is a very tough stretch and I'm basically praying and repeating my mantra and bargaining. It goes something like this. God I can't do this, help! "all day, everyday", "1 more strong mile and you can shut it down and cruise in." I panic when I see my time in mile 9. I don't want to blow up. I don't want to go home disappointed. "Damn it! I knew this was going to happen." Then I think back on a recent training run and remember something very similar. I obstinately dug in and got back on pace. I do the same here.

Miles 11 and 12 -- (6:08, 6:07) With all of the "time in the bank" I know the goal is with in reach. The distance left is manageable in chunks and my hope is renewed. Right about mile 12 I take control of 2nd place. The guy who initially lead in the 2nd half of the first mile is crumbling. He had already surrendered 1st and now was unable to rally and cover when I passed him. This renewed me yet again. With a mile to go there was no way I was slowing down and giving him the opportunity to retake 2nd.

Last 1.1 in 6:50 (6:05/mile) Feeling thankful the end is just minutes away and knowing I was going to break 1:20 easily I start to feel elated. I make the turn and see the finish. A look at my watch tells me if I dig in here I could even break 1:19 and crush my previous PR and the day's goal. I dig in hard. My whole body is on fire and my stomach is revolting. It doesn't matter. It's literally less than a minute to the finish line. I cross the finish 2nd overall to a fist pumping 1:18:55.

All-in-all I was very pleased with the day and confident in my ability to meet my goal at the Monumental. The fitness is there and I have developed some reliable mental strategies to get through the rough patches, rally and to get back on track. I am disappointed in my lack of control early and hope to really focus on that at the Monumental.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

20th Annual Indianapolis Marathon

Last Saturday, 10/17/2015, I ran the Indianapolis Marathon as a training run in my build to the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. I have run the half marathon at this race for the last several years and have used it as a tune-up race and final fitness gauge for what has always been my "A" marathon, the Monumental.

This year, the calendar proved a little challenging. This race is usually at the end of my first week of taper. So, I can use it to gauge where I truly am and I am rested enough to run a PR effort which usually results in an actual PR. The way it worked out this year though it was at the end of my biggest block of training both in quality and quantity. Leaving it a full 3 Saturday's out from the Monumental.

I have come to rely on my wife as a manager/coach and when I pointed this out to her she had a solution as usual. She suggested I run the full marathon as a final strength workout and find a half-marathon the next week to run as a tune-up race. 21 days is plenty long enough for me to recover from a marathon run below full race effort and a half-marathon the next week would still allow me to get the feedback I am looking for regarding fitness and race readiness. Bonus, I've never ran the full here before and this is the 20th and final running of the full. From here on out it will only be a half and 5k.

My plan was to go out and run somewhere around 3:10 to 3:15. Garrett, you remember him from my other race reports I'm sure,  and I had emailed a few times so I knew he was planning on running and looked forward as usual to meeting up with him. I also knew there was a good chance he was going to run this as a full out race and we probably wouldn't be running together. I was a little bummed about it but I also knew that Garrett's PR showed he had the potential to win the thing so I encouraged him to go for it.

Race morning we left the hotel a little later than we should have. Traffic was backed up in the parking areas so I jumped out of the car to head to the start area while Mary and Hannah parked. I arrived with about 1/2 hour to spare and found Garrett sitting beneath a tree all zen like. The man has no fear of the marathon, I'm sure of it. Always calm, cool, and collected before the race. We spent a few minutes catching up on each others running over the summer. He's had a good summer and I have no doubt he will have a good race. I see some other friends and exchange "good lucks" and head to the corral.

It's cold

As I said, I'm planning a nice steady strength effort today so I'm not real nervous, I just know I've got a nice long run in front of me. It's probably the coldest morning of the season so far and I keep on my long sleeve tee shirt to start the race. As usual at this race we start right on time. I'm out and the environment has me a little to fast, around 6:50/mile. I figure I'll settle into a slower pace over the next couple of miles and don't worry to much about it.

I strike up a conversation with a guy in the first mile. His name is Blake and He says he's under trained but hoping to be able to pull out the full distance today. I tell him my plans and we kind of agree to run together.

Mile 1 -- 6:46. My watch auto laps and I realize that I didn't shut the auto-lap off. I usually do manual laps in a marathon because the Garmin gets ahead of the mile markers and that will wear on you late in the race. Too late now though. The pace is way faster than planned but I was sure it was just the energy of the start and then loosing track of pace while settling in to running with someone else. I always loose track of pace when I've got company on a run. I tell myself to slow it down some.

Miles 2 - 3 -- (6:49, 7:08) are the first pass through Ft. Harrison State Park. The first significant hill in the race is during mile 3. So, I hadn't really got control of the pace like it looks like I might have. The effort is still harder than planned. So I'm still kind of trying to find my groove. I am starting to warm up and thinking about when I can ditch the long sleeve shirt.

Mile 4-7 -- (6:58, 6:51, 6:53) I ditch the long sleeve shirt at mile 4 at an aid station and see my wife, for the first time, just a minute later. I see a couple more spectators I know from CKRR here as well.

This is a good stretch of the race and goes by pretty quick. Back on the main road through Lawrence, 56th street, a couple of turns and on to the first turn around. Here you get to check out the competition. I didn't see Garrett so I'm guessing he's doing well and hoping I'll get an update later in the race. The pace is still faster than planned but I'm feeling pretty good so I decide to make peace with it and quit chiding myself for running too hard.

Miles 8-11 (6:54, 6:50,6:50,7:08) Back in Ft Harrison State Park. About mile 9 or so another runner joins for a minute and and then throws out a "I think I'll actually run a little faster" and starts to pull away. Instinctively, I want to show this guy what I've got and make him sorry he challenged me but I tell Blake that I've got to keep myself in check. I'm not running a PR today so any harder of an effort will only server to sabotage my goal at the Monumental.

There are several aid station through here and the running is pretty easy until mile 10.5 which offers the toughest hill in the race and that's reflected in the pace of 7:08. Once you crest the hill its just another couple of minutes until you are back out of the park and heading for the half/full split at mile 12.

Miles 12 and 13 (6:42, 6:37) I'm keeping an eye on the guy from mile 9 and even though I know better my pace quickens and I'm keeping him in sight and not letting the gap get too big. I just didn't realize it at the time. I see Hannah finishing off her mileage for the day and ask how she did in the 5k. She lets me know 25:30ish. That was pretty solid coming off an xc PR just about 12 hours ago. I also see my wife and toss her my sock hat as I am getting pretty comfortable with the temperature.

We split from the half-marathon here and head back into Ft Harrison State Park. I'll be honest I half expected to loose Blake here but he's a trooper and by heading into the park and not off to the half split he commits to the full distance. It's an out and back from here and the thing about an out and back is once you're out you've got to get back, so you might as well run.

Miles 14-17 -- (6:37, 6:39, 6:41) The path gets pretty narrow and I'm glad we are out in front. I wouldn't want to run here in a large pack. Somewhere in here we find out we are 14th and 15th in the full. I'm still keeping the guy from mile 9 in my sights and it shows in the pace. About right around mile 17 the gap completely closes and my instinct is to drop him. I get right beside him and chide him that it's no time to start to fade, we are almost done. As the words come out of my mouth I realize that I am racing this guy. I have a little talk with myself about how this isn't the goal race and all I came for was the distance. I back off and let him go as he seems to get a boost from my little pep talk. I'd love to see his splits because I think he took my advice and dug in.

Miles 18 -20 -- (6:47, 6:49, 6:51) Letting the adrenaline go and bringing the pace back down. I'm not racing today, I'm not! I see Garrett he's coming back from the turn around he's probably a mile and a half ahead of me and is running in second place. He looks strong and I yell some encouragement his way and tell him his position. I'm psyc'ed for him.

Blake is starting to really struggle at this point. His face is as red as can be and he sounds pretty miserable. I ask him how his last 20 mile run went and he says he had to walk a good portion of it. I think to myself, this guy is a beast. He hasn't made it through a 20 mile run in a good long while but he's keeping up with me an I'm running a pretty strong pace. Probably what a lot of coaches would call a steady state pace.

Miles 21, 22, 23 (7:06, 7:12, 7:20) Blake is starting to come undone and I try to slow the pace and help him survive. I'm trying to talk to him and get him out of the dark place I know he has to be in in his head. He refuses to stop or walk and again I see just raw determination. It's one thing to go out and run a good marathon when you've trained for it. But it is impressive to see someone soldier through a marathon they aren't trained for. I have admiration for both. The training it takes to run a strong marathon shows grit and determination and single mindedness that a person commits to for a long period of time. Running a marathon untrained or severely under-trained shows a quality of tough mindedness that is really beyond compare. About mile 22 someone tells us we are fighting for 10th. By mile 23 I'm running in front of him and keeping an eye trying to not drop him. But he is unraveling quickly.

Miles 24 -- 7:36 At some point in mile 24 I look back and Blake is no longer in sight. I spend the rest of the mile trying to let him catch up but to no avail.

Miles 25, 26 --(6:42, 6:27) With Blake having dropped far enough back that I couldn't locate him I decide to drop my pace and just get this thing finished. Just after leaving Ft Harrison State Park for the last time I pass another marathoner and take control of 8th place. As usual I hear Hannah before I see her right before the turn to the finishing stretch. She waiting for a high-five and I oblige. Coming down the stretch to the finish chute there are 4 half-marathoners that I can easily pick off. So what, they are 3 hour half-marathoners. Road kill is road kill and I've got to get them :)

All-in-all it was a great day. Great weather, a good solid long run, my marathon friend Garrett took 2nd overall and I made a new running friend and even under-trained he ran the full distance without stopping or walking. Looking over the data for the race I am very excited by the dang near perfect even split that I ran (1:30:37 for the first half and 1:30:57 for the second half) For a race where you aren't planning to PR I'm not sure you could ask for much more.

Garrett taking 2nd place. Good job Garrett!

Happy with a solid long run effort