Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Houston Marathon - 2:54:26

This race ended up being somewhat of a disappointment, but left me motivated and wanting to improve. I really didn't have a good feel coming in for what kind of shape I was in. My hamstring issues kept me from getting any long runs longer than 15 miles in over the past 5 weeks and I struggled to keep my weekly mileage above 50 during that same time period and I paid for it during the race. I felt great aerobically and never once felt like I was running that hard from an aerobic standpoint, but my hamstrings were sore the entire race. In hindsight I probably should have gone out shooting for a 2:50 and then seen if I could have picked up the pace. I got to the starting line about 15 minutes before the start and I was a little surprised that I didn't have more trouble wandering to the front. I saw fellow Kenyan Way-ers Sam, Mike, Jace, and Jena. The weather conditions were absolutely perfect for a fast race - low to mid 40's temperature, clear and very little wind. I was a little concerned at the start line since I could tell from my brief warmup and stretching that my hamstring was kind of sore off the bat.

After the gun went off I started out relatively easy and went through mile 2 at 12:55. I was running with Mike and Jena and I should have stayed with them, but I decided I wanted to get down around 6:20 pace. I could see Bill about 10 - 15 seconds ahead of me and I watched his back for the next 8 miles until he finally pulled away. I felt ok the first 6 miles unlike last year when I felt like I was working hard the first 1/4 of the race. My wife was going to meet me out on the course in 3 different places with gatorade so I decided only to drink water from the aid stations. Last year I drank too much of the high concentration gatorade and ended up throwing up a couple of times. I got my first bottle of gatorade just before mile 7 and was feeling fine. Between miles 7 and 10, the pack started to thin out and then just before mile 9 when the 1/2 marathoners turned around it really started getting lonely. It seemed like I was out in no man's land. I could see Bill and another 5 people or so about 15 seconds ahead of me, but I never felt like putting in a hard mile to catch them so I just kept running by myself. It seemed like the pack started pulling away from my a little between miles 10 - 12. I hit the halfway point in just over 1:23 which was basically on pace with where I wanted to be, but my legs were definitely bothering me. I still felt strong enough that if I could fight through the leg pain that a 2:45 wasn't out of the question.

Miles 13 - 16 were progressively more painful and I was gradually slowing down a little bit. During mile 16, my legs seemed to feel a little better and I picked up the pace a bit and caught back up with a couple guys who had passed me near the halfway point. My wife was waiting a little before mile 17 and I stopped at that point to put Ben-Gay on my legs since they were starting to hurt. While I was stopped a pack of about 6 guys including Mike at Jena zoomed by. I was probably stopped for about 40 seconds, but who know how much time I would have lost if I hadn't stopped to put on the Ben Gay. It seemed to help for a few miles before my legs were screaming again. I managed to catch a couple of guys who fell off of the pack, but the main pack just kept pulling farther away.

By the time I got to mile 20 going into Memorial Park, I had given up on hitting a 2:45 and I was just hoping to still have a shot at PR'ing or at least breaking 2:48. Going through the park was one of the most painful miles and I thought about stopping at the medical tent near mile 21 to get my hamstrings stretched out, but I knew my wife was waiting again at 21.5 so I pushed on. By the time I got to mile 22 I was in agony so I stopped at the medical station and asked them if they could help me stretch out my legs. While this one lady was stretching and massaging my hamstrings one of the guys asked me if I had stopped there last year. It was rather embarrassing that the same guy knew I had stopped at the same medical station because my hamstrings were killing me the previous year too. After about a 2-1/2 minute stop I got back on the road again to try to finish out the last 4 miles and my goal was to not be over 3 hours. My legs were still killing me as I crused down Allen Parkway, and I contemplated stopping again, but I knew that I only had around 20 minutes to go and I might as well just get it over with instead of prolonging the misery.

I hit 24 miles around 2:41 and I was thinking I was probably going to miss out on a 2:55 at the pace I was going, but I wanted to try to give it a shot so I started picking up the pace. about 3/4 of a mile later I went under a banner that said 1.5 miles to go and I looked at the time and saw that if I could run the last 1.5 miles in 9:40 I could still come in under 2:55. Since I hadn't been running that hard I still had a lot of energy left as long as my legs didn't cramp up or give out so I started pushing it hard to the finish. I actually had a ton of energy left and running hard and focusing on breaking 2:55 made me forget/not notice any of my leg pain. I ended up passing 3 guys in the last mile and this is the first marathon I've ever run where my last mile wasn't just about my slowest mile. I ran the last 1.5 in about 9:10 which gave me a little satisfaction.

I was disappointed with my race, but considering my training leading up to it, I wasn't shocked by it. This is my 3rd year of running marathons and every year I've run two marathons roughly 3 months apart. The first two years I didn't run very well at the first marathon and then I ran a great marathon several months later so I'm expecting great thing at Boston in April. I don't know if the frustration of a poor performance motivates me to train better for the 2nd race or if I just get more training and mileage under my belt, but I really hope to see good results again. Maybe next year I need to sign up for an October marathon to blow up on so I can run a good race in Houston. My hamstring was sore the entire race, but I don't think I aggravated anything and I didn't feel the strange twinges in the tendons across the back of my knee that I'd had during some of my training so that was a good thing. Sam and Mike both ran awesome races and had 14 minute PR's or something like that so I'm going to have to step it up and run a low 2:40's marathon now.

I'm planning on taking some extra time off to work on getting my hamstring back to normal and then I'll start to ramp up my mileage for Boston. Congrats to everyone who had a great race last weekend.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Marathon tomorrow

I've had a decent week of training with some easy days and I've been feeling decent. The weather looks ideal for tomorrow - temp in the low 40's at the start and clear and getting up to about 50 when I finish. It should be a great day for fast times. I'm going to try to break my elusive 2:45 barrier tomorrow so hopefully my hamstring will cooperate. Good luck to everyone running tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday 1/12 - 5 miles easy

The weather was nice again today with temperatures in the mid 50's and sunny out. I ran a nice easy 5 miles without a watch. I didn't want to worry about my pace and feel compelled to speed up if I thought I was going slow so I just enjoyed a nice short easy run. My hamstring didn't bother me today either which is good news.

My biggest problem is deciding what shorts to wear for the race. I think I'm going to wear my compression shorts for the race which are basically spandex that come down to a few inches above me knee. I think wearing my normal short running shorts over the compression shorts looks incredibly dorky and I'd be too embarrassed to run like that unless I had some 70's era long tube socks with stripes at the top and a sweatband. I've got some longer shorts that I wear on a lot of my lunch runs that work pretty well as long as it isn't too hot and humid out. Maybe I can have my wife have extra shorts at one of the spots on the race course where she cheers me on and give me a water bottle and if my longer shorts are getting too soaked I can change real quick. Hopefully with the compression shorts underneath they won't get as sweaty and soaked. Maybe I'll try to post some pictures Wednesday or Thursday of some various racing attire combos and my faithful following can vote on the best look.

Monday 1/11 - 8.25 miles

I ran 8.25 miles with 3 x 1 mile at 6:15 pace with 1/4 mile recovery at 6:40 pace between each mile. I felt good today on the run. I had gotten some nike compression shorts over the weekend and wore them on the run to see how they felt and how my hamstring felt running a few miles at marathon pace. The weather was really nice out at lunch - low 50's and sunny. There were a lot of people from the office outside running today. I definitely prefer this temperature to the freezing temperatures we had over the weekend. My hamstrings felt good and didn't bother me and I stretched for a while after the run.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Good week of running

The past week has gone fairly well and I was able to run almost every day and get a couple of harder workouts in. Last Tuesday I ran 9 miles with 6 miles a little faster than marathon pace and my leg felt ok. I had a little bit of hamstring irritation, but nothing too bad and I closed with a 5:40 mile at the end of the hard part. After an easy day on Wednesday I did 8.5 on Thursday with 5.5 at just under marathon pace. I didn't feel like my hamstring was ready to try the 10 x 800 on my training schedule so I just did a few quick miles instead. Friday was chilly out, but I did 6.5 in the sub-freezing weather with windchills in the mid-20's. Saturday I ran 10.25 miles with Sam at close to 7:00 pace average. Now I'll just be tapering and continuing to do lots of stretching and getting ready for the race on Sunday.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Trying to recover from a injured hamstring

My left hamstring has really been bothering me over the past weeks so I've cut back quite a bit on my training and I'm trying to recover enough to try to have a shot at a sub 2:45 marathon in two weeks. It seems like I've had chronic hamstring issues since college which I think stem from my hamstrings being weak and my poor flexibility. The biggest issue I've had lately is that when I run on unstable surfaces I have an issue with what I think is the tendon that runs behind my left knee on the inside of my knee seems to be rubbing uncomfortably and it's quite unnerving. It's kind of hard to describe other than it is kind of like if you are holding a rubber band tight and pull it a little and then let it pop back into place. It's gotten worse over the past couple of weeks so I've pretty much cut out speedwork and have been trying to just maintain a decent amount of mileage and aggressively stretch my hamstrings. I got a massage last Wednesday and the therapist spent the whole hour working on my quads and hamstrings. She said I had really bad flexibility (like I didn't already know that) and she gave me several different yoga stretches to do this week. The good news is that today I was able to go out and run 12 miles and I didn't feel any of the discomfort/tightness of the tendon. My hamstring was still pretty sore at the end of the run, but it seems to be feeling a little better now after spending quite a while stretching this afternoon. Here's a recap of this past week of running-

Saturday 1/2 -
12 miles at park and averaged 7:00 pace. I ran the first 3 miles fairly easy at ~7:40 pace with a lady who was training for her first marathon. I passed her and she asked if I minded if she tried to keep up with me for the rest of the lap so I ran with her and gave her some tips for her first marathon. The slower pace felt really good - I didn't notice any soreness in my hamstring so I decided to pick up the pace. I was contemplating trying to run 6 - 9 miles at marathon pace, but I got down to about 6:40 pace and that felt fast enough and I didn't want to do anything too stupid so I maintained a 6:40 - 6:45 pace for the rest of the run. It was the longest run I had done in two weeks and I was happy I made it through it. I'm taking Sean's advice to run at the park on easy surfaces and not push it too hard because one workout isn't really going to change the outcome of my marathon unless I do something dumb and make my leg feel worse.

Friday 1/1 -
Relatively easy 8 miles at the park in 58 minutes. I went out for a run Friday afternoon and I was surprised how packed the park was. I guess everyone who was out too late partying Thursday night and everyone starting their new years resolutions came out. Hamstring was kind of sore and had some issues with the tendon the last mile of the run.

Thursday 12/31-
5 miles at park, didn't wear a watch. Hamstrings and quads were kind of tender after my massage Wednesday evening. I thought about taking the day off, but I'll be taking a day or two off next week as I start tapering so I decided to get out and get a relatively easy run in.

Wednesday 12/30-
9 miles at park in 65 minutes. Not a good day. Went out the door trying to do up to 24 miles, but no way my legs could handle it today. Planned to do 9 mile loop at park, stop by house for gatorade and energy gel, 9 mile loop from house around bayou, then 6 mile loop at park. Hamstring was pretty sore after 9 miles and I could have gone longer than 9, but no way I was going to get 20+ in on it. I didn't know if running 15 - 18 would do any damage, but I had thoughts of trying 18 - 20 on Saturday if it was feeling better so I stopped after 9 and hoped that my afternoon massage would help it out. Afternoon massage working on hamstrings and quads for most of the hour. They were really tight and needed a lot of work. I will probably get two more massages before the marathon trying to loosen and get everything healed up.

Tuesday 12/29
Ran 7 miles at lunch with a coworker. Didn't wear a watch, but probably ran first 4 miles at ~7:15 pace and last 3 at sub 6:40 pace (trying to beat the approaching storm back to the office). Hamstring and tendon bothered me some the last couple of miles.

Monday 12/28
7 miles on treadmill in 50 minutes. I hate running on treadmills. We were in the Cincinnati area over Christmas and it was cold and windy. The windchill was 7 on Monday morning so I decided to run on the treadmill and watch all the football highlights on sportcenter. I won one of my fantasy football league championships so I got a chance to see all the touchdowns my team scored. Did I mention I hate running on treadmills? I almost went outside for the run with a hat, gloves, windproof pants and a couple of long sleeve shirts, but I didn't really know the area that well and I didn't want to get lost or have to walk back if my hamstring really started hurting.