Monday, January 31, 2011

Houston Marathon - 2:49:14

I was really happy with my race in tough conditions today. The temperature averaged about 65 degrees during the race with light rain and sprinkles and lots of humidity. I finished 9th in my age group, 39th male and 55th overall.

I knew early Sunday morning that with a mid-60's temperature and lots of humidity my 2:45 goal wasn't going to be happening, but I told myself I was going to run a smart race and see how it turned out. Sean had signed me up to be part of the ABB team challenge and the biggest benefit to that was a private port-o-potty area inside the GRB. I guess not that many people knew about it, but it was almost as good as being one of the elite racers. 30 minutes before the start of the race I probably only waited about 30 seconds instead of standing in line behind 20 people.

Before the race with the humid and rainy conditions I decided not to even wear a singlet since I never wear a shirt when I train in these conditions. It would just be added weight and give me additional chafing so I threw it in the bag before I headed to the start line. I only headed out about 20 minutes before the race and got into the starting corral about 10 minutes before the start. I was a little worried I was going to be able to get up near the front because it was packed and I was having to squeeze through the 4 hr marathon pace group, but I finally made it up to the line just before the opening prayer and national anthem.

When the gun went off, my plan was to take it easy the few few miles and not go out any faster than 6:25 pace the first 2 miles and gradually work up to 6:20 pace by the end of the 1st half. I was right on target the first few miles, but really struggled to pick up the pace much. I was pretty consistent with my splits the first part of the race and my first four 5k splits were 20:06, 20:09, 19:57, 19:48 and I hit the halfway point at 1:24:15.

After the 1/2 marathoners turned around just before mile 9, the course got pretty lonely. One guy blew by me between mile 9 and 10, but I don't think any other marathoners passed me from mile 8 on. Between mile 9 and 10 was pretty rough because I was all by myself, I had just gotten passed and I realized I was only about a 1/3 of the way through the race and I started to think about how much I didn't enjoy marathons, and how bad the weather was. Pretty quickly I decided I needed to focus and quit thinking negative thoughts or this would quickly turn into a disaster. I caught a couple of guys before we turned onto Main and gradually started catching a few more people between miles 10 and 13.

I felt really good at the halfway point and could see Andrew and Ryan from the Kenyan Way just ahead of me. I kept picking a few people off, but I was all by myself going up the Westpark bridge. Last year I had seen myself on tv and I looked horrible at that point, but I felt a lot better this year. The race seemed to be going by a lot quicker and was more enjoyable than in the past. Maybe it's because I didn't go out too hard and end up in bad shape midway through. Suzanne and Olivia came out and saw me just before mile 17. Between 17 and 18 I finally caught Andrew and Ryan and went by them on Tanglewood. I think I got a little too excited as I was catching several people and I thought that with about 9 miles to go I could start picking the pace up and hammer it in to the finish and PR. It was a great plan until I got to mile 19 and realized that I probably wasn't going to keep that pace the rest of the way.

I got into Memorial Park and by this point the field had really thinned out and I could see a couple people up ahead, but I wasn't catching many people anymore. I did make it past the medical tent at mile 22 that I had stopped at the last 2 years to get my hamstrings stretched. I didn't even really notice it this year as I was just focused on trying to not fall off pace too much and make it to the next water stop. Running down Allen Parkway was tough, but I caught 1 woman in the middle of Allen Parkway and 2 guys right at mile 25 as we were heading into downtown. My 20k - 30k 5k splits were the fastest part of my race @ 19:37 and 19:28. My 30 - 40k splits were 20:11 and 20:43. I was slowing down, but I don't think I had any miles slower than 6:45 during the race.

The last mile down Lamar seemed like the longest mile ever. I could see the GRB in the distance and it just wasn't getting any closer. The guy ahead of me looked like he was at least 45 seconds ahead and I didn't have a chance of catching him. I could tell that I was kind of dehydrated and on the verge of cramping, but I kept pushing through. Finally I saw the flag that I thought was the mile 26 marker and I planned to really kick it in when I hit that point. The flag was actually the 1/4 mile to go mark and I tried to pick up the pace and immediately I felt a twinge in my left hamstring as it started to cramp, but it went away when I settled back into my pace. With 150 - 200 meters to go, I made the final turn and tried to start kicking it in and was rewarded with cramps in both of my hamstrings and my left calf. I managed to limp through the last bit and finished at 2:49:14. I was a little under 2 minutes off my PR, but considering the weather conditions, I think this was the best marathon I've run.

Friday, January 28, 2011

2 Days until the marathon

The Houston Marathon is almost here and I'm about as ready as I think I can be. I've had several really good workouts over the last few weeks that were good confidence builders and I feel as healthy as I've ever been going to the starting line of a marathon. Last week after the Wado 800's on Monday, I did a 3 x 5k workout on Wednesday and nailed it. I took 5 minutes rest between the 5k's and I averaged 6:07 pace the first 5k, 5:51 pace the 2nd 5k and 5:39 pace the last one. I've been running fairly easy and have been tapering since then. I got a massage Wednesday evening and have today off to relax and take it easy.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate on Sunday morning so I have a shot at fast times. They are predicting rain on Saturday and Sunday and low temperatures in the mid to upper 50's. I don't particularly mind the rain and I would be fine with those temperatures in the rain or if it is cloudy, but if the rain passes through and it clears off and is in the upper 50's it could be tough to run a good time as it gets warmer throughout the race.

Sometime Sunday I'll post an update on how my race went.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wado 800's

After Olivia woke up 3 times last night and I was up for 30 minutes around 4:00 am, I decided to sleep in and do a workout at lunch instead of the planned morning workout. I decided to do Sean's version of the Yasso 800's which is 10 x 800 @ goal marathon time (2:45 marathon goal = 2 min 45 sec 800) with 1 minute rest. A couple of my faster co-workers who I often run with were heading out the door so I ran 2 miles of my warmup with them and then peeled off to do the workout. My splits were 2:44, 2:44, 2:43, 2:44, 2:43, 2:45, 2:43, 2:44, 2:40, 2:39. The even numbered legs were into the breeze which is why I think they were about 1 second slow on average except for the last one. It felt good to get a good workout in after Saturday's run to forget.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

2 weeks until the marathon

My training has been going pretty well the last couple weeks, up until this morning that is.

Last Saturday I ran a 24 mile run and knocked it out of the park. I ran about 24.2 miles in 2:45 and ran 7 miles at about a 5:57 pace for part of the run and I ended up at 75 miles for the week. It was my last chance to get a very long run in before the marathon and I wanted a good one for a confidence booster if nothing else. One of the best parts about the run is that my legs felt strong the entire time. I wasn't in pain or agony and my hamstrings which have given me fits in years past felt great. I feel like I'm going into the marathon with strong legs for the first time so who knows how fast I can run. In the past I would usually cramp up pretty bad and end up sitting on the couch most of the day moaning about how much my legs hurt. I don't think I'd ever run this long and had my legs feel this good afterwards. I got a massage Saturday evening which helped with the recovery and I soaked in an epsom salt and apple cider vinegar bath for a while. One of the massage therapists I had seen in the past had told me about the benefits of it and how it helps the healing process and pulls toxins out of the body. I googled it to see if there was any truth to it and it seems like there is and I really felt good on Sunday.

The day after my 24 miler I ran 8.25 miles and averaged about 7:15 pace and finished up the run with a couple 7:00 miles. Usually after a long run, I would slog through 4 or 5 miles at a 7:45 - 8:00 pace but I really felt good which was encouraging. I tried to do an easier speed workout on Monday and I planned to run 5 x 3/4 mile @ 5:50/mile pace and then jog a 1/4 mile between but after 2 sets my legs told me I didn't need to be doing a speed workout so I jogged the rest of the run spent some extra time stretching and working on my conditioning exercises.

Because of the cold weather Wednesday, I postponed my hard workout until Thursday evening. My plan was to run 3 x 5k with 5 minutes rest with the first at ~6:10 pace, the 2nd at 5:55 pace and the third at 5:40 pace. I did the workout on a treadmill and I made it through the first 2 on pace before cutting it short. My calf was starting to tighten up on me - probably from running a little differently on the treadmills vs. outside - and I was bored out of my mind running on the treadmill so I cooled down and called it a day. I ran a relatively easy 8 miles friday afternoon and then had to drag myself out of bed this morning for a terrible run.

I was exhausted this morning and Olivia woke up 3 times last night - once for her feeding and two other times she just woke up and needed to be rocked back to sleep. If this weren't the last long run I was doing before the marathon, I would have turned the alarm off and slept in. I was dragging this morning and really struggled to stay with the group and I kept falling back 10 or 15 seconds and then I'd catch back up at the water stops. I probably only averaged about 7:30 pace for the day and I just couldn't go any faster. I'm not sure if the Thursday evening workout and Friday afternoon run just left me worn out or what happened. I didn't eat as much yesterday as I usually do and I didn't eat anything before the run so maybe I was just low on energy. I'm not overly concerned about it and I'll just put it behind me and try to get in one more good week of training this week.

I'm toying with running the Rockets 5K next weekend but not sure about it. I ran a 4 mile race and won it a couple weeks before Boston in 2009 and ran what was probably my best marathon. We'll see how I'm feeling and I'll ask Sean what he thinks. I'm guessing he'll tell me I'm an idiot to run it a week before the marathon but we'll see.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Back in the swing of things

I've been back to running for almost a week and am finally feeling like things are clicking again. Today was the first day that my legs weren't sore/achy/tired and I felt smooth and relaxed the entire run. If everything goes as planned the next 3 days, I should be over 75 miles for the week. I haven't made it out to any of the morning workouts in the past week because I've still been battling a little bit of a head cold and have just really needed the extra sleep, especially with the extra mileage.

This morning I went in to see my doctor because I was still having issues with my ears stopping up and I'd finished my antbiotics and hadn't really seemed to improved much. He looked in my ears for about 5 seconds and said that I never had an ear infection and I had been misdiagnosed. He said it was extremely rare for adults to ever get ear infections, but he did say that I had inner ear trauma and the eustachian tube on my left side was plugged which was what was causing all the pressure to build up. He told me to take sudafed and use afrin nasal spray and tilt my head and that should clear up the blockage.

Today I ran 11 miles total with an 8 mile tempo run at 5:58 pace. It was a little slower than some of my previous tempo runs, but it was 72 degrees out and I'm still easing back into it a little this week with the high mileage I'm doing. It was a good workout other than some major inner thigh chafing. I'll need to break out the vaseline for the rest of my runs this week.

Yesterday I ran an easy 7 miles at 7:10 pace. Monday I did a fartlek workout with 5 x 800 @ 2:55 - 3:00 and 1/4 mile recovery at 7:10 - 7:15 pace for a medium-hard workout. Sunday I ran 9.5 miles in 68 minutes so I'm at 36 miles so far this week. The first couple of days back to running, my hips and glutes felt really sore and I just felt really tight all over, but everything seems to have loosened up and feels good. My achilles seems to be kind of stiff first thing in the morning, but it felt fine by midday and didn't bother me at all during the run and my hamstrings have felt great the past couple months which never seemed to happen in my past marathon training. The last couple of years I would run with a tube of Ben Gay to put on my legs during the long runs when they started hurting so I could make it through the runs.

I'd dying to get out and run a race soon. I haven't raced since the 1/2 marathon in October (if you even call that racing) and I tend to burn out with lots and lots of training with no racing. I was really struggling with motivation before I got sick so it was easy to take a little time off, but I think it helped me refocus and I'm really motivated to get the most out of this week and the next two before I really taper for the marathon.