I ran my 4th marathon yesterday, where my goal was to qualify for the 2010 Boston Marathon. I fell short of that goal, but learned some important lessons along the way.
My legs are really sore today. Weather was perfect yesterday and the course was beautiful for the Hudson Mohawk Marathon – cool at the start, some gentle sunshine at the finish – but overall, it just wasn’t my day. I held a strong 7:16 average pace through Mile 18 (and a solid 7:15 through 12), then just completely fell apart, slowing to an 8-minute average pace in Mile 19 through Mile 26.
Official time: 3:17:09 (link to Garmin data) – new PR by 2:25. Missed my BQ by 6:10 (better than missing it by 61 seconds).
Lessons learned in this marathon:
- Running 2 marathons within 3 months may not be the best idea (trained for this one with a 10-week schedule after SFM).
- Not running a single 20-mile long run in a training cycle isn’t a good idea (maxed at a couple 17-milers, and 3 weeks out I raced a half-marathon followed by 3 easy miles in favor of 20).
- Shoes that may be fine as trainers aren’t always a good choice for races (stick with what you know), and I have some new blisters to prove it.
Lessons 1 and 2 may be the most important: Even though I set a PR by 2+ minutes, I didn’t feel good about the race yesterday, and hit the Wall at only Mile 19. My previous PR was set at CIM — an equally fast course — last December, when I had trained with three 20-mile long runs, and felt fresh going into the race (hadn’t run a marathon before CIM since my first one in June 2008 in San Diego). I didn’t hit the Wall at CIM until Mile 24, and finished strong.
I also felt much stronger 3 months ago in San Francisco when I ran a 3:20:07 on a MUCH tougher course (link to Garmin data) and had trained with two 20-milers in that training cycle. Interestingly, though, my average heart rate at SFM and at HMH yesterday was identical: 163, which is 88% of my maximal and exactly the high end of where my marathon HR should be, according to Advanced Marathoning.
I’m faster this year than I was last year at CIM and should have been able to run a faster race yesterday with smarter training and more time between marathons.
Another possible factor: Did taking Ibuprofen to ease the swelling in my sore knee a few days prior have an impact? I didn’t feel dehydrated, but maybe I was and that could have impacted my pace. I only took 400 mg of Ibuprofen 24 hours prior to the race (and more for a couple days before that), but I wonder if it had an impact. The good news is that my knee didn’t bother me at all; it was the least of my worries.
I completely ran out of steam in this race. I guess every race is a learning lesson, and that some days just aren’t your day…. even if you’ve just set a PR.
As for the race itself, I came out strong and settled into a nice, consistent 7:15 pace with a group of about 8 or 9 other guys for most of the first half. The group dissipated on a hill leading up to the halfway point, where I hit the split at 1:35:45, so still felt good about holding on for a 3:10:59 or better. I spent most of the second half running by myself with only the occasional runner in front of or behind me — one of the drawbacks of running a smaller race if running in a pack is your thing, which I think it is for me (even though I do 98% of training by myself).
I hydrated often — with Gatorade and/or water at every aid station — and hit lots of GU, one nearly every 30 minutes (is that GU overkill?). But it wasn’t enough to keep me going as fast as I’d hoped after Mile 19, when I simply had nothing left.
One of the things that kept me going in the second half was running past a spectator just as I overheard him say to his young son, “See these people? These are people who never give up.” That really motivated me, and I kept saying that to myself as I pressed on toward the finish line.
Mentally and psychologically, I felt fine and focused; my body was just wrecked. No matter how hard I wanted to push, my body just wouldn’t do it.
The final 4 miles were the worst. I watched my Garmin in frustration as my pace sometimes slowed to 9:00 or slower. The funny thing was to be so close to a 3:10:59, yet so far away. I watched my clock count to 3:10:59 and beyond when I was at about 25.4 or so miles. Strange how that final 0.8 mile can feel like an eternity — and make all the difference in your Boston qualifying hopes.
I was disappointed not to qualify for Boston, but less so than I expected I’d be. I still had lots of support and cheering friends along the course and at the finish line, and there’s no feeling like crossing a finish line and seeing your wife and good friends waiting for you (even if it’s not your strongest finish). Big props to Jen and Alexis for waking up so early and cheering me on throughout the course!
A 3:17 is still not too shabby, and I want to try to be happy with my new personal record for the time being, and not beat myself up so much for not hitting my goal. Not even 2 years old, my racing career is still young… and this is just one race.
Mile splits by Garmin:
|Split||Time||Avg Speed||Avg HR||Calories|