Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Worldwide Festival of Races Half Marathon

Here's some clips from the Worldwide Half.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Wineglass Marathon Race Recap Blog. Podcast Coming Soon!

     My first marathon went better than I could have expected. I met up with Chris @cyktrussell on Saturday and headed down to the expo in Corning, NY. There were a couple of small tents set up for packet pickup and some running gear, but that was about it. We picked up our race packets with our bib, wineglass, split of sparkling wine, long sleeve tech shirt, and sample of Aquafore then walked down the street to meet @NickiInNY, a friend from Twitter/Daily Mile. Then we suited up and got in a short 20 minute run to get the cobwebs out on the last mile or so of the course before we drove north to my house. We stopped along the way for a bite to eat at "Happy Days" where they didn't have hummus (or know what it was), but did have chick peas. The same guy (server) also asked how far we were running in the marathon. We continued on and got our race gear laid out at my place then hit the rack. I woke up twice during that short 6 hours and was up 5 minutes before my 4am alarm was due to sound. The coffee I made could have used another scoop…

     4:45am: we drove down to the finish line in Corning, parked the car and boarded a warm school bus filled with the aromas of poorly managed carbo-loading and Bengay and set out for the starting line. It was a crisp 39 degrees so we got geared up and put on our custom fit 30 gallon trash bags to keep warm while in line for one last "fluid offload" before the race started. That’s where I realized I forgot my nip guards. I ended up using the mini Aquafore sample and got away without too much damage in the end.

We lined up in the middle of the crowd and the race started promptly at 8:00 am (8:02 Garmin time, but who's counting?). The goal was a 4 hour marathon and the plan was to go out and try to hover around a 9 minute mile pace and keep my heart rate as low as possible, then do some negative splits later in the race. Chris took some videos during the race as he tried his hardest not to shoot ahead at some 7 minute pace. He'd run ahead or wait on the other side of water stops for me and record snippets throughout the race. I wore a Nathan hydration belt with two 10oz bottles which I refilled as needed as I walked through each water stop. Of course the requisite Garmin 305 and heart rate strap were also on board.

     Fueling: GU every 45 minutes-ish after the first 5-6 miles with another 1 or 2 thrown in as I lost track. Filled bottles with Gatorade - usually one full strength and one half and continually sipped. One Endurolyte per hour-ish. In the end this plan was spot on.

     The first 18 miles were just plain fun. We ran along and played some leap frog with the 4 hour pace group led by Sweet Johnny. Really. That was written on a sign pinned to the back of his shirt. He was a good guy and ran with a smile. His pace definitely fluctuated from 8:30-9:30, and he finished almost right on 4 hours, maybe a minute under. Running with that pace group for most of the race was the girl who sold me my first real running shoes. I talked to her for minute and thanked her for not laughing at me when I told her a year and a half ago that I was going to run a marathon. We ran along and talked to so many runners. Chris is much better at striking up a conversation with a stranger than I am, but it sure made the miles fly by, sharing the experience with everyone rather than silently running next to them (which I have done alone in other races).

     At one point later in the race a minivan that just absolutely HAD to get somewhere right away was driving down the road in the same direction we were moving and actually hit a woman with its mirror which, thankfully bent backward. Both the woman and the van just kept going. I'm still irritated by that, but probably not as much as the woman who got hit.

     Late in the race we saw a bunch of people hitting the wall. Some were just pulling up and walking, some were vomiting, some were stretching in people’s front yards. My heart rate slowly creeped up throughout the race as expected. Starting out around 130, then 146 at the half way point, then into the 160's as we started doing some negative splits around mile 22, and finishing the last mile at 170. I really couldn't ask for much more than that. (Chris averaged in the 120's for the race – showoff)

     22 miles is where it started to hurt. It’s also where Chris started pushing me. Sometimes I wished he'd physically push because I was finally starting to feel tired. Mostly my hips and quads were feeling pretty sore. I was waiting for this though - the point where I started feeling like I wanted to quit. I was ready for it so I knew I wouldn't, but I didn't know how bad it would be. Around mile 23 we went down a short, steep hill into a park and it made my quads really scream. Shortly after this, a woman who’d been with the 4 hour pace group the whole way was now struggling to keep up with Chris and me, who were out in front of the group. She was decked out in Brooks gear (except for the Asics shoes) and was clearly not a Brooks ID member (Chris asked and got a very strange look). Chris was encouraging us to get in his “wind shadow” and draft as a headwind had picked up, which was not what I was looking for in the last few miles. This is when Chris’ wisdom and motivation/encouragement would be key. As you can clearly see and hear on the video posted on his YouTube feed (also posted below) he calls me a #$%^& right in front of this innocent woman. It still makes me laugh. She didn’t say anything. She also didn’t manage to hang on with us, but I doubt it had anything to do with anything we said. I’m sure she only finished a minute or two behind us.

     Mile 24 or so I was struggling to keep up the pace. Several times I tried to refocus, relax, straighten up my form and increase my cadence. Any time my pace fluctuated I made sure to do this. The only way I had a chance of holding on till the end was to keep up my form, which, for the most part, I think I was successful at. I attribute this to working my core and back muscles in the gym. My wife’s uncle had mentioned he’d seen a lot of people in the marathon he ran stretching sore, fatigued back muscles during the race and I didn’t want to be one of those people. I also knew the only way to keep up good posture was to work the core.

     At mile 24 I also felt like the finish was about 10 more miles away. My mind was mush and my energy spent. We skipped the last 2 water stops because at that point it really wasn’t going to help. I had some left in my bottles anyway. All I wanted to see was a familiar landmark. Chris and I had checked out the end of the course so there’d be something familiar to see and know the end was near. The only thought going through my mind was where my wife and two boys would be. I knew they’d be around the finish line but I was scanning the spectators for the last mile so I wouldn’t miss them. They were a few feet past the finish line.

     That moment was sweet. The fruit of 1 year 3 months, 3 hours , 58 minutes and 27 seconds worth of labor. As I ran over the huge pedestrian bridge I tried to smile, I heard Chris shout, I saw my wife and boys and I saw the official race clock which read 3:59:59 before I passed and I knew we had some time in the bank for the chip time. I crossed the line and high fived Chris and hugged the family. Victory! And for the second long race in a row, I almost got emotional. I bent down for a second and my legs immediately started to cramp and lock up but I quickly straightened up and walked to the person who put the medals on us then moved out of the chute. I felt great. My arms and legs tingled for a couple minutes and the med tent flashed in my mind, but I moved around and drank some water and I was good to go.

     In this race I accomplished everything I hoped for and more. I held back in the beginning, ran consistently in the middle and ran negative splits at the end. My heart rate increased slowly throughout the race. My energy lasted longer than I thought it would. My nutrition and hydration plan worked perfectly with no gastrointestinal problems or nausea. I HAD FUN. I enjoyed every single minute, even the ones that hurt.


     I can't thank Chris enough for driving all the way here and running this race with me.  His "tribal knowledge" is priceless.  The video he created is something I can have to remember my first race and I appreciate that very much.

Here's my Garmin Data: