Thursday, January 19, 2012

Houston Marathon - 2012

This race was a long time coming.  I have improved in every distance over the last couple of years except for the marathon.  All prediction charts pointed to a sub 3:10 marathon but I kept coming up way short - usually crashing and burning, especially with any kind of warmer weather.  I had a 3:15 and 3:18 to my name but those were 2 years ago and I haven't been close since.  I thoroughly enjoyed Boston 2011, but had no sign I could get back there, especially with the harder qualifying times.

Last summer I decided to try running more consistently and see if I could stay healthy.  I was typically a 4 day/week runner and became a 6 day/week runner over the course of a few months and remained injury free.  I discovered many of my miles were slower paced but when I did put in the quality workouts, my speed increased (Lydiard was on to something).  I had a bad showing at a humid marathon in late October which just added fuel to the fire.  I wanted to BQ with at least 5 minutes of cushion at Houston in January - the last  marathon in my 30s.  I have run Houston 3 times prior and usually do very well.  I kept adding miles and built up my weekly mileage into the mid 70s (they used to max out in the 50s).  I avoided racing so I could keep up consistent mileage.  I did one informal 10 mile race around Town Lake the day before Thanksgiving in 65 minutes and knew my body was responding well to the higher mileage.

I also lengthened my long runs - I put in a 24 and 25 miler 5 and 3 weeks out from Houston.  Usually I maxed out at 22 but thought with my recent crash and burns, I needed some confidence and stronger legs.  The last tweak was the taper.  I didn't understand how I can put in a 24 miler in similar humid conditions on tired legs and not crash and burn, whereas I cramped at mile 18 during a humid marathon.  I decided that my legs were more stale than fresh entering into the previous races.  I would reduce mileage during the taper, but keep up the consistency and not take as many days off.  Nutritionally I would increase my salt intake gradually 10 days prior instead of the sudden electrolyte surge the day prior and the salt caps during the race.  Mentally, I would try to view the race as a long tempo run on fresh legs.

I put in a 25 miler 3 weeks out and felt good.  My usual anxiety leading up to the race was there at times, but I definitely felt more calm than usual.  I had a different game plan this time and was feeling confident.  I started popping some salt caps about 10 days out and had the usual carb meals a few days out.  I had one allergy/head cold episode on the Wednesday before the race but other than that everything went as planned.  Throw in a forecast in the low 40s, watching the Olympic hopefuls racing the morning prior, and my confidence was high at the start line. 
My plan was to go out with 7:15 miles and see how it felt.  Congestion got the better part of the first 1.5 miles (7:50, 7:17) but then I put the watch on a screen with no pace and went by feel for the rest of the race.  I did have the mile splits flash up so I was not completely ignorant of the pace.  The first half was filled with sub 7:10 miles pretty consistently with minimal effort so I stuck with them.  I went sub 7:00 at miles 14/15 but then went back to 7:05ish.  I had planned on Gu every 4 miles but forgot one at the start, dropped one, and ended up having no food by mile 17.  I did eat every orange slice and banana I could find but that was it.  Full cup of Gatorade Endurance and full cup of water at every station rounded out the nutrition.  

I saw my family and friends at mile 19, then had a streak of 6:50s for the next 6 miles, just felt incredible.  Once I passed the 3:10 pace group at mile 22 I knew I had a PR/BQ and it was just a matter of how low I could go.  A running partner of mine bet me a free meal if I hit 3:07 so that became my new goal.  I was not worrying about cramping at all.  The pace crept back up into the 7:00s during the last 2 miles, finally running out of steam, but my form did not break and still felt like I finished strong.  Ended up with a 3:06:47 and a 2 min negative split (1:34/1:32).

That gives me an 8 minute cushion on my 40 yr old 3:15 BQ so I should be a shoe-in for Boston 2013.

Finish Net03:06:4709:3607:088.42

Friday, April 22, 2011

Boston Marathon - 2011

Finally.  My 15th marathon and I get to participate in the 115th Boston Marathon.  It was worth all the hassle, the money, the 4am training runs, and asking my wife to watch the kids just a little longer while I run even more.  It lived up to the hype.  Traveling with the Ship of Fools was also a treat.  It seemed from the moment we arrived at the Austin airport I was running into someone I knew.

I have participated in large marathons prior but this was something different.  I felt like every person I encountered was happy I was there.  They knew this was a big deal and didn't care if their town was shut down for a couple of days.  I'm sure plenty of people were not in that boat but they kept it from me.  And the towns, those small little towns along the route, came out in droves and were genuinely happy to see a Texan come through.  I loved that the grownups cheered me the loudest when I took the time to run to the side of the road and high five their little ones.  Just amazing. 

I would like to leave this report with just that sentiment - the energy, the crowds, the townspeople, but, alas, I have to speak about the actual performance in the race.  I ran a quite respectable 3:34, but I was trained up for about a 3:15 with 3:20 being my fall back goal depending on the weather and difficulty of the course.  I wanted to heed all the advice and go out slow so I stayed back a couple of corrals and ran the first 18 miles or so with Joe T. - the conservative/negative split king.  He seemingly runs only "strong finish" marathons and when I stick with him I usually have success.  Despite the perfect conditions (fastest marathon ever was run on this day), I was in trouble early.  My legs just didn't feel right - even after 5 miles.  I finally had to let Joe go, crested Heartbreak (mile 20.5) in decent shape but then my old nemesis came back.  My left hamstring cramped up and the last 5 miles included the very familiar cramp-avoidance dance.  In past races, this really got me down, but those Boston crowds would not let me.  I wore a Run Tex shirt (local Austin running store) and I was "Tex" all day.  They wanted this Texan to hang in there and finish strong.  Even my sister, who came all the way from NYC just to see me finish, said I had one of the biggest smiles she has ever seen at mile 25.5. 

I have since come up with a thousand possible reasons why I did not perform up to my training but truly I approached this weekend like it could be my last time in Boston and have no regrets.  That being said, to be a rock star in Boston again does have its appeal and I have a lot more work to do in the marathon department if I want to return.  The "laurel resting" is over.

Detail Splits


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Austin Marathon - 2011

Once again not the ideal conditions for a 26.2 mile foot race (now makes 4 out of my last 5).  Mid 60s, high humidity and some southerly gusts of head wind during the final miles.
But, I went out conservatively in anticipation of another crash and burn and finished so strong that I executed my first negative split marathon (17 secs) and my 3rd fastest.  First half 1:44:33, final 3:28:49.

I battled through some dark moments around mile 21 but seeing my family and the Ship cheering section helped me through.  I also struggled with a few hamstring cramps mile 24ish (just after seeing the family again) but was able to work them out, get back on the train (thanks to Dave D),  and close fast averaging 7:17 over the last 1.2 miles.  I think I was sprinting to the finish to see if Iram had BQ'd.  Seeing the Ship cheering section 3 (three!) times during the race also helped a ton.  It's nice to see not only familiar faces, but faces that have been there and done that and were pulling for you.

Hopefully I didn't beat my body up too hard so I can put in some decent training for Boston.
I think I may be learning something about this distance.  Maybe.

Detail Splits

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Feature: Weather Forecasts in your Email

The email reminders now contain weather forecasts.

Example workout reminder:

Easy Walk - 

1 week(s), 2 day(s) until 11/07/2010 race date.

Program: JG Marathon - Time Goal

Current Conditions from Potrero Hill, San Francisco, CA
Temperature: 63.5 °F    

Humidity: 41 %     Wind Speed: 6 mph WNW     Pressure: 29.93 "     

Dew Point: 39 °F      Gusts: 22 mph WSW      Rain Today: 0.00 "      

Forecast for Tonight
A chance of rain in the evening...then rain likely after midnight. Lows in the mid 50s. South winds 10 to 20 mph... Becoming southeast 5 to 10 mph after midnight.

Forecast for Friday
Rain likely. Highs around 60. Northeast winds 5 to 10 mph...becoming northwest in the afternoon.

Forecast for Friday Night
Mostly cloudy. A chance of rain in the evening... Then a chance of showers after midnight. Lows in the lower 50s. Southeast winds 10 to 20 mph.


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Monday, June 7, 2010

Sunburst Hall of Fame to Notre Dame Marathon - 2010

 A dozen marathons under my belt and I can finally say I'm completely satisfied with the outcome of this race - a little surprising given the finish time but a perfectly executed race given the conditions.

I booked this marathon 3.5 weeks out which didn't allow for any traditional training although I had a few 30k trail races under my belt and had time for one more 20+ long run so I really wasn't under trained.  I PR was unlikely but in the back of my mind I thought sub 3:30, probably closer to 3:20.  As race day approached, the forecast got worse and worse and I was struggling with a goal.  I decided to forget times and stick with a simple goal of running a negative split, something I have never done.  I believed this was my best chance of slowing down enough at the start in order to have a solid finish, avoiding a crash and burn, and be able to enjoy the rest of the weekend.  I would ignore the pace on the Garmin and attempt to run by effort (very hard for me being a numbers guy).  I still have crash-and-burn visions of 2007 Chicago and 2009 San Antonio burned in my brain.

It was 70+ with 90% humidity at the start and just got worse (lucky it was an early start).  I was running this race with Joe T and he is the master of negative splits so I knew I was in good hands.  I would like to say our beginning conservative effort was due to the Joe's wise pacing but really I think it was our only choice given the heat - we just couldn't imagine going any faster and having any kind of chance of finishing strong.  I kept saying I would pick it up around mile 10, that didn't happen, maybe mile 13, nope, ok mile 15 - still no.  Finally around mile 16 I still felt good and had to pass someone and decided to stay a little more aggressive, it felt good to open up a little and so I stuck with it.  Aggressive is a general term in this heat - I think I only layed down a few sub-8:00 miles the entire marathon and this is where they occurred.  I crept back up to low 8:00 pace after mile 21 or so but was able to avoid stopping or cramping the entire race which really shocked me.  I ended up crossing the finish at 3:36.  They had no splits during the course, and the mile markers were all screwed up so I'm not exactly sure of my half split but it looks like it was around 1:48ish which would make this an even split marathon - my first as well.  For reference, I ran the same time in San Antonio last fall under similar conditions but completely crashed and burned and ended up with a 24 minute positive split.  A terrible experience.

So yes, it was 20+ minutes slower than a marathon I ran in January but I am not in the least bit disappointed.  I felt it was perfectly executed give those conditions and my recent training.

Maybe I'm starting to learn something about this distance.

Detail Splits

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Server Maintenance - Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010 - RaceReminder may be down for about 20 minutes from 9:00PM-2:00AM Pacific time for server maintenance. 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New website design!

Race Reminder underwent a significant site redesign.  Hope you like it.  More features to be released in the coming months.

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