The email reminders now contain weather forecasts.
Example workout reminder:
Monday, June 7, 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.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Finally, a chance to run the world's oldest annual marathon. This was my 11th marathon, with the first 6 all over 3:45. Attempting to get down to 3:15 for a Boston Qualifier (BQ) was looking downright impossible. All the formulas based on previous race results pointed to a 3:15 but I always struggled with cramps in the closing miles. Then I moved to Austin and joined the Ship of Fools and all of a sudden 4 of my last 5 marathons were 3:30ish or faster.
My training had been going well with most weeks in the mid-40 mile range, running 4 days/week. The last 22 miler was 2.5 weeks out on the hilly Stratford, Scenic, Mt Bonnell route - one of my favorites.
Houston was my 3rd official BQ attempt: Frankenthon was the first - the perfect weather, great course, and great support brought me a 3:18 with limited damage. Then came San Antonio which was a reminder in adjusting your goals down as the humidity forecast goes up. I didn't and suffered greatly the last 10 miles with total cramping in every leg muscle.
I consciously stayed away from any Houston forecast until 4 days before the race. I tend to be a bit obsessive about these things (aren't most marathoners?) and decided not to spend any energy worrying about the weather until the forecast settled down. It settled quite nicely to low in the 40s and maybe topping out in the upper 50s at the finish - there was a bit of humidity but overall pretty darn good. I love the Houston Marathon - it's my old 'home' course having run it twice before and completed countless 20 milers on it. It's flat, well organized, and the town shows up for support. It was historically always my personal best so I was feeling confident.
My plan was to run no mile faster than 7:15 and no mile slower than 7:25 and hitting the first half at 1:35. I knew what the final miles of a 3:15 would feel like from Frankenthon so I wanted some time in the bank when the pace started slipping and legs started failing. I was never good at negative splitting a marathon in the past so I didn't expect to try it here.
I hit the first half at 1:36 with 2 miles under 7:15 and only the first mile over 7:25 averaging 7:20/mile overall. Great start. I was taking a Gu every 5 miles and drinking a full cup of Gatorade Endurance at every aid station (I forgot my bottle to carry along). In fact, I drank nothing but Gatorade Endurance 24 hours before the race - very little water.
Miles 15/16 sneaked up to 7:30s and surprised me. This is when I typically have to give a little bit more energy to maintain my pace but not wanting to accept it quite yet. I rallied back and got the pace back down. I saw my family and friends at mile 18.5 which gave me a nice boost of energy. I was back on pace until mile 21 at which time my legs really started quivering and twinging and just giving me the typical cramp warning signs. This is the point in the past where I would have stopped to stretch and avoid any 'hard' cramping. Like a light bulb, it hit me - I was using the cramps as an excuse to stop in the past. It was usually then that I cramped - a little self-fulfilling prophecy. So I just held on, gradually giving into a marathon shuffle as to not overextend those muscles and keep the pace down as much as possible. This was, by far, the most internal banter I have ever had during a marathon. I was talking to myself (sometimes out loud) for a good hour about why I was feeling the way I was, how my brain was trying to sabotage, and how I could still get in under 3:16 with my legs screaming at me.
Miles 21-23 were all around 7:30. Mile 24 up to 7:40, mile 25 right at 8:00. Crap, I'm really cutting it close here. Every time I pushed, the muscles just said no. Keep with the shuffle and do NOT stop. Finally I turned up Rusk and saw the finish line but had no idea if it was 5 minutes away or 2. The last 400 yards or so were a blur. Apparently I had people cheering for me and even running me in from the sidelines but I heard nothing. My left hamstring started to cramp and I did everything I could just to keep moving. The last 1.2 miles took me 8:11. As I crossed the finish I knew I had it - both my watch and the clock were under 3:16 - I almost collapsed from another hamstring cramp as Raul (from the Ship) caught me and held me up. He hung around for a good 5 minutes until I was standing on my power. Tip of the cap to the Houston volunteers.
My official time 3:15:13 - had 46 seconds to spare. 3 minute positive split which is my best so far (6 min at Frankenthon, 24 min in SA).
Boston 2010 sold out in a couple of months so I'm sitting here refreshing their registration site until the 115th running of the Boston Marathon opens up.
A good race indeed.