Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fargo marathon race report




In short, the marathon is not my best distance and may never be but I am improving slowly but surely.
Training: up and down 15 week cycle that began just after New Years. I did not follow any schedule but hoped to average 50 miles per week. The early phase was great and I smashed my half mary PR with a 1:36:16 in mid February then ran a 19:48 5K time trial. I was thinking sub-3:30 for sure if not better Then in March, I was derailed by a nasty respiratory infection and missed 3 consecutive scheduled long runs but did manage a decent 10K in 43:42. I did bounce back in April but adjusted my goal to a 3:40. I debuted in May of last year with a 3:56:03 in Eugene, Oregon and knew that I was in much better shape now. Overall, I averaged 42 miles per week, which is not nearly enough for optimal results in a marathon but it was higher than I averaged last cycle. Moreover, that average was skewed by the low totals during the infection. I had several weeks over 50 and hit a high of 63. I did 2 20 milers and even 1 26.2 mile time trial in which I set an unofficial PR of 3:49:26.
Trip: I had some flood related adventures when I raced in Mobile and Chicago earlier so perhaps next time, I should warn the mayor of the city of my target race that I plan on coming to town so they can prepare for the flood in advance (LOL). In this case, Fargo, ND suffered the worst flood in its history just a few weeks back. The course had to be changed to a double loop but the race was a go. I chose Fargo because I saw good reviews on Marathon Guide, had been training for a late Spring race and did not want to risk hot weather. I have no aspirations of running a marathon in all 50 states but I do want to at least visit all 50 and felt that a marathon was the best way to check off North Dakota and Minnesota. 42 down now and only 8 to go. This time, the trip went smoothly. I flew out of Atlanta to Minneapolis then drove the 4 hours into Fargo on Thursday. The scenery was nice in Minnesota with gentle rolling hills and plenty of lakes. North Dakota looked flat and barren but that's just fine for a marathon.
Race day: I awoke at 5:45 for an 8 AM start and followed my normal light food with fluids beforehand. I was warned of possible traffic congestion but arrived early enough to avoid it. The course was flat and fast with just a few short and not very steep hills. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being most difficult, this one is barely a 2. It was largely residential with a small section through downtown and overall not very scenic but I was there for a PR. The best part of this race was the fans. It seemed like at every turn, people were out in force shouting encouragement. Temps was in the upper 30s at the start and not much warmer at the finish, which is a little chilly for my taste but at least the winds were light.
The gun went off and I found myself fighting through congestion. Again, people who were running 10 minute miles lined up with the 8:20 pace group. I tried not to weave in and out too much lest I run extra distance but I was unwilling to accept running 9 minute pace at the start. At the end, between the many turns and traffic, I would run an extra tenth of a mile but that's not as far as others would run. My first 3 miles were:
8:24/8:24
8:16/16:40
8:25/25:05
It was a little slower than I wanted but it's better to be a little on the slow side than fast at this distance. By mile 4, the pack had thinned out a bit and I was getting into the groove.
8:05/33:10
8:00/41:10
8:03/49:13 (passed 10K in 50:51)
8:08/57:21
8:07/1:05:28
This stretch had been a little faster than I wanted but I felt fine. The pace would slow just a tad in the next few miles. I could have maintained 8:00 pace but wanted to keep the effort even. It's not good form to push at all this early. It was the right decision.
8:15/1:13:43
8:16/1:21:59
8:19/1:30:18
8:19/1:38:37
8:17/1:46:54 (passed 13.1 in 1:47:27, would have been a PR 12 months ago).
I still felt good at the midpoint and the next section would be the stretch in which I would pass the most runners but I began to feel the effort just before mile 16 and it was becoming clear that I did not have my "A" stuff today but I was right where I wanted to be at the 13.1 split. A 5 minute slowdown in the 2nd half is about standard and if I could do that, I would come in under 3:40 and I still had a shot.
8:19/1:55:13
8:23/2:03:36
8:29/2:12:05 (starting to hurt)
8:21/2:20:26 (still battling hard)
8:27/2:28:53
8:32/2:37:25
8:50/2:46:15
I expected my pace to fall off at or near the 20 mile marker so my split for the 20th mile was not a shock. I did lose a little time because I stopped twice to drink both Powerade and water. Still, I wanted to keep my pace under 9 for every mile in this final 10K and I knew that I needed to be slightly under 9 the rest of the way to finish under 3:40. It was not to be. In the past, my pace did fall off around mile 20 but it didn't get really ugly until mile 23 and this time was no different. The 3:40 pace group blew by me just after mile 22. The young women were chasing a BQ and looked well on their way to getting it. I can't say that I was terribly uncomfortable and I never got any cramps or abnormal tightness or spasms but as hard as I tried, my legs just would not produce until final sprint, which I ran very well (go figure). Here is the ugliness:
8:43/2:54:58 (still hanging on)
9:09/3:04:07 (dang it)
9:03/3:13:10 (not bad, just hold on)
9:29/3:22:39 (ugly)
9:40/3:32:19 (very ugly)
9:23/3:41:42 (finish line in view, took caffeinated jelly beans)
1:40/3:43:22 (6 minute PR), 7:30 pace for final .2
Final thoughts: I can't be disappointed with a PR even though I feel that it wasn't my best day. This was almost 13 minutes better than last year. Why did I blow up so badly in the final 3 miles? A lot of factors. I don't feel that I went out too fast as I was right where I wanted to be at 13.1. First, my relatively low mileage caught up with me. Second, although I have reversed my adrenal exhaustion, I am still low in zinc and chromium, both of which are related to insulin transport. That hurts me especially in longer distances. Third, on a cold day, I never felt much need to drink and stopped infrequently. I should have refueled more often and definitely should have taken the beans sooner. It was mental as well. When I saw that my pace was slowing to the 9:20s in mile 24, I knew that I could run a high 3:42 if I really pushed it or I could simply coast in and finish in 3:44. To be honest, I really didn't care until I was within about a half mile of the line. I just wanted to finish this thing and still be standing on my feet.
Aftermath: I tend to get chilly very easily and was glad that the finish was in the dome. I was still shivering a bit when I finished but not as badly as in Oregon last year. I got plenty to drink and replenished my electrolytes and limped to my car and headed back to Minneapolis. My recovery was much quicker than ever before. I actually ran an easy mile the next day. My racing plans for the remainder of the year include local 5Ks and 10Ks this summer and a fall half marathon, not a full until at least next year. I am a LONG way from a BQ.
Chip time: 3:43:22/ Pace: 8:32/ Age group place: 27/80- 66th percentile


2 comments:

Da Weekend Warrior said...

No need to be disappointed with the time, but I know it could be disappointing not achieving what you set out for. I was rooting for you!! Still a great time and PR. My advice would be to hydrate VERY well in the beginning, because you can get dehydrated and affect performance later, and not even know it. I think your long training runs were too fast, and it took a lot from you come race day. There are more races... and more PR's to come. CONGRAT'S on your race!!!

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