Saturday, October 31, 2015

Spinx Run Fest RR

I've averaged roughly 20 miles per week over the past 12 months which simply won't do.  I had not gone longer than 7 in a single session since my last race in mid-September.  I have been using new prebiotic and probiotic supplements and had not had a collapse in the last 5 days.  I was cautiously hopeful for a respectable performance but 3 days out, I caught a bit of a head cold.  It didn't kill my energy but certainly left me weaker.

Left work early on Thursday and made a pit stop for the night at Nick's place in Atlanta for the night.  From there, it was roughly 2.5 hours to Greenville but we made a stop in Clemson for lunch at TDs.  It was one of our regular hangouts when we were students so it brought back some memories.  We arrived in Greenville by late afternoon and checked into our hotel.  Next, we took a walk down by a beautiful riverside trail with 2 waterfalls.  Part of me still misses this place but I don't see myself leaving Birmingham.  There was a reason why I chose this event for State #25 and it would be special regardless of the result.  On the night before race day, my cold took a turn for the worse with a cough and stuffy nose but I did improve by the next morning.  Unfortunately, my stomach was jacked up and I feared the worst on the race course.

Falls Park

Race plan:
I know that I can hold an 8:00 pace for 7 miles on flat terrain with something left at the end.  Realistically, considering my cold and lack of fitness over the longer distance, the stretch goal was 1:50 (8:24 for 13.1) but I really wanted to be under 2 hours.  My first half had been a 1:59 but I slipped all the way to 2:06 last month.  I decided to shoot for about 8:20 pace for the first 3 miles then pick it up if I feel good.

Tough but fair (6 out of 10).  Lots of hills especially on the back half but there were some flat sections.  Thankfully, most of the climbs were long and gradual.  It covered a nice mix of parks, trails and city streets but there was one MAJOR flaw with the organization.  There were only 4 aid stations and NO Gatorade (only water).  If this had been a warm and sunny day, I'm not sure I could have managed without electrolytes.

Not surprisingly, I was out a little faster than planned but not stupid fast and yes, the first mile was mostly a gradual decline.  My stomach remained jacked up early and I was afraid that I might have to pull over multiple times but fortunately, my luck held and the discomfort actually diminished after Mile 5 or so.  When I got through Mile 4 still feeling halfway decent, I knew that there was a good chance that I would not be collapsing.  Early on, I was on pace for about 1:48ish, which certainly would have been acceptable today and would represent a tremendous improvement over last time.  Unfortunately, I slipped a bit in the park in Mile 6 but still passed the halfway point around 55-flat (1:50 pace).  However, I had been warned about the back half of the course and figured that the realistic goal was to hold a sub-2 pace over the 2nd half.
8:05- (8:05)
8:12- (16:17)
8:17- (24:34)
8:34 (33:08)
8:20 (41:28)
8:34 (50:02)  10K around 52-flat.
8:53 (58:55)

At the beginning of Mile 8, we hit our first really tough hill and I decided to take a short walk break to save myself for the end.  Probably a good call but fears of a collapse were creeping back.  Thankfully, the course went back down for the remained of the mile and it was not long before I was back on pace.  Mile 10 contained another tough stretch with a climb on the trail followed by a turn on to the road that revealed more uphill.  Once again, I was reduced to walking.  By this point, I was doing math in my head and calculating how much of a fade I could endure yet still break 2 hours.  To my relief, I found that even if I slipped to 10:00 pace the rest of the way, I could still make it with about 2 minutes to spare.  Miles 11 contained 1 long downhill and a fairly long flat section through another loop in the park but I was running on fumes by this point.  Then, Mile 12 was just about as bad as advertised.  It was a long steady moderate grade for almost the entire mile and this time, I took a longer walk break.  I feared that it would be all uphill to the finish, which may put the sub-2 in jeopardy but yet again, when I knew I could not take any more climbing and my calves stabbed with pain, the course went back down briefly.  Mile 13 was a more gentle incline most of the way before a turn into the minor league baseball stadium and a finish at home plate.  I knew that I was looking at a 1:56:xx so I did not push it too hard down the stretch.  I really didn't have much to give anyway.
8:50 (1:07:45)
8:56 (1:16:41)
9:29 (1:26:10)
9:19 (1:35:29)
10:31 (1:46:00)
9:34 (1:55:34)
:45 (last .09)

Final thoughts:
I have now completed at least a half marathon in half the states, which completes the Half2Run Challenge.  I am proud of what I have accomplished and pleased by the 10+ minute improvement over last month but the predominant emotion is sadness.  I am simply not in condition to do this anymore.  I looked so bad on the walk back that several people asked me if I was okay.  Still, I think I have shown enough improvement to at least postpone the retirement decision until I get the results from Yasko and give the sulfur detox products another try.  They might work now if the prebiotics improved my mal-absorption issues.

Official result:
Time of 1:56:19.  Probably around the 50th percentile for my new AG.

Finish inside stadium

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