Monday, July 11, 2011

Mad Marathon

How did I get so old and slow? I know it's been a gradual process, but this is somewhat ridiculous.

Also, where did my killer instinct go? It used to be that going to races was all about beating people. If I wasn't in good shape, I wouldn't show up.

So, it's kind of interesting that I'm quite satisfied with a 6:11:18 marathon. That is not a typo. My previous slowest road marathon was a 5:01 at Chicago in 1998.

Back in the early 90s, I could hop into a marathon on a whim and run in 3:20s. I haven't run that fast in quite a while right now.

Just a few years ago, I could routinely run a 4:00 marathon based on ultramarathon training.

But, things change. Since I tore a hamstring tendon in the spring of 2009, my running just hasn't been the same. Last September, I finally gave up on the active running recovery, and simply quit running for about six months. I started up again this spring at a low level. In the ten months preceding this marathon, I ran fewer than 200 miles.

I weigh about 215 now, and I'm carrying a lot more muscle mass than in prior years. I ran my fastest marathon at just under 170 pounds.

I'm 49 years old and I've been running for 26+ years. My best days are clearly behind me. That's OK. Things change.

I trained for this race with lots of CrossFit, other lifting, a little bit of running (long run of 13 miles), and some road biking. I didn't really do much race-specific training.

Lastly, I've been eating a low carb paleo diet, and I have never run a marathon while eating low carb before. To be honest, that part worked really well. I ate no food after dinner on Saturday night, used Vespa during the race, and took in a total of 300 calories in 6+ hours. I never felt like I was low on energy during the race.

I was shocked that this brand new race had 1200 participants. I almost didn't sign up for the event due to its $85 price tag, but I figured I'd give it a chance, being the first year for a local event. Apparently, the race was a huge draw for the "50 states" marathon people, and runners showed up from 46 states and 12 countries. I had expected about 50 locals to show up for this race on a course that was sure to be difficult. Having now run the race, I see no reason to pay that much for this event again. There was nothing wrong with the race, and $85 may reflect the current market for marathons, but not for me.

My plan for the race was simple:
  • Finish under the 6:30 time limit
  • Mix walking and running to maintain a steady pace
  • Run using Vespa and very few calories
  • Have fun
  • Don't get hurt
To finish, my basic goal was to get 15 minutes ahead of a 15mpm pace, and then just settle into a 15mpm walk/run pace. I hit the 5 mile mark right at the hour, so I was 15 minutes ahead of that pace early. My goal became very simple. Hit mile 6 by 1:15, mile 7 by 1:30, etc. It was a very hilly course:

I don't know if you need a Garmin Connect account to see the details, but the View Details link will show the elevation profile along with other details about my run. From mile 8 to mile 16, the course was mostly uphill. Runners were coming downhill towards me as I went uphill from 12 to just short of 16, and the entire way, I stayed focused on my 15mpm pace, hoping that I'd still have something in the tank on the way back if I didn't push too hard on the ups.

And, it worked. After mile 18, the course was mostly downhill. I was able to run a lot more and my conservative pace had paid off. I used Vespa and a total of 3 gels, and my energy levels were great. I had fun. I finished. I even picked up about 10 minutes on the 15mpm pace over the last few miles, despite the day getting pretty warm.

Today, I'm tired but not too beat up. I had fun. I met all of my goals, meager though they were.

Now, I need to decide what to do next. I have a relay race next month, but no other running commitments after that.

But, I can't get that "unfinished business" Western States 100 miler obsession out of my brain. So, this has me thinking about doing more running for a few months and trying to qualify for the Western States lottery at a fall 50 miler. Stay tuned.


Kaiopect8 said...

You're modest! The inaugural Mad Marathon was a very challenging race! A huge hill at the start -- elevation gain of about 400 feet, by mile 3. Here's the profile:
And, as the time passed, the sun really started baking! Congratulations on going the distance, and best of fortune in the coming year -- and see for Year Two in Waitsfield, VT

Harriet said...

Well, if I were to just jump into a marathon and walk it, I'd be right close to where you were (I walked 5:14 in 2009 but I was in better shape then).

Were I to attempt some running: my time wouldn't all. :-)

So you had fun and didn't hurt yourself. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Nice job. You'll actually have to improve your pace to qualify for WS at 50 miles!

Hope to see you at Stone Cat.

Dr. A