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.