Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Louisville Marathon, 2:58:53

Well, I achieved my No. 1 goal to set a new PR, and I felt relatively good most of the way so I was definitely pleased with my performance in the Louisville Marathon this past Sunday. I finished the course in 2:58:53 chip time (previous PR was 2:59:13 from the Kentucky Derby Marathon 2007), which placed me 8th overall and 1st in the Male 25-29 division. It was a 6:50-per-mile average.

In the week leading up to the race, I did low mileage with nothing but easy runs with light strides. I took off the day before the race to really rest up. I was planning on running a 5K at goal marathon pace about five days out from the marathon, but decided just to run easy when my hamstrings were tight. On race morning, I felt really good after a 5-minute easy jog and one light stride. As for nutrition (for future reference) I ate a large pasta meal two nights before the race, a large breakfast of pancakes, oatmeal and scrambled eggs the morning before the race and a lighter dinner of pasta and meatballs the night before the race. On race day, I ate one piece of toast with jelly, a yogurt and a healthy bar with some powerade at 5:45 a.m. The race started at 8 a.m. I sipped on just water up to the race, but didn't drink as much as I usually do, which I preferred. Too much water makes my bladder hurt for the first half of the race and it's hard for me to drink. During the race, I took water from every water table except for the first one and took two gel packs (at miles 15 and 20), which I carried with me. I liked this approach as this was the first marathon I felt like I had energy to finish strong and wasn't dehydrated.

Okay, now for the actual race. I started out running with Jon Brenenstuhl at 6:30-6:40 pace, which was our pre-marathon plan. I don't really remember many splits but I know the first mile was 6:34 and we had a few (miles 8-10) right at or a little under 6:30s. Jon was feeling good and he started to pull away from me at around 12 miles (which I thought was about right). I ran by myself for a little while then got on the heels of a guy who went past me from miles 15 to 20. I think I passed the halfway point in around 1:27:30 (not exactly sure on this as it hasn't been posted yet). If I remember correctly, I passed 18 miles in 2:00:03, and 20 miles at around 2:13:30. Rewind the race a little, and at 6 miles I started to feel my hamstrings tighten up like they were about to start cramping, but I tried to ignore the pain in fear that I would tense up and cause it to cramp more. At 22 miles, though, the pain started to get worst so I slowed down to try to take shorter strides. When I opened up my stride, I could feel it tense up a little more. I have a history of cramping, and I wanted to get to the finish line cramp-free this time so I backed off even though I wasn't feeling that bad considering where I was at in the race. I'm not sure on my time, but at 25 miles I knew I had to pick it up if I wanted to get a new PR so I really tried to push it in from that point forward. I was still afraid of cramping so I ran 3 1-minute hard surges with short rests (a slower but steady pace) between each one. Then, I really kicked it in the final quarter mile to get under 2:59:00. It was tough, but I made it without cramping.

Like I said, I was pleased with the race. I think if it wasn't for the whole I'm-afraid-of-cramping scenario, I could have possibly ran at least a few minutes faster. By looking back at my training log from the 12 weeks leading up to the race (especially with the setbacks from injuries and sicknesses), it was a great race for me. This was probably the worst training I've done leading up to a marathon, but I was able to run a PR because I didn't cramp — that made all the difference.

A few days after the race, I'm obviously still sore but I'm feeling mentally fresh and ready for my next challenge. I'm not sure what that will be yet. My quads are the main thing that's hurting right now. I'll take this week completely off and might start jogging next week. Then, I'll look at my options and see how it unfolds.

By the way, Jon ran a 2:46:55 for 2nd overall off similar training that I did.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Week of Oct. 6-Oct. 12

In my final week of training before the Louisville Marathon Oct. 19, I got in lower-than-normal mileage but still maintained my fitness in an effort to rest up for the 26.2-miler. I ended up running 35 miles total with one workout on the roads, one steady-hard effort of 60 minutes and one day of speed work that included football.

The workout on the road was run last Wednesday. I measured off a 3-mile course (1.5 miles out and back) on flood road in Cropper, which had some hills and some sharp curves. My goal was to run the first one at marathon effort (6:30-6:45) and the second one at close to 6-minute miles with a 5-minute jog recovery between the two. I started out a little too fast and ended up running the first one in 19:00 (6:20-pace) which felt fine, then I ran the second one in 18:05 (6:01-pace) which was just where I wanted to be. The workout went according to plan. I had to push towards the end of the second 3-miler, but otherwise I felt fine.

On the 60-minute run, I ran mainly on a looped course on the roads so I could work on drinking water out of a cup. I always say I need to work on that before a marathon but this is the first time I ever actually did it. I ran, what I calculated to be, around 7-minute pace for most of the run and really picked it up towards the end. I had six different cups to drink during the run, and I finally figured out the best way to drink while maintaining a pace close to marathon effort. (I won't go into details here.) The run went well. It was my final run this long and at this pace before the marathon.

As for the football game the following day, Saturday, I used it as a speed workout with tons, tons and tons of sprints during the three hours. We started out playing tackle and then switched over the flag. Let me say I am way more sore than I expected to be a few days later. When I play football, I pretty much run hard, all-out routes the entire time, and also run a lot on defense, so I got a very good workout in. I counted it as four miles, but I think I probably underestimated the distance I actually completed. The football game is an annual tradition with some of my friends (we played 8-against-8 most of the time) so I decided to go ahead and play - which might not have been such a great idea the weekend before the marathon. I did get in a good day of speed though, something I haven't done in a while, which could have led to my soreness.

Here is a breakdown of my week...

Monday: 4 miles easy
Tuesday: 6 miles easy
Wednesday: 5 minutes easy, 2 x 3 miles (19:00, 18:05) with 5 minutes jog recovery, 5 minutes easy = 8 miles
Thursday: 4 miles easy
Friday: 60 minutes at sub-7 pace, plus 5 x fast strides with jog between each one = 9 miles
Saturday: 3 hours of football — used it as a day for speed workout = 4 miles
Sunday: DNR. Sore from yesterday's football game.

This week I'm going to take it easy with light runs lasting no more than 30 minutes, light strides and maybe one 3-miler on the roads at 5K pace to keep my legs moving fast. With the marathon less than a week away, hopefully I'll be ready to go this coming Sunday.

Also, I found out today that the Louisville Marathon had to switch its course back to the same one they used last year, which means it will be very flat and mainly run along River Road and through some parks. It also means the half-marathon and marathon runners will be starting together. I was actually looking forward to just running with the marathoners the entire time, but it's all right. I guess I'll just see how I'm feeling Sunday.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Week of Sept. 29-Oct. 5

Just a few weeks left until the Louisville Marathon and I got in decent mileage this week with about 46 miles. I count my weekly mileage from Monday through Sunday, but during a 7-day stretch (Sunday through Saturday) I actually got in 71 so I was pleased with that. Due to a couple of setbacks the last month, I don't feel as strong as I was hoping I would at this point, but I think I'm fit enough to possible PR in Louisville.

I was looking over the marathon's website the other day and noticed a few changes: (1) This will also be the USA Military Championships, which should draw in some faster runners I would think. (2) The route used last year has been completely changed for this year with the race running mainly through downtown Louisville, which might add a few more hills but it still should be a fast, flat course, and more scenic. (3) The half-marathon and marathon runners will be starting at different places but will use the same finish. Actually, I like this change since I usually get caught up in trying to pace off of an inconsistent half runner. Plus, I'll know what place I'm in with the other marathoners from the get-go.

Here's what I ran last week. Sunday I did a 24- to 25-mile long run.

Monday: DNR - rest after yesterday's long run
Tuesday: warmup, 2 x 2 miles on slow, grass course in 12:30, 12:45, cooldown = 6 miles
Wednesday: AM 6 miles, PM 4 miles = 10 miles
Thursday: AM 4 miles, PM 20 minutes, 10 x hill sprints, 10 minutes = 10 miles
Friday: 4 miles
Saturday 16 miles w/ miles 4-14 at sub-7 pace

Decent week. This upcoming week I want to cut mileage back just a tad, get in one "good" workout and a few solid runs. Then, I'll rest up for the actual marathon.