Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hartford Marathon Report

Garmin thinks I ran 26.56 miles. Splits: 10:28; 9:57; 10:42; 10:45; 11:15; 10:53; 10:54; 11:24; 10:19; 11:15; 10:41; 10:41; 10:45; 10:51; 10:50; 10:34; 10:31; 10:35; 10:47; 10:49; 10:17; 10:43; 10:07; 11:00; 10:35; 10:41; 5:02. Official nettime: 4:43:21; 10:48 per mile pace.

I slept well the night before. No weird dreams and no tossing and turning. I woke up at 4:45, showered, drank my morning coffee, and tried to eat an english muffin. I changed my mind halfway through when I realized that for the first time in three days, my carb loaded stomach was behaving. Since I wasn't hungry anyhow, I tossed the remainder of the bagel outside for the birds to enjoy. I checked the weather forecast, saw it was 58 degrees outside with a high temperature expected to be 68 degrees, and knew that shorts and a short sleeved technical/wick through shirt would be my apparel of the day. I gobbed vaseline on my toes, put on my running shoes, and was out of the door at 6 a.m. for the half hour drive to Hartford. I arrived there at 6:30, and was able to park in my favorite parking lot which is a 1/4 mile from the starting line. Even though it was 1 1/2 hours until the start of the race the parking lot was filling quickly. I grabbed my cell phone and waited for my son's friend Christine to call. She's 23 (I think) and was running her first marathon. I had talked to her the night before about the "do's and dont's" of running a marathon. She didn't have enough GU gels, so I was meeting her to give her more. Plus we had agreed to start the race together and run until I started taking my walk breaks. After that, she would be on her own. Fast forward to 8 a.m. We're at the starting line, back in the area designated for the 4:30 finishers. It was a good goal for her, and I knew that 4:30 was too fast for me since this was a training run for NY in 3 weeks. Before you say anything, no one was heading back to the 4:45 pace area. Finally the race began, 10 minutes late. It took us about 5 minutes to get to the start. We ran alongside each other, and I told her that once I took my first walk break, which would be after 4 minutes, she was on her own. Well, I was feeling good, of course, and enjoying running with her, so I decided to tweak my run-walk-run plan and run a mile, then walk for a minute. I knew that a 10:50 (actually 10:52) per mile pace would get me my goal of a 4:45 finish. Mile 1: 10:28. I was feeling great, so I decided not to take a walk break. I continued to run with Christine. Mile 2: 9:57. Not good. Why? Now I knew I was running way too fast. I told Christine I was taking a walk break starting with mile 3, gave her some last minute reminders, wished her Good Luck, and at mile 3 parted ways with her. The walk break felt good. I was talking to spectators, and taking in the entire marathon experience. After a minute of walking, I was back to running. At that point I was still being stubborn. I decided to run for a mile, instead of 4 minutes, and walk for a minute. Mile 4 was a 10:45. Ha! I was feeling cocky. I was ignoring my pre-race strategy of running for 4 minutes and walking for 1 minute, and I was ahead of my planned pace of 10:50 per mile. Mile 5: 11:15. Bathroom break, so I lost time. Mile 6: 10:53. Mile 7: 10:54. WTF? I was slowing down. My stubbornness was hurting my times. I decided to go back to my original plan. Run for 4 minutes, walk for 1 minute. The run-walk-run plan is also designed so that if I feel good towards the end, I can increase my running time, or completely eliminate my walking breaks. So of course I needed a bathroom break before mile 8. Mile 8: 11:24. Somewhere around this time I passed by and said a quick "Hi" to Christine's father and sister. I was quickly falling behind my 4:45 goal time. Then came a vision. A neon green vision. A woman ran by me with a small group of runners following close by. Her neon green shirt had a large 4:45 on it. I WAS on schedule. All I had to do was keep her in view as I did my run-walk-run. I quickly caught up and passed her. As I passed by, I thanked her for being out there to help us. I also found out that there were 4 or 5 first time marathoner runners with her. I ran ahead, stopped and took my walk break. They quickly caught up to me, and passed by while I was walking. I resumed running, passed by them again, and Garmin beeped and displayed a 10:19 mile for mile 9. Nice! At that point I knew I was good. I had ran and walked, and still did a 10:19 split, which was 30 seconds faster than I needed. Between miles 9 and 10 I saw Christine heading towards me. There is a turn-around point at mile 11 1/2. I asked her how she was doing, and she responded she was doing fine. I reminded her about taking her GU gel, and she held up one she was holding and said she was.Unfortunately keeping myself properly hydrated took its toll again, and another bathroom break before mile 10 gave me an 11:15 split. After exiting the porta potty, I asked some runners if they saw the 4:45 girl. They pointed ahead, and I saw her about 50 yards away. Damn! I increased my pace, and caught up with her, just as my walking break was due. I reluctantly stopped running and walked. By mile 11 I had caught up again, and a 10:41 split was why. I then started passing her while I ran, only to have her pass me as I walked. Mile 12: 10:41 again. Mile 13: 10:45. Mile 14: 10:51. Mile 15: 10:50. Neon green girl was keeping us on pace. Along the course I was consuming my Vanilla Bean flavored GU Gels every 45 minutes, plus supplementing it with pieces of a Wild Berry PowerBar. I knew that I needed to keep my blood sugar level up in order to help avoid hitting the wall. I was also stopping at all the water stations and drinking. At mile 15, I was feeling great. Left brain wasn't thinking any negative thoughts. Actually, left brain behaved himself the entire marathon. For those of you who don't know about left brain, that's the part of your brain that sometimes tries to talk you into giving up or doing things that allow you to wimp out. It's the logical side of your brain, and sometimes we need to trick it into shutting up so we can accomplish our goals, like running 26.2 miles, which left brain certainly doesn't think is logical! The sun had finally come out, so to be safe I took the Hammer Nutrition Endurolyte pill that I had, which helps prevent cramping. I have had left leg cramping issues for a short time during previous long runs. Miles 15 to 16, I was feeling invigorated. The walk breaks I truly believe were the difference. My mile 16 time was 10:34. I looked behind me during my walk break, and the 4:45 woman was a green speck in the distance. I was encouraged by that. My well feeling continued, and mile 17 was 10:31. Miles 15 to 18 I felt so well that I ran for a longer time before I walked. I don't know exactly how long, but it was close to a mile. Mile 18: 10:35. Uh oh, maybe I had been too ambitious. Mile 18-19, I was starting to feel a little blah. My mouth was suddenly dry as can be. I apparently was becoming dehydrated. I finished the remainder of my Powerbar, and also drank extra water. Mile 19, 10:47. Perfect! All I needed to do was run 10:50 or better splits for the last 7.2 miles, and I would beat my 4:45 goal time. Suddenly, out of no where, I felt the familiar pain in my left thigh area. I was beginning to get a cramp! Usually when I slow down and think good thoughts (to distract left brain), the cramps go away. I stopped to get some water, making sure I drank extra. Instead of decreasing, the pain increased. OK, so I now knew I had to run through it. I slowly resumed running, and told my brain that the Endurolyte pill was going to make the cramp disappear. Success! The cramp was gone just as I reached mile 20. 10:49...I had gotten a cramp, walked, ran slower, and still did one second better that I needed to. Six miles to go, and I knew I had this. I was feeling great (thank-you 3 days of carb loading!). Mile 21: 10:17. Holy sh*t! I was strong. An uphill, and then a 10:43 mile 22 split. I was WAY ahead of neon green 4:45 woman. I was running downhill, still feeling great, and decided to skip my walking breaks for the mile. The result? A 10:07 split for mile 23. A tortuous uphill for mile 24. No one around me was running up the hill. I ran. No freakin' hill was going to slow me down. OK, I lied. it did! An 11:00 mile 24 time. The good thing about the difficult uphill run was the easy downhill part afterwards. I waited 5 minutes before walking, since I certainly wasn't going to walk downhill. Mile 25 was a 10:35. I had 1.2 miles to go. Reality was setting in. I could see the tall buildings of Hartford. I could hear the people cheering up ahead. As usual, I got goosebumps and choked up. I'm such a wuss like that! At that point I had a mile to go. I was passing through a street lined with cheering spectators with cowbells and signs. I turned right, Garmin beeped, and a quick glance showed a 10:41 mile 26. All I had left to do was run the perimeter of Bushnell park, turn left, and finish under the arch. Last year at this point I was dead tired and didn't enjoy the experience. This year I made sure I did. I looked at faces in the crowd, looked at the beautiful sky, listened to them cheering for me and everyone else, and listened and heard the finish line announcer calling out names of finishers just ahead. I reached the top of a small hill, which meant all I had left to do was turn left and run about 100 more flat yards to the finish line. As I turned left, I took a quick look around, and realized that no one was close by, either in front of or behind me. I had the total attention of the crowd and the announcer. I heard him announce that "Here comes Rick Held," which was followed by an increased noise level as people cheered. Yup, I was again choked up and had to fight from crying at that moment. Told you I'm a wuss! I sprinted to the finish, all the while scanning the crowd and again appreciating all of them for still being there and cheering on the slower finishers. I crossed the finish line, stopped my Garmin, and it was over. What an experience!! I walked and received my "bling." I'm going to ask Carlee to post a pic of it. It's awesome. I also was helped into the foil wrap (What are they called??)that helps warm you up, which was good since there was a cool wind blowing. My last present was a finisher water bottle, which came in handy since they don't have bottled water there. They have water fountains and water coolers to get water from. Shortly thereafter I saw Christine. She finished in 4:28. Fantastic time for her first marathon. I'm so proud of her. Of course I'm proud of myself too. After some early stubbornness, I stuck to my plan. I'm thrilled at how well my training plan worked for the marathon. I don't have to tweak anything before the NY City Marathon in 3 weeks. I actually had negative splits: 10:55 10M; 10:53 half; 10:52 20M; and 10:48 end. Now, If my two purple and red gross looking blistered toes recuperate I'll be all set. Overall, I feel good today. Even my gross toes look better today. Thanks again everyone for your support. Later on today or tomorrow I'll be posting some random thoughts and observations about the marathon.

9 comments:

Anais said...

Loved the post, it gave me goosebumps too! I feel like I just ran the marathon with you (ha, I wish!).

I don't know how you can remember all those details! But I'm glad you did and I'm glad you did awesome!! NYC is coming up soon!!!

Kelly said...

Wow you are so impressive! Congrats on finishing happy!

Lisa said...

Awesome job Rick! I'm so happy it all turned out for you. I got teary eyed reading this. You had a plan and it worked. I hope I can remember in detail my first big race like you remembered this one. So happy for you.

lindsay said...

congrats again! very nice race recap, and i'm glad you were able to calm yourself down and resume the plan. funny how 'left brain' shuts up in a race environment! i don't mind though :)

you are certainly primed for nyc!

(ps: mylar blanket, or sometimes a 'space blanket')

Irish Cream said...

AMAZING job out there, Rick! Ha, how tempting is it to just go out and stray from your race plan early on? That gets me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. But awesome job getting back to the plan relatively quickly . . . I think that's what made the race such a success for you. You are SO ready to rock it out there in NYC. I can't wait to see what happens! :)

Adair said...

Congratulations Rick!!! Great post-race report, and a testiment to your training program. Asia is running her 2nd marathon on Sunday in Detroit. I hope she has as good an experience! Good luck in New York!!

Kelly said...

Haha on your comment to me...I don't think you'll have to wait til I'm 53 for me to hate winter again, ask me again in January/February!

Believe said...

Hello, this is my first time stopping by Rick! I have to say I loved this post-absolutely needed to read it . I just recently ran my first Marathon at Big Sur this past april...and the experience...well....lets just say the left brain took over, and I have been battling this predominate anxiety of failure ever since. (also had breathing problems-oy!) I never had the intense experience as you described so well-or the glorious finish, but I am truely invigorated by this post. I don't run for the recognition, mind you :) But I also have had a sour taste in my mouth in regards to training and continuing on this growing love in my life (running) :). I am definitely going to look into training the 4 minute run and 1 minute walk format. I just wanted to say, you are really inspiring, and thank you so much for sharing-in detail! Sometimes we really need it!

Congratulations, you rocked it!!

-kathy

sam said...

I love that you posted a play by play of the whole thing. I felt like I was right there with you except that I am sitting enjoying a cup of coffee. I am so happy for you! I felt like I was going to burst into tears when I read about you crossing the finish line!! I can not wait to hear about the NYC race coming up!! You will kick butt!