Sunday, October 19, 2014

Columbus Marathon - 3:47:15

My IT band had been bothering me for quite a few weeks -- enough that I cut short the 6 mile tempo run scheduled for October 9 to just 4 kilometres at an easy pace. And due to a horse Event, I totally missed the 12 mile long run scheduled for October 12. But by the time the last "speed work" was due on October 14 (which I also missed and did on October 15), the rest had done most of its job. I did the 2 miles x 2 times at marathon pace with a 3 minute break on track and feeling good. I had a 200 mg ibuprofen a couple of hours before the run which helped. But I felt good and strong -- like I could keep the 4:55/k pace forever.

So going into the Columbus Marathon, I was cautiously optimistic. I would go out looking to run a steady pace of 4:55/k which would bring me across the 42.2 kilometre course in 2:27:29 -- within the range I was targeting of 2:28 which should get me to Boston. Even a 3:28:30 would likely do, so I had about a minute of buffer.

The course was relatively flat, and the weather (between 4 degrees and 11 degrees with no wind) was perfect. My position in corral A just behind the 3:25 pacer was perfect. I was in my new Runners Choice "Canada" black singlet, my Race Ready shorts, my Brooks shoes. I had some Clif Bloks, dried apricots and cut-up Mars bars with me for the run. I took an ibuprofen as soon as I got up at 5 AM, and another just before the race started at 7:30, at which time I also had a eLoad eTab (salt and potassium). I had put together a race band that I got from the Clif booth at the trade expo, but which I flipped around so I could record my own times on the back with the 7:55/mile pace. That pace band was very helpful throughout the run.

The start was very exciting -- lots of hoopla and great music (Thunderstruck and Born to Run). But with the crowd, my first kilometre was a bit slow. I didn't worry about it, though, and after about 4 kilometres I was right on track without even trying. I spent most of the early part of the run trying to keep my pace in check and was quite successful at doing so.

I crossed the 10K mat at 49:01 -- 9 seconds ahead of pace. Perfect!

At the 7 mile mark, I took another ibuprofen and eTab.

I hit the halfway mark (13.1 miles) at 1:43:18 -- 26 seconds ahead of pace. Really, I couldn't ask for much better. I could feel my muscles getting a bit tired, but I wasn't too concerned. I switched from water at the hydration stops to Gatorade.

By 14 miles though, I was starting to get concerned. My pace was slowing a bit and my quads, hamstrings and calf muscles were all getting tight. I tried to loosen up, but it wasn't working.

When I hit the 15 mile mark within a couple of seconds of my 1:58:45 goal for that time of the race, according to my pace band. But I couldn't maintain the pace. I had to slow down and eventually walk -- and within a couple of minutes, my left hamstring (not the right one, which I'd injured 3 years ago) was giving me spasms/cramps.

The cramps would get worse and worse as the walk/run went on. My various goals -- 3:28, 3:28:30, 3:30, "Finishing with Jenny" -- went out the window. Jenny passed me at about the 20 mile mark. I was now down to two goals -- "Finishing upright and smiling" and "Not hitting the medic tent" -- and neither was going to be a given.

The cramps were so bad that even with 200 m. to go, I had to walk out another cramp. The crowds were thick, and I really wanted to run it all the way in for that last kilometre, but there was no way I could do it.

Finish time was 3:47:15. Here are some other stats:

Jenny, on the other hand, had the run of her life. She crossed the finish in 3:32:46 -- 4th out of 148 in her age group. I couldn't be more proud of how she did.

As for what went wrong with my race, that is still up for debate. My personal feeling is that my training wasn't optimal. While I did almost all of the prescribed speed work, tempo and long runs, I didn't do the Wednesday "easy" runs, nor the Friday "pace" runs. The body needs to learn how to run tired, which is what those runs are for. Although with my IT band issue, additional miles may not have been an option. But my buddy Craig Irwin, a physiotherapist, conjectured that I may have been low on potassium. Running friend Sue Safadi, an awesome runner and physiotherapist assistant, thinks I might need some more strength training. Jenny thinks I just needed more rest. Marketa Myatt doesn't necessarily think that more miles is the answer.

So, lots of thoughts. I'll have several months to figure out what I'm going to do for a spring run (maybe not a marathon) -- and how I'm going to train for it.

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