Sunday, October 25, 2015

The 40th Annual Marine Corps Marathon...or as I like to call it "a lot of effort for a 15 mile training run"

Well, if anyone had asked my opinion about running a marathon, with no training and the longest run in 4 months being 10 miles (that being the Army 10 Miler that was a struggle), I would not only have said to not run the marathon but that it was a STUPID idea to even entertain the thought. But lets be honest...when has anyone ever asked my opinion...and when have I ever listened to good advice?!

I got into the Marine Corps Marathon through the lottery and had made travel plans months in advance. Even though all the work/life/training (or lack thereof) junk had gotten in the way, I figured at the very least I'd still come down to D.C. and have a much needed vacation. Honestly, I didn't really even pack to run the marathon hoping that would keep me from racing. I even kept saying it was a "game time" decision to give myself the "out". But then I went to the expo, saw everyone so excited to run, and thought I'd give it a shot. J was running it too and her coach thought I'd be good to pace her (throttling back to a 9:30 plus pace should mean I'd be theory at least) so that was the plan..pace duties and see how it goes.

Showing up on race day...what a mess! Stuck in lines with about ten thousand other runners waiting to get through security for almost 90 minutes! They were letting spectators...with kids AND dogs get in line with athletes?! And they only had like 6 access points to walk through. Jesus Christ! Finally, the assembled runners, with the start time looming and tired of standing in the rain, made a break for it and just walked through any opening. A quick stop at the porta-potty (did I mention the 90 minute wait?) and finally crossed the start line a whopping 30 minutes AFTER the gun went off (that'll mean more later). To add insult to injury, at most of the water stations, rather than hand out cups of Gatorade and water to runners, the volunteers (both marines and civilians) just filled cups and left them on tables to be picked up...WTH?! My Army just did the 10 Miler two weeks ago, forty two thousand runners and it went like butta!!! Ya, MCM...the 40th anniversary of the "People's Marathon" had your head firmly planted in your 4th point of contact (look it up). The only reason I wanted to do the race in the first place was because it was the 40th rendition thinking they'd pull out all the stops...and not only was it a total mess, now I have NO desire to ever do that marathon again (or maybe any marathon for that matter but more about that later).

On the Metro heading back after 15 miles
Anyhoo, getting back to running. The thought was if I throttled down I should be able to get through it. Did I mention the NO training?! And being a pacer I thought it'd help keep my mind occupied. But...because of the late start, we ended up getting stuck with those people that were looking to run a 6 hour plus marathon and the walkers so there was lots of stops and starts and yo-yo-ing for lots of miles.

Miles 1-5 9:56, 9:58, 10:26, 9:44, 10:18
Even though the goal pacer time was 9:30, the first five miles we're spent just trying to find clean pavement and keeping some type of pace. I thought that even with the the mass of people, we were doing well (or at least I thought I was) only to find out afterwards that folks on the side of the road beyond the 5 mile mark said I looked like garbage. oh boy

Miles 6-10 9:41, 11:02, 10:16, 10:37, 9:48
Amazingly the road hadn't opened up to this point. But the course turning back onto itself and the water station issue mentioned earlier didn't do anything to help stretch out the field of runners so the focus was to try and maintain some level pace and wait for the field to open up. I had just run 10 miles 2 weeks prior at the Army 10 Miler for 1:22 (my worst time so far) so I kind of thought that anything I ran over 10 miles was just a bonus. I can tell you that I was way more exhausted at this 10 mile mark than at the end of the 10 Miler and the pace showed it.

Miles 11-15 10:00, 10:18, 10:15, 10:48, 9:57
The road finally started to open up, I was hoping to set a decent pace around Haynes Point and then... my body just got angry. As I closed on mile 15, my knees and hips were just trashed. It felt like I had sand in my joints and it hurt. I talk all about the difference between "pain" and "hurt". I always think of "pain" being associated with fatigue and/or soreness and you're mind can overcome that. As a platoon sergeant of mine used to say "pain is just weakness leaving the body". But "hurt"...hurt means you're courting injury. In the past, as a younger athlete, I would've just fought through it and dealt with the consequences after...but this body...I think I may have beat it up too much over the years.

I'll be absolutely honest, I don't know if I'm angry at myself for deciding to call it a day or proud of myself for making the decision and not risking hurting myself anymore. While I know that stopping was the right and smart thing to do...that face says it all. Coming back on the metro after calling the ball, I was upset and doubting myself. There are a number of positive things to take away from the marathon I guess: that's the longest I've run since last year's Marine Corps Marathon (ooph), I can layoff my normal pace (the tight field helped with that too) and I can be smart and make decisions to save m body from unnecessary injury. Considering I can barely walk right now, maybe that was one good decision I made. ‪Now to get back to training and racing...but no marathons for the foreseeable future.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The 31st Army 10 Miler...also entitled "don't make excuses, you can't deal with the results" or "the wheels on the bus just fall right off".

A cautiously optimistic layout
Going into the Army 10 Miler let me just say I didn't want to be here. I am not prepared, physically or mentally. I've had to skip races over the last 18 months because of illness or injury (breaking my year streaks of doing "x" race) but... come hell or high water, I HAVE to be here. NO way I can miss THIS race. How much so? Well, because of airplane ticket and hotel hiccups, I drove down from Boston at 3:30 am the day before the race, raced and then drove back home after the race. Yup, a turn and burn to race. Ugh. Just one more example of how the wheels have completely fallen off over the last few months. But, it's never about the bad things that's about what you do to deal with them. Right? This race means too much to me (I was in town for years when I was a fat guy to support an annual event on race weekend, watched people race, feeling sorry for myself) and once I finally raced it I knew I'd never miss another. I can honestly say that if I had to walk the whole damned thing, all that matters to me is crossing the line and getting my prized finisher's coin. Ya, I don't know when I became the "it's important to show up and just finish" guy over my normal "nothing less than 1000%, kill yourself racing" guy...but I guess that's just indicative of the space I'm in.

Having any other expectation other than just finishing is pretty ridiculous when you realize the race was the longest I'd run, and the first run I've done over 6 miles in like 3 months. But...I am known for ridiculous expectations. My plan was to not look at my watch and just run on feel. That worked right up until I hit the 2nd mile marker. I missed the 1st marker because I was trying to figure out what the deal was with the course change. By the way I hate the new course! The whole race essentially started a mile later than years past so all the markers I've used for pace were "off".

Miles 1-3 7:33, 7:34, 7:38
I was surprised I was able to hold onto around 7:30s to be honest. I didn't feel like I was running fast but guess I got caught up in the 1st corral runners and felt ok with that pace.
Anxious before, tired after but finisher coin in hand

Miles 4-6 7:43, 7:51, 8:06
I didn't feel bad, but you can see that pace started to drop off quickly. By mile 6, I could feel my body position changing (leaning forward from the hips, shoulders rolled forward) from fatigue and knew that the last 4 miles weren't going to be fun.

Miles 7-10 8:12, 8:25, 8:52, 8:53
And then the wheels started to come off. That stretch of road, coming off the turn at 7 wasn't' fun at all and the new course bears left off the 14th street bridge rather than right to the Pentagon (as it has in year's past) and it just sucked the life right out of me. Add in that I was starting to hurt (my right hip started hurting because of what I wold think was the breakdown in body position) and those last miles felt like an eternity...and by that was! I was absolutely gassed at the end. I finished at 1:22:12, my worst time to date, but at least I got through it and got my treasured finisher's coin. I would love to say I took the time to enjoy the race and the surroundings...but I'd be lying. All I thought about at each mile marker was how far I was off the pace I could've been running. Not enjoyable at all and I think the Marine Corps Marathon in a couple weeks is completely off the table.