Sunday, March 01, 2009

Tale of the Tape

or, rather, of the GPS. This is where my analytical side gets all hot & heavy, where I like to do the post-mortem on the performance, or lack there-of. I can tell you emotionally where I lost it, and it was right after we turned into the Botanical Gardens and I just couldn't keep up with the 5:00 pace group when the walk break turned back into running. And the data pretty much backs that up.

I'll start from the beginning -- I started at the back end of the pack, with the 5:00 pace group leader, Coach Joe. He's run 60 marathons, and his usual pace is about 4:00 or less, so he was slowing down for us. There were a couple of other guys running with the group, but it was a very loose and casual gathering. Joe was cracking jokes at every mile marker, and we were tooling along just fine through the first stretches of the race, through the streets that were so familiar from the Saturday morning training runs. The pack was thick until we split from the half-marathoners right past mile 8, then it was just the marathoners with a few ultra-runners mixed in. We were doing 6/1 splits, and it was very easy going. Even after 10 miles, I was still feeling strong and fresh. And then, the hills. From mile 8 to 11, it's all a very gradual downhill, which you don't really feel, but which is still giving your legs a big pounding. From 11 to 18, it's all uphill. And when combined with the wind, it became too much. I dropped back from the pace group coming up a hill directly into the wind, even though we were trying to draft in a straight line. And before I knew it, there went Joe and his silly jokes (I do hope they got better as the race went on!).

So, now all there was keeping me going was the thought of seeing the boys at mile 14. Except that they couldn't get through the traffic and find a place to park. So they kept going further south on the course until they could find someplace to stop. And I kept running, but by now I was walking some. And I was in pain. My hamstrings and quads were burning and my calves were alternating between cramping and burning. It was so windy that I couldn't take off my top layer (my jacket was already around my waist) but if the wind was not in your face, the sun was too hot to keep it on. So I was very uncomfortable and it was looking more and more like this was not going to be my day. And the boys were ahead of me, but it was all I could do to keep going. I kept thinking it might be OK to jump into the Mustang and head home. But then, they called and said they were at mile 19, so by then, it was stupid not to have finished. So, in a way, their getting caught up in traffic was what did it for me, what led me to finish on a day that I might otherwise have packed it in.

The wind continued past the area near campus, and the whole time I was running north on University, it was directly into the wind. I see on the map that it was only a mile total, but it felt like a lot more than that. Probably the most humorous moment of the entire race was right past the mile 22 marker, as I was running up toward the Trinity park area and a windblown piece of cardboard whacked me dead-center. It was startling because I had my head down and hilarious because it was just about right for the day. By that time, I was counting down the miles to the finish the way I usually do, by comparing the distance to the shorter routes around my house & the hotel: "Six miles -- that's up the corner to Bowen and back." "Five miles -- that's down around the reservoir and back up 7th." "Four miles -- that's down to the Starbucks and then back again." "Three miles -- up Pearl to Foothills, down to Colorado and back."

And then, I was at the downtown area. And I was walking more than running, until... Until I saw the guy in the cow suit. I'd always seen him at races before, yelling and cheering everyone on, and wearing, yes, this spotted cow suit. But I didn't know him until now. He is one of the FW Running Co pace group leaders, and he finished the Ultra marathon yesterday, in less time than it took me to finish the full. He showed me his medal and it spurred me on, so I ran it in from then to the finish. I finished upright and smiling, if an hour past my predicted time. No matter. I finished, and I know that it was an off day, and that I'll have another chance to get that 5:00 monkey off my back. Maybe at Oklahoma City in April. Maybe at New York City. It was a bad day, but not enough to make me swear off these things entirely. My nutrition and hydration plan were right on track, with no issues with any injuries or GI or even really any blisters. I do really hate the taste of blue gatorade right now, but I'll get over that in about a week, I think.

At the end of the day, I did the work, and I had a good first half. Now I just need to do what is needed to have a good second half.

For posterity, here is the Garmin reading:

Run Time: 5:51:38
Run Distance: 26.39
Avg. Pace: 13:19
Calories: 3351
Total Time: 5:57:29

Mile 1: 11:08
Mile 2: 11:09
Mile 3: 10:43
Mile 4: 10:41
Mile 5: 11:09
Mile 6: 11:33
Mile 7: 11:26
Mile 8: 11:11
Mile 9: 10:49
Mile 10: 10:25
Mile 11: 10:57
Mile 12: 10:40
Mile 13: 12:15 -- ahhh, the wheels, they're getting flat...
Mile 14: 12:25 -- watch out, the wheels, they're loose....
Mile 15: 13:24 -- on the phone with the boys trying to find a spot to meet
Mile 16: 13:46 -- oww, legs cramping, very sore... just keep moving
Mile 17: 15:33 -- damn, watch out -- wheels off!
Mile 18: 15:43 -- downhill stretch, but that hurts almost as much
Mile 19: 16:58 -- met the boys, waved them off from the finish -- don't know how long it will take me to get there
Mile 20: 16:21 -- set the watch for 3:3 intervals -- walk, run, walk, run
Mile 21: 16:17 -- just keep moving
Mile 22: 15:53
Mile 23: 16:38
Mile 24: 14:36 -- ran through a couple of walk intervals here
Mile 25: 17:41 -- walked through a couple of run intervals here
Mile 26: 17:25 -- mostly walked; dreadfully windy and very boring stretch
Mile .2: 4:40 -- walked until I got to the last four blocks to the finish

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