This post was originally laying out, in general, my training regiment that I would use for the Fall Marathon season. That changed with my diagnosis of pneumonia earlier this month. I haven’t ran since 8/13, a week before the first signs of sickness manifested. I haven’t really worked out for 9 days, which was Taekwondo the night before I went to the doctor.
Now that I think the pneumonia is almost 100% gone, I am hoping to jump back into my normally scheduled life on the weekend of Sept 12/13 which will be 10 weeks before Flying Monkey. I’ve lost a good chunk of training time, but I will have to be diligent about training.
The basic skeleton of my training will follow something like this: Mondays – Utility Day: Tempo Pace, Taekwondo, and/or Soccer Coaching or Rest Day Tuesdays – Speed Work Wednesdays – Tempo Pace /Taekwondo or Rest Day Thursdays – Hills, Hills, Hills Fridays – Easy Pace/Taekwondo or Rest Day Saturdays – Long Run or Tempo Pace depending on schedule Sundays – Long Run or Tempo Pace depending on schedule
Long Run distances will fluctuate from week to week from 12 – 20 miles. I’ll miss one whole weekend as we will be gone on vacation. I would like to have one long run where I run 20+ miles which I was thinking would be in early October, but I might have to push it back to late October.
After Flying Monkey (11/22), I’ll continue the weekly schedule, with maybe one long run of 24+ in preparation for the Pistol 50k (1/2/16). December, of course, is tricky because of all holiday activities and food, especially the food.
My nemesis, Pneumonia, decided to pay me a visit last week and throw a monkey wrench into my life. Thankfully, this go around is of the lesser impact type and can be treated with medicine and patience.
I knew that it had been a while since pneumonia decided to show it’s ugly face. Using the search feature, I was able to find a few references to when I had it back in December 2010. I have had it a couple of times in the past and even have warning symptoms that throw up red flags. This particular time, there wasn’t the standard order of symptoms, they all seem to be unique and unrelated. My guess, is that I was experiencing several little things, that opened the door for it. However, since these little things kept me feeling ill for over a week, when the pneumonia finally set in, I was already at the doctor’s getting medicine. So, they helped catch it early on.
One of the biggest impact of my illness is to my running. Specifically, my training for 2 upcoming races: Flying Monkey Marathon (Nov) and The Pistol 50k (Jan).
Training for Flying Monkey was supposed to have started 4 weeks ago in mid-August. Since August 1st, I was in a “base” mode, where I didn’t really worry about workouts/distance, just get some mileage under my belt. With not feeling well, since around August 20th or so, I hadn’t ran hardly anything. In fact, my log book says 0.0. At best, I’ll be able start running again during the weekend, but that’ll be bare-bones type of mileage, with only 10 weeks until race day. Thankfully, this isn’t my first time toeing the line for a marathon. I’m just going to have to be very creative. I won’t have any miracle workout that will get me a personal record or even a course record on Race Day. I’ll get from the Start Line to the Finish Line without killing myself (much).
The 2nd race, The Pistol 50k which I am running in memory of James Rich #WarriorMode, is still okay in terms of time to train. The Flying Monkey is one training component for The Pistol, and I am hoping for a good run at Flying Monkey to help bridge the 6-7 week gap between the 2 races.
As of writing of this post, I’m finished with the antibiotic protocol but still have an inhaler to keep the lungs open and drive everything out. I’ve also been resting when I can, but still have a few days before I start getting back into moderate exercise.
Historically, I tend to run November marathons, (Richmond, Chickamauga, Flying Monkey), mostly because of the how the training schedule works out. When I have ran September Marathons (Darlington, Quad Cities), my long runs were in the peak summer heat and were difficult to say the least. For November Marathons, I use around August 1st as the official date, it’s about 16 weeks, give or take. I have found, through trial and error, that a 12 week training schedule works best for me. So I “trick” myself with anything over 12 weeks and call it a “base” period.
Since I’m also running The Pistol 50k in January, this means that I have an additional training schedule after my November marathon. I was hoping Rocket City would be a part of the plan, but I can easily make my own marathon event, if need be.
That Was My Plan…
There are tons o’ plans out there on the internet. Some are very simple and some complicated. There is no One Plan To Rule Them All. Nor are any of these training plans etched in stone. Each training plan has common key workouts essential to have the proper training for race day, but they are yarned together differently. “Train only 4 days a week” or “No Long Runs over 20 miles” or “It’s all about the Pace”. Your best bet is to ask a running coach on what is best for you.
The November marathon will be #25, and I have learned a few about my training schedules along the way.
1) They are not etched in stone. [Very important, second time I’ve mentioned it] There is no way to run every single training session, unless that is your only job and you don’t get injured or sick.
2) At the starting line, I won’t have all the training I want because of #1. Usually, it is better to arrive to Race Day under trained (too a point) than over trained. [A wise professor of Kinesiology told me that one time when I was super stressed out]
3) Experience helps bridge some gaps in training, but even seasoned veterans can make rash, foolish mistakes. I have the experience to know how to adjust my schedule to account for missed training runs, but I am still susceptible to getting caught up in the energy of Race Day and try to run a PR with laughable training.
4) 16 weeks is too long of a schedule as it is psychologically draining on me. 8 weeks isn’t quite long enough unless I’m just interested in finishing rather than going for a particular time. 12 weeks, as Goldilocks endorses, is “Just Right.” When the 12 week training aligns with a race course that doesn’t look like a heart monitor (of a living person) then I have a shot a sub-4 finish.
5) It is unrealistic for me to fit the mid-week, mid-distance (6-10 miles) run into my schedule. The windows for me to run are few, so I make concessions on the types of runs I use. Most often, I swap the Easier Pace runs with shorter Tempo Runs.
6) Cross train if possible, it helps in my non-existent flexibility and trains the other muscles that running doesn’t use as much. I do Tae Kwon Do, Soccer, some Ultimate Frisbee when I can work it in, and slinging my kids around.
7) Never under estimate the power of a Rest Day. There are days, when you just aren’t going to feel like running. Some of those days, you just push through. Some of those days is your body saying, “Dude, come on… relax, don’t do it.” Rest Days are built into the schedule for a reason, they are a buffer against injury.
I haven’t noodled out the training that I will be using this fall. Given that I’m in the “Base” period, I can train “casually”, and have a few more days before I have something set in stone. I mean, set on paper.
Back in December, I laid out my plans for my running year 2015. I’m working on taking my planning capability for running and apply it to other aspects of my life, because I can plan out running in a year, yet I find myself asking, “What do we have to eat?”.
2015 was supposed to be THE year that I (finally) broke the 4-hour mark. I was going to finish a marathon in less than 4 hours. It didn’t matter if it was 3:59:59, it was going to happen. The plan was to run Flying Monkey at the end of November (as a training run) and then 3 weeks later, run Rocket City. Then in April, things changed. Other things broke instead, unfortunately is was Jen’s knee and priorities changed.
I ended up not running the Expo 10k (May) or Fireball 5k (July). I did work the Fireball 5k at the water stop and was able to run before and after the event, it just wasn’t a race for me. I missed the early registration for the Farragut Half Marathon (Oct 31), so that makes it a little too expensive to do that race plus the Foothills Half Marathon (Nov 1) in the same weekend.
Running Rocket City this year isn’t going to happen. Financially, it’s not a smart move for us to head to Huntsville, AL for the weekend. So, I’ll have to put on hold taking a shot at under 4 hours.
Getting to the start line of the Pistol 50k will require a lot of work. I’ll be building my training program for it shortly and will have some key milestones. One of which, I hope, will include the Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon.
Entry into this race is a weighted lottery. “What is a weighted lottery?” you ask. It’s where you name is tossed into a pool of entrants and certain “things” about your application increase your probability of being selected. One of these “things” is how many Monkeys you have run, more the merrier. I also think wit and sarcasm weigh in your favor in the “For goodness sake, why would you do this? Are you insane?” question.
Of the many cool things about this race, one of them is the theme. Each year there is a theme which influences the t-shirts, posters, goodies, and more. For example, for the 4th year, it was ‘A New Hope’ theme. You’re a nerd if you get it. The runners for the 2013 “Faster than a Flying Banana” theme received a cape. Forget what Edna says about capes… it was still cool. Some even ran the marathon with their’s on. Last Year, the theme was Game of Thrones… and I missed it! This year, the theme falls under the Hunger Games with the motto “May the hills be ever in your favor”.
However, for this course, “hills” and “favor” don’t really mix. This is a description of the course by Mike Sohaskey at RaceRaves:
And while the organizers may take themselves lightly, they clearly take their responsibilities seriously with over 7,200 feet of total elevation change, grades of up to 12% and a cadre of dedicated volunteers providing encouragement and guidance along the way.
With landmarks like “Three Mile Hill” and “Nine Mile Hill” boasting lung-burning ascents and quad-punishing descents, the HHFM isn’t monkeying around. Or maybe it is. In any case, your legs will doubtless be ready to See no hills, hear no hills, speak no hills long before reaching the finish.
Maybe to go along with the theme I will make my running shorts out of fire. Ummm, maybe not. Hopefully, they won’t have any Nightlock Gels out on the course.
Runners, on a stereotypical level, do some pretty strange stuff. It’s not just going out of their way to run for enjoyment, they can do some strange things in the name of Running. Some have some good luck rituals in which they believe will help them like a nice drink of Liquid Luck, some will go out of their way to do some pretty (insane) Tough Runs and some others will use their running as a psychological release.
I am guilty of all three. I have documented some of it here on my blog. While I’m not “big” on the ritual aspects like whether I ties my shoe laces in a clockwise or a counter clockwise motion, I do like a significant challenge in my races (MONKEY! MONKEY! MONKEY!) and use my running for my psychological needs.
A few conditions are associated with running. On the positive note, there is the “Runner’s High” which is the euphoric feeling one gets from running. Not to be confused with the light headed feeling of almost passing out because running can be hard work. On the negative side, there is the “Marathon Blues” which occurs right after a marathon, when the massive accomplishment of weeks (and weeks) of training culminates into a memory at the finish line, leaving the runner asking “What’s Next?” There is even something called “Taper Madness”, a condition that starts approximately 2-3 weeks before a Marathon when the training moves into a stage called “The Taper”. This is the stage of training where the overall number of miles per week and the long run distances are reduced leading up to race day. After weeks of running lots and lots of miles, one begins to question the logic of a training program when it says they only have to run 8 miles for their long run. Madness, I tell you, Madness.
Runner’s also use their running to mourn, celebrate and even advocate. Many, MANY charities have been supported by efforts of the runner. Charities can be supported by someone wearing their shirt, running in a race sponsored by a charity, or by raising money. It’s common to see someone wearing a shirt or have something pinned to their shirt that says something to the effect of: “I’m running in memory of….” . I’ve done similar things in the past and will be doing it again.
On May 15th, Mr. James Rich passed away from a battle with a very aggressive cancer. Just his diagnosis of cancer was a huge shock this past January and his passing devastated many. He was our Taekwondo Instructor, our colleague and our friend. He just got people. I don’t know how many times I saw him bring out the best of people during Taekwondo. It was truly amazing.
When he was diagnosed with cancer and started to battle it, the mantra he used was “Warrior Mode”. His intention was to fight and beat the cancer with a warrior’s tenacity, never give up and never give in. I wear wristband that says “Team Rich, Warrior Mode” and everyone in my family has a “Team Rich Warrior Mode” t-shirt.
July 29th 2015 would have been his 51st birthday. He died too early. But while his earthly body is gone, his memory lives on. As of writing this post, I, personally have had no closure. While I was saddened to hear that he past, I was more relieved that he was no longer in pain. There was initially talk of having a celebration of life for him in Knoxville, but it didn’t happen. So with nothing formal, I’ve had not really mourned in the way I need to mourn. Jen keeps asking me if I have broken down yet and I have not, at least, not yet.
Mr. Rich was a great person. He was a lot of things, but he had his faults. I can tell you one fault of his, one thing that he was NOT… and that would be a Runner. He stuck to the “I only run if I’m chased by a bear.” I never got a chance to tell him that he was lying to me about that. He would never be chased by a bear, he would turn his head slowly at the bear, raise one eyebrow and give it the “stare”. It wouldn’t be him doing the running.
So, it is with great irony that I announce that I will be Running in memory him. It will be MY celebration of life for HIM. He was 50 years old when he passed, so I wanted to try to tie in the number 50 or some variant of it (e.g. 5 or 500 or 5,000). He also liked guns, and that got me thinking about a local race called “The Pistol”. It is a 50 kilometer race (so it ties in nicely with “50”) and what BETTER way to celebrate the life of a Non-Runner than by running an ultramarathon! So with great fanfare [trumpets blare] I’m running the Pistol 50k (31 miles) on January 2nd 2016 in memory of James Rich.
I’m not sure what I will being doing more on race day in January, crying or sweating, but I know I’ll be doing both. #WarriorMode
Since finishing the Quad Cities Marathon back on September 28th, I have been like a rocket ship with one of its engines not working.
Running is one of my rocket engines. I will confess it is one of my larger engines where it should have a more proportional size to other aspects of my life. So for over 2 months now, I have been “drifting” because I have not had any specific race to train for. On one hand, it gives me time with the family, time to recuperate, time to focus on other endeavors. However, on the other hand, being known as a “Runner”, the first (and easiest) thing way to start a conversation is for someone to ask “So, are you training for anything?”. When you are not training, the conversation generally stops abruptly at “No”. Enter the ‘Runner With No Race’.
To help illustrate the ‘Runner With No Race’, I extracted some song lyrics to illustrate. [After finishing this post, I could write “Runner Without A Race”, a parody of Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without A Face”]
from “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugar Hill Gang:
“Like a millionaire that has no money
Like a rainy day that is not wet,
Like a gamblin’ fiend that does not bet
Like Dracula without his fangs,
Like the boogie to the boogie without the boogie bang
Like collard greens that don’t taste good,
Like a tree that’s not made out of wood
Like goin’ up and not comin’ down,
Is just like the beat without the sound, no sound”
and selected lyrics from “What?” by A Tribe Called Quest:
“What’s Alex Haley if it doesn’t have roots?
What’s a weekend if you ain’t knockin boots?
What is a glock if you don’t have a clip?
What’s a lollipop without the Good Ship?
What is a paper without a president?
What is a compound without an element?”
So, hopefully that makes it clear about a runner who has no race to run. I’m getting ready to reignite my engine, here’s my running schedule for 2015:
Calhoun’s 10 miler – Jan 24 – Part of the KTC Winter Long Distance Series and training run for the Knoxville Marathon. It is quite possible that I could try to break my 10 miler PR time of 1:25:55 Possible
Farragut Half Marathon – Oct 31 – Going for the “Half Double” (two Half Marathons in two consecutive days), if the 2 races are scheduled back-to-back. One of my marathon goals is to run a Full Double (two Marathons in two consecutive days) but logistically, there’s not too many Sat/Sun races for me to choose. Right now, the least crazy option is the Chickamauga/Outer Banks combination. So for now, I will settle for a Half Double.
Flying Monkey Marathon – Mid-November – If the schedule holds and get an entry to the race, this will be marathon #25! I had Monkey Lament this year for not running this year. [Holding up my hand] I do solemnly promise not to miss another Flying Monkey.
Rocket City Marathon – Early December – This will be my Premier Race. Running the ‘challenging’ Flying Monkey course about 2 weeks prior to Rocket City will set me up well to shoot for a sub 4 hour marathon finishing time. Finishing under 4 hours is my highest Marathon goal, and I was only 5 minutes away at Quad Cities this September.
Pistol 50k – Early January 2016 – This is well managed race that puts the runner first! I look forward to running it again and I can use Rocket City to piggyback with training.
It was a family venture out to the flat Midwest from hilly East Tennessee. I should create a blog post of the few days prior to the race. It involved an interstate detour because of a burning truck, fog lines, visiting family that I hadn’t seen in years and years, and meeting some others for the first time. Reasons why I was running this race are on a previous post.
Expo The expo was held in the iWireless Center entertainment venue and wasn’t overwhelming. This made packet pickup pretty easy, although I would have put the Lookup Board just outside to make the flow easier. Jeff and I arrive fairly early on Saturday, we had a family reunion later that afternoon, so this was the best time to get there and back. I found that I was going to wearing the number 402 for this race. I hadn’t tried to ask for the #43 bib since the race was being held on my 43rd Birthday. It was cool that the Darlington Marathon did it for me in 2013, so once was cool enough.
When I went to pick up my race shirt, the lady asked, “Is this your first marathon?” I answered in a surprised, “Oh, no.” To which she quickly replied, “Is this your first Quad Cities?” and I replied simply “yes”. We also received a poster with the medal on a hand drawn rendering of the Race Start with the date, which should be suitable for a frame, someday.
A number of vendors were present, most of them local companies. So while most of them I couldn’t really use their services being from out of town, I did hit the booth with the free samples of Miller Lite. I was on my last 2 doses of antibiotics, so I was willing to risk taking a sample. At the Official Quad Cities Paraphernalia booth I scored a 2013 Quad Cities Marathon shirt for $5, since I was short a few shirts for the trip. The only thing I didn’t get to do was talk with the Pacers for the race. I wanted to ask if there was anything cool that their Pacer Captain did for them to get any good ideas. Also was going to see if any of the sub 4 Pacers would consider a trip to Knoxville in 2015 (Always Networking!).
When I woke up it was just a little early but I didn’t want to go back to sleep and then proceed to over sleep. I figured my brother would wake me if it got too late, but I didn’t want to take any chances. I went and got up, dressed, and Jen helped me put Rock Tape on my hamstrings and quads. I went downstairs for my normal pre-marathon meal of an Apple, Clifbar, Coffee, Water and Gatorade.
Since 2002, to carry food with me, I pin my gels to the outside of my short’s waistband and then flip them inside. I had 2 Accel gels (both Lime) which are my favorite of all the gels that I have used because they aren’t too sweet and have some protein in them to help regulate the sugar. I had picked up 2 new gels at Eddie’s Health Shoppe back in Knoxville, a Chia based Gel and a Gu Roctane. I know, I know… you aren’t supposed to eat anything new during a race unless absolutely necessary.
We had a prerace phootshoot before Jeff and I headed to Race Start.
We arrived with plenty of time before the start of the race. Finding our way into the mass of people lined up for what was turning out to be a beautiful morning, hoping the sun wouldn’t be too draining. Race Start was crowded but not bad even with 3,800 people hanging around for their respective race to start. I was a little surprised that all distances were starting at the same time: the 5k, Half Marathon and Marathon. After the gun fired, it took me close to 4 minutes to reach the Starting Line.
Miles 1 – 6.2 (55:51)
Thankfully, the race had the entire road for runners to spread out in the first mile. This relieved much of the congestion one people got going. I didn’t have to do too much swerving around runners to get to my target pace. I didn’t want to be too slow in the first mile and set myself with a time deficit and at the same time burn too much energy swerving through traffic. Jeff and I separated right at the start, he was thinking he’d have a 2+ hr finish for the Half.
The course for the Full and Half runners put us running over a bridge right at mile 1, while the 5k runners kept going straight ahead. Even with losing the scores of 5k runners, it was packed like sardines over the bridge. We had one lane of the bridge while slow moving vehicular traffic had the other. A few times, to avoid getting jammed in runner traffic, I run outside of the cones (shhhhhh).
Coming off the bridge, we were able to spread out again. Since I hadn’t seen the Mile 1 marker (located early on the bridge) and coupled with the congestion on the bridge, I wasn’t sure exactly what pace I was running. Too slow and I would have to make it up, too fast and I would pay for it later.
I crossed the Mile 2 marker at 18:36 which was a 9:18 average pace. I was pleasantly surprised that I was actually that fast, just about at right pace. I was sure I had been slower because of the bridge congestion. At the top of the hill, right before Mile 3, I saw my cheering section of Jen, The Boys, and Bree (my Sister-In-Law).
One thing I did in preparation for this race was to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The forecast of Sunny weather earlier in the week did not sit well with me, so I planned for Operation Saturation. My rhyming plan was working well, because shortly after getting off the first bridge, I had to go! So, just past Mile 3, I ditched off the course and used the bathroom. During my very first marathon in 1999, I had to use the bathroom at Mile 4 but held it until Mile 17. I had trouble for the rest of the race because of it, so I’m very conscious now about making sure I take care of my business early.
Coming down the “big” hill during Mile 4, I passed one the Pacers, which comforted me because I was making the gains that I needed. Around the 4.5 mile area, the route hops onto a greenway that runs parallel with the Mighty Mississippi River. It’s much like the Neyland Greenway in Knoxville that runs alongside the Tennessee River. I took some time just to enjoy the view of the river and the scenic view it offered.
Miles 6.2 to 13.1 (1:56:11)
Somewhere before the Mile 6 mark, I caught up with another Marathon Manaic and we began talking. Turns out that it was Maniac #62, Steve from Wisconsin who has ran all 17 Quad Cities Marathons! FYI, there are currently 9,800+ maniacs and I’m #1225. We ran together and chatted for almost 2 miles along the greenway. Crowd support was nice on the greenway, there seemed to be a smattering of people just about the entire length of the greenway.
Right around Mile 8, the Half Marathoners left us making their way toward the finish line. We still ran a bit in Davenport (Iowa) until we crossed the Centenniel Bridge over to Rock Island (Illinois). As a hill runner, most of the marathon course was flat and I had already ran the “big” hills, so the run up the ramp and across the bridge over the river was a nice change of pace.
The Rock Island section of the course was pretty active. A bunch of Cheerleading Teams were at different corners being loud and encouraging. The course through the Rock Island section was a box that connected back up to itself. Thankfully, it went around the quaint downtown area and a residential section which provided some shady places to escape the wrath of the sun.
Just before the Mile 12 mark, someone had their radio playing the song “Cherish” by Madonna. It made me think of Chris, my brother who passed away in 2013, as Madonna was one of, if not his all time favorite artist. I sure wished he could have been there to see me and Jeff at the Finish Line.
Heading over another bridge, we made it to the Arsenal Island and to the half way point.
Miles 13.1 to 20 (3:00:06)
Just before the halfway point, I caught up with the 4:00 pacer. I continued past him as I crossed the halfway point at 1:56:11 which projected me to a sub 4 hour marathon (my overall Marathon goal). I had been in a similar situation back in the 2012 Chickamauga Marathon where I had been on target for a sub 4 hour finish but then started to slow down and hung on for a (at the time) 36 second PR finish.
This meant, I had some time banked, so I could afford to slow down a little if needed. On the Aresenal, we hooked back up with the Half Marathoner for a little bit and I checked my watch to see if by some chance I might run into (pun intended) Jeff and get to see how he was doing. I did some recreational math and determined that if we crossed paths, things would be going very badly for him.
The first part of the course on the Arsenal was fairly tranquil. Once we broke off from the Half Marathoners the number of runners became pretty sparse again. The route took us on a crushed gravel road right next to the river and since we were on an Island, the other shore was closer. The course then meandered through part of the golf course, again, no traffic and plenty of trees to offer some shade. I could hear Star and Stripes Forever in what sounded like bells being played off in the distance. At one point during the golf course, they handed out towels soaked in cold water. They felt so good. It was nice to take a mini towel bath to get some of the sweat and gunk off.
Leaving the golf course, we connected up with the Half Marathoners again just after the Mile 18 mark. The rest of the course through the Arsenal was on the main road, taking us past some buildings and toward the Rock Island National Cemetery. There was a radar speed limit sign set up for the normal vehicular traffic, but with only runners on the course, it kept flipping back and forth from 5 to 6.
As we made our way closer to the cemetery, I understood for whom the bells (I had heard on the golf course) were tolling. The cemetery was playing an assortment of patriotic tunes with bells. The sound was strong but not earsplitting. After rounding a slight bend, the familiar white markers in perfect rows began to come into view. Orderly rows of veterans, in their final resting place, were in formation. An overwhelming sense of “something” touched the back of my neck. It was a humbling sight. I began to think of the different generations that were buried there and wondered how many of them I might have come across in the audiobooks on U.S. wars that I have listened to the past few years.
But whether or not I had listened to the account of any number of these soldiers, there was one that I knew, a certain SSgt Robert W. Tripp, USAF, from whom I received 1/2 of my DNA code. As I was running along side of the cemetery, following the marathon course, there was one point that our distance from each other was at its minimum. Yes, recreational mental calculus based thoughts while running, but the realization made me smile as he too was immersed in the sciences, an engineer. With a small tear in my eye, surely not a bead of sweat, I turned slightly toward the cemetery and gave him a small salute. I turned back forward, enough of being sentimental, there was a race afoot!
Mile 20 to Finish As we left the Arsenal Island to go back over to the “mainland”, we crossed the 20 mile marker. I looked at my watch, 3:00:07, knowing at this point my legs were feeling heavy, my mind ran through the rigors of different paces and implications on finishing time. As it was, were I to keep my current pace, I was looking at a 3:59 finishing time. Realistically, I knew my pace would slow, but I wasn’t sure how slow I would become. There was 6.2 miles of exposure from the sun left to endure, the sun would be relentless and I, I would endeavor.
Making the math easier, slowing down to a 10 min pace, would add 1 hour 2 minutes, forecasting me for a 4:01 finishing time. Dropping down to an 11 minute mile pace would put me around a 4:07 So, I had some time in the bank to spend, if needed. However, if I wanted to achieve a PR, I could not let my average pace slip past 11 minutes per mile.
The last 6.2 miles of the course was the flattest part of the course. It was about 3 miles out then turn around for about 3 miles to the finish. In theory, you would think this is a good thing… and it is, to a point. Having hills, even small hills forces you to change the muscles you use so that no one muscle group has to do all the work. So, for me, I found the lack of hills, well, rather disturbing. All sun, no hills makes Terry’s legs fatigue faster.
Wouldn’t you know it, around Mile 21 I was looking for a place to ditch thanks to Operation Saturation. I wasn’t going to waste precious time standing in line for a portapotty. However, there was no place to politely ditch without a bunch of people around. If push came to shove, I would do what I needed to do but for now, I could still manage. I even went through a water stop and drank water and Gatorade even though I still needed to go.
Shortly after the water stop, I found a place and took a sharp 90 degree turn beside a trashcan shielded behind a wall. P.E.E. that’s how I spelled relief. My bladder thanked me and my legs enjoyed the rest while it lasted and then I was off again. Mile 21 split – 10:06.
I found myself closing in on the 4 hour Pacer (who had passed me at some point) and even hung with him for a short while. I realized my pace was a little fast and let him pull ahead by slowing down slightly. While there was still time left in the race, I had at most, an 8 minute 1 second window to still achieve a PR. My ultimate marathon goal of a sub 4 hour finish would have to come another day, but a PR didn’t have to wait, but it wouldn’t come easy. Mile 22 split – 10:02
For these last 6 or so miles, I took walk breaks when I needed and continuously drank all the water I could manage. No shade was available, the sun was draining and the temperature was still comfortable but rising. I welcomed another wet towel station along the way and took advantage of it in both directions.
I was watching the time that I had banked slip away at each mile marker. I knew though, I had to go as fast as I could without depleting my energy too early. I was limiting myself to walk breaks to a minute, preferably less. If I stopped to do my leg stretch, I knew I my pace would be slightly faster for a short period of time. Also, for time management, I made sure that I had the cap of my bottle off before I got to the water stop, and when my bottle was being filled, I would grab a water or Gatorade for the road. Mile 23 split – 11:06.
At the water stop near Mile 23, they filled my water bottle with the coldest, tastiest water I had ever put to my lips. It was ambrosia, but I didn’t get to enjoy it too long. At Mile 24, it was time to prepare for the Finish Line. At this point, my time was 3:33 and I knew that a PR time was probable, if I could keep steady.
Then, to my surprise, I saw the 4 hour Pacer, still moving forward but shoulders hunched forward as if in a daze. I had been there many times in races… moving forward to the finish line… somewhere out there. This was his first race as a Pacer, but even in his condition, he had done 10x better than I did in my first gig as Pacer. When you get to this point as a Pacer, where you know there is no way to finish at your goal time, there is the added weight that hangs heavy on your mind that you have failed. Runners were counting on you to get them to the finish line by that time and now it wasn’t going to happen. At least he was going to finish, I had a DNF (Did Not Finish) on my first pacing attempt. But as I tell the Knoxville Pacers in the last email before Race Day, if something happens, take care of yourself. It.will.be.okay! So today, neither of us were going to finish under 4 hours, but I could smell a PR… it was there in front of me… on the horizon. Mile 24 split – 11:26.
I model my prepping for the finish line (of any race distance) on what I believe astronauts might do when they are getting ready to land on the moon, or Earth, or may even Mars one day. For marathons, at the Mile 25 mark, I start to go over a systems check. Lungs, Legs, Stamina, Mind, Posture, Water Levels, and Energy Levels. At this point I have already scanned the runners ahead of me and mark them as ones I will overtake or that I might be able to catch before the finish. Mile 25 split – 10:51.
All systems were in check, my fatigue was being ignored due to the increased excitement of the finish line. I could make out the taller buildings ahead of me where I knew the finish line waited for me with open arms. The noise of the people and music at the finish line was becoming louder. It wouldn’t be long. One last scan for runners ahead of me, none close enough to over take, the PR was the most important thing. Mile 26 split – 10:50.
A row of traffic cones lined the road acting like landing lights for the runners. At the Mile 26 marker, I tried to finish off my water supplies and tossed my bottle off to the side. It served me well.
“Go at throttle up”
“Go at throttle up” was the last communication of Challenger to Mission Control. For the shuttles, during launch, they pull back their main engines shortly after lift off to minimize the maximum dynamic pressure on the shuttle while they are still in the thickest part of the atmosphere. If they didn’t, it would cause some very bad things. Then around the height of 35,000′ where the atmosphere is thinner, they speed back up. At this point they are travelling 1,626 mph and need all the power so they can get to reach 17,000 mph to escape Earth’s gravity. When they reach this point, if all systems are normal, Mission Control sends the “Go at throttle up” message and they open the throttle of the shuttle engines.
My “Go at throttle up” is the point where my calculations of how much distance is left in the race meets up with the maximum amount of energy level I have left. That is, where I begin my “kick”.
I was ready, it was time for throttle up. I saw the finish line clock ahead of me but couldn’t make out the time, it would me my focal point as it keeps my head up and eyes forward instead of looking down. My mind gave the command, “Go at throttle up”. I surged forward, increasing my speed. It was going to happen, there would be a personal record today… on my birthday.
During the last 0.15 of mile, I could here Jen and the Boys call out for me. Yay, they were here! Everything was coming together, but then my left calf cried out and I gave a small hop. Contingency plan created and engaged. Slow down in very small amounts to maintain speed, but not to push to hard to get a debilitating cramp. If I were to get a full blown cramp, limp, skip or crawl to the finish line… just keep moving forward. My contingency plan was not needed. Last 0.2 mile split – 1:28 (a 7:20 equivalent pace).
I crossed the finish line with my hands in fists and my arms over my head. In my excitement, I had forgotten to put up my fingers with the number of the finish. Last year at Darlington, I put up my fingers displaying “42” as it was my 42nd birthday. I noticed the clock 4:09:57 and panicked. “What? I thought I had… Wait, how long did it take me to reach the starting mat.” It had taken me 4 minutes. My watch said 4:05:56… what? 2 minute PR time, No Way!
Yes Way, my official time was 4:05:53 which was a 2 minute and 9 second PR time.
I received my medal and took the chocolate milk that was handed to me. I knocked that back immediately. My brain was dazed and confused, but I had done this enough times to move forward and look for food and my family.
Jeff found me and then Jen and the Boys. Jeff and I talked briefly how we did. One of his friends had finished right behind me. I grabbed some food from the food table and sat down and my body tried to get back to normal. I kept seeing the beer people had and wanted about 3 of them but I found a bench under a tent and sat.
After a while, my wits had come back and could think better. We headed out of runner’s area and headed back to the car. Looking back, I definitely wasn’t thinking very clearly because I never got any beer!
Official Time: 4:05:53
233 out of 708 for Overall Marathon runners
170 out of 414 for Male
35 out of 58 for Male Age Group 40-44
Observations Post Race
Had it been cloudy on race day, I believe I could have taken more off my finishing time. In fact, if I had another marathon in October, I believe I would have been able to seriously shoot for a sub 4 hour finishing time, my biggest marathon goal.
The winner of the Guess My Time, Win Crap Quad Cities Edition was Pete with a guess of 4:05:33, just 20 seconds off.
Can you FEEL it? It’s time to win some fab crap from me. It’s simple, all you have to do is submit your guess at my finishing time (official Net Time listed on official Race Website) for my upcoming race . If you are the closest, you are the WINNER (and it’s better than Chicken Dinner). Guesses can be left here on the blog, via Twitter, via Google+, or via Facebook.
Race Distance: 26.2 miles (standard Marathon distance)
Random info to give you assistance in guessing or Analysis Paralysis:
I’m not sure if you will be able to see them, but they are scatterplots of the Distance in Miles and Pace for the 2014 Quad Cities Marathon Training and the 2013 Darlington Marathon Training. The time period of the training (June 30th – Sept 27) is the same for both years and so helps negate the effect of weather (especially hot weather) on performance.
Most recent relevant races:
Jan 04 2014 Pistol Ultra 50k, 5:43:12
Nov 24 2013 Flying Monkey Marathon, 4:46:02
Sep 28 2013 Darlington Marathon, 4:29:03
Current Marathon PR time:
Nov 9 2012, Chickamauga Marathon, 4:08:02
As of Saturday Sept 27th at 10:45 am: Race Start – 57F/ Approx Finish – 75F
There’s a Magnetic Note Pad with snowflake design, Sharpie pen, LiveSTRONG coffee mug (no performance enhancing supplements included), Pay It Forward wristband, and the cadillac of all bags a GM licensed Cadillac Bag. I didn’t have time to scavenge for more stuff before we left on our trip, so I’m also thinking about including some random mystery crap.
In addition to fine crap above:
Guessing within +/-2 seconds of official time will score you all the wonderful prizes above and a coupon for a free 20oz Coca-Cola product. Get the time exactly and it will be a coupon for a whole 12 pack of Coca-Cola product.
another awesome contest brought to you by PRIZ3S, a division of planet3rry.com
I had initially intended to do a weekly update on my marathon training and report on how I was progressing. I found the accountability of recording my Sugar Detox this Spring very empowering to motivate me to blog. I had hoped it would carry on, but it only continued with blog entries that I wrote in my mind, not on the computer. So this is an overview glance at my training this summer.
Some time back in the Spring, Jen and I decided that since the Quad Cities Marathon fell on my birthday, it would be a nice combination to go visit family and run a marathon. It had been almost 7 years since we had seen most of the Iowa family and 15 for some of the Illinois family.
Once I knew that I would be running the marathon, I started thinking about the logistics of a training schedule. Last year, the inaugral Darlington Marathon fell on my birthday and I trained for it during the summer of 2013. As a result, regardless of whether I developed a 12, 14 or 16 week plan, I wasn’t terribly excited about running in the heat of summer.
I decided on the shorter 12 week plan, I mean, why prolong the suffering? The two biggest obstacles for a shorter training period are fitting in the long runs with time for rest and missing any run can be harmful to the overall training regiment. Also, since I didn’t run my normal gamut of races in the Spring, I would, in essence be starting from scratch. I set my training start date for June 30th.
My schedule would primarily consist of lunch time runs (in the heat) of 2-5 miles of easy, tempo or interval workouts. Long runs would be scheduled for the early mornings and a few of them with a twist, I would set up a run during the week where I ran to work. This would allow more time for the weekend to spend with family. I would also try to avoid running on days that I had Taekwondo class at night, and only run those days when I had a conflict elsewhere.
What has always been a weakness in my marathon training is the mid mileage runs of 6-12 miles. They take longer than what I can do at lunchtime but too short on weekend when time is valuable.
A typical week would be something like this:
Monday: Taekwondo in Evening
Tuesday: ~2 miles Speed work at the Track
Wednesday: Taekwondo in Evening
Thursday: 4 -5 miles Tempo run around Campus/Downtown
Friday: Taekwondo in Evening
Saturday: Long Run in Morning
Sunday: Interval training disquised as Ultimate Frisbee with the guys at church
But that, my friends, was something called “theory”. So here is the reality of my training in the short-short version.
Weeks 1-4 [Jun 30 – Jul 27]
I logged in 9 runs for a total mileage of 37.1 miles in a total time of 5 hours 12 minutes. My longest run was 6 miles on the sand at Myrtle Beach. All but 1 of my runs, which was a Speed workout, were Tempo sessions.
Weeks 5-8 [Jul 28 – Aug 24]
In the second part of my training I logged in 93.7 miles in 13 runs in a total time of 14 hours 6 minutes. The breakdown of my running sessions were 4 Long Run, 1 Speed, and 8 Tempo sessions. The longest run was a 20.5 mile run on Third Creek and surrounding Greenways. This was workout that I had to stop and rest in the shade multiple times because of the heat (~86F with feels like 90+).
Weeks 9-12 [Aug 25 through Sept 22]
As I compose this, I’m not done training, but I don’t expect to get too many more miles in at this point. I logged in 1 Speed, 2 Long and 7 Tempo workouts for a total of 68.9 miles in 10 hours 6 minutes. My longest run was a 23.8 mile run from Farragut out to near West Town Mall and back.
I ended up running on the same days that I had Taekwondo classes 8 out of the 32 running sessions. Most of these were on Wednesdays when I would run at Lunchtime and then have TKD that evening. When I had run earlier that day, I found it easier to control my level of exertion during sparring However on days when I didn’t run, usually Mondays, I would be very eager to spar and if I didn’t intentionally start slow I would tire too quickly and be exhausted after the 2nd bout.
In all, I only logged in roughly 200 miles which put me at an average of about 17 miles per week. To give some perspective, a moderate training program (Hal Higdon Intermediate) is typically a total of 550 miles with an average of 33 mile per week. So who knows what will happen!