Frankenthon race report (10/20/2012) (Read 453 times)


    Short version:

    sub4 PR 3:59:04. Learned a good lesson in following advises on how to manage and pace myself. Very small event with only 130 runners but well organized and supported. Nice swag bag with long sleeve shirt and socks and no junk. 3 loops scenic course, mostly flat except for crossing a small dam, with water station every couple of miles. Crowd support minimal, mainly at the start/stop area. Pizza and soft/energy drinks at the end, free massage with short wait. Nice and unique blink. If one doesn't care for giant crowds, this is a great small-town event!


    Overly-long version:


    This is my 2nd marathon. My first one was Austin 8 months ago. In retrospect, I wasn't really ready for that one and had a miserable last 6 miles. I survived, but I didn't feel like I had actually "run" it. Frankenthon is my 2nd attempt, and I chose this one for a couple of reasons: 1) I have been doing my long runs (halves) along the same trail almost every weekend this year because it is close to where I live, so convenience and familiarity are really the deciding factors, and 2) I think this course is easier (relative to other races I can choose to enter this season) because it is fairly flat and thus provides me with the best chance for a PR.


    The course consists of 3 out-and-back loops. With only about 130 runners, it is a hugely different experience than running Austin which had about 18k(?) runners. There was no other distance option so everyone there were running 26.2. I didn't feel the kind of party atmosphere and adrenaline rush I got from the larger Austin race, but on the plus side I felt less stressed and nervous before the race started. The course starts in a park near a lake, and it is a fairly scenic run/bike trail that is open to the public (no closed roads). The trail is about 60% concrete and 40% crush granite/compact dirt. There're water/gatorade stations every couple of miles. I'm not too sure about availability of porta-potty (because I didn't look for or use one) but the actual park restrooms at the start line were quite popular, and there are enough bush and trees along the trail to provide emergency relief. The course is mostly flat, with minor rolling speed-bumps along the way (I don't think they qualify to be called rolling hills), except for a dam. It's a pretty small dam (maybe 2 to 3 stories high), and the climb is gradual, aside for a small S-shaped section of about 500 ft long that goes up about 20 ft (4% grade?). It's normally not a big concern except for where it is located. The climb on easier side of the dam happens at around mile 6, 15, and 23.5; and the harder side is at around mile 8, 16.5, and 25.5.


    I had some goals in mind for this marathon. First, I hope to run this properly and not end up in a death march at the end; negative split will be nice, but I'm not confident about that. Second, a PR (4:07Tight lippedx) which I believe is do-able. And last, I'll attempt sub-4 (9:10/mi pace). I really had no idea how easy/difficult that would be, since I didn't race or train enough to find any reasonable predictions from the running calculators. My plan was to try to hold 9:00/mi to 9:10/mi pace for the first lap (try to keep myself from starting too fast, which was my big mistake the last time), and then for the 2nd lap just try to cruise along at an easy pace which I expected to be close to 9:00/mi, and play it by ear on the last lap and try not to fall behind 9:10/mi.


    I arrived at the park at around 6:40AM, and walked around the parking lot as warmup (the park and trail was too dark to venture into). When the run started at 7, the timing was just right that the trail was visible as the sun began to rise. Less than half a mile in there was no longer a need to weave through human traffic, and I was holding a very easy pace. I had to consciously keep myself from running by feel because I felt I could run quite a bit faster. After about 6 miles I reached the dam. My urge was to maintain pace going up because I felt strong, but I decided to stick to advises I have read in RA over time and not push for it. I took it easy and slowed down while going up, and gained the time back coming down. I did the same every time I reached the dam throughout the race. It was hard not to worry about being too slow on the way up. I found that the first two laps were mostly a mental challenge of keeping myself running conservatively, and I'm sure that saved me from breaking down in the last lap. It was very tempting at times to try to keep up with someone in front of me, but memories of my first race convinced me to stick to my target pace. I finished lap 1 slightly ahead of target in 1:18:24, a nice 1.5 minutes of buffer. So far I had been noticing that my garmin was not matching up with the mile markers (suggested course was longer than gps measurement), but I had not really cared too much about it. However, by the time I reached mile 10, the discrepancy was getting quite noticeable. After the garmin logged mile 10, I hit the lap button later when I actually reached the mile 10 marker on the road, and saw over 50 seconds of difference. That means my garmin is off by more than 5 seconds per mile. This troubled me because I used my garmin as my pacer, and I was running very close to my target pace and now my target is no longer 9:10 but "something" faster. In lap 2, my pace fell naturally within my target range, and I didn't feel hurried going through water stops (I took only water because I had been eating gels slowly between them). I used 4 packs of gels throughout the race, not sure if they helped but surely didn't hurt. I was pretty much on target for lap 2 (1:20:04). Near mile 19 I could feel my quads starting to get to work. It got worse fairly quickly as expected and they were burning and hurting by mile 21. It was almost like a repeat of my first marathon, but this time I felt confident that my legs wouldn't cramp and seize up if I just hang on to my pace. I'm not sure if that's because I'm stronger in this race or if I just have a better feel for where my limit is. I started counting from 1 to 10 repeatedly in my head as a metronome until the end of the run, it also helped keep me focused instead of worrying. Once I reached the dam (last 3 miles), I started passing some runners (had not done so since beginning of lap 1). Going down the dam and trying to gain back some time was the hardest part. I really had no idea if I was going to make sub-4 or not at this point but I knew it would be close, as my garmin showed an overall pace of 9:03 or so, but the course/gps discrepancy worried me as that could be more than 5s. About 20 to 30 meters before the finish I saw the clock, 3:59Tight lippedx. I sprinted it as best I could and made it under 4 on clock time (last lap was 1:20:36).

    The aftermath of the race was not too bad. My quads really hurt but not as destroyed as the last time. It's 2 days after the race now and I feel that I can do a slow recovery jog tonight. Unlike my recent 5k race where I felt my whole body was totally spent at the end, I think my quads were my only bottleneck in the marathon. I don't know if that implies lack of strength or endurance or whatever, but it's a noticeable weakness (do I need more training in long runs or intervals or hills or what...?). My breathing and heartrate felt fairly comfortable at the end, and my calves weren't even sore, but my quads were killing me. I don't think I'll plan anymore goal races in the near future. Mentally I'm not quite ready to switch over from the easy hobby-jogging mindset to race-training, it just seems kind of stressful, and not very fun. I agree with Jeff's advise in a previous thread, I just need to run more and do some races for fun before I take this more seriously.

      Wing, great job of pacing,and great report!  Congratulations!

      Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.

      Interval Junkie --Nobby

        Wing, that was an excellent race report.  Really happy to hear you hit your goal.  Also, thanks for the reminder about the inaccuracy of the Garmin GPS.  Glad it didn't screw you over.

        2014 Goals:  sub-3 Marathon 

        Current Status 08/28: Slowly working back up from a pelvic stress fracture.  4mil distance PR w00t!

          Great report, Wing.  Great race, too.  Congrats on hitting the sub-four mark.

          "When a person trains once, nothing happens. When a person forces himself to do a thing a hundred or a thousand times, then he certainly has developed in more ways than physical. Is it raining? That doesn't matter. Am I tired? That doesn't matter, either. Then willpower will be no problem." 
          Emil Zatopek


            Great report. I might use your 1-10 counting technique at the end of my marathon if I get to where I need something to focus on!


            December will be my second marathon and your report was helpful as I try to decide pace/plan/etc.


              I didn't know you lived in Texas... Frankenthon is one of those races I've wanted to do, but haven't.  The year I was looking seriously at it, they had a flood and a "maybe maybe not" vibe regarding the race.  Turned out, they did.


              Congrats on the PR and sub 4!  Very cool.


                I didn't know you lived in Texas... Frankenthon is one of those races I've wanted to do, but haven't.  The year I was looking seriously at it, they had a flood and a "maybe maybe not" vibe regarding the race.  Turned out, they did.


                Congrats on the PR and sub 4!  Very cool.


                Yes, that trail runs right alongside the steam, I can see rain and flash flood being an issue. We can still see large dead toppled trees along the path from last year's flood.

                  Sounds like a great race.  Congrats on the sub 4 hours!


                  Thanks for the reminder to add about 5 seconds per mile to the GPS pace .

                  Age: 46 Weight: 205 Height: 6'2" (Goal weight 195)

                  Current PR's:  Mara 3:48:09; HM 1:43:26; 10K 43:59; 5K 21:27

                    Thanks for the reminder to add about 5 seconds per mile to the GPS pace .


                    Don't put too much faith in that number. It just so happens to be about 5s for me on this course against my garmin at my target pace, it will be different for someone else depending on, well, pretty much everything......


                    Good luck on your upcoming race Smile

                      Thanks, I'll need all the luck I can get.  Trying to knock a full minute off a 5K just two weeks apart (my stated goal is 24:00, but I really want to go sub 23:00) means I either ran the last race very poorly, or I will have to run this one very well or actually a lot of both probably! 


                      True about the 5 seconds not being a hard and fast number, but I think it is actually a fairly good guide.   I kind of did some extrapolation on my logged miles on some races to the certified race distances and it ended up anywhere from 2 to 7 seconds per mile difference for me.  The closest was on an out and back course with 1 turn and the fartherest was on a course with a bunch of turns and loops and curves.  I wouldn't expect 5 seconds to be dead on accurate on every race, but it's probably going to be a lot closer than if you didn't take it into account at all.

                      Age: 46 Weight: 205 Height: 6'2" (Goal weight 195)

                      Current PR's:  Mara 3:48:09; HM 1:43:26; 10K 43:59; 5K 21:27