Executive summary: These marathon things are really hard.
Other pertinent info: chip time 4:06:40, gun time 4:06:57. OA 159/402, M 114/261, M45-49 13/29
This was my second marathon, first was Grand Rapids in October 2012. The first one I ran on equal parts naivete & foolishness. "Training" was 3 days/wk, ~25 mpw (other than the weeks I had an 18-20 LR, of which there were exactly two). The race looked like this:
0-7 mi 8:59 avg pace
Final time 4:16. Many of you have an idea what that last segment felt like. My legs completely seized up, and I mostly did a limp-jog (with some extended walks through aid stations) to the finish. Strangely, instead of vowing to never run one of these things again, I vowed to be better prepared for the next one.
I did not use a formal plan, but decided to focus on gradually increasing run frequency & mileage volume. Ended up getting to 5x/wk, ~45 mpw with the last 4 weeks before taper all >50 mpw. No real speedwork or pace management; I mainly just do shorter runs faster, longer runs slower but trying to pick up the pace the last 1-2 miles. I'm sure I would do better with a more formal plan, but for now I have been enjoying & getting a good feeling of accomplishment doing it this way, so I figured I would see how far it would get me.
I did the Martian Half 8 weeks ago as sort of a fitness test & to get a marathon pace benchmark; ran 1:48 with a ~3 min negative split, which I felt really good about. McMillan converts this to a 3:41 full; I thought this was redonculous for me, but figured a sub-4 should be in the bank. However I recently happened to find a marathon time converter (on FindMyMarathon.com). A 4:00 finish at any of other major MI marathons converts to 4:30 at AA. WTF? The calculation was due to a combination of the hills (not outrageous, but the others are all pretty flat) & the average temperature (again not too bad, but quite a bit warmer than races run in April or Oct). So now I was pretty confused as to how to pace. In the end (and with the help of some forum advice), I decided not to overthink it, go out at a 4:00 pace & adjust as needed.
Weather was pretty good for June, certainly not ideal for fast marathoning, but could have been a lot worse. Low-mid 60's up to about 70 by race end. A bit of humidity, but it was mostly overcast so didn't have to deal with much sun.
I actually ran the AA Half last year, my first ever half. Did not know what I was doing & not really paying attention to the course, so did not help me prepare for this one. There are some rolling hills but one significant hill that people seemed to talk about, conveniently placed at 16-17.
They had pace groups, so I decided to go with the 4:00 group. I had some concerns based on some people's comments on the occasional unreliability of pacers. And in fact this one seemed to be a bit erratic with paces based on my Garmin. However there was a clock at 13.1, and she crossed it at exactly 2:00:00. So I guess she knew what she was doing; she has run 76 marathons after all.
I stuck with the group till about 16 when I started to drop back a bit. Very shortly thereafter we hit the big hill, at which point I knew 4:00 was out the window. And which combined with the already onsetting fatigue, pretty much wrecked me for the rest of the race. Garmin splits are in my log, but to summarize:
1-17 9:07 avg pace
For that last portion of the race, I was feeling totally drained; at every single moment I so badly wanted to stop & walk. I never did, but it took everything I had to keep running. It was a fairly small race, I was mostly running on my own at that point, which didn't help. I had to pee starting around mile 20, but decided to hold it because I was afraid what would happen if I allowed myself to stop. I did not even really have the energy for a sprint to the finish.
I was pretty discouraged when I started to slow down & saw 4:00 slip away. And more so that the slowdown happened at about the same point as my first marathon. Had I gained nothing? However, I am heartened by these things:
1. As noted previously, this was a tougher course & weather conditions than others I would normally be running
2. The pace increase at the end was not nearly as severe as the first time
3. The slowdown was due purely to fatigue. Legs did not stiffen up at all. Some stiffness after the finish, and had to walk somewhat gingerly back to the car. But after I got home & showered, took the dog for a walk around the block, and my legs felt great. Last time I was a complete physical mess; I could barely walk for several days, and did not run for a week. I will take tomorrow off, but probably try some easy running the next day.
I am registered for Detroit on 10/20. I am still debating whether to get into a more formal training plan, but currently thinking I will keep doing more or less what I'm doing with possibly some further gradual base buildup. Going back to the marathon time converter, it shows 4:06 in AA is equivalent to 3:44 in Detroit. Hmm....
Special kudos to DW, who based on the last experience did not want me having to drive home; she got up at 5:15 AM to drive me the 35 min to the race, then came back later with the kids to watch me cross the finish line. Often she is just kind of annoyed by my running, but when it matters, she comes through.
Barking Mad To Run
Congrats on your marathon! Good luck with the upcoming one!
"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Theodore Roosevelt
Congrats! I think the slowdown this time, as you said, was due to a tougher course. The fact that you got a PR on this tough course is really good. Great job!
Damaris, Marathon Maniac, Ultra Runner, INKnBURN Ambassador
"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."
Will run for scenery.
Great job, Dave !
For marathon #2 you were in the top half of your age group. (We can't all be like Heidi ...)
I'm just starting to realize that training is so much more than just getting in shape; there's so much to learn as well. I think part of the benefit of those detailed training plans is getting to know your paces inside and out. Those of us who are a little more loose and free-spirited in training just get to do more of our learning on race day. Not a bad thing, just important to look at it as learning.
Again, I think you did great, and you stuck in there. Way to go!
Way to go Dave!
Hot Chocolate 5K Chicago November 4, 2012 30:17
Penguin in the Park 5K Decatur Illinois March 23,2013 27:08
It writes upside down.
Dave, there is nothing wrong with that. Heck, most of us have never finished even one marathon. Constanza and I are proud!
Congratulations on the PR on a more difficult course. You will surely break 4:00 in October.
Congrats on a great race, Dave. I've never run a marathon, but I would just think that both your marathon runs and their times would be a source of pride for you. It sounds like you could run faster with a training plan, given that you ran a 4:16 on 25mpw. Probably what you're missing is speedwork, and if you trained smart you'd get a big fat pr next time out. But your time here is definitely impressive.
Great achievement. And good on your wife too, but going the extra mile. Is she a possible candidate for takign up running too?
PRs: 1 mile 6:57 // 5k 24:12 // 5 mile 39:32* // 10k 49.10* // Half 1:52:18
* courses slightly short
"It's not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves."
~ Sir Edmund Hillary
congrats!!! you trained a lot smarter this time and did a great job! That little slow down was not a blow up, you still were running a great pace! congrats
PRs: 5K- 28:16 (5/5/13) 10K- 1:00:13 (10/27/13) 4M- 41:43 (9/7/13) 15K- 1:34:25 (8/17/13) 10M- 1:56:30 (4/6/14) HM- 2:20:16 (4/13/14)
I started a blog about running :) Check it out if you care to
Dave, good job on marathon #2 and congratulations! 10 minutes is a nice improvement. I think you'll find your times get better by simply continuing to run more. Getting the endurance up will keep you from that late marathon slow down. Great job though fighting through and not giving into the temptation to walk. I also think it was good call to skip the pee break. In all the marathons and HM's I've run (all whopping 10 or so), I only stopped to walk once, and when I did everything seized up. Never again.
Nice improvement on the PR on a more difficult course. Congratulations! The marathon is not meant to be easy when you're giving it your race effort. Those last several miles can be so difficult, both mentally and physically, as your body is screaming at you to just cash it in. However, you didn't give up and let yourself walk but rather kept on running through the finish - kudos! I think that another training cycle with the increased mileage will give you that boost in endurance to smash through that 4 hour barrier. Congrats again on a fine race and good RR.
Train smart ... race smarter.
Congrats Dave! Way to go with the PR!
This. Also, knowing Dave's lungs as well as mine, those last miles are all about trying to breathe when you cannot while also having your body screaming at you to please stop! Great job, Dave.
That's not a big fade at all, Dave. Great job making it happen and PRing on a tough course!