Here is my race report for the Rock n Roll, USA Marathon on March 16, 2013.
The short version
This was my second marathon. My first was almost exactly one year before and I finished that one with an official time of 4:29:54. My goal for this one was sub 3:55. I finished in 3:54:51.The long versionTraining for this race went very well. I'm learing more and more about myself and what my limitations are. I am an injury prone runner that is learning that I can't push too hard when it comes to pace improvements. Patience and progressing in small increments is the way for me. For the most part I stayed true to that thought in this training until about 2 weeks before race time. Without going into exhaustive detail, I started pushing too hard and I ended up injuring my rifht Achilles tendon. It wasn't a show stopper but I had to spend the last week of my training on the couch instead of tapering. Another lesson learned. Actually, the same lesson learned again.I didn't run at all the week of the race until the morning before when I got out for a four mile shake out run. Race day arrived at last and I drove down to the city. The plan was for my wife and one of my daughters to take Metro down later and meet me at the finish and we would drive back together. The alarm went off at four and I got up and took care of all the pre-race stuff. A little coffee to get things moving, I put four coats of New Skin on my nipples to guard against chafing. I can't recommend that enough for guys that have chafing issues but don't want to shave their chest in order to get band-aid's to stick. The drive to the race was uneventful. I parked my car and grabbed my energy gel's and other supplies and put them in my belt. I decided not to check a bag so I didn't have to deal with the drop off and pick-up later.A short walk to the Metro and 15 minutes later I was at the start. The port-a-john lines were long but I had a half hour to kill. I chatted with a few people in line about other races and all the usual runner stuff to keep from being focused on my nerves too much. Once done with that I found the 3:55 pacer and talked to him for a few about his strategy. He said he wanted to bank "a few seconds" in the first 3 miles by going out at 8:50 and then run even splits after that. After that mission was accomplished I jogged around for a couple minutes to warm up and then it was time for the first coral to start. I ditched my warm-up clothes that I bought from Goodwill and fell in with my group. A few minutes later, off we went.Miles 1-3.
The pacer was a little off here. It felt like he went out much faster than advertised. By the time we got to the two mile mark I was kind of pissed and I had decided to let him go. All of a sudden at mile three I passed him. I was pretty confused by that and I decided to just keep going.
I tried my best to keep even splits. My GPS was still pretty close to the mile markers but I just focused on my time, the pace band and the mile markers. My splits were pretty close. I was still a little ahead but I wasn't gaining or losing time so I just kept at it. Then I hit the hill at mile 6. That thing was really steep and a lot of people started walking. I slowed way down and expected the pacer to pass me but he didn't. At mile 7 I used my first energy gel.Miles 8-13.
Getting up the hill without losing too much time was a real confidence booster. There was a nice downhill stretch and then the course leveled out for the most part for a while. I just tried to focus on keeping on pace. Somewhere around mile 12 I caught up with a couple other runners that had "3:55" tags on their backs that had ventured out on their own. We talked for a little bit and it seemed like we were on the verge of deciding to run the rest of the race together when all of a sudden the 3:55 pacer caught us.Miles 13-18.
The three of us fell in with the pacer and the (8-12) runners that were with him. I honestly don't remember a lot about this part of the race. I just focused on staying with the group and keeping an eye on my pace band. According to my pace band we fell about 45 seconds behind but the pacer kept saying that we were right on. I don't think he had a pace band and was doing the math in his head. I thought about pushing out on my own again but I was starting to struggle a bit with some pain in my hip and lower back so I just hung on.
The big thing I remember clearly about this part of the race is listening to the pacer talk with someone else that was asking if we were on pace when we hit the 20 mile mark. He said "Yep, we've got it easy. We just hit 3 hours on my watch so all we have to do is hit 9 minute miles from here and we'll come in a minute under." When the lady responded "but then we have to run another .2" I said "Which means we are a minute behind" and I picked up my pace. The pacer came with me and everyone else followed.Miles 21-25.
I was able to hold the (slightly) faster pace until about the mile 24 mark and I really started to struggle. We made up the lost time (which was actually only 45 seconds) but I was pretty fried and my legs were trashed. The group left me at a water station somewhere in mile 22. I don't drink gatorade when I run because of GI issues but I use energy gels instead. I have to drink a lot of water with the gel in order to keep my stomach calm and that is just too hard to do without slowing down a lot. When I got to the 24 mile marker the pace group was long gone and I all but decided to give up on sub 3:55 and be happy with going sub 4:00. Mile 25 was really slow.
I checked my time when I got to the 25 mile mark and realized that if I picked my pace back up I for the last 1.2 miles I might be able to still hit my goal despite the lost time. I mustered every bit of determination I could and went for it. The last mile was just a blur of pain in my hip and feet (I don't remember when the blisters came) but I hung on as best I could and crossed the finish line with 9 seconds to spare.
Splits are from my watch. I decided to keep the auto lap on because I didn't want to deal with remembering to hit the button, worry about hitting the wrong button, etc...
ETA - The times for miles 15 and 16 are way off. There was a long tunnel in the middle of all that and the GPS didn't like it. If you take the average of the two it should come out pretty close.
ETA Again - I actually found the pacer after the race. They finished it in 3:54:09.
"Address the process rather than the outcome. Then, the outcome becomes more likely." - Robert Fripp
I feel like a doof for suggesting you think about a slower time! I'm glad you didn't listen too much to my advice and that you went out there and killed it like you did. Even if you were learning your lesson again about the achilles, I think you've shown awesome restraint in your training. Getting consistent miles is so much more beneficial than having the occasional great week, and I think you really demonstrated that.
Sorry to hear about the pacer experience. Right when I read the "bank time" comment I was worried. I'm glad you didn't stick with him for too long. Still, awesome job not getting discouraged when he came back to you around mile 13. Falling in with a pack like that can be such a boost since you really can zone out a little. As for him not accounting for the .2, well I think you can tell what I thought of him lol.
Finally, to finish like you did is so impressive! It's amazing that our bodies can do it if we get past the pain, and you certainly battled yours. I'm really happy for you and glad we got the chance to train for this "together!"
So nice of you to share the pillow with the pup!
PRs: Marathon (2:49xx; '13) Half (1:25xx; '12) 10k (40:26; '11) 5mi (29:23; '13) 5k (17:33; '13)
Great job!! And especially so given your troubles with the pacer. I agree with SIAR. I groaned when I heard 'bank time'. That's a rookie plan, something I would try to do. Your ability to do math after running 20 miles is also pretty astounding.
If I wasn't in bed, I would say you had me on the edge of my seat wondering if you would beat your goal. And, I knew you did, but the report still kept me enthralled to the very end. A great job, and a huge PR! I see Boston in the near future.
Holy cow! That was close. I'm glad you were able to do the math and figure out you were behind. I've never run with a pacer before but imagine it takes a lot of guts to leave them. But, it's good that you found some other people with your same race goal.
And, you were smart not to check your bag. LOL!
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. – Chinese Proverb
Wow, that was a nail biter all the way to the bitter end. Wait, you made your goal!! That makes for a sweet end!! Great job and a huge congrats to you!
SIAR - Thanks so much for all your encouragement and advice through this training. I honestly do think of this is as my virtual training group. I pick up ideas from everyone that posts. Regarding your suggestion of trying for a slower time, I think that you were probably right. I think my biggest asset as a runner is also my biggest obstacle and that is my fairly high tolerance for pain. If I had been content to go for somewhere in the 4:00-4:05 range I probably would have a more enjoyable run with less pain afterwards. As it was, the last few miles weren't much fun at all and I'm really, really sore. Funny thing is that the one place I don't hurt is my Achilles!
Jack - Thanks so much! Your comment about the pacer made me laugh. Interesting to note is that I ended up seeing him after the race and I thanked him for pacing us. I asked him what time they finished with and it was 3:54:09, so I was about 40 seconds behind them. Neither one of us mentioned "the incident" at mile 20. As much as I would love to take credit for doing the math after running 20 miles, I had a pace band that did it for me.
Marco - Thanks! I don't think I'll ever BQ before I turn 60 but I can dream!
Julia - Thanks so much! I don't know what happened to the two people I was running with when the pacer caught back up to us. I don't think they stayed with the group for very long and ended up falling behind. I hope their races turned out OK.
Pressing - Thanks so much! I was really anxious that last mile. The thing I failed to mention in my RR is that I made a big mistake with my Garmin. In training, I have it set to display 4 data points (running time, pace, distance and time of day). Because of the limited screen size, this makes it so I can't see the seconds when my run is longer than an hour. For races, I usually change the display to not show time of day so that I can see the full running time. Anyway, the net result is that all I knew as I approached the finish was my time was 3:54:XX and had to wait until I crossed the finish to see what it was. That's why my finish line picture looks like this:
Congratulations on making your goal! Our pacers were very good. I really hate it when they have poor pacers. Enjoy your recovery.
Half: 1:48 (March 3rd, 2013)
Full: 4:05:40 (March 17th, 2013)
Sub-4:00 hour Marathon
Sub- 125 poundsSub- 1:45 hour half.
Awesome job on your race! And great RR. I was sure you'd be able to pull it off!!
The whole saga with the pacer is crazy.
I actually thought about this RR a bit as I headed into the last few miles of my race yesterday, hoping I could will myself back on track by reminding myself how your race ended, but my legs were just not able to respond. Love the finish line photo. My pictures show me checking my watch a few times on the way to the finish and then again just after.
Congrats again on the big, dramatic PR!!
PRs: 5K: 22:31, 10K:46:43, 15K: 1:10:35, HM: 1:42:49, M: 3:38:20
Damaris, Marathon Maniac, Ultra Runner
Next: San Francisco Marathon
"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."
You got some great pictures! I noticed you passed that woman who did the side-kick in the air. LOL! And, I love your official finisher's picture. You look so happy and proud, which you should be.
Looking good Scott. A floater to finish - sweet. I laughed when I read Julia's post and saw that you totally blocked the jumping girl out. Well done.
I was oblivious to the jumping girl until I saw the pictures. I wish I knew which picture was taken first because I wonder if she was playing to the camera so much because I blocked them out earlier.
The really bad part is that I actually looked up her finish time. It just wouldn't be right if someone having that much fun finished before me and I was prepared to feel really bad if she did. I finished about 30 minutes before she did.
Scott I think I congratulated on a daily thread but life has been so crazy here
lately that I can't remember.
Anyhooo, superb race, big contrats, love the photos!!!
Thanks Beth! I hope you and the family are doing well!