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Fargo Marathon RR - longish (Read 1016 times)

    This year’s flooding in Fargo forced a change from a single loop course to a 2-loop marathon. My goal for the race was to qualify for Boston by running 3:20 with secondary goals of running 3:30, setting a new a PR (old one is 3:44:18), and finally to finish (as always). It’s hard to believe that setting a PR is one’s third tier goal but I was in great shape and kind of took it for granted that the PR would fall. I awoke on race day at 4:30 to cloudy conditions and 34 degrees with 10mph winds from the NNW. This created a dilemma since I was planning of wearing a triathlon tank and shorts, however, the cooler temps were causing me to think about wearing a long sleeve top. In any event, I had breakfast of 2 pieces of PBJ toast, 2 yogurts, and some coffee. After eating I decided to go with the long sleeve shirt before leaving for the start line at 6:15. I arrived at the Fargo Dome at about 6:40am and found a comfortable seat and tried to relax. At about 7:00 the sun was shining, so I thought I would put on my tank and see how it felt in the conditions. After a short 2-3 minute jog first with the wind, then into the wind, I decided I was going with the tri top after all. So it was time to call my wife to let her know I would be wearing something different. At this time I ran into 3 of my cousins who were also running and talked for a few minutes and wished each other luck before heading out to the start line. I found a spot next to the 3:20 pace group even though I wasn’t planning on running with them since it has been my experience that pacers will drop the hammer at times in order to make up time and I would rather run my own race. After the obligatory welcomes, a couple of national anthems (Canadian and American) it was time to get running. The first mile went pretty good although I was passing a bunch of runners whose numbers I could read so maybe the term “runner” should be replaced by “first-time runner”. In any event, I tried to stay relaxed and move into openings when they were there but otherwise try not to waste any energy during this stage of the race. My pacing strategy was to run everything in the 7:30-7:45 range which would put me real close the 7:38 pace for 3:20 and I hit the first mile at 7:36 so I started my mental calculation of plus/minus pace at +2 to help keep me occupied. I continued my comfortable pace during mile 2 and hit the mark at 7:42 which was right where I wanted to be. I saw my family on the third mile and end this one at 7:37. We continued our trek south on the first loop with the wind at our back and at mile 4 I hit my fastest mile of the day at 7:29. It was during this mile that the 3:20 pace group passed me so I’m guessing they dropped a 7:20 or so (yikes!!). So after 4 miles I was at 30:25 which meant I was sitting pretty good. Miles 5 and 6 were 7:38 and 7:39 so I felt pretty locked in at goal pace and was feeling strong and relaxed. At this point we turned to the north and we ended up fighting a headwind. I found a big guy who was in the pace group and let him block the wind for me during the next mile or so until the next aid station. I went through the aid station quicker than them and was ahead of the groups and was pretty much on my own. Mile 8 was at 7:40 followed by 7:44 for mile 9. So I was still running within the goal range. Miles 10-12 were pretty consistent at 7:34, 7:33, and 7:33 as we continued north. I was passed again by the pace group in mile 12 so they were obviously not running at a steady 7:38 clip. We then wound our way back to the Fargo Dome and mile 13 was 7:42 and I hit the half at 1:39:45 which meant I had 15 seconds (or really 74 seconds) in the bank so I was right where I wanted to be (or so I thought). We split from the half marathoners at this point and we went from having lots of folks around us to being basically out on our own strung in clumps of 1s and 2s. As a side note there were about 1200 marathoners and 4200 half marathoners. I’m not sure if it was this fact (less runner density or the fact that we were starting the second loop) but I started to struggle which was strange since we had the wind at our backs. I saw two of my cousins in this stretch and they were looking good. Mile 14 was 7:55 which basically erased my 15 seconds in the bank. I didn’t panic but knew I was probably in trouble. I worked hard on the next mile to get back down to the 7:40 race but only managed to hit 7:51. I smelled trouble and told myself that I needed to pick up the pace or I wasn’t going to Boston. And since we had about 4 miles left with the wind at our back before returning into the headwind, I knew that if I couldn’t keep pace with the wind at my back I definitely wouldn’t be able to do it with it in my face. Over the next three miles (I missed mile markers 16 and 17) I ran a combined 8:08 pace. This pretty much sealed the deal; Boston would have to wait for another day. Now it was a matter of running in as strong as I could and trying to hit 3:30 and at the bare minimum 3:44 for a new PR. Mile 19 was 8:20, followed by 8:42 for mile 20 and 8:50 for mile 21. The slide continues! It was during this stretch where I started to get cold and my decision to go with the tank was being second guessed (by me) and I wouldn’t have been disappointed if someone were to offer me a long sleeve shirt. Then it was 9:17 for mile 22 and 9:28 for mile 23. It was through here that I was willing my legs to move faster and I’m not sure if they laughed out loud or if they just giggled at me for asking, but in any event they didn’t respond. I finally bottomed out and ran the last three miles at 9:41, 9:41, and 9:41, so at least I was consistent while in shuffle mode. Also during mile 24 I was thinking I might need to pull to the side and do some throwing up but things settled down. I ran the last 0.2 miles in 2:00 for an official finishing time of 3:35:17. It is weird that as I write this I just nailed a 9 minute PR and still feel somewhat disappointed with my results. A couple of reasons (at least in my mind): first of all I was mentally set on a BQ time which was probably aggressive but I was in my best running shape ever (as evidenced by the 9 minute PR) and the second is the big fade in the second half as I ran a 1:40/1:55 split. Trust me I’m telling everyone that I’m pleased with my results since it’s pretty stupid to be whining about a race when you set a PR, but so much more was possible! The official finishing stats 219 out of 1270 runners overall, 191 out of 778 men, and 38 out of 132 in the 40-44 men’s age group. Probably the most important part of a race report, what went wrong and what needs to be fixed. The biggest problem I had was the big fade today. I ran a great 13 miles within my goal pace range and then the fade started. I’m not sure if this is training, nutrition, mental, or more likely a combination of all three of these. If it’s training, I guess that means more miles, more long runs, and more goal pace efforts at the end of my long runs. As for nutrition, the course used Powerade which in a word sucks! Way too sweet for my taste. I only took 3-4 cups on the course yesterday instead using 3-4 Hammer Endurolytes and 3 gels over the course of the run. I think I do need to find an improved strategy that will work for my fall marathon as I used a pretty ad hoc strategy. Gel when I was feeling tired, Endurolyte when I didn’t feel like I could handle any Powerade. Also I thought I carbo-loaded, but it’s possible that I didn’t do as good of a job as I thought. The final aspect is mental toughness. When I finished I was completely spent and my body was completely drained so I don’t feel like I left anything on the course. However my heart rate had dropped from the 169-173 range over the first half of the race down to 161-163 range by the end of the race. This tells me that I wasn’t working as hard as I thought (I hope this is not the case) I was or that I didn’t have anything left to give (I would prefer this to be the case since this can be fixed) – see note above on nutrition. So I’m left to wonder that I wasn’t really in 3:20 shape after all, but rather something like 3:30. Oh well, it fun to take a bit swing at Boston even if it was miss this time around. In the end, my running is going great since turning 40 in December 2008 as I’ve run 4 races in 2009 and all have been PRs. Next up will be a bunch of triathlons over the summer and before re-focusing on running in August. The fall race line-up is likely City of Lakes 25k in September and Twin Cities Marathon in October where I’m hoping (no make that planning) for 2 more PRs.


    Imminent Catastrophe

      So I’m left to wonder that I wasn’t really in 3:20 shape after all, but rather something like 3:30
      That would be my guess. Clearly you were not ready to sustain that pace, that's a pretty big slowdown (been there, done that). Otherwise, nice race! I'm glad they were still able to hold the race.

      "Able to function despite imminent catastrophe"

       "To obtain the air that angels breathe you must come to Tahoe"--Mark Twain

      "The most common question from potential entrants is 'I do not know if I can do this' to which I usually answer, 'that's the whole point'.--Paul Charteris, Tarawera Ultramarathon RD.

       

      √ Tahoe Rim Trail 100M 20/21 July 2013

      Boston Marathon 21 April 2014

      Tahoe Rim Trail 100M 19/20 July 2014

        Good race. Yeah 3:20 was probably a bit agressive (and I feel a tad responsible as one of the people who voted for going for it), but I realyly think it was worth a shot. This is a good result--a big PR and knowing you can go faster.

        Runners run.

          Congrats on the PR despite it not being what you wanted. Maybe more importantly, great job on the training that got you to where you are. There will always be more opportunities for good races (which you don't have full control over) but you do control the training. I read this with great interest because we are the same age, similar build, and I plan on my log in 4 months looking like your last 4 months. If all goes well, I hope to have a goal of 3:20 this fall as well. So it's interesting to read about your experience, and your wondering whether you were in 3:20 shape or not, because I am positive I will have the same exact question. I wish I had the answer on where you fell short (if you can even callit that) now so that I could avoid it. Regardless, great job, and you've got the 3:20 in front of you, I'm sure.

           

            Good race. Yeah 3:20 was probably a bit agressive (and I feel a tad responsible as one of the people who voted for going for it), but I realyly think it was worth a shot. This is a good result--a big PR and knowing you can go faster.
            Not your fault at all ... it was worth the shot. The race times supported it and I feel comfortable (in retrospect) knowing that I wasn't quite ready. I think if I had went for the 3:30 from the start I could have hit it, but then the doubts would have been ... could I have run 3:20?!? I know what needs to be done, now it's a matter of some hard work over the summer and it wouldn't hurt to drop about 10 more pounds in the next 3-4 months and then be ready to take another shot at Boston in fall at Twin Cities.
              That would be my guess. Clearly you were not ready to sustain that pace, that's a pretty big slowdown (been there, done that). Otherwise, nice race! I'm glad they were still able to hold the race.
              Mark Knutson and crew deserve a lot of credit for running a solid race given the circumstances ... there were / are still temporary dikes up around Fargo and Moorhead and in fact the on the original race course. In the matter of 4-5 weeks, they basically went from a single loop 26.2 mile course to a 2 loop course that was shared with the half marathoners. Given the potential for confusion it wasn't difficult to know where to go when the course split at different times for relay/half/full as well as when we were running head-to-head on the the out & back.
                Congrats on the PR despite it not being what you wanted. Maybe more importantly, great job on the training that got you to where you are. There will always be more opportunities for good races (which you don't have full control over) but you do control the training. I read this with great interest because we are the same age, similar build, and I plan on my log in 4 months looking like your last 4 months. If all goes well, I hope to have a goal of 3:20 this fall as well. So it's interesting to read about your experience, and your wondering whether you were in 3:20 shape or not, because I am positive I will have the same exact question. I wish I had the answer on where you fell short (if you can even callit that) now so that I could avoid it. Regardless, great job, and you've got the 3:20 in front of you, I'm sure.
                good luck with your training ... with some hard work and a bit of luck hopefully we can both hit 3:20 this fall and enjoy Boston next spring!


                Dave

                  Very nice job despite the fade. Might just be time to bite off those PR's in smaller bites. I'm facing similar questions (alibiet shooting for 10 minutes slower pace at the moment). Keep us posted on your progress.
                  I ran a mile and I liked it, liked it, liked it.

                  dgb2n@yahoo.com


                  Prince of Fatness

                    Sorry things didn't quite pan out for you but you gave it a go and, despite the fade, ended up with a 9 minute PR. Congratulations, and good luck with the fall BQ attempt.

                    Semi-retired.

                      If I were you, I'd still be happy (after getting over the brief disappointment)..... You did very very well and should celebrate your achievements which were numerous in this race. Mainly, you ran a PR, you learned more about yourself, you know what to work on for your next attempt so that you can train better (and smarter) for the next try..... You didn't quite make Boston (but you're in good company - there are a lot of good runners that still haven't made it to Boston)....also, your pretty close and will probably make it next time..... You did good....Big grinWinkBig grin

                      Champions are made when no one is watching


                      Best Present Ever

                        A 9 minute PR is amazing. Shoot, from my vantage point, a 3:30 marathon is pretty amazing. Have fun training for the fall.


                        Bugs

                          Great job on the 9 minute PR. Recover, keep running, and the next PR is waiting for you. It's all about the climb. Wll make running Boston that much more great when you do run it. I bet you were cold without the long sleeve shirt. I was rather sparse back in the four hour group too after the half dropped off. Although it was nice to not be so congested, but not the same as running say TCM where you get into a pack that is just moving. (Although i noticed there was less people walking the last few miles than TCM...think those guys were all walking the half.) I had fun with the course because I got to see and cheer the leaders on, but I don't like all those turns. Also were the beginning miles marked? I also thought some of the markers were off. Did you get pizza? Had i known the half marathoners were going to eat all the pizza i would have stopped at mile 13 to grab a few slices.

                          Bugs

                            Great job on the 9 minute PR. Recover, keep running, and the next PR is waiting for you. It's all about the climb. Wll make running Boston that much more great when you do run it. I bet you were cold without the long sleeve shirt. I was rather sparse back in the four hour group too after the half dropped off. Although it was nice to not be so congested, but not the same as running say TCM where you get into a pack that is just moving. (Although i noticed there was less people walking the last few miles than TCM...think those guys were all walking the half.) I had fun with the course because I got to see and cheer the leaders on, but I don't like all those turns. Also were the beginning miles marked? I also thought some of the markers were off. Did you get pizza? Had i known the half marathoners were going to eat all the pizza i would have stopped at mile 13 to grab a few slices.
                            Seeing the leaders was pretty cool. Definitely one of the benefits of an out-and-back course. There was an article in the Fargo Forum today that they are considering keeping the 2-loop course. I thought it helped at the end to know about how much was left, but agree with you ... too many turns. The early miles were all marked, but I somehow missed a couple in the mid-teens (this is when I was struggling to hang on, so likely just me focusing straight ahead). I ended up passing quite a few of the half-marathon walkers toward the end and a couple of run/walk/run marathoners. They need to do something about the finish line area. No place to sit down until after the food line and the food line was pretty long given that there were only a couple of hundred folks who finished ahead of me. I think of a lot of the half and 5k runners were back in the line for 2nds. My stomach wasn't much into eating until about 2 hours later so you could have had my piece of pizza. But once I started eating, I made up for lost time ... that and a couple (or 4) beers to celebrate the PR. Good luck with your training for Duluth!


                            Bugs

                              5Kers got pizza. Angry I took an ice bath with three bags of ice afterwars. Ouch! Keep up the strong running mn26.

                              Bugs