Monday, March 22, 2010

Shamrock Marathon Weekend Experience

Here is a report on my first full Marathon experience.
Friday night we drive down to Virginia Beach. Traffic sucked on 95 but then again it always does.
We get to the hotel and check in. We find some friends and talk about dinner plans.
Saturday comes and I plan on taking it as easy as possible.
We look out our window and see some the runner who are participating in the 8k run by. We cheer from our balcony on the 7th floor. I know what it means to hear some cheering going on so I try to give back as much as I can.
We gather up some things and go downstairs for breakfast. We meet up with our friends/family and have small talk. Next up is packet pick up at the expo.
We are less then a mile from the convention center so we walk on down. It was a good walk.
We get to the convention center and sign our waiver, pick up our numbers and shirts and then walk around the vendors.
They had some dancers from An Cor Rud School of Irish Dance. They were very entertaining. My kids, ages 13 and 10, really enjoyed watching them. It kept them busy as my wife and I walked around the vendors. There were a lot of good vendors there with some good deals, bought my wife some new shoes. Of course I had too as I took her bag out of the car while I was packing, some day I will learn......
So we all gather up and start heading back to the hotel. The kids and I get our bathing suits on and head to the pool. My wife and our friends who aren't running go walking around. I sit at the pool reading the latest issue of runners world while my kids swim around.
Carbo loading dinner comes. As I mentioned I was there with some friends and family. My brother in law runs with Columbia Strider's and we had about 30 people at dinner. It was a good time. We talked and ate. Now it was time to get some rest. We walked back to the hotel and watched some of the NCAA tourney then I went to bed around 9 pm.
Race day. This is what it is all about.
My alarm goes off at 5:30 am. I want to be able to wake up and get some food in me but not too much. I have my standard that I have been using before all of my long runs, a nice bowl of Apple and Cinnamon oatmeal. I drink a couple of glasses of water and I almost had a cup of coffee. I usually drink coffee however I never had any coffee before any of my long runs. I was always told, "don't do anything that you didn't do during training".
So I did some very light stretching in our hotel room while my wife and kids got dressed. We go down to the lobby and meet up with everyone else where the hotel had some food out for all the runners. I was too nervous and excited to eat anymore.
Our hotel was about a mile away so at 7 am we start walking down to the start line. It was a nice cool morning, great weather for running. The sun was starting to rise and it was just beautiful.
We make it to the start and I must say that it was kind of nice not having to deal with a huge mob of people. My previous races have been the Cherry Blossom 10 mile and the Baltimore half marathon. These races had maybe 5 times as many people as the Shamrock. So I was able to find my way to the 5 hour pace group with out any issues.
8:00 am comes, temperature at gun time was about 50 degrees. It was nice. I passed over the start line and was looking for my wife and kids. Well I ran right by them and yelled as I passed. Gotta work on that, anyway. As I mentioned it was not too crowded so I was able to get into a grove early and stay with it. We start out heading south to Rudee inlet. I am feeling good. I am right with the 5 hour group. We get to the second water stop right after mile 2 and right before the Rudee Bridge. In hind sight this might have been part of my "downfall". There was some traffic and I got behind 2 girls with very curly hair. All I could smell was hair product. Not really sure how else to describe it. Well with that and the excitement of getting over the bridge, I picked up my pace every slightly. I told myself "ok calm down, you have a ways to go. Just get over the hill and slow down." When I got to the top of the hill I am sure I slowed a little bit but I was feeling good. So from Mile 3 to Mile 8 there really is not much to say. I was just cruising along without a care in the world. At about mile 4.5 we met up with runners coming the other way. I tried to look for my brother in law, who was going for a Boston Qualifier, and other friends. Well I did not see any of them.
At Mile 8 there are no words to really describe the atmosphere. We were on the grounds of Camp Pendleton. We come up to a line of soldiers cheering us on and give us high 5's. This gave me a boost. I was extremely pumped and started to speed up very quickly. I was able to catch myself and slow down. I made a comment to one of the other runners near me that we needed them, the soldiers, closer to the end and not here. She agreed with me.
So on we go, off of the base and coming up to Rudee Bridge and mile 10. All is still going really well. I can tell that it is starting to get warmer so I tell myself to take water at every stop, sometimes 2 cups. We get to the "boardwalk" and there is a nice breeze the kind of cools you off a bit. I am carrying my cell phone with me, pull it out and take a picture of mile marker 11 and send it off to my wife letting her know that I am getter closer. I did the same at mile 12.
As I run past the starting line I can here my wife cheering for me. I made me feel really good. She takes some pictures of me and as I run by we blow each other a kiss. This gave me another little boost. I come up to the half way point and I am feeling ok. Not as good as I did before.
The only thing that I can say from mile 13 to 16 is that there was great crowd support. Could not ask for anything better. Here is where I guess you can say that I hit the wall. From Mile 16 to 22 is fort story, and there is almost nobody there. There are 3 water stops, 2 djs and one band. Here is where I could have used the soldiers from mile 8. Anyway, I kept telling myself that this is my first marathon and it is a huge accomplishment. Not very many people have the courage to do what I am doing. I did not want to walk, but I did. I am not sure where it was but the 5 hour pace guy went right on by. I got down on myself because I wanted to do it in under 5 hours. This is were I came to reflect on my training and all of the words of encouragement that I received from friends, family and strangers. At mile 21 I took a Carb boom along with some Advil, had a "come to Jesus moment" sucked it up and started focusing on a structured run walk plan, because I was damned if I was going to let the sweep bus catch up to me. I started out with run 5 min walk 1. Then started to add a min to the run if I felt good. At Mile 23 I was getting into a well defined groove and by mile 25 I was not walking anymore. I knew the finish was close and what was there besides the finish? My wife and kids!
I started looking at people in front of me and saying I'm going for that one. One by one I would pick off runners. Then we make our turn onto the boardwalk and there it is. I can see the big green finish line banner. My focus is so clear now, and then I see him. The guy that was speed walking the course. I was bound and determined that I was going to cross the finish line before him. I come up next to him, he looks at me and says "come on, I'm walking here, your not going to let me beat you, are you?" Well that was all I needed. It gave me an extra pep and I darted to the finish line at 5:24:29. There is almost no better feeling then to finish what you set out to do, have your family there to embrace you at the end, and to top it off, you get your name called out as you are crossing the finish line. WHAT JOY!!! I did it, and yes a tear did come to my eye.
What an experience. Feeling the way that I felt at the end makes me want to sign up for my second marathon, only problem is that registration has not opened yet. Now if you would have asked me between miles 16 and 22 I would have cussed at you.
I have learn a lot and plan on putting that to good use in the months and years to come.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, March 15, 2010

One week to go

Well there is no turning back now. I have less then one week to go before I go for my first marathon.
I have a wide range of emotions running through me. It's really hard to explain in words the emotions that I am going through.
I still can not get over the fact that I am about to run 26.2 miles. I am not that concerned about time right now.
When I started my training I was going to shot for a 4:45 time, however after I hurt myself and had to take a couple of weeks off I am not sure if I will be able to hit that mark. And I am OK with that. My main goal is still just to finish, to cross that line on my own power. I don't want to bonk out or get picked up by the sweep bus. I believe the time limit is 6:30 and I know I will be able to beat that.
My big thing is that I am going to need to pay close attention to drinking and eating.
When I did that Baltimore half I did not hydrate enough. I knew this because I did not want to get a crap but at the end of the race, I felt like I could not stop drinking. It just tasted so good.
So I am going to make myself pick up a cup of water and a cup of Gatorade at each water station.
I am also going to make sure that I carry some Carb Boom energy gels with me as well. They are going to have some on the course at two different locations, I just don't think that will be enough for me.
So as far as a race day strategy goes that is all I have for now, well that and to have fun and enjoy myself.
As for the day before, well I will be at one of three different locations, 1. hotel room watching some March Madness, 2. poolside or 3. beach side. sitting down with my feet up drinking lots of water/Gatorade. We have a carb loading dinner planned for Sat. night with about 20 other people that will be down there for the race.

So I had a great run yesterday in the rain. Got some funny looks from some people and I tell you even if I was not training to run the Shamrock, I think I would have still been out there. It was not that bad. I have been able to work my pace back up. So looking forward, I will be running in the Cherry Blossom 10 miler in Washington, DC in April. I ran it last year with a finishing time of 1 hour 54 min and change. I hope to be able to beat that by about 10 mins which should be very do able. I feel that I have come a long way in my running so I am looking forward to how I will improve this year.

Well that is all for now. Thanks for reading. Next week I will post a race report as well as a look back on my training and how it went as well as any changes I might look to implement.

Friday, March 12, 2010

My motivation for the Shamrock - an open letter

You have the opportunity to be a powerful influence on the lives of other people, no matter your position in life. ~ V.J. Smith

If you are receiving this email it is to thank you, but before I get into it let me back up a bit. Whether you knew it or not back in November 2009 I decided to make a goal of running in and completing a full Marathon. That day has come in the form of the Shamrock Marathon on March 21st in Virginia Beach, VA.

Over the course of my training I have received well wishes and words as well as actions of encouragement from you which has helped me get through the "tough" times during training.

I will keep this short, maybe, as I started writing this about 3 weeks before the marathon and have found myself re-reading and editing it from time to time.

Again I just wanted to say thank you. I could not have done it with out you. As I run along I will be thinking of each of you separately for each one of those miles. This will help me to remember that if the goings get tough that you were there for me during my training and that you are there for me now.

I will say that I am not that focused on a completing it in a specific time, however rest assured it will be a PR (person record)!

I will end now by taking a quote and revising it just a bit..... I have created a goal, and I have made it my BITCH! (thank you Trilogy boys)


Monday, March 8, 2010

last long run

Well yesterday was my last long run before my marathon. I am not going into taper mode.
I was running with a group of people and knowing that they are a lot faster then me I started out early so that we might be able to finish at about the same time.
Well, it was a tough run yesterday.
When I started out I was having some shin pain. I was following a walk run plan of walking one minute and running for 9 minutes. After about 2.5 miles my shins started feeling better. I did stop a couple of times during my walk break to do some light stretching on them.
So as I said about 2.5 miles in my shins started feeling better, I did have some hills that I was dealing with in the beginning, I started to get into a grove. I was feeling great and the run was progressing nicely. I was not worried about a time or how fast I was running, I just wanted it to be at a comfortable pace and to stick to the 1 min walk and 9 min run.
At mile 13 I came to the "relief vehicle". One of the runners that day had parked their truck so we could get some refueling done. Here I think became some of my down fall.
When I got started again I just could not get back into that grove that I was in. Again, not sure what might have happened, if I was stagnate too long at the refueling truck or what happened.
I was filling up my water bottle and eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich, I grabbed a GU and started going. I did do some light stretching and a couple of squats. I really can not remember how long I was there for, I did not think it was that long. Hey my attitude is that these things happen. I have a great 10 mile run and I am just chalking up the last part to "it just was not my day" bad kind of run.
I have definitely learned a lot about myself and the training that I have been going through and I will touch on that in a later post.
Am I ready for the marathon? Yes I feel that I am.
Will I run another? Yes I will, with out a doubt, and I have one in mind (will update later once registration is confirmed).
Will I change anything with my training? yes, but again I will update later as my training is not quite over yet.
My goal was two fold,
A: just to finish. This I know will happen.
B: to finish at around 4:45. not too sure about that one.

We shall see what happens. Either way I know that this is a huge accomplishment that I am going to complete. I am not going to get myself down too much about the little details.

In future posts I plan on talking about my 2 week taper, a race report about the marathon itself what, if anything, I would change on my training and of course what I have planned next.

thanks for reading.