I am training for a marathon in November and have completed a 10K. To date, the 10K distance is as far as I have ever run, so marathon training should be quite an interesting endeavor.
Stats for the week : Miles within the last week: 6.2. Total miles for 2010: 110.6. Total miles since 2008: 407.6. Baseline 5K: 32:13. Baseline 10K: 1:11:00 (roughly). Best times: 26:57 (5K, June 7, 2009); 1:00:00 (10K, June 12, 2010).
RUNNING MP3 OF THE WEEK (That song that for whatever reason has a cadence that exactly matches the speed I was running this week.)
"Brand New Day" by Joshua Radin.
As you all know, Saturday was the big day. So we'll get right down to it.
For the sake of continuity, I decided to keep a log of what actually happened:
8:30 a.m.: It dons on me that I know nothing about pre-race preparation, so I turn to the internet.
There, I read a cautionary tale about a guy who in an effort to “carbo-load” before a race, ate six heavily-syruped pancakes and drank a gallon of orange juice an hour before he was scheduled to run.
My first thought was, “Was this guy trying to run the race, or roll through it like a blueberry-gum-inflated Violet Beuregarde?”
I get a couple of tips on light, pre-race snacks and proper hydration techniques before compiling a shopping list for later in the afternoon (Banana, Gatorade, a bagel and a Power bar basically).
4:15 p.m.: I report to Pizza Barn for the “Optional Pre-Race Packet Pickup”. I think I’m the first person there. It may be the last time I’m first at anything this weekend. They hand me a release to sign, which is odd to me at first, but it makes sense.
It basically says “You realize you’re about to take on a strenuous activity and in no way are the race organizers responsible for what happens to you. You should have spent a lot of time training for this (Have they been reading my blog? Is this directed at me?) and you should have reason to believe to can finish this event in a non-hazardous manner (OK, they really have been reading my blog).”
I sign, because as long as there are no disclaimers to the effect of “In order to improve everyone’s times, we will be letting ravenous tigers loose halfway through the course” it’s probably going to be OK.
In the time it took me to read and sign the release, though, a crowd of people has gathered in line behind me. My honest first thought is “Man, these people look fast.”
It begins to settle in that I really am going to finish at the back of the pack.
4:45 p.m.: I stop by the store to pick up my staples for the race. I buy all kinds of extra garbage too, including a two-foot-long baguette which my daughter and I consume within five minutes of arriving home. I manage to pass on the gallon of orange juice though.
6 p.m.: I forego my planned spaghetti dinner in favor of leftover enchilada casserole (This is what happens when my wife works late. Compromises are made in concession to laziness).
8 p.m.: Time to get the kids in bed so that I can get a full night’s sleep.
8:15 p.m.: The kids aren’t having any of it. They stay up for another two hours.
10:30 p.m.: The kids are finally passed out, but I’ve gotten hooked on a TV show (Friday Night Lights) and I can’t seem to turn it off, even though it’s on DVD.
11:30 p.m.: My wife gets home from work and we decide to watch another episode. It’s not like I have to wake up that early.
12:30 a.m.: OK, that was a mistake. I just did the math on how much sleep I’m actually going to get. I set my alarm and ...
4:30 a.m.: Who set the alarm for 4:30 in the morning? -Snooze-
4:35 -4:55 a.m.: -Snooze- -Snooze- -Snooze- -Snooze- -Snooze-
5 a.m.: OK, OK, I guess I’m going to go through with this nonsense. I get out of bed and start rummaging around for some breakfast. Six pancakes actually doesn’t sound half bad.
5:15 a.m.: I settle for a fried egg sandwich and some greek yogurt with honey.
5:20 a.m.: OK, now what? I have obviously gotten up too early. I could’ve hit the snooze button 50 more times and slept through the race completely, no harm done. But here I am. I guess I could stretch.
5:21 a.m.: I spend the next 40 minutes stretching. I may have dozed off at one point, but it’s hard to say.
7 a.m.: After a quiet drive over to the park, I park near the finish line and eat my pre-race snacks. I take a short walk across the park portion of the course, I meet up with my sister, April, and a longtime friend, James, near the starting line.
7:45ish: Race organizers call everyone to the gather at the start. They state that they will wait for everyone to get out of the bathroom. James, who ran in the race last year, informs us that last year, apparently, they started the race while some participants were still in the bathroom. James tells me they basically just said “1, 2, 3 Go!” while everyone was standing around. At least that’s how he remembered it, which is a lot funnier than any of the other possibilities.
This brings on a discussion about if they’d done the same thing this year, we could all panic and scatter, perhaps running the opposite direction of the starting line. But it would only be funny to us.
The starting area, by the way, is about five feet wide and maybe 10 feet deep, so an instant bottleneck develops as the crowd of about 70 jockeys for starting position. James, April and I dare each other to ditch the race and focus on shoving everyone else out of the way and sprinting full-speed 50 yards ahead of the pack upon the start with our arms flailing above our heads before turning around and shouting “So long suckers!”
The real comedy would come as every participant would then get the opportunity to step over our bodies collapsed on the ground about 15 seconds later.
None of us take on the dare, primarily because not one of us is sure our respective top speeds are enough to get us out to the front of the pack even for 50 yards and we did sign that release that we wouldn’t cause any harm to ourselves or anyone else. Instead we just lag toward the back of the pack and wait for the start.
7:50 a.m.: The race gets underway. I’m about where I expected to be -- well toward the back of the pack -- and I settle into a comfortable pace quickly.
Mile 1 (There were no mile markers on the race course, but I used what I remembered from Google mapping it the night before to get an idea of where I was): The park portion of the course is quite nice. There is plenty of shade and trails are easy on my feet, ankles and knees. I have no idea what my time is, but I feel like I’m running well (for me).
Mile 2: A second lap through the park and I feel like I’ve lost some speed. I still feel good though, and I’m starting to catch up with some of the 5K walkers, which makes for an interesting obstacle course, in terms of trying to keep my pace and dodge traffic.
Mile 3: The 10K leaders start passing me headed the other direction, which is a bit discouraging, but the good news is the water station is ahead.
Wait a minute, water station? I hadn’t thought of this yet. A kind volunteer holds out a paper cup, which I make my best attempt at grabbing in stride while saying “Thank you”, but I spill most of it as I grab it. How come there are no training tips for water stations?
Smart people, I guess, would stop and walk for a few steps while taking a drink, but I am not a smart person.
I take a drink of what’s left, but -- still running -- spill more water on my face and shirt. I think I get about a table spoon in my mouth. A second volunteer waits about 10 meters away with a trash can, and after she offers some encouragement, I throw my cup in the can, spilling the remainder of my water on the volunteer.
A pair of girls behind me are saying “Good morning” to every person staked out along the parade route and “Good job” to every runner going the opposite direction. Neither one of them is out of breath and they quickly pass me. I would wonder where they came from, or how I was even in front of them to begin with, but I’m busy with my own attempts at pleasantries -- mostly half waves to anyone who says hello and my best attempt at a smile, which in my oxygen-deprived state is scaring away all the little kids on the parade route.
Mile 4: I finally make it to the turn-around which means I’m technically on the beginnings of the home stretch. It’s right about now I realize I actually am going to finish this thing, but I’m really starting to wonder if I can finish in under an hour.
Mile 5-6: The rest is kind of a blur. I remember seeing my mom with her camera at the finish line, and then seeing my final time, 60 minutes flat. The next thing I knew I was eating a bagel and waiting for the final results to be posted.
The disappointing thing was that I felt very, very good after the race, like I could’ve run another mile or so. That tells me I didn’t work hard enough during, probably trying too hard to conserve energy.
I was also disappointed I didn’t step up for the final push about 10 feet sooner, because I could’ve come in under one hour easily. I also could’ve picked up my pace about a quarter-mile sooner and had a much better time, but I just couldn’t gauge where I was in terms of stamina. These are all things, of course, that would’ve been remedied with any type of training program (or, for example, if I hadn’t taken most of February, March and May off) but hopefully I’ll know better next time.
I took 50th in a field of 70, 21st out of 23 guys and third out of four in my age group. It’s pretty much exactly what I expected it would be, which is a good thing.
So ends act one of this blog.
The next four weeks will be spent building up to week one of an 18-week training program leading right up to the marathon.
I’m not going to post as much data on my times any more, because the only important thing from hereon is the distance. I’m aiming for 11 total miles this week, 12 the next, 13 the week after and 15 for the first two weeks of marathon training.