Monday, May 21, 2012

From the NYT: Caballo Blanco's Last Run

"The race was the best of True’s good deeds. He described himself in the third person, all at once modest and grandiose: 'Caballo Blanco is no hero. Not a great anything. Just a Horse of a little different color dancing to the beat of a peaceful drum and wanting to help make a little difference in some lives.'"
The entire article is wonderful, but the above quote was most striking.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I Can Take a Hint

I've been using dailymile to track my workouts since January 2011.  It's an incredibly motivating tool -- I can compare my mileage from month to month, check out my stats since joining the site, and see how my training compares to my friends.  There's nothing more motivating than seeing that my friends have logged miles while I was sitting on the couch watching reruns of Arrested Development.

The site also sends users a weekly e-mail with total mileage, stats from friends, and some motivating adjective describing that week's training.  It's very nice to receive an automated pat on the back each week.

This came instead of my usual weekly e-mail on Sunday:

Okay, so it has been eight days since I last logged a workout but did you have to rub it in, dailymile?

I went out for my first run since the marathon earlier today.  I'm not going to lie: it was hard.  Even though I felt great cross training and lifting last week, it's very clear that I'm no where near recovered from this marathon.

I'll get there, though.  My plan is to try a few more easy runs this week and try a long run of eight miles some time this weekend.  I have to get in shape for summer 5Ks!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cox Sports Marathon Race Round-Up

It's taken a while for me to sit down and write this race recap.  I started to draft something on Monday, but I think I needed some time to review my performance before I wrote about my third marathon.  (That, and I really wanted to take a nap as soon as I started writing.)

I'm happy to report that made it across the finish line.  I ran 26.2 miles (again), and I'm proud of that.

A finish time of 4:15:00 or faster did not happen at this race.  In fact, it took me an additional 11 minutes to make it across the finish line compared to my time at the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon.  Oddly enough, I'm not disappointed about it.  It would have been amazing to set another personal record, but I still feel the same sense of accomplishment as I felt when I improved so much between the Baltimore Marathon and Philadelphia. 

Could I have run faster?  Yes.

Could I have not mentally whined for the entire second half of the race because I was tired and bored? Of course.

Will I train harder and set a PR at the 2012 Marine Corps marathon? Yes. Yes, I will.

Here's the scoop on race weekend:

I flew up to Providence with Stef on Saturday, just in time for carb-heavy lunch at P.F. Chang's and one of the smallest marathon expos I've ever attended.  To be honest, I actually enjoyed the fact that I wasn't completely overwhelmed at this expo.  My bank account always appreciates it when I don't spend a lot of money on things that I don't actually need.  For dinner, Matt took us to Cassarino's on Federal Hill (and I ate the most delicious pesto dish...ever).  Stef and I turned in early in anticipation for the race.

In the morning, we walked from our hotel to the staging area.  There were no corrals for the marathon, and I think we nestled ourselves in the middle of the pack -- which was perfect. I went in to the race with a plan -- run a 10:00 pace for the first 13.1 miles, and a 9:00 pace until I crossed the finish line.  It seemed doable, especially after running consistent races in March and April.

The course was advertised as flat, with a few "hills", so it would have been very easy to pick up speed.  The pack stayed close for the first few miles, so I didn't realize that there wasn't much (and, by that, I mean close to zero) crowd support along the course until I got to Mile 4.  Having people to cheer you on makes such a difference.

I also didn't anticipate that the roads wouldn't be completely closed for the race.  So, yes, we ran along the side of the road with cars whizzing past.  This would become frustrating later when we ran through a few residential areas and cars were pulling in and out of driveways. 

For the first 10 miles, my splits hovered between 10:20 and 10:30.  I felt really good.  For a few miles, I ran and had a conversation with another runner.  (It was a huge clue that I was in great shape to pick things up for the second half of the race.) Around Mile 13, I started to pick up my pace.  By Mile 15, I was in such a blah mood about the race that I slowed down.  I lost complete motivation when I got to Mile 20 and realized that there was the not even a slim chance that I could run a fast 10K to set a PR.  I had to convince myself to get to the finish line.

By the time I neared Mile 25, I expected there to be crowds and cheering -- enough to make me run the last mile fast.  There wasn't much support until passing Mile 26 and heading toward the finish line.  When I saw Matt and Mike, I felt so much better about running and ran as hard and fast as I could toward the finish line.

Previous Record: 4:39:29, 2011 Philadelphia Marathon
Gun Time: 4:51:23
Net Time: 4:50:32
Average pace: 11:05

After the race, there was (much deserved) pizza at the finish line and I picked up my medal.

I'll be spending the next week or so getting myself back to my regular eating habits (though I do love a good carb-loading session) and doing a few very easy workouts.  After that, I've decided that I want to run a sub-25:00 5K.  If anyone has any 5K recommendations for June or July, send them my way!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Countdown to Providence

And, I'm back!

I'm not going to lie - the last few weeks have been rather interesting.  With work travel to Montana and Michigan and having to address a few issues when I returned to DC, I haven't had much time to sit down and write.  Thankfully, things have calmed down a lot and I feel a heck of a lot better than I did last week. 

Just in time too -- because the Cox Sports Marathon is four days away!

For whatever reason, I'm more anxious about this race than I have been for any other marathon.  I spent part of my afternoon thinking about all the things that could go wrong before and during the race, which wasn't productive at all.  But, it forced me to start making a mental list of everything that I need to pack and things I need to do before leaving for Providence. 

I also started to think more about my strategy for the race.  Ideally,  I'd like to finish this race in 4:15:00 or faster.  Looking back at Philadelphia, I definitely started too fast and was pretty wiped by Mile 18, which is when the frequency of my walk breaks increased.  For Providence, I'm going to try to run negative splits (a revolutionary idea, I know).  I should be able to handle running the first 13 miles at about a 10:00 pace and then pick up to 9:00 miles in the second half of the race.  It sounds manageable, and I should be able to reach my time goal if I stick to the plan.

The race will be a lot of fun.  I just need to calm down, trust my training, and focus on the present. 

It's the final countdown, folks!