Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fall Marathon: The lead up to Philly

   Months ago, my wife Karin was motivated to "take on" the Philadelphia Marathon once again after her 2010 episode ended with broken metatarsals and a DNF. As she announced the news I was delighted to hear she was attacking something that was taken from her, something that caused her a great deal of pain and agony. I pondered the idea of just going to Philly as a cheerleader for Karin but she asked if I was signing up and it kind of pushed me to really thinking about it. After I realized that I actually had a free entry courtesy of Gatorade Endurance, I went ahead and signed up, after all even if I decided not to race I could have simply not started and it wouldn't cost me a dime.

   I must also mention that during all of this I had just competed in the "Scream" half marathon which by luck I was fortunate enough to finish in 1st place in just under 1:15. This race WRECKED ME! My training had been going very well until I competed in the summer track series where I really tweaked my hamstring and it became a big lingering issue. As I toed the line for the "Scream" I knew that I was not in ideal form to achieve what I would like to but I was on the line to compete and give it my best. I pushed and pushed, even had to make a pit stop for stomach issues until I crossed that line in agonizing pain. I was TOAST for weeks after the race, my legs were shot and I just took time off. Debating on signing up for a full marathon after I had just put my body through hell and back for a half seemed like an easy answer but it wasn't. As you know now, I did sign up for the full and I gave it my best attempt to prepare for attacking a new PR.

     After some much needed time off I decided it was time to really start ramping up my training so I wrote a very basic and simple plan for myself to reach a peak week of 85 miles, permitting I made it to this point completely healthy there would be no reason that I could not knock a couple minutes off of my standing marathon PR. I knew that reaching this would be a very difficult task as I typically have to stick around 50-55 miles per week before my body starts breaking down so it would be a much longer build than I would prefer. If you know me well, you know that I have been a fairly inconsistent runner in terms of training. I like to take about 3months at a time to really get into my training and 3 months to take time off to lift, cycle and to tend to home life. It works for me but is not for everyone, I do still believe that I have a couple of PR's left in me somewhere, most likely in the longer distances and I will get there in due time.

   To keep my training fun and exciting I always like to mix in races to offer a true chance to get into a race mentality while also providing the obvious stimulus. One race really stuck out on my radar that I have always wanted to participate in, "Run For The Green" half marathon in Davidson, NC.  I knew that it would prove to be a slow race but it would have long term benefits. Up to the point of the race my training was finally coming around quite nice as I was getting into the 50's for mileage but my body was having a difficult time adapting to the increased load. My thought was that it would be ideal if I could run just under 1:20 while staying controlled and optimistically hope for the big W. Once the gun went off their was quickly a contender among the field who meant business. He took off with ease and floated away from the rest of us minus some teenage kids who were dreaming for a couple hundred yards.

    After dropping a 5:30 mile to remain in 4th place I thought to myself that it must be game time today, no games and no floating around. I had to start my race soon or this guy might just run away from me. As we approached the 3 mile mark he continued to surge every time I strolled next to him and then finally he pretty much gave up completely it appeared. Within two steps I had made a solid gap on him and I kept pressing. As we hit the turn around, I noticed I had a solid lead and finally was able to back off of the pace and cruise home for the victory. Great race/run, I went out fast got into oxygen debt but was still able to press on with a solid pace, this was really teaching my body to deal with some solid fatigue.

  Two weeks after the "Run For the Green" I told my fellow Huntersville-Concord triathlon team that I would be willing to compete in the relay for the inaugural Davidson Half IM. I knew that I had to hit some solid mileage that week and I made it very clear that I would not be setting any record paces during my run portion. Since I did not have to be at the race till later, I managed to run 5 miles to the race from my house, sit around for awhile then do another 2 mile warm-up before I was set to complete my 13.1 mile journey for the team. Boy was this a BITCH of a course, I know that I was
fatigued but it really took a toll on me. For the first time since I competed in a 70.3 myself I ran over 1:20 for half marathon! It was a fun event, I was able to meet some new people and to share my passion for the sport while we waited in anticipation for our teams to arrive. We ended up winning as the overall fastest team but unfortunately we were still unable to get the top overall men in the field.

   This performance left me feeling a little less confident but still hopeful that I could continue to press my mileage on up. Looking back one of the critical mistakes that I made was not allowing myself a proper amount of time to recover. I distinctly remember one workout that I did with help from Dan Matena at McAlpine, where I was set to do 3 x 5k. The 1st 5k went by FAIRLY smoothly but I could tell that the sickness that I had been suffering from was still lingering in my
body and causing severe chest congestion. The 2nd 5k interval was not so pretty, I managed to still run a 17:40 but it was not nearly as smooth, I had to press the last mile to get my time and my chest was really hurting something bad. For some reason the next morning I was so motivated from my incomplete workout that I met up with Billy and Caitlin for some miles extremely early. I managed to run a couple solo before meeting up with the group to knock out 8 more before starting a workout with Billy and Caitlin. I managed to run just short of 3 miles with them at 6:10 pace before the fatigue and soreness really set in. I struggled back to the YMCA shivering and achy from the 18 miles I had just run, this was the true start of my demise.

  Upon completion of that week of training it was highly likely that you may have very well witnessed my famous last 5-6 weeks of training move, it was pretty sweet and went something like this......"ahhhhh my Hamstring!" , "Oh my Achilles, I can't walk, it's locked up", "My IT band is killing, I don't know about this marathon". Despite all of these factors, I still showed up to the start line at the Philadelphia Marathon with the slim optimism that they may very well be a PR waiting to happen, which I will recap on my next installment.


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