Friday, October 5, 2012

When faster is not enough...

No one ever said this would be easy. Running my first marathon is the easiest thing I have done at this point. I was about to run my second marathon, with a a different goal the second go around. My goal for my first was to finish under four hours and not walk any of it, and I ran a 3:35. My ultimate goal is to qualify for the Boston marathon, which at my age is a 3:05. Going into my second race, I thought could reduce the gap in half; anything less would be unacceptable.

I wanted to do the Panhandle Marathon in Lubbock because my wife’s family lives there, so it was killing two birds with one stone. I found out about the race at the end of April during the middle of my soccer season. I started to train at the end of May when soccer was over. My first time with Rogue I ran at a beginner level, and this time, I ran at an advanced level, cramming 800 miles into a four months period. Running 50 miles a week is definitely tougher than running 40; it is obviously a bigger time commitment. During training, I stayed relatively injury free. I had some inside knee pain on both legs. Icing them down helped a lot. I also developed this weird pain in my right foot that felt like I had jammed my pinkie toe. In August, we went on a no alcohol, white starches/breads, dessert, and cheese diet, and it definitely helped with training. I felt great. The only bad run I had during training was the 24 miler, but other than that, I had a lot of confidence going into the race.

We got to Lubbock on Thursday. When you are out of town, it is hard to eat healthy. I had lived in the Lubbock for a little bit so we ate at some of the familiar places. Lubbock has so many restaurants, and most of them are chains. On Friday, I was anxious to get the iPhone 5 that I had preordered and shipped to Lubbock. I was hoping I would not miss the UPS guy because if I had, the phones probably would have been reshipped to Austin. It finally came at 6pm after I waited around all day. I tried to keep Saturday low-key. I picked up my packet with our friend, Ginger. I am actually proud of her. She had never run further than a 5k, and I convinced her to run the half marathon. I can only imagine training for it with two kids when you are not a runner in the first place would be tough, but she did it. My wife and I then hung out with her mom, grilled out, and watched football. I actually took a nap during the visit. For some reason, I never napped after my long runs on Saturdays. I was always doing something. We went to check in at the hotel and met up with the Beef Team (a great group of people who love running and beef) for our pre race meal, then went to bed around 9:30.

Sleeping Saturday night was a struggle. It took a while to fall asleep, and I kept waking up. I got out about at 6am before the alarm would go off. I had a bagel, and Mother Nature was right on cue. The hotel was a mile away from the start line, so I walked there. I actually need the “warm-up” because my right hamstring was sore from kicking a football with Ginger’s kid, Hunter. The race started at 7:30 which I thought was kind of late. It was the inaugural race, and there were about 150 marathon runners. When the field took off, it spread out thin fast. There were a lot of turns within the first three miles, and right about then, I was running by myself. I had no music with me, so it was just the sound of my shoes hitting the pavement. It was a brisk morning, and I felt great in the beginning. I signed up thinking the race would be flat because Lubbock is so flat that if you stood on a penny, you could see Dallas or at least that is what they say.

Around mile eight, I made a quick pit stop and lost about forty seconds. In the first ten miles, the race included every hill in Lubbock. I did not even know these hills had existed. Thank goodness I train in Austin and attacked them with ease. For some reason during training, every time I see a hill, I always sped up it. It is speed work in disguise. When I finished the first half of the race, I was sitting at 1:35. I knew I was making good time. When I started the race, I had two packets of chews and three packets of gel. I tried Accel Gel for the first time, and I really liked it. The first 18 miles were pretty uneventful. The course took us through Mackenzie Park, Texas Tech, and Greek circle. Things started to go downhill at that point when my legs started to cramp. I had the same issues with cramping at the Houston marathon around the same mileage. However in Houston, I was able to turn it on the last six miles while I was trying to chase down Cassundra. This time I had no Cassundra, it was getting hotter, and I was starting to slow down. I feel like the sun is my kryptonite.

Around mile 21, I saw my wife. I had seen her a few times along the course, and it was good to see her out there supporting me. At this point, I thought about walking, but I did not want to let her I know I was hurting. The cramping and heat was getting to me. I almost cried thinking about how much work I put into the training, and I was blowing it on race day. The last five miles I kept thinking I could turn it on any second, but as the miles past, I was going slower. At mile 24, two people actually passed me. Normally I am the one passing people at the end. I finally crossed the line pissed off at 3:31. I told myself anything short of a ten minute PR would be disappointing. I somehow ended up finishing seventh, but I knew I could have done so much better. If I ran the race I had in mind, I could have finished fourth or fifth. Ginger finished her half before I finished. We were supposed to celebrate at brunch, so we went to Blue Mesa where I had a few mimosas. Later, we celebrated with some friends by shot-gunning beers in the front yard. Classy.

I have been mad at myself for the last week or so, but I am over it now. During the race, I thought about never running a marathon again, but I am ready to run another marathon. So what is next? I am planning to do the Run for the Water 10 miler for my birthday. I will probably run the 3M half with a 1:30 in mind, and have a little fun running the Austin marathon. All of us have goals in mind, but at the end of the day, running is supposed to be fun, healthy, and something we enjoy. So just go out there and run and do not worry about anything else.

Until next time, happy running.