Thursday, February 20, 2014

Number 5

The Austin Marathon was finally upon us. I had no expectations for the race considering how I ran the Rogue 30K. After 3M, I took a week off of running. My right knee was hurting, and I could not bear the pain while walking let alone running. I might have hurt it playing basketball. After my knee started to feel better, I ran as much as I could. I ran four to five times a week. I mixed in some speed and hill work in there a few times. I feel like I am cheating myself by not having a strict training plan. I only had one 20 mile long run which I ran a week before the race. The 30K was my only other long run. I struggled with both runs.

The night before the race, I went to see Young the Giant in concert. What?! Yeah I did that. My buddy Rob and I have bought tickets to a bunch of concerts this year. I did not realize that this one fell on the night before the marathon. I was on my feet for about three hours, but I did not drink any alcohol though. I ended up getting about five hours of sleep which is fine because I normally do not sleep very well the night before a marathon. On Friday night, I got about six hours because I wanted to wake up early to watch the USA vs. Russia hockey game.

The weather forecast all week for Sunday was not looking good. It was going to be warmer than usual. The morning of the race, it was in the 50's with a humidity of 95%. Yikes. The race started cloudy, and thank goodness, it stayed that way. If the sun had came out, I would have been toast. I made a conscious effort to drink more water leading up to the race to make sure I did not cramp. I ate a small bowl of cereal the morning of the race. +Amber McGee dropped me off at the starting line about 15 minutes before the race which is early for me as of late. I sucked down a gel right before the start. That was the extent of my fueling before and during the race. I had extra gels, but I was running on how my body felt. I did not have a goal going into the race. I knew a PR was out of the question. I just wanted to finish under four hours without walking. At the back of my mind, a 3:45 time would have been ideal. I also wore a brand new pair of shoes to race in. Good thing that did not backfire in my face.

I started the race in the middle of the pack to make sure I did not go too fast. I wanted to keep the pace under 8:30. My plan was to bank time which is probably not smart. I wanted to build a cushion in case I started to slow down. Around mile two, my lower back was starting to hurt. My back has been hurting of late for whatever reason. The crawl up Congress Avenue felt good. My ankle started to feel funny on South First Street. I kept feeling I was going to twist it throughout the race. I took on some kind of liquid at every water stop. The weird thing is I never had to stop during the race for a bathroom break.

The crowd support this year has been better than in the past. I felt like there were more people cheering us runners on. I ran my fastest mile from seven to eight probably because of the energy I felt from the Beef Team cheering section. There were a ton of them. Livestrong used to have an awesome cheering section around mile nine. Freescale replaced them as the title sponsor this year and picked up where Livestrong left off. The Freescale volunteers/employees were having themselves a party. At mile 10, I had stop for a brief moment. My calf compression sleeve was starting to rub my left heel raw. I had to put some Vaseline on the spot.

The miles leading up to 18 were pretty uneventful. I kept an even and steady pace. Around Great Northern Boulevard, my legs were starting to feel heavy. It did not help that Great Northern is a false flat. It looks flat, but in reality, it is an incline. My pace was starting to slow down. I had a feeling the next eight miles was going to be a fight. My legs felt tired during the concert so I knew I clearly made a mistake there. It was more of a mental fight than a physical one to resist the urge to walk. During the race, I was waiting for the hills to go away, but it never did. The 3:40 pace group passed me around mile 22. That was not a good sign because I did not even try to hang with them. I was counting the miles down as I went. At mile 23, I was like "come you wuss, you run 3 miles all the time." I was going to have to grind it out. You start to see more causalities when you run through campus. People were starting to walk, and it can be discouraging and disheartening.

When I crossed MLK, it was the home stretch. I knew there were two hills before the downhill finish. I enjoy running up hills and have always been a strong hill runner. I picked up the pace and was passing people on the hills. However I have a poor memory. I thought the light ahead was 11th Street, but it was actually 12th. Come on! I had one more hill and block to conquer. I turned on the jets and took off for the finish line. I crossed with a time of 3:42.42. I was satisfied with the result. I did not train correctly, but I ran the race with a decent time without injuring myself. Next time I run a marathon, I will train properly.

Thanks to everyone who was out there cheering me on. To my awesome wife- cheering for me at multiple spots with our friend Eileen. To Chloe- who flew from Atlanta to cheer me on, sort of. To Mike and Michelle- who probably wanted to run but are about to move to Switzerland. To Mike Galante- who was out for a morning run and ran by and gave me some encouragement.

What is next? Hopefully the New York City Marathon in October. I will find out at the end of March if I get in through the lottery process. I would also considering running the Capital to Coast relay again. I might try to win a couple of local 5K's in Kyle. I sort of feel like I am cheating when I run those but oh well.

Until next time, happy running...