Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Portland Marathon

NOW we’re getting somewhere.

Two years ago, this was my first 26.2, and it was a disaster. Bad food the day before made me sick, so I was bigtime dehydrated on race day, struggling to finish in 4:35.

Eugene 2012 was a little better; 3:59, including a 1:42 half. And with only 35 miles in the last seven weeks due to a calf injury.

This time, I altered my training plan. Friends Jeanne/Dave and Bretagne/Corey said more long chill runs, more long tempo stuff, and less track work.

They were right.

Portland 2012: 3:37 with a 1:41 first half. Much better.

Last big meal the day before: corned beef hash at Brother Jon's. Lots of sodium. And so good.

Zoe's egg sandwich; equally as incredible...

Stayed at a relative’s house in Vancouver. Got dressed in the basement at 0330 before I realized I forgot the Body Glide. I was too lazy to completely undress again, so I put on the BG while half-dressed. This is not the best way; I painfully discovered later that I missed a few spots.

Fighting a cold all week, and felt compromised on the trip into the city. Was considering a dialed-down effort or even a DNS, but felt ok by the start. So I decided to go for it.

I inadvertantly bumped the start button on my watch during the warmup, and didn’t notice until I crossed the start line. So my Garmin Virtual partner showed me a half mile behind pace before I even started to run! No problem, that’s what the pace group is for.

Except my 7:50 pace group brought us through 5k at 7:22 pace! No wonder I couldn’t get comfortable.

Thanks a lot, Red Lizards. Grumble, grumble.

Then some guy steps on my heel and my shoe comes off. No problem for a triathlete with elastic laces: I lost maybe 5 seconds.

At 4 miles, I see a co-worker who's coaching a bunch of runners through the race. His lightning reflexes permit him to snap this shot:

Thanks, Geof. But where are the other 11,999 runners?

Got settled in and made good progress thru 13.1 and beyond. More PR’s, and I hit the top of the St John’s Bridge at 17 miles just behind pace before the wheels came off. Made it to 19 miles before losing the pace; that's 6 miles farther than ever before.

I can only thank Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor for my awesome HM split. Somewhere around 8 miles, my iPod landed on 'Fat Bottomed Girls,' just a perfect pounding beat in sync with my feet. And Roger has a drum cascade toward the end that always gives me goosebumps.

Must have repeated that song about a dozen times. It kept me going. And my pace stepped up, too.

For the most part, the legs felt like they were lacking snap, even though I was holding pace. See notes below about tapering.

The final 10k was better than last time, at least I could keep a decent clip. But I was getting mild hamstring cramps along with anaerobic distress, so it was tough. I had taken off my shirt at one point because chafing was becoming a problem. The shirt probably weighed four pounds at that point. Then I saw a race photographer in the distance, so I had to put it back on so he could see the race number. Can't miss a photo op!

For whatever reason, I chafe badly on my left side where my arm rubs against my back. This was stinging bad, not to mention my adductors. Jeez, I need to do better next time. At least I remembered Vaseline for the nipples.

Afterward, I was tired but not exhausted. Felt much better than after any other marathon. We had to walk about a half mile to get our gear; that was probably a good thing to get some blood back into the legs. Gave me time to gag down a container of coconut water; I know it's good for you, but it really tastes like dirt.

And Portland, while expensive at $135, gives not one but two shirts. One at packet pickup, and a LS finisher shirt at the end. Along with the foil cape, some roses (PDX is the Rose City), an evergreen sapling, a finisher's medal, two other medals, food, etc....When I finally retrive my gear bag, I'm carrying so much stuff that it feels like Black Friday at the mall.

The finisher shirt has the street-by-street chronology; wouldn't this be helpful for the directionally challenged if we got it BEFORE the race?

Pacing: next time, if the watch does something funny, just go on basic mile pace and forget the bells and whistles. Or stop, take 30 seconds to reset the watch before crossing the start line, then go. Don't depend on the pace group! Would have saved me some aggravation and made the last 10k a little more enjoyable. Besides, I really don't need to set HM PR's on the way to the full distance.

Carbo loading: I had never really done this. Found some articles that blew my mind. 2000 calories a day just from carbs? That's a ton; I tried it, and it worked. No bonk. Thank you, Snyder's Dutch Pretzels.

Illness: such a slippery slope. I was feeling the tiniest bit fatigued the day before and just prior to the start. Decided to at least do 4 miles until the first logical bailout point, but I rocked the race. So, a minor cold and tiny throat irritation is not enough to derail a good performance.

Taper: 2 weeks ago, I did the 5k swim and 13.6 mile run of the Leadman 250k. I thought this would be an interesting race simulation if I could run at marathon pace after swimming 3 miles. A friend thought it was a little much, so close to the big race. I'm thinking that's right: next time, do this kind of simulation 3 weeks out, or a lesser workout 2 weeks out.
This long season is finally over. Time to eat!

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