FIRST MARATHON: EASIER & HARDER THAN I THOUGHT

EVENT: Marathon  | Surf City USA
DATE: February 3, 2013
LOCATION: Huntington Beach, CA
DISTANCES: 26.2 mi., Mass Start
COMPETITORS: 166 In my age group (age 50-54). 2274 Total Participants
TIME / PACE /PLACE: 3:16:09 / 7:29/mi. pace / 6th in age group  and 90th overall

A strong finish to beat out the shadow to my right: A girl !!

A strong finish to beat out the shadow to my right: A girl !!

I’ve been anxiously preparing for this one for 4-5 months. I have had mixed feelings about training for a marathon. Long slogs of runs on weekends – progressively longer until the combined run, meal and recovery seemed to take up most of the Saturday or Sunday. In the month or two approaching the race, I also started to cycle less. I missed that. I missed rotating through the different disciplines of triathlon.

I think there is an interesting phenomenon prior to a race where you seem to become hyper-aware of every little ache and pain. More so during the taper week when you think you should have the most bounce in your step. Extra energy should just be oozing from your pores. And yet it seems nothing quite feels right. I was having aches in ankle, pain in my left knee. So, what can you do? Keep moving forward.

I opted for the alternative pre-race carbo-loading. The day before, I went to my absolute favorite restaurant for my favorite meal: Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup:

Charbroiled pork pho from Pho Ba Co in Irvine, CA

Charbroiled pork pho from Pho Ba Co in Irvine, CA

This soup is amazing. The broth is savory and sweet. There is plenty of fresh basil and cilantro and sprouts to make it fresh. The charbroiled pork is added to the soup to bring it to utter perfection. As good and fresh and healthy as this was, I had a ..well… craving.

Sometimes you just gotta do what feels right

Sometimes you just gotta do what feels right

I went to the local market and got a box of chocolate covered doughnuts.

I bought a cup of coffee and and ate the whole damned box. And it was good. And I didn’t feel the slightest bit of guilt.

The setting was in Huntington Beach, California, “Surf City, USA” and it is known. The course was flat, and it was cool, but not cold.  The race was starting at 6:30 (I could’ve sworn it was 6:45) so instead of warming up, I spent that last few minutes trying to decide which layers to keep and which to peel off.  Next thing you know, the gun goes of and so are we. I really wanted to try to manage the pacing and aim for a negative split no matter what the final time was.  Early on when I first signed up for the race, I had also wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but as the race drew closer I started to think maybe that was a bit overambitious.
My goal was to start out maybe just faster than 8:00/mi pace and try to go a little faster later. I just kinda ran with the group I had queued up with. Early on there were some younger guys that passed me like they showed up late to the start line and had to get up to the front. I just get the cadence and after mile ten or so, I tried to start “reeling them in”.

I got to the 20 mile marker, the furthest I had ever run before and still felt pretty good. At this point it seemed like those within view were fading and so this was my chance to pick it up and start passing others. It is a great way to take your mind off your pain, and demoralize the competition (at least that’s what I think I’m doing). I brought it home strong and nearly sprinted at the end. After crossing the finish, I realized how much I had spent near the end. I wavered through the medal gauntlet and tried to sit down. More revealing was that later, I tried to stand up and realized I had nothing left in my quads. I mean I gave it all out there on the road.

That afternoon, back home, I was absolutely exhausted. I was too tired to eat. I could barely stand up from a sitting position, and trying to go down stairs is comical. One day later as I read this, I still can’t get my quads to fire no matter how strong the nerve impulses are.

IMG_1788The good news is that I did negative split the race: 1st half was 1:37:26 and the second was 1:36:51. Even better news was that I qualified for the Boston Marathon with 14 minutes to spare. I’m happy about that, but not so sure I want to go through marathon training again. Maybe I should wait until I can walk again before I make that decision.

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8 Responses to FIRST MARATHON: EASIER & HARDER THAN I THOUGHT

  1. MichelleK says:

    Great job! I felt a lot of the same phantom pains during taper week as well. I also understand not knowing if you want to do one again. Right now I plan on doing Boston in 2014, but I might not try to run it to my potential. I like 5Ks, Half Marathons, and tris a lot more 🙂

  2. meganjanicke says:

    Congrats! I understand your feelings on marathon training. I find tri training far more enjoyable.

  3. kyrunnergirl says:

    Congrats on qualifing for Boston! Awesome. 🙂

  4. Well done Sir! My limit was a halfathon, after that I decided the full was not for me, so my hat is off to you!

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