Goals Achieved, New Goals Set

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As I mentioned in a recent #Racechat session, 2014 is the year that I became a runner. In 2013 I ran a total of 70 miles in about two-and-a-half months. Impressive. In 2014 I have totaled over 1,285 miles run, in addition to about 100 miles on the spin bike, 15 miles on my new outdoor bike, and a dozen sessions on the elliptical, averaging about 1/2 hour apiece. As a numbers geek I also find it necessary to mention that I ran for over 11,000 minutes in 2014 and burned over 173,000 calories. But it’s not too difficult to notice the disparity between the effort put into running and the effort put into cross-training activities. The main difference: I set running goals last January, but no cross-training goals. I intended to do more cross-training, but the motivator wasn’t there.

The running goals that I set last January were pretty much done by picking different aspects of running and putting numbers with those activities that sounded good based on the little experience that I had at that time. Some of these goals were achieved relatively quickly and some will become goals for 2015. Goals that were achieved (in no particular order) include a 7:00 mile, 50:00 time for a 10k, sub-2:00 half marathon, totaling 2014k miles running in 2014 (1251 miles), finishing in the top 3 masters in any race, and being assigned to an A corral for a Disney race of 10 miles or longer. There are all sorts of different types of goals here, all running-related, and some easier to achieve than others. Overall I achieved 60% of the goals that I set for myself and just missed two others. Not too bad considering the longest distance I had run in my life before 2014 was 5k, and only did that once.

The goals that I missed? Two of them were of the so close, but no cigar variety. My 5k goal was 22:00 for 2014 and my best time was 22:12. My 10-miler goal time was 1:20:00 and my best time there was 1:23:10. Another goal was one that, for some reason I never attempted to beat. I’m sure I could do it right now, I just never tried. I set a goal to run 1/4 mile in 90 seconds. My final missed goal for 2014 was to run a 4:00 marathon. I made only one attempt at this and missed my goal by half a movie. Not bitter much.

So how do I make improvements? What new goals are there for 2015? I managed to learn some of the goals of some fellow #racechat-ters and found some good ones:

Run halfs in 5 new states, 1:29:59 HM, and my first 20-mile training run – Jeremy

Washboard abs by Easter – Gail

Eat healthier, drink more H2O – Patty

Earn triathlon elite license – John

Complete a half triathlon – Richard

Be more consistent with cross-training – Meagen

All of these are excellent goals and good motivators, and sharing their goals with others helps to keep them accountable. So here’s the list that I have put together for my 2015 goals:

1. 1600 miles running, 1000 miles biking, 500 elliptical miles

2. Complete a half in 1:39:59 or better

3. 10,000 push-ups

4. Running distance/speed goals:

  •  6:30 mile
  • 22:00 5k
  • 47:00 10k
  • 1:20 10-miler
  • 1:40 half marathon
  • 4:00 full marathon

I’m also going to scale back on the number of races that I sign up for. I ran 28 races in 2014, including two on the same day three times. I learned this year that, although races are great and they give you a chance to document improvement, running too many limits the improvement. I’ve basically been off of my Dopey training program for the past two months because of races and tapering and it’s going to detract from my performance. I have several races scheduled for the next couple of months, but the way it looks right now I will only be scheduling two more races for 2015 beyond what I already have. One will be in October and one in November, they just haven’t gone on sale yet!

I’ll be making 3 attempts at my 4 hour marathon goal, but one will be part of Dopey, so don’t plan on that happening there. It looks like there will be 6 half marathons, 2 ten-milers, one 10k, and two 5k races as well. I may add a 5k or 10k in the early fall just to break up the training a little, but my primary focus starting mid-June will be to train for Space Coast marathon. I loved the course and, if my training stays on schedule, I’m planning to make a run at a BQ time next November. Yes, that’s 1:22:40 faster than I did the same course this year. I know I was capable of much more than my results show; I beat myself by running nearly a minute per mile too fast for the first 13 miles – I had nothing left to finish with. Experience, wisdom, and a better training plan will be on my side in November.

Another adjustment that I’ll be adding to 2015 is called Moov. This is a device that is similar to a Fitbit in some ways, it will track activity and provide raw data. But it also does so much more than that. It’s even referred to as an A.I. running coach because it has the ability to measure your range of motion, cadence, and even the force with which your feet hit the ground. It will then make real time suggestions that are intended to correct your form, improve efficiency, and increase your ability. This tool will be delivered within the next couple of days and I cannot wait to use it.

What about you? What are your goals for 2015? A new PR? A new distance? A new best total for miles run in a year? Work with a coach for the first time?

* Update: After writing this post I decided to take a run at that 90-second quarter mile that I never attempted. 88 seconds. Check that one off the list!

Dopey Challenge training update

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Once again my inexperience could be my undoing. I have been putting in a good number of miles lately, but they are the wrong kind of miles. Several months ago, just after signing up for the Dopey Challenge I started forming a rough training plan in my mind. I’d first need to get used to long runs and then running long on back-to-back days, then making the longer run happen on the second of the two days, etc. I didn’t figure in the issue with my foot from August and I didn’t plan on the Achilles issues that started in October and lasted into December. Even if I did, my planning involved a great deal of overestimating on my part.

When I created my schedule of races for this fall, I actually made my first full marathon to be a training run. It was intended to be a great experience, but it was not my goal race. I was saving that for Dopey. As such I scheduled additional training races in December, with the intention of using them as test sessions to gauge my readiness for Dopey. This idea may have looked good to the inexperienced guy who’s looking to go from non-runner to Dopey finisher in 15 months, but to anyone with a brain and a little experience, yeah, not so much. You see, I ran the Space Coast marathon on November 30, the OUC half on December 6, Best Damn Race Cape Coral half December 14, and Mount Dora half December 21.

Second half, posture says it all

Marathon second half, posture says it all

Between November 29th and December 23rd I ran a total of 9 miles that were not part of a race. By comparison I raced for 65.5 miles in 22 days. I am now able to see why this is backwards. The one that truly gives away my inexperience is that this weekend, less than 2 weeks away from Dopey, my training schedule called for a mock Dopey run consisting of 3 miles on Christmas, 6 on Friday, 10 on Saturday and 20 on Sunday. Maybe someday I will be in the condition that is necessary to be able to do this, but today ain’t that day!

Back to the update….. I must say that I’m not so sure how well this is going to go. I will finish, and overall that is the goal. I’m not planning on pushing at all for the 5k, 10k, or half. I want to be able to make up for the mess that I made of my first marathon. I understand that this is not the situation to even think of PR. I would make up for Space Coast if I finished feeling like I didn’t beat myself. Time doesn’t matter; it’s about the last 10 miles and being able to run more than walk, even if it’s 2 min/mile slower than my training pace. What worries me right now is that I don’t know how much leg I actually have right now.

I walked about 45 minutes more than I should have in the marathon, all in the second half. The first half of the month was intentionally run at a much slower pace than I have ever done a half. The next half saw me fade by mile ten, and the most recent half was hard all around because of the hills. Overall I’ve felt like jelly-legs for several weeks and I don’t know if it’s from too much time not training, too much racing, not enough rest, or (most likely) all of the above. More importantly, what should I expect come race days? It’s mostly rest days that are on my calendar between now and January 8th. Any miles that I do will be at usual long-run training pace or slower and I’m going to take days off if things don’t feel right.

My next post will be about my 2014 achievements as compared to my goals for the year and my 2015 plan and goals. Next year will involve bigger goals but fewer races. And I’ll even sprinkle in a little intelligence this time!

Are you training for WDW Marathon weekend? Which race(s)? Did your training turn out better than mine (I hope)?

Race Recap: Mount Dora Rocks Half Marathon

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Every race has its value and many have their lessons. This race helped cement a couple of ideas that I have learned since I signed up for it. Too many races too quickly is not a good thing and races that look good on paper are not always as good on pavement. Don’t get me wrong, this was a fun race, but it would have been better if those two ideas hadn’t come together the way that they did.

Bill Rodgers talks pre-race

Bill Rodgers talks pre-race

A couple of long-lasting memories came from the starting corrals. We lined up about 6:45 outside the Mount Dora Lawn Bowling Club (they are currently looking for new bowlers if you’re interested). As usual, nobody wanted to line up toward the front of the corrals, so I grabbed some empty space up there. Once the a cappella quartet sang the National Anthem the runners were introduced to the lone elite runner in the half marathon field. It surprised me that there would be an elite runner in a smaller town race like this, but then I learned that he now lives in Kissimmee (as do I) so it’s a little more understandable. Fredison Costa is a name that I’ve heard before and have even run with at one of the Disney events that I’ve done. If you haven’t heard of him before, he’s originally from Brazil and has laid claim to three of the past four Disney Marathons. Yeah, he’s stupid fast.

We were then introduced to a former elite runner who runs in the Mount Dora 5k event every year. That’s Boston Billy Rodgers, former Olympian and four-time winner of the Boston Marathon and New York City marathon. Many chuckles were heard from the runners when Bill Rodgers said that he was more of a marathon guy than a speed guy, despite once running a 5k in 13:42. In my dreams. With the conclusion of Rodgers’ comments it was race time.

I signed up for this race several months ago with one thought in mind. This is going to be a great race to PR because of the elevation changes. Sure there are some ups and downs in the first 3.5 miles, but then it’s a slow, steady downhill most of the way to the finish. That’s what was advertised on the site’s elevation change map. What looks good on paper isn’t always good on pavement. When the race started we were headed uphill, around the corner, and uphill again. The combination of climbing and race jitters had me literally out of breath for the first mile. I was breathing like I was running that 13:42 5k. I backed off some and then encountered a steep downhill section, then more climbing, more climbing, then what could have been a downhill ski slope. I was (at one point) seriously considering this a possible PR course. I won’t make that mistake again.

Florida isn't completely flat

Florida isn’t completely flat

I was able to maintain a fairly steady pace for the first half (around 8:35). The slow, steady downhill after mile 3.5 didn’t really happen either. The hills were fewer and less steep, but for someone who encounters an average of 3 feet of elevation change during 20-mile training runs, any hill is a workout. Around mile 8 the course leveled off for a while as we were running around a lake right by the water’s edge. I managed a slightly slower steady pace for the second half (around 9:25), but did not give in to the urge to stop and walk at any point during this race. Throw in some smaller hills toward the end and the race is nearly complete. The lone piece of good news was that the last quarter of a mile was a decline to the finish line. I had little kick left but was able to find something going downhill. My “If it’s there” goal was a PR, but that would have taken my best day ever with this course. My secondary goal was to beat 2:00, which I did, finishing in 1:59:15, my third fastest half of the seven I ran this year.

Mount Dora "Rocks" medal

Mount Dora “Rocks” medal

I am most proud of the fact that I didn’t stop to walk during this race. This may have been the most physically demanding race that I have run short of Space Coast marathon. It’s only the second half that I have finished without walking. This also completes my insanity run of 65.6 miles raced in 22 days, with the full marathon coming first, because I’m smart like that. I have definitely learned that the only way to run high mileage racing like this is to make them basically training runs – slow and easy. I have a couple more busy periods that I have already scheduled and I’ll deal with them as they come up, but I will not be scheduling so many races close together again.

North Pole cheering crew at the finish

North Pole cheering crew at the finish line

For anyone interested in final results of the race, let me just say that the best result of the day was not mine. Fredison Costa finished this race, with all of its hills, in 1:06:53. That’s 13.1 miles in 66 minutes. What? The second place finisher was 9 minutes behind him (almost two miles) and 1:15 is still an awesome time. 1:06. And to think, I ran with him for the first three steps of this race. Anyway, my finishing time of 1:59:15 earned me overall finishing position number 212 out of 698 finishers, 147/304 males, and 21st in my age group out of 49. I also need to say that, considering my race mileage recently and the challenge of this course, this is one of the few non-PR finish times that I am pleased with.

Next up: Some rest time and then the fun begins….. #DopeyChallenge!

Love spinner medals!

Love spinner medals!

Believe you can

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There are plenty of times over the past year that I can remember thinking that if I could just put in a little more effort, a little more work, then I might see some results that would make it all worthwhile. I’m still fairly new to the sport – about 14 months past my first 1.8 mile, 25 minute run/walk. In that time I have run 28 races, from two miles to 26.2. I have been determined to reach a series of goals, many of which (I have recently been told) were unrealistic for someone of my age and experience level. In a couple of cases I have even managed to sideline myself by being overeager. I become frustrated when I am not showing improvement and upset with myself when I cannot reach a goal. It’s who I am.

Live it every day

Live it every day

I am a 45-year-old average guy who happens to run. I finished 2013 with 70 miles run for the year and will finish 2014 somewhere around 1,300 miles. Motivation for me is simple: I believe I can do better and am willing to do whatever I have to in order to get better results. My next big goal is to complete the Dopey Challenge during the Walt Disney World marathon in January. I will push myself as hard as I need to and will complete this challenge or they will carry me out on a stretcher. Motivation comes easy for me.

6 medals for #DopeyChallenge

6 medals for #DopeyChallenge

What if motivation to run and push your limits is not so easy? I know several runners who don’t worry about their race results, their best times, or trying a new distance. I know other runners who are convinced that they have already found their peak and have little left to achieve. Reading about someone who is easily motivated is not going to change anything.

Many of us have heard about the Wings for Life World Run, where runners in 32 countries raced at the same time in order to raise money and awareness for people who cannot run for a variety of reasons. Some of us also know someone who runs with some sort of injury or disability and find motivation in their story. Still some of us don’t get out there like we want to, or just don’t seem to have the desire to put much effort into it. Perhaps learning about someone who has more than enough excuses to stop running (or should never have started) is enough to make some of you pause and remember how lucky you are to be able to run.

keepcalmrundisney

As I mentioned, the Disney Marathon weekend is fast approaching. Some people will be in awe of the grandeur of the event. Others, like Fredison Costa (who I was lucky enough to meet today) will be basking in the limelight, looking for the marathon win. Many will be attempting to defeat a personal challenge such a Dopey, Goofy, a PR, or a new distance. One person will be writing the conclusion to one of the biggest chapters in her life’s story. Her name is Gelcys, but she goes by Cheetah. Yes, Cheetah, as in the fastest land animal on the planet. She is not, however, attempting to win anything or break any speed records. She is attempting to defeat her own body.

Gelcys AKA Cheetah

Gelcys AKA Cheetah

Gelcys has a very long and painful story which you can read about for hours through her blog found here. The short version of her story is that she discovered at a young age that she had Scoliosis. Surgery and steel rods in her back corrected much of the problem, and then a car accident reversed all progress that had been made. More surgeries ensued with the end result being that more than a dozen doctors told her that she could not be a runner. Her back would not stand up to the beating and her lungs could not support running as her spine actually curves into her left lung. She finally found one medical professional that believed that she could learn to adapt and teach her body to accept running through determination, a great deal of care, and a few hundred rolls of KT tape.

Spine

I ran the Wine and Dine half marathon at Disney a couple months ago and remember what a mess I was during that race. Nothing went right: the rain, wrong shoes, forgot my water bottles, stomach issues, AND I went out too fast and burned out early. The next day I learned that this race was “the most EPIC race” that Gelcys had ever completed. She faced the elements and her demons and ran the half marathon, without stopping, to a 16-minute PR, breaking 3 hours for the first time. A couple of weeks ago I ran the OUC Orlando half marathon and met Gelcys after the race. This was just four weeks after Wine and Dine. She wasn’t going to rest on that fresh PR. Nope, she beat her Wine and Dine time by 9 minutes. Remember, over a dozen doctors told her that running in her condition was not possible. She, her husband Alpha, and her PT believe she can do whatever she sets her mind to.

Whatever it takes to get it done.

Whatever it takes to get it done.

Pretty motivating, yes? It gets better. Yesterday she finished her final big training push for marathon weekend. Is she going to run yet another half marathon? Is she thinking about the full marathon? Yes. And yes. This incredibly strong and determined woman is taking on the Goofy Challenge and will be running a half marathon on Saturday, January 10th and then a full marathon the very next day. Her last big push included a 12-mile run Saturday followed by 20 miles on Sunday. This woman is serious about proving that she is not handicapped, but handi-capable.

Goofy is the goal!

Goofy is the goal!

While I will be pretty focused on finding a way to cross the finish line four times in four days, a part of me will be finding even more motivation on two of those days. I’ll know that not far behind me will be an iron-willed woman battling with her own body, fighting with every ounce of energy she has just to prove to herself that she can do what no one thought she would ever do. Cheetah will complete the Goofy Challenge!

Injuries and training

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We are fully into racing season here in central Florida and it seems like there is so much going on. Too much, actually. Here is my attempt to keep at least one newer runner from missing time from this amazing sport. You may be better off not knowing exactly how much wear and tear your body can handle. Stay on the safe side! 6 days after running Space Coast Marathon I ran the OUC Orlando Half Marathon although it was at a greatly reduced effort. Why did I do this? Because months before I started training for my first marathon I scheduled races on weekends that I had open before the cost went up. I wanted to race and was getting the best deal. The best deal for my wallet, not necessarily for my body. During a couple of my recent races I have found some aches and pains (Achilles on both legs, foot pain, etc.) but I am pretty sure there is no serious damage. So I implemented plan RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) as much as possible, and pretty much stopped doing training runs to allow for maximum healing. Yes, I am feeling better now, except that I am not running during the week at all. My last run was 5 days ago and my next will be 3 days from now, another race. I’m allowing maximum time to heal and going into the race with the idea that if I don’t feel right at any point during the race, it’s either walk or walk away. Dopey is less than a month away and I WILL be healthy for it.

6 medals for #DopeyChallenge

6 medals for #DopeyChallenge

So most of this is pretty much common sense the way I’ve laid it out. Of course people don’t run when it hurts them (Right?). Maybe. Because of the running conditions when I got hurt I was pinning the blame on my shoes. Runners World recently posted an article about many Achilles injuries being caused by switching to shoes with a different drop. I had just done this as I was recently fitted for shoes and never thought to ask about the drop. My older shoes are 15mm and the new ones are only 8mm. My first Achilles problem surfaced in the new shoes while running the biggest hill I have seen in a race or training. The next Achilles problem appeared at Wine and Dine, running in the same shoes on wet roads. These shoes (pictured below) are not good for wet roads as they are skimpy on road contact area. I wrote this injury off as adjusting my stride to compensate.

Cloudsurfer by On

Cloudsurfer by On

The next injuries were also foot and Achilles related and they were from my first marathon. Same shoes and well, marathon. Write it off. After taking it easy with no pain during this past weekend’s half marathon I went to a different running store to see if my suspicions were correct. Was the shoe my issue? After much discussion with a veteran runner (30+ years) and a high school track coach I learned that the shoes were most likely not the culprit. I was the problem. My form was good, and even my training plan was good. I am simply trying to do too much. Both of the men that I talked to told me that I am in a good place in training and ability for someone who has been running for 2-3 years. 13 months ago I was running 2 miles once a week. I have just forced myself to progress too quickly and my body needs a rest. So I am resting. And it sucks. I did pick up a new pair of shoes though!

New Balance 860v5

New Balance 860v5

In other news, the bib numbers and corral placements have been released for Disney’s marathon weekend. If you haven’t gotten yours yet, you can retrieve the info and waiver here. I’ll be starting in corral F for the full marathon. Considering that this will be my second marathon and the corrals are A through P, I’m pretty proud of my starting spot.

Dopey Waiver

On one final note, I’m looking to put together a list of my readers that will be completing either the #GoofyChallenge or #DopeyChallenge within the next month. Yes, it will all be over in a month! I’m including the bloggers that I know are running. If you’re running either and would like to be on the list, please let me know. I’ll keep the list updated for future reference!

#DopeyChallenge

Ted, Heather, Denise, Kristin, Kelly, DisneyGroom

#GoofyChallenge

Gelcys, Krissy

Race Recap: OUC Orlando Half Marathon

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Saturday, December 6 brought with it my fifth half marathon and the 26th race of 2014 for me. If you recall, just six days prior I ran my first full marathon and had a number of issues physically during that race. Going into the OUC Orlando Half my quads felt better and even my Achilles were feeling strong on both sides. I was still experiencing some soreness in the outside edge of my left foot, in the area of the peroneal tendons. Foot injuries tend to last longer for me since I spend the majority of my work day standing on a cement floor. I gave it the rest, ice, compression, and elevation routine as best as I was able to all week, but still wasn’t sure if I’d be racing, even the night before.

Mile 7 selfie. A tradition?

Mile 7 selfie. A tradition?

A possible solution surfaced and it actually worked out pretty well. The two ladies pictured above (Joy and Christin) are friends of mine that were planning on running together with a set run/walk plan. This was Joy’s third half and Christin’s second, and running with them gave me the opportunity to not only slow down to avoid more injury, but keep the motivation level high for them when it was needed. We ran, walked, chatted, laughed, and even took the obligatory (apparently) selfie at mile 7. This is a tradition that lives on with these two runners, and something I have now become aware of. So has the DJ that was playing music at mile marker 7. He had a blast announcing the fact that we stopped for a selfie next to a stop sign.

Elvis impersonator on the course

Elvis impersonator on the course

There was a good amount of music on the course, from DJs to groups of four or five singing Christmas carols to marching bands, and even Elvis. What race would be complete without Elvis? Anyway, my foot held up well during the race and the competitive side of me managed to stay home for once and I just enjoyed the race. Joy and Christin just missed PR’s but didn’t seem disappointed with their results. Since I went into the race with the idea that I’d only finish as long as I wasn’t hurting myself, no matter what the time was, I have nothing to be disappointed about either.

Post race: Flash the bling!

Post race: Flash the bling!

The post-race party included free chocolate milk (thanks to Florida Milk and RunnerUnleashed), free beer, and some more live music. The medals are awesome. In fact the entire day seemed to be another flawless presentation by Track Shack and all of their volunteers.

Half number 5 for 2014

Half number 5 for 2014

I traditionally post my finishing stats here, so here we go: Finish time 2:44:42 (12:34 average), finished 2682 (almost my bib number 2684) out of 3328 overall, 1395/1568 males, and 188/211 in my age group. I will continue to take it easy on my foot and apply appropriate treatments and decide on Saturday about my next race. I stacked the month of December with races to tune me up for the Dopey Challenge, but I won’t allow them to make me miss Dopey. If I have to give them up I will, keeping the big picture in mind. It seems common sense, but it’s tough for me to give up on something without trying, even if it’s the best idea. And no, I don’t stop and ask for directions. Next up: Best Damn Race Cape Coral Half Marathon

OUC Orlando Half swag

OUC Orlando Half swag

Race Recap: Space Coast Marathon

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It was like I was a little kid getting ready for my first trip to Disney World. The excitement put butterflies in my stomach weeks ahead of time. You’d think I was about to go on vacation or something like that. No, I was about to run 26.2 miles all at once for the first time. And I couldn’t wait to do it!

Cocoa Beach at sunset 12 hours pre-race

Cocoa Beach at sunset 12 hours pre-race

If you’re still with me then you’re a runner.

Saturday afternoon I made the drive from Kissimmee to Cape Canaveral, Florida and went straight to the expo and packet pickup at the Radisson Resort at the Port. I got my packet, race shirt, and Moon Pie and then wandered around the expo for a while. The place was jammed with people so I didn’t hang around too long. I found my hotel, checked in and relaxed for a while before heading to the beach just so I could say I did. I laid out my race clothes and gear before attempting to get a good night’s sleep. Until 2am everything was fine. Remember that little kid going to Disney? Yeah, he slept better than I did. No worries.

Next time I see this I will be a marathoner

Next time I see this I will be a marathoner

Race morning I found a place to park by 5am and did the usual pre-race wandering around and considering my plan in my head. I had been undecided about using a pacer because I wasn’t sure what pace to go with. Based on different race calculators and my previous races, I should have been planning on a 3:45 to 4:05 finishing time. I completed Yasso 800s in 3:40 three months ago, meaning 3:40 should be within my reach. Still, it’s my first marathon so I set my goal at 4:00. About 35 minutes before race time I saw a familiar face: Jennifer, the race director from Final Mile Racing stopped to talk to some race pacers right next to me. I asked her if she was helping the pacers and she said that she would be pacing the 4:00 pace group for the race. No brainer here. I am now going to be running with her group. At 6am the half marathoners started and I gulped down my energybits. 30 minutes to go.

Looking pretty strong early in the race

Looking pretty strong early in the race

Since the race is space shuttle themed, the last few seconds before the start were counted down by a video of an actual space shuttle launch. When the shuttle launched, so did we! Once the race started I was nearly in tears for the first mile. All I could think about was that I was really doing this, making my hard work pay off and becoming a marathoner. I can’t explain the thoughts and feelings that I experienced, but I knew that I was doing something really special. It was really exciting and a massive confidence booster. The other thing that I remember from the first couple of miles was how difficult it was to run in such a big crowd. With three pace groups very close together (3:55, 4:00, 4:00 Galloway method) it was difficult to find open road to run on. With the pace group I ran those first two miles at 9:04 and 8:59. Once we finished the second mile, a little space opened up in front of the 4:00 pace group so I moved up there to enjoy a little elbow room.

Mile 9 and feeling good!

Mile 9 and feeling good!

Once I got some open road and my new-found confidence, I just went with how I felt, knowing that (in my head) 4:00 was a conservative number. If I was feeling strong then I was definitely capable of going faster. Look at me, by mile 3 in my first marathon I have the whole thing down and I can ignore advice given to me by people who actually know what they’re talking about AND have done this before. Miles 3-9 were all in the 8:30s (4:00 pace is 9:10 per mile). For miles 10 and 11, I slowed to 8:44 and 8:43. I was ahead of pace but doing well with hydration and my gels. Mile 12 had a little uphill (for Florida) to it so I kept my effort even and slowed the pace just a touch: 9:11. On mile 13 my world started to unravel. My stomach was not happy. I knew that at 13.1 we would cross the start line again and then run the half marathon course. At the start line were the portolets, maybe a quick stop is all I’d need.

Second half, posture says it all

Second half, posture says it all

Once I rejoined the course I started to feel the effects of ramping up my pace earlier. My quads started to ache a little and by the end of mile 14 I took a quick walk break to try to reset and diagnose. About the time I started running again Jennifer and the 4:00 pace group passed me. Now my confidence is low, my stomach is bothering me, and my legs are hurting. This is where I learned never to ask what else can go wrong. I had previously had a little issue with my left Achilles so it was taped for this race, just as a precaution. It never bothered me. However my right Achilles started hurting around mile 15 (I think it’s that pair of shoes). By 17 the bottoms of both feet were hurting, by 19 a little chafing on my thighs was noticeable, by 20 I was craving solid food which made my stomach worse, and by 23 my back was in serious pain although I’m not sure why. When the 4:15, 4:30, and 4:45 pace groups passed me, my mental state grew worse and worse. My mile splits matched the rest of my day for the second half of the race, from 10:15 at mile 14 to 11:42 at 16, 12:42 at 17, and just beating 15:00 for mile 21. I was walking for three to five minutes at a time, and sometimes running for 30 seconds, sometimes a full minute. Guessing from the final results that were posted I would say that about 650 people passed me in the second half of this race. Finishing position doesn’t matter, I know, but it’s tough to say “who cares” 650 times when you’re hurting.

Finally done

Finally done

In several spots along the route there were some small crowds of people cheering. Some spectators even called me by name. One homeowner along the route had a hose and was spraying people who wanted a cool-down. The crowds really made the race more special. As I approached mile marker 26 I could see more people than anywhere else on the course. The further I went, the more people I saw, and the louder they were cheering. By 25.9, I was running like nothing hurt and even passed a few people in that last quarter mile. The tears were back as I crossed the finish line. As broken and defeated as I felt, I knew that I had still finished my first marathon. I had accomplished something great!

The Challenger Medal

The Challenger Medal

I understand that it’s just a race and that everybody has a bad day. I also understand that I am probably too competitive for my own good. It’s who I am and I’ve always been this way. If it was my tenth 5k it wouldn’t have mattered nearly as much. This was the race that I was looking forward to for almost seven months. It was my first marathon, just over a year after my first 5k. The one I’ll never forget. I wanted those memories to be good ones. This is why I have gotten up on Saturday mornings to run 16, 18, even 22 miles. I’ll get past this by changing my approach and learning from my mistakes. I also want to make sure that I thank everyone for their support before, during, and after the race. It is a great feeling to know that people care just because they want to.

Bib, medal, finisher beach towel, and Moon Pie!

Bib, medal, finisher beach towel, and Moon Pie!

Some of my stats from Space Coast Marathon:

  • Placed 1009 out of 2719 overall
  • Placed 569 out of 1240 males
  • Placed 108 out of 218 males 45-49
  • 10k split: 55:15  (8:55 pace)
  • 13.1 split: 1:56:43  (8:55 pace)
  • 20 mile split: 3:19:14  (9:58 pace)
  • Finish: 4:47:39  (10:59 pace)

Next race: Saturday December 6 – OUC Half Marathon. I’m planning on taking this one nice and easy.