Monday, November 19, 2012

The Journey Continues

Philadelphia Marathon
Time: 2:35:09, PR
Place: 47th
1/2 Splits: 1:13, 1:21

I have never had so many mixed feelings about a race.  If you were to ask me 2 years ago how I felt about this race, I would have said it was one of my best races ever.  At the time I had never even broken 16:00 for a 5K, and my half marathon personal best was barely under 1:13, which was pretty much my first half's split yesterday.  There is one negative to getting better: You are your own worst enemy.  Now, my 5K is 14:58, and my Half Marathon is 1:08, not to mention all the other 8K, 10K, and 10 mile races in between.  My 5K pace 2 years ago is my pace for 10 Miles now.  I have gotten to a much different level, and it shows in every distance...except the monster 26.2.  It's as if my marathon time is trying to catch up with my other current performances...and currently it looks to be about 2 years behind.  Please don't get me wrong though, this is not a frustration rant-I am actually not unhappy about the race, it is simply an analysis on perspectives of different performances and levels of where I am at as a runner.

Despite running a 2+ minute personal best yesterday, 26.2 is currently my weakest event.  It is a race that (right now) is outside of my current prime.  I do believe, that if it was a 20 or 22 mile race, I would do far better.  The zone of running after those miles is a different kind of running-which I have not been able to master yet-this is something I am currently working on.  As a coach, I am not embarassed, rather, I am passionate to say this, because I think every runner, no matter what level you're at, knows deep down inside of them what they're capable of doing if they really dig deep.  For me, I do not believe my performance in the marathon is a mental thing, but more physical.  If my head wasn't right, I wouldn't be racing so well in every other distance.  My mind is trained and knows how to push its limits.  Of course this doesn't mean that I don't continue to train it. And I must keep doing so.  The physical part of the marathon for me is getting my body to be able to race the entire distance.  The last 10K I was just able to run-not race, at a training pace that is typical on an easy run for me.  It is really a more physical process of adapting the body to handle this demand.  I do believe, it can be done however.  I think it just takes more time than other distances.  Some people may think that I am being unrealistic with my goals.  But, the truth is, anyone who really knows what I can do will agree that I should be at least a 2:25 guy, if not faster.  There are guys who run 2:35, who have never broken 1:13 in the half.   

My first mile was 5:35(2:26 pace-slightly slower than goal pace), and went through the first half in 1:13(still exactly 5:35 pace).  I would have liked to go out slower that first mile, but I really don't think it was too fast either.  I felt comfortable, it did not feel too hard-I felt this was realistic to sustain for the entire distance.  I even thought about negative splitting perhaps(1:13, 1:12).  I was breathing comfortably, and chatting a little bit even with other runners.  Now, if I went out in 5:15 pace, I think then that I would have had to drop out eventually!  So, I think I did the best I could, and believed in myself and went for it.  Another thing, which Matias brought up with me, is race day nutrition.  A top notch Ironman athlete and 2:34 marathoner himself, EFS(First Endurance Liquid Shot) is his favorite, and recommends me trying.  Maybe the GUs I take just aren't cutting it.  I took 2 1/2, (1 roctane, 1.5 expresso).  I also drank water along the course-actually I drank pretty often, which I am super proud of myself for doing!  In the past, I have been very bad about drinking water during a marathon(and I honestly hate drinking while running), and I think I have mastered that now.  I even took some water after the first mile.  I give myself a lot of credit for being able to do this now.  But at Mile 18, something happened.  I had to go.  And I'm not talking about # 1 either.  So, I veered off course and found a spot.  It sucked, but I had no other choice.  Maybe the GU upset my stomach?  I had NEVER had to go during a marathon before.  But I really think I just had to go regardless of what I took.  It's not like the GU is a heavy meal-jesus-its just 100 calories of sugar-I feel like a donut or a cookie would have caused more problems.  And I didn't have any cramps or side stitches(thank god).  But that aside, maybe there is something better for me to take anyway.  I will look into it-and it's good to find the best possible nutrition option, even if it doesn't make a difference in performance.

Nevertheless, when I look back at previous marathons before this one, there are improvements made.  For one thing, as I mentioned earlier, I have taught myself to drink water during the race, and physically adapt to it.  My splits were 1:13, 1:21, which are yes, pretty uneven, but better than Marine Corps pacing last year which was 1:12, 1:24.  I have also made fitness gains from all of the training I have done the past year.  There are a lot of workouts I have done and a lot going on that has not shown yet, and this is a great way to move me into the year 2013.

When I crossed the finish line, I felt a lot. I hugged Beth and shed a tear, who has always been there for me. She knows how far I have come. And it has been far, indeed.  I think this marathon was the end of an era in training(in years) and the beginning of a new one.  It may have not reflected on the other current performances I have gotten to, but I think it reflected on years prior to those performances.  And those years were hardly fought, too.  Perhaps it is a summary of everything all together, or an average.  I do feel that 2013 will be starting a new chapter in my running career.  The half marathon is really in my sight now.  The 2016 trials qualifying window opens again in 2013(can qualify with half or full).  I have really high goals for the year and am looking at things for not only next spring, but next fall as well.  Up next will be a preview of the year 2013 and what races I have in mind. 

The old journey is over, but a new one is about to begin.


1 comment:

  1. " As a coach, I am not embarassed, rather, I am passionate to say this, because I think every runner, no matter what level you're at, knows deep down inside of them what they're capable of doing if they really dig deep."

    I think this sums it up nicely, Chris. The capability will be unleashed and become reality in the right time with the right training and under the right conditions... one step at a time.