Monthly Archives: November 2007

Back in the game

Start time: 11/19/07, 6:00pm
Location: Thomas Jefferson Community Center
Distance: 2.5 miles
Average pace: 8:24min/mile

Vacation’s over! I went for a short, short run at the gym yesterday; my quads are still a little stiff when I run, but otherwise everything seemed in working order. My splits seem a bit fast (8:26, 8:19, 4:13), but it is the indoor track. I think I may start adding a tag in for those on the indoor track because of my uncertainty of their accuracy. Or maybe not. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, I’ve got both a 5k and a 5mi scheduled for Thursday. This ought to be hysterical.

Outer Banks Marathon

Outer Banks Marathon

Start time: 11/11/07, 7:20am

Location: Outer Banks, North Carolina

Distance: 26.2 miles

Finishing time: 4:29:06

Average pace: 10:16min/mile

I’ve joked in the past that with every marathon I learn something new, and that I’m really sick of having to keep learning things! But true to form, I learned an important lesson in this year’s marathon, even as I think I approached my race the smartest yet. The idea was to use the “10/10/10” approach; miles 1-10 at a 10min/mile, miles 11-20 at a 9min/mile, and then (if I was feeling it) the last 10k (miles 21-26.2) at an 8:30min/mile. This would have been absolutely perfect on a completely flat course. What I didn’t take into account, though, was the elevation profile for the Outer Banks Marathon.

The first ten miles were fantastic. I ran the first mile with Butch and Chris, which was a real joy, and I felt a tiny bit bad when I left them towards the end of that mile but they had a different pace plan (and were also doing a run/walk, which I wasn’t) so when they stopped to stretch I took it as a sign to keep going. Running through woods, along the water, and then around the Wright Brothers Monument? Fantastic. I felt bad for anyone who ran the half marathon if only because they missed all of this amazing scenery, the best part of the course by far.

Miles 11-13 run through the Nags Head Woods Nature Preserve; the first two miles on a packed dirt road, the third mile on a narrow off-road trail, and all three of these miles are extremely hilly. I should have shifted my planned paces around a bit to compensate for this; planning on not pushing here and expending the strength elsewhere. (As crazy as that section was, though, I must admit that I really liked it. It was gorgeous.) As it is, looking at my splits below, you can see a huge dip on speed for that off-road mile in particular. Additionally, miles 14-19 are at a slight uphill grade and along a highway, which is less than fun and also sapped my strength more than I’d have imagined.

Of course, some things you can’t compensate for. Around mile 14.5, a car tried to pull out onto the course and only stopped when I screamed at it—all of about a foot and a half from me. Shaken, I continued on, but a minute later my right calf seized up and never really let go. Now I’m not saying that me having tensed up from the near-miss from the car made the calf tense up, but I do think that it contributed. I stretched as best I could for a solid minute and then continued on. I must admit I was sad that my parents, Suzanne, and Charlie never saw me up until that point in the race because I was definitely not looking my best from that moment on!

I pushed on as best I could, stretching a tiny bit every mile or two, and starting at mile 20 taking little 30-second walk-breaks because my knees were starting to ache as well. When I started the 25th mile, I was aching so much that I just had to walk the vast majority of it. I couldn’t even face the “just 2.2 more miles!” that I kept telling myself, finally making a deal that when I finished mile 25, I would start running again and not stop until I was done. And sure enough, that’s what happened. I didn’t get the sub-4:22 finish I was hoping for (I’m fairly convinced if it hadn’t been for the calf problem I would’ve hit that), but I did the best I could, and this was the first marathon for which I didn’t enter it with a run/walk plan.

Next year? I’m going to tackle my race the same way, but will pay more attention to the course map when doing so; if necessary I’ll shift some of the planned paces around to better compensate for what’s ahead. Little by little, I’m getting there.

A mile-by-mile breakdown in terms of pace.

Taper + Taper + Taper

Start time: 11/6/07, 6:45pm
Location: Thomas Jefferson Community Center
Distance: 3.5 miles
Average pace: 9:49min/mile

This week is the final piece of tapering, with runs scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Tuesday said “35 minutes easy run” so after Sunday’s failed attempt, I decided to try again to discover a 10min/mile pace. (It’s hardest to hit early in a run for me, let along maintaining it.) I really need to be able to do that early on so I don’t crash and burn yet again with six miles to go. This worked much better (9:47, 9:41, 9:53, and 4:58 for the half) although I am still a tiny bit convinced that the track isn’t quite a full eighth of a mile. But still, I feel like progress is being made. (And episodes 1-2 of the Doctor Who story “Marco Polo” were absolutely wonderful to listen to while running.)

Start time: 11/7/07, 8:00am
Location: Wilson Boulevard & Clarendon Boulevard
Distance: 3 miles
Average pace: 9:09min/mile

The idea here was to do another 10min/mile pace (schedulebot: “30 minutes easy run”), but I went running outside and hit two problems. First, my GPS went crazy and I suddenly had no idea what sort of pace I was running, and second, it was just too cold to be bothering with that anyway. So I just ran the distance, took the average of the total time (27:27), and called it a day.

Start time: 11/8/07, 7:45am
Location: Thomas Jefferson Community Center
Distance: 3 miles
Average pace: 8:14min/mile

Today’s scheduled run was a 3-mile tempo, so back to the gym I went for one final circling around the indoor track. The paces were good (8:31, 8:09, 8:02), the audiobook was fantastic (episode 3 of “Marco Polo”), and hopefully? Maybe? Race day here we come.

Fingers crossed!

Trial Run

Start time: 11/4/07, 12:00pm
Location: W&OD Trail
Distance: 8 miles
Average pace: 9:02min/mile

The attack plan for next Sunday’s marathon is to do a 10/10/10 split; the first 10 miles at one minute above pace (10min/mile), the next 10 miles at training pace (9min/mile), the last 10k/6.2mi at 30 seconds (or more!) below pace (8:30min/mile or whatever I can muster). So for today’s 8-miler I thought I’d try and run the first four miles at the 10min/mile pace to try and get used to starting at that pace.

Well… Here are the splits for the first four miles (heading uphill no less): 9:10, 9:27, 9:33, 9:41. Essentially with each mile I’d look at the chrono, grimace, and try and slow down a little more. On the way back I gave up and sped up a bit (8:51, 8:40, 8:32, 8:22). So it was good to know that I need to work on starting out slow, especially since the beginning of the marathon will be adrenaline city.

Virtually no foot problems to report. Fingers crossed.

Proper Distance

Start time: 11/1/07, 6:00pm
Location: W&OD Trail
Distance: 3 miles
Average pace: 8:22min/mile

There are times when you can’t help but wonder if you’re judging the distance that you’re running properly. With the past couple of runs being on an indoor track at the community center, I do start wondering if the faster times have to do with not really running as far as you think you are. So Thursday’s quick 3-miler was actually a big relief in that regard, because I didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard but the splits came out accordingly (8:35, 8:33, 7:59). It was also a relief because Dr. Cannon had put some padding under my right foot’s insert, with the instructions to give it a whirl and see how it felt. It felt odd for about half a mile but then everything was fine (and no foot pain, yay). Fingers crossed.