Sunday, May 22, 2011

What went wrong?

I promised myself I wouldn’t over analyze this race. I would take it for what it was and move on. But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t analyze it just a bit. So here I go – I’ll say my peace and hopefully move on. I must warn you it will be long as I am on a 2.5 hour flight from Denver to Cleveland – so I’ll probably type until my battery on my laptop dies!

Phoenix –January 2011 – the worst marathon experience I have ever had. Was it my worst time ever? Hardly – I have walked / run several marathons that were at the 5 hour mark – because I ran them for fun – I ran them for the experience, companionship and to reach one of my goals of crossing off the 50 states. So the fact that Phoenix was a 4:19 – wasn’t the issue. It was how I felt during the race. I felt like I hadn’t trained at all. I knew I was in trouble as early as mile 8 – and I didn’t go out all that fast. I crashed and burned and didn’t deal with it well. I cried when I finished. I decided then and there I was either never going to run another marathon – or I was going to step it up. I knew I was capable of more and I was pretty sure most of my issues were in my head.

So I found a new training program recommend by someone who had great success with it – I found a marathon that was 16 weeks out and in other state (hence Fargo) and I went to work. It was a more aggressive training program than I had done in the past – but I quickly found that I could do it – that I could hit the paces and I could do the mileage. I started getting p.r.’s every time I ran a different distance race from 5ks to 30ks to marathons. Amie and I would do our long runs and I would have to slow us down when we crept too close to an 8 minute pace. I know it’s not smart to do your long runs too fast – but the pace felt comfortable – we talked the whole way and I was recovering well after each run. At the same time I was and am training for my first half ironman – swimming two mornings a week and spinning once a week. I was seeing great improvement in the water as well. In March we started working out with a personal trainer one day a week – and I was hoping this would be the missing piece that I needed. Strengthen my core etc – and making me stronger over all.

March 20th – I went to visit my friend cris in Atlanta , which coincided with the Atlanta marathon which coincided with a 20 miler on my training plan. The week before my knee went wonky – so I took a week off – and almost didn’t run the race. It was hot which I knew I wasn’t ready for and it was a hilly course – which I definitely was not ready for. I decided I may as well give a go – take it easy enjoy myself and check off another state. I have never enjoyed a race like I enjoyed that one. I went out at an easy pace – talked with people along the way – and told myself I could walk it in after mile 20. Funny thing is - when I got to mile 20 I felt awesome – so I said I’ll just hold this pace til I see cris at mile 23. At that point I realized that unless I fell down and didn’t get back up I was going to have a huge p.r. – so I kept running. At the end of the race I could have kept going – I felt that good. Final time 3:48 – an 11.5 minute p.r. from Wineglass in October (which incidentally was 6 months after I had addy and the first time I had broken four hours)

Coming off of a high like that in Atlanta I knew I was on my way to big things. If I could run a 3:48 taking it easy – what could I do if I pushed it? Maybe I really could get closer to 3:30. After Atlanta I got sick a couple of times which veered my training off track a bit – but I still had 2 twenty milers to do – and because of my schedule – they both ended up being solo 20 milers. 1st one – 8:40 pace – mostly in the pouring rain. I couldn’t go any faster. I chalked it up to running in terrible conditions – doubled up with the huge mental obstacle of covering 20 miles on the towpath with nothing but my crazy thoughts to entertain me. Then I got sick again - ran a couple of 5ks and found I couldn’t get back to the p.r. I had hit in February. I thought maybe it was because I was working out with the trainer on Fridays – how can you expect great performances on sore ,sore legs and muscles. So here we go to the last 20 miler 2 weeks out from the race. By mile 8 – I was toast. I was so tired and my back and shoulders hurt so bad from the trainer –that I didn’t think I was going to finish. Actually it was supposed to be 23 miles – I cut it short. Somewhere during that run I was able to snap out of it for a bit and pick up my pace- but by the end of things I was lucky if I could keep it at a 9:30-10:00 pace. Overall pace was still under 9 – but it wasn’t good. I got in the car and almost cried because my arms were so sore from the trainer I could hardly turn the steering wheel.

So I took two weeks off from the trainer – and took 2 really easy taper weeks. Fast forward to Fargo marathon. The morning of the race I told Amie – I am so tired- the thought of running 26 miles today is killing me – it’s not that I’m nervous about the pace so much as that’s a really long way to go and I really would rather go back to bed. I tried to shake off negative thoughts – I freaked out a bit – but not as bad as normal. As Amie had said to me - I had already had a great year – and a huge p.r. who cared if this didn’t go as well as I hoped? She was pretty confident that it would go well. (Can I just take a minute to say Amie rocks – who runs a 2:02 ½ marathon pregnant?)

I started off at an 8:15 pace because it felt good and it felt easy and I thought to myself ”maybe today IS my day.” I Stayed at 8:15 – 8:25 pace pretty easily for the first 8 miles – and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was exhausted. My back and hamstrings were extremely tight and aching. It wasn’t a feeling of “oh I went out to fast – I can’t keep up this pace” – it was more like I don’t know how I can keep moving and not lay down on the ground… i.e. had I not flown half way across the country to do this race – I would have quit. I tried to keep my head in check – I said get to mile 13 strong – drop the pace down – do some damage control but stay strong – don’t get all crazy and doomsdayish and start walking. Well I stopped to walk for the first time at mile 10. The 3:50 pace team got me at the half – and I told myself that I could still salvage this race- it wasn’t going to be a 3:38 – it wasn’t going to be p.r. – but stick it out and maybe break 4 for the third time. Well my back had other ideas. Oh I kept moving – I stopped a lot to stretch my back to try to alleviate some of the pain – but I kept moving – I didn’t get all crazy and keep walking like I did at phoenix – but I was lucky if I could get my pace per mile down to a 9:30 – it was like I hadn’t trained at all. At one point I was running so slowly my Garmin shut off. I didn’t cry I just kept going.

I was hoping that if I could keep it together and get in around a 4:10 that I would be really proud of myself – and I am. But this was marathon #10 – this was going to be my best one yet. What happened? Did I subconsciously psych myself out when the 3:40 pace group passed me? I really feel like I mentally kept myself in check. Did I just do too much? Are flat and fast marathons just not for me? Do I need to separate my two goals – if I’m running in another state – just do it for fun – not time – and if I want to go for a time goal pick a hometown race? Am I burned out? Do I have unrealistic expectations? Did I just go crazy and try to cram in too much too soon after having Addy? Knowing that I am going to have a second child sooner than later – did I put too much pressure on myself to try to reach all sorts of crazy goals in between babies? And what do I do next? Do I take a break from marathons? Do I work towards a fall marathon and cut out all the other crazy tri stuff? Do I follow a 5k training program and spend the summer working on my speed? Do I only do marathons as training runs and don’t actually do the race I’m training for? Do I stay the heck away from flat courses?

So I’ve analyzed and basically written a book here and I still don’t know:

What went wrong?

Where do I go from here?


E-Speed said...

Hey reading your report, training, etc. I think you are just a bit over-trained. I think we are in the same boat right now. All this minor injuries and illness cropping up was our bodies way of saying enough. But we are too stubborn to listen ;)

The 3:48 probably took more out of you than you realized and you are just still recovering from that effort.

Keep your head up! With some serious recovery you can certainly bounce back, have a great summer, and run a smoking fast fall marathon!

Trisaratops said...

I don't think I know the answer to any of your questions, but I am just here to remind you that you are AWESOME. 4 marathons--FOUR--and Addy just turned one?!?! Unreal. Just stop and think about that for a second. Seriously unreal. And you are going to do a half ironman in less than 2 weeks?!?! Remember how amazing that is that your body not only made that sweet little Addy but was strong enough to carry you through so much AND balance everything else you have on your plate. I don't know how you did it. There is no way I could have done all that.

You rock. Just sayin'. :) The speed is in there, and you know it. There will always be another race, and I have no doubt you'll smash that goal soon.

Brian said...

Classic post! We'll definitely have to talk... maybe (maybe I say) I can help answer some of your questions.