Saturday, December 08, 2007

Rocket City Marathon Race Report

Ok, I'm home, I've finally got some good food in my belly, and I am feeling better, so I will go ahead and do this race report. Just incase you don't read my blog often, I went into this thing aiming for a sub 4 hour marathon. I picked out a plan 18 weeks ago to get me that. However, today was not the day. 2007 was not the year.

I thought I was doing everything right. I ate well and hydrated well all week. Started carb loading 3 days out. Ate pasta and chicken at The Olive Garden the night before. Got in bed early and slept well. I woke up at 4:40 and started drinking my OS Preload, which has protein in it to help regulate the rate my body would burn glycogen. I continued sleeping and drinking the OS Preload until about 2.5 hours before the race. No solid foods, because solid foods before long runs have resulted in the runner's trots each time tried during this training plan. I had my cup of coffee, and I felt full, rested and ready.

My mom, dad, and Holly came up before the race started. J.T. and the boys were already there. The gun went off, and I set out feeling confident. I held myself back, just as planned, to 9:15, 9:11, and 9:07 for the first three miles. I saw David and Michele during mile 2, and I ran along with them. We were hitting the splits, but weren't making a lot of ground in making up any time. Miles 4, 5, and 6 were 9:14, 9:00, 9:13. Staying fairly close to pace, but feeling okay. At mile 6 I saw Holly and my parents. That charged me up some. Then I heard cowbells and saw that J.T. had Briar and Bo out cheering at mile 7. Somewhere around mile 9 or 10, I just had to back off the pace. My heart rate was approaching 176, and I knew I couldn't run 16 more miles like that. I was hoping I could fix the situation by taking in more fuel, so I increased my fluid intake quite a bit. We saw my parents and Holly again, I told them "I'm off pace." What I was trying to say was "Sub 4 isn't going to happen today."

Miles 6-10:

Looking at those splits, it doesn't look like I was off pace, but the total time I was at when I would come to each mile marker was showing that I was almost 2 minutes off. My garmin was quite a bit ahead of the markers. Still wondering what my problem was, I decided maybe I wasn't drinking enough. So I drank more and more OS looking for some energy.

Mile 11 was 9:10, and Mile 12 was 9:24. It was here that I decided I'd be happy with 9:20s. Then mile 13 was 9:52. And it was here that I decided I'd be happy with any split that started with a 9. Mile 14 was 10:09. I think it was this mile that I caught back up with Michele. Her HR was over the top and we both decided that this just wasn't going to be the day. Mile 15 was 9:32, and then Mile 16 brought more walking with 10:05. Mile 17-11:34. Mile 18-10:18. Holly and my parents showed up just shy of mile 19. The plan was that my Dad had my extra fuel belt bottles. But by now, my stomach was cramping and I was nauseated. I couldn't drink any more OS at all, so I just gave him the whole belt. I told my parents that I was going to finish, but that it wasn't going to be pretty. Holly ran along beside of me, and at mile 19.2 I got very sick. You know that feeling when you know you're going to loose your cookies, but you haven't yet...and you know you need to, but you don't want to, but you know it's coming anyways? And the 30 seconds it takes feels like an hour? I had that feeling, and then lost it all. It had to be everything in my stomach. It went on and on, and then I turned to sit down and it kept coming. I sat there for a minute or so, and then decided I felt better. I took off with Holly and mile 19 was 13:55. I couldn't go far though. I had no fuel, and couldn't keep any down. Mile 20 was mostly walking with a 17:04. Holly kept reminding me to take little drinks, because my first reaction to a cup of Gatorade was to swallow it at once...but that kept making me sick. My back ached badly from the vomiting, and during mile 21(12:26), I realized that I was in less pain running than walking. The walking hurt my back. Somewhere in mile 22(13:03) I vowed to keep running until I saw the mile 23 marker, and made it, and it seemed like a major victory. I still couldn't run for long periods of time, though, because my heart rate would get so high I'd become completely out of breath. Mile 23 was 13:15, and by now I wasn't sure if I was going to make it to the finish line or not. If it hadn't been for Holly running along encouraging me, I don't know that I would have. I remember feeling very sick again in mile 24 (16:14), but when I saw Mile 25, for the first time since mile 10 I knew I was going to finish. Before we got there, as we were walking, Holly said "Lana, when you start running again, let's take it on in, okay? Make sure you get to a point where you are comfortable with that, and then let's do it. So when we got to the 25 mile marker(11:32), I said lets go. And we ran it in the whole way in 11:12, slow but steady. I thought I was gonna get choked up when I saw the finish line. Briar and Bo ran out and met me with about 100 yards to go, and we ran in together.

Official Time: 4:45:13

Finishing this race was the toughest thing I've accomplished, athletically, to date. It was harder than my first marathon that I finished in 4:17, and it was harder than the Vegas marathon, which had 30 mph winds, that I finished in 4:08. I missed the goal, but I finished the race. And I'm fine with that, competitive nature and all. As a matter of fact, I'm proud of that.


Phil said...

Lana ... this was just too painful to read (and reread), I can't imagine what it felt like for you to write it.

It is interesting that you significantly changed your hydration strategy at mile 10 based on what your HR monitor was telling you. You said that you were still feeling OK, but you knew you couldn't have continued to run another 16 miles at 176. Who says? You've cruised along for 20 at this pace without huge issues before. The biggest difference was the stage. Sure, it would have been nice to be at 160, but you weren't; however, you weren't getting any feedback from your muscles telling you were running too near your LT either.

Increasing your hydration had the expected effect. All that gatorade and water sloshing around in your stomach was too much to take. You can only process about 7oz of liquid every 15 minutes as I know you are all too aware; the rest just sloshes around in your stomach and nausiates you.

For you next race, may I suggest that your leave the Garmin at home and run with a simple race watch collecting mile splits only. You are an experienced distance runner. You know how your body feels when you're running, go with it. Have the same level of confidence in your abilites as the rest of us have in you.

The good news is that you are still in the best shape ever and are running far stronger than I ever have. Take a few days off, spend some time with your family and revaluate. If you rebound quickly, as I think you will, see if there a January / February marathon that interests you. Pfitz has a section on maintaining performance between marathons when running multiple events close together. I also seem to remember that Frank Shorter had a similiar problem and went on to run his Personal Best within a month after tanking. I could be thinking of someone else. The point is, you didn't have a good day, but you are still in great shape. Ironically, running this race slow probably didn't put the same wear and tear on your legs that a 3:45 would have. It was more like another long run with friends and family watching. You'll be ready to go again quickly.

This wasn't your best tactical race. However, the reason I admire you isn't your race strategy, it is your raw determination. Even after tanking early on, you continued to push forward and finished. It would have been very easy to walk off the course. You're in this for the long haul and you learned a few more lessons today.

Take care.

Di aka "Mrs Bigun" said...

Lana, I am so glad to know you had Holly there to help push you to the finish!! She's an okay Sis in my book!! ;) Some days no matter what we do, the universe has something else in mind for us.
Great job finishing and although you missed your goal of sub 4 you accomplished something few people do - a Marathon - again!! Great Job!!

Michele said...

It was a tough race and just finishing it was major.
I know you have a sub 4 in you and you will claim it soon enough.

TJ said...

finishing a hard race shows who we really are. it shows how much we are willing to give just to finish.
not reaching a goal time sucks, but the experience you get from a race like that will be invaluable in future races. when things get tough at imfl next year, you can look back on rocket city and know that you can keep going and get to the finish line.
congratulations on toughing it out and crossing the finish line.

Lance Notstrong said...

Sometimes I think we get too caught up in PR's and goal times and forget that a marathon is damn hard and just to finish one IS to win.

David said...

Saturday was a tough day. Who would have thought that humidity would have been such a factor in December. Glad to know you are ok.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the race.

Bob Gentile said...

Good Advice from Phil...

Hey Lana I was just at Michele's blog...Way to FIGHT through & finish after the Yacking...U are a strong runner and will get that sub 4 hours.

But the GOOD News is YOU had to dig deep and not only had tough physical challenge but also fought the mental side. Way to Go..


jkrunning said...

I'm sorry you didn't reach your goal, but at least you finished and that says a lot.

Lisa said...

I have a motto when it comes to marathons/races. "They aren't going to pull me off the course for walking." If I paid the fee, I'll do it, God willing. Yeah, just like today, had the tickets and had to go! ha!

You are hardcore and will rebound soon enough. Thanks for giving me inspiration via this blog!

Tri-Dummy said...

You should be this was great training.

You will need this for your Ironman.

I think you did a great job, gurlee.

Joe said...

Lana, what a, that last stretch to the hotel was a doozy for you. Holly was quite the trooper.

Amazing what the humdity did, isn't it?? I'm still amazed.

You'll learn much from this, I'm sure. Way to hang in there and persevere.

So glad to have met you...hope we can talk at length sometime in the future!!

Darrell said...

It sure was a doozy out there. It was neat to see you, if only for a second on the course and in the hotel. You looked amazing well at that point for someone who had lost the stomach on the race course.

The coolest part was seeing you cross the finish line with your boys. Quite the moment!

Rest well and then its off to the then big adventure.

Bigun said...

Chalk that one up to an exersize in TOUGHNESS! Congrats on finishing, and setting a great example.

Joe said...

Congrats on fighting some adversity and finishing that marathon. That's a serious character builder for sure. Good job.

Rice said...

If I may be so bold and with respect... NICE LEGS!



monicac2 said...

I've been reading your blog probably for the entire time you've been training for this marathon, and you are in great shape! I am so sorry the humidity came out in full force on race day - I know what a killer it can be! But you did an amazing job to finish under those conditions. I know your family is so proud of you!

DaisyDuc said...

Lana, sometimes simply finishing is such an accomplishment! Clearly you put your heart in it and gutted it out to the finish!

You and sub four will have your day soon!

IronJenny said...

It had nothing to do with "you". Humidity will take a PR out of anyone. Anyone.
You do have that sub 4 in you and you will get it. Sometimes we just have to take what the day brings us.
I'm very proud of you for toughing it out.

E-Speed said...

I'm so sorry your day didn't go as planned. I really thought you gals had sub 4 in the bag. Just goes to show that on any given day our preparation just isn't enough. You are one tough cookie and you should be very proud of all the hard work you put in and the effort you gave on the day. The base you've built for this run will definitely carry you to a sub 4 down the road!