Monday, October 08, 2007

Let's Get This Over With

Sopping-wet-dog-of-a-runner tries to make the best of it

It wasn't my day. And while I did my best to change the hand I was dealt, I just never gained the upper hand during Twin Cities. The plan was to ease into the effort and work down from 6:10 or so to my goal pace of 5:54 by 5 miles, but in the end I didn't run a single mile at my planned pace.

6:11, 6:03, 6:00, 5:58, 5:58, 5:58, 6:00, 6:00, 6:02, 6:02, 6:03, 6:09, 6:14, 6:32*, 6:08, 6:16, 6:20, 6:35, 7:26*, 6:38, 6:43, 7:00, 7:08, 7:18, 7:20, 6:45, 1:19. I think the first half was 1:19 and change, the second half was of course much worse to bring home my 2:48. The two asterisks mark miles that included porta-john stops (yes dear readers, when it rains it really does pour).

As I mentioned to Mystery Coach, the 5:58 miles felt like 5:50 or faster, and when I noticed it was going poorly early and adjusted down to running 6's the body felt no better. Being forced to start in the second wave after giving 5 or 6,000 runners a two minute head start complicated things further, as I found myself working through seemingly solid walls of people once I began catching the first wave at mile 1. I never fully realized just how helpful it can be to be working at the same or similar speeds as the runners around you until running a few miles dodging pack after pack of runners traveling a minute or 3 slower per mile. Everyone was quite courteous, but it was a challenge just the same to be swimming upstream the whole race.

By 10 miles I was absolutely certain a PR wasn't in the cards, and by the half I knew I wouldn't be breaking 2:40. By the time I closed the first porta-john door behind me after miles of my stomach clamping down this had turned into the train-wreck race I guess most of us eventually face.

Miles 15-20 I focused on trying to run within myself enough to ensure the last 6 wouldn't be a death march, but by the end it seemed even worse to be running with only pride on the line instead of precious seconds or minutes.

I will say without hesitation that the spectators at Twin Cities were the most kind-hearted and enthusiastic bunch I've ever experienced, and they certainly helped me through what felt like one long hill between mile 20 and 25. Seeing Patrick (thanks for the pic and sorry for calling you Chad) and Chad himself was great, and staying with the Hashizume gang made all the suffering more than worthwhile.

Thanks also to all of you for the encouragement, and I hope to have a more upbeat marathon report the next time around.


Evan Roberts said...

You are entitled to blame the heat!

Even with your Tucson summer behind you there's a huge difference between 6-7 miles at goal pace in 70-some degrees, and a whole marathon at the same pace in similar conditions.

In those conditions most people would have had to be in at least 2:32 shape to run 2:35.

Recover well, enjoy the downtime, and get back to it over the fall. Hope you enjoyed the scenery at least!

Marc said...

As Duncan said, you are definitely in PR shape. Maybe you can find a marathon to run in another 3-4 weeks? I remember that after Andrew's Boston fiasco a couple of years ago he bounced right back very soon after with a PR at Holyoke.

Anyway, great effort under less than desirable conditions. The fact that you stuck with it and finished with your head held high speaks volumes about your character.

Well done.

Chad said...

Mike, you were behind the 8-ball right from the start with having to start in wave 2.

No one that I know ran well. I'm giving the 3-hour people at least 5 minutes due to the heat.

Sorry you decided to run our great marathon on such a crappy year. Still, it was nice to see you out there. Enjoy your recovery.

ian said...

You know, I was thinking. It always sucks to have a bad race, because anybody watching thinks that must represent how good you are. People use times and places and PRs as shorthand for the kind of runner you must be.

But you're a different case, because you've been so open here on this blog about your training, both the good days and the bad days. All of us who stop by here know that you didn't get the chance to show your stuff on Sunday, and that "your stuff" is pretty damn good.

Robert Song said...

As a keen watcher of your blog, I am sorry to hear of your disappointing run. I often wonder if bloggers who know they have an audience carry an extra burden of expectation into their races. Marathoning can be hard enough without having that on your back or probably more correctly, mind as well.

Anyway hot conditions, racing and PRs just don't match. All the best in your next assault. I will as ever be following your training.

seebo said...

Wow, from out of your misfortune has come some of the most astute comments I've ever read to a blog entry.

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

I agree with Marc. Maybe you have an opportunity to use the fitness you have in another marathon in the next few weeks...something a little cooler.

Running in the heat will slow you down for sure. Dean Karnezes had a great post about it on his blog. There is a link to it on my blog if you are interested. Just glad to hear you are ok after what happened that same day in Chicago.

Grellan said...

"Sopping-wet-dog-of-a-runner tries to make the best of it"

- sounds like you were running in the steam room at the gym - I can't even sit in there for more than 10 minutes let alone run in it.

Going out in the second wave is a bit of a bummer given your form. Was the wave order not based on expected completion times?

Some good advice there about picking another marathon in a months time. The training's already done.

Lance Witter said...

Ian has it exactly right. We all know that your time on Sunday is not a good representation of your fitness level / ability. There were around a thousand fewer finishers this year than last, and I am certain that is almost entirely due to the conditions. As we say in Minnesota, "it's not the heat, but the humidity that gets you". And that was the worst humidity I have ever experienced in MN in October.

Love2Run said...

"but by the end it seemed even worse to be running with only pride on the line instead of precious seconds or minutes".

You toughed it out and good or bad we're all rooting for the Mike we know is capable of something special. In my last marathon there were moments when I considered dropping out but quickly reconsidered when my pride and virtual audience gave me a little extra kick. Nice work and better luck next time! (and luck really is an element that we can't control)

Phil said...

If running marathons was easy, everyone would do it. In the end you still ran a respectable race, not the race you wanted, but certainly a respectable time considering the conditions.

If there is an upside, it is that you are still in the best shape you've ever and you didn't beat yourself up by running a 2:30. You'll recover quickly and I suspect that you'll be able to race again at peak performance in a matter of weeks.

brian said...

Mike --

I saw (and cheered you on) just after mile 24. Not much else to add that hasn't been said by anyone else already, other than to echo that it was way too hot to make any sort of judgement about results.

I've been following your blog for the past couple of months and it's been a great source of info and inspiration. Keep up the good work on the roads and on the blog. Hopefully the weather hasn't soured you on running TCM again in the future.

Stephen Lacey said...

Mike as another regular reader but seldom poster I just wanted to also acknowledge your race and say here is one more person to share and hopefully lighten the burden of your disappointment. Nothing I can say that hasn't been said, though overall, I think what impressed me most was that you did indeed stick it out when the goal time had drifted so far off. A lot of weaker-willed people could have canned it, but you showed the respect for the race and respect for yourself by finishing it and taking the result that the conditions dictated. And your philosophical acceptance is also further testimony to your quality as a runner and human. I do hope you are able to find another marathon's ass to kick in the very near future.

Ewen said...

Mike, like Stephen Lacey and Robert Song, I'm a keen reader of your blog, ever since being introduced to it by Phil.

I was hoping you'd get the day to run a 2:34-5, something to show you're on the way to sub-2:30. When you get weather like that, there's nothing you can do about it. Just like the typical Olympic marathon, times no longer matter. A tough day though for a runner going for a time, rather than a win or place.

It seems like the weather was similar to Chicago - in that race Benita Johnson ran 2:38, yet 2:22 last year.

I hope you can find another race in three or four months' time with a good course and a history of favourable weather.

All the best. I'll continue to follow your journey.