Monday, December 8, 2008

The First of Many

I survived two marathons in the last couple of weeks. The first was a work marathon. Talk about intense. I was working until 8 or 9 every night at my Florida job, then coming home to work until 1-2am for my California clients. Sleep? Some. Exercise. None. Why is it that everyone wants their stuff all at the same time? Do they just know that you are busy and purposely try to kill you? I wonder sometimes. And didn't they know I had a marathon to train for? Geez.

On top that, a virus was spreading around the office. I had successfully fended it off with airborne for over a week, but lo and behold on the day of the marathon I woke up sick with a cold. Seeing how I just spent $100 on my entry fee I wasn't about to miss it. Sick or not, off I went to the West Palm Beach marathon early Sunday morning and ran in the half.

I purchased an ankle brace and did a trial run the day before....only 2.5 miles. Previous training runs were 5 miles a week and a half ago, and my 20.5 mile run about a month ago. Obviously not enough training, but that was as much as I could do considering the work load and the ankle problem. The night before I had to pack, so I was up a little later than I wanted. I ended up getting about 6 hours of restless sleep. But I did eat well. I had a turkey burger and lots of spinach the night before. And no junk food the whole day.

On Sunday morning I woke up at 3:30am. I ate a light breakfast of one scrambled egg and 1/2 cup oatmeal. Got myself ready with the ankle brace and a slight adjustment, strapped the timing chip to my shoe, and put glide every where I was likely to chafe. I wore my goofy looking night running gear because it had a big pocket to put kleenex in, in case my nose started running while I was running. West Palm Beach is about an hour away so I headed out at 4:40am. What I didn't expect was traffic, parking troubles, and long lines for the restroom. The half marathon began at 5:55am and I got out of the restroom at 5:54am and barely had enough time to jog to the starting point. I never even stretched or warmed-up before the race. Boy, you sure learn a lot from these things.

Once the race began, everything changed. There was such excitement in the air. All these people. All out here for the same thing. As I started running I realized that I must have really been way back at the very back of the half marathon runners because for the first 2 miles I passed hundreds of people until I finally found MY pace group.

I never knew about these pace runners. They rock! With them you don't have to think about pace. Just follow along. It kept my running steady and at a just slightly uncomfortable pace. It was the 4:15 marathon pace group. Could I go faster? Of course. But I didn't want to burn out. And I was running faster than my target pace of 10 minute miles. So that made me happy.

The run felt surprisingly good. Here I am sick with a cold and it seemed to just disappear for awhile. The temperature outside was perfect. Probably 70 or so degrees with a nice breeze. I drank either gatorade or water at EVERY mile because I knew my body needed it. Actually I'm convinced I drank about 5 gallons of fluids that day between the marathon and traveling back to Cali. I just couldn't seem to get enough fluids. I also brought shot blocks. Had 2 around mile 5 and another 2 around mile 9. They seemed to help when I started feeling slightly less energetic.

The highlights of my run were at mile 6.25 and 8.7. The first turnaround was at mile 7, so when I was at mile 6.25 I could see the faster runners coming back my way. It was so exciting to see these athletes. They were beautiful. Men and women alike. I admired them and wanted to be where they were. I just couldn't stop smiling. There was so much cheering going on. This event went through local neighborhoods and people just camped out on their lawns to watch us and cheer us on.

There were different themed sections, mostly at the water stations...disco music, cheerleaders, pirates, the tie-dyed hippies, and my favorite, the male hula dancers. They were at mile 8.7. These guys were in grass skirts with coconuts on their breasts, and wearing wigs. It was hilarious. They were well coordinated and dancing in perfect sync. One just couldn't help but laugh. You've got to admit, these Florida people are pretty creative.

Time just flew by. At around mile 7 (shortly before the hula boys), I pulled ahead of my pace group. In my past training runs I've noticed that I run faster after I make the half way point, so I thought this should be no different. I must figure it's all downhill from there, so to speak. Besides I felt strong enough to go for it, so I did.

It might not have been a good idea because at mile 10 something happened. All of a sudden running became difficult. I started slowing down. I went from a 9:30 pace to a 10 minute pace then for miles 11 and 12 was almost at a 10:30 pace. I had eaten a shot block a little earlier and just didn't want to have too many of them. I wasn't even really having any pains to speak of. Sure I could feel blisters, a toe nail scraping skin, a mild ankle thing, and stiff knees, but that wasn't it. It was an energy zap. Like someone said you are done now. From here it just became a mental game. Obviously I kept myself going. But it was rough. I really had to talk myself into finishing. And I did.

Surprisingly the last few miles didn't affect my time that much. I still ended right where I wanted to a sub 10 minute mile pace. Total time was 2:08:04. Here's my official race results:

Event: Marathon of the Palm Beaches - Half Marathon 13.1 miles
12/07/2008 06:00 am
Overall Place: 1002
Overall Time: 2:08:04
Gender Place: 412
Athletes in Gender: 1303
Division Place: 72
Athletes in Division: 198

I keep wondering what it will be like to do the full marathon. It seems like there would need to be a lot more conditioning to get this body ready for even longer runs. My knees were so stiff after this one. The ankle didn't hurt, but I could tell towards the end that it was just starting to get weak. It was a good thing I only ran the half.

Today I'm really sore. And much sicker of course. Traveling cross country right after that much running isn't such a good idea. It was too much time in the same position when I should have been keeping those muscles moving. A lot of lessons learned for next time. Now I just have to decide whether to do the Miami marathon Jan. 25th or the Ft. Lauderdale marathon Feb. 22nd or both since I'll be back in Fl those months.

Well, first things first. I need to get better. No looking back now. Marathons are definitely for me.

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