Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Marathon - The Aftermath

It's been 3 days since the Detroit Marathon and life is back to normal. I've been reflecting on the race - nothing too deep, but I thought I'd share some of my thoughts, feelings, blah, blah, yakity schmackity.

A.) I was hurting but still in good spirits on Belle Isle. Dude runs by me and he's bustin' booty - as in tooting, passing gas, cutting the cheese, etc. This is a very normal thing. What was abnormal was volume and duration. Channeling Caddyshack Rodney Dangerfield I shouted out "Did somebody step on a duck?!?" He was not amused...

B.) I'm wondering if I made the best shoe choice. I wore my Brooks Ravenna 4s, which are my current favorite shoe. They are comfortable shoes for mild overpronators, have good forefoot cushioning, etc. With how my knees felt, I'm wondering if I would have been better off in my Brooks Adrenaline 12s. They aren't quite as flexible, but they have a bit more support than the Ravennas. Before I switched from "any running shoe" to the Adrenaline 11s then 12s, I have had little knee pain (haven't really had any with the Ravenna's either). It probably wouldn't have mattered, but maybe it would have...

C) The Detroit Freep Marathon was a great race. Good organization, good course, support, drink stations, scenery, etc. I would certainly consider running this event again, though it may be the half marathon. The first half of the course is just better. Better scenery, more memorable landmarks, etc. It was better running when there were more people around too.

D) Overall, I am very happy with how the race went for me. I won't say it was a "dream" of mine, but it certainly was a big goal to complete the marathon. I gave it my best shot. With that said, I'm disappointed I didn't have a better finishing time. Trying not to second guess myself, but was I being too much of a wimp late in the race? Could I have fought through it a little better? Should I have run the first half of the race faster or slower? I think I should have finished 20 - 30 minutes faster if all went well. 3:57 something would have sounded better than 4:17 something. I don't want to run another marathon right now, but I want to run another marathon now and get another crack at it. Eventually...
Taking a knee after the race
E) Support from family, friends, co-workers, running pals and running groups was great. It was one of the best things about this whole adventure.
My cold honey & me
F) Whenever my next marathon will be, I think I'll be running more miles. Not sure how, but other people do it. Also more hills. My legs need to be stronger and more durable.

G) If you're in a group of spectators on the course and not cheering, I will make you cheer. All it takes is a well timed "Woooooooo!" as I run by. If you somehow still don't cheer, you're a punk.

H) I am going to put a 26.2 sticker on my car. If ya don't like it, too bad. :)

I) I feel guilty for how I feel in D. Being able to complete this race was a blessing and a gift.

J) While my current resting was planned, it felt strange not to run yesterday and today. I think I could have run just fine today, but I will run tomorrow or Friday.

K) While I would have preferred to run in a short sleeve tech shirt and shorts, I made the right wardrobe choice with long sleeves and long pants. (I wore my tech shirt from the 2013 Crim under my shirt. The Crim people got some negative feedback about the shirt. It is thin and a bit ugly, but I really like it as a running shirt.) 

L) I was expecting bigger crowds of spectators at the race. For the number of runners, I thought it was a bit sparse. Didn't expect people 6 deep throughout the course, but the Crim had much better spectator support. I think the neighborhoods in Flint take a lot of ownership in that race. Perhaps it was just too darn cold.

I think that is enough alphabetting for now. Later.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Detroit Freep Marathon - I did it!

 Today, I completed my first full Marathon, the Detroit Free Press Marathon. I am both happy to have done it and glad that it is over. Now, on to the details:

I have been in taper mode for the previous 3 weeks. The first week after the Brooksie Way Half was only a bit less mileage than normal training (the 10 mile long run instead of more was the big difference). The next week was less and this week, I ran 3 on Tuesday, 2 on Wednesday and 2 Saturday.

Last night, after dinner, I got all my stuff (clothes, watch, bib, etc.) ready and went to bed before 9 pm. The only decision that needed to be made the night before the race was wardrobe. I prefer a tech shirt and shorts and dislike wearing much more. It was going to be too darn cold so I decided to go with a light tech shirt, my Brooksie Way 2012 long sleeve shirt and long pants. I fell asleep to a 0-0 Tigers / Red Sox game, woke to a 2-1 Tigers lead when Amy came up and found out they lost at 3:30 this morning.  I was able to get 5 good hours of sleep and a couple hours of on and off sleep, so not too bad. Got up at 4am, ate my Rice Crispies (my preferred breakfast on race day), showered, got dressed and we were ready to go before 5 am.

It was raining when we left and I was not thrilled about it. Luckily, the rain stopped and the race was dry. It was still cold and windy. We parked at Greektown Casino (thanks for the free parking!) and walked to the starting area in the crisp morning air. After about 15 minutes, I got in the corral. Started in the E corral, rather than the D corral noted on my bib because the pacers I wanted to be near were there. I saw Brian D, a Dailymile pal, when I got in, which was nice.

We started about 6 minutes after the elites and were off. I felt great and was moving well without expending much effort. Maybe the taper does work! There was supposedly nearly 6000 marathon runners and 12000 international half marathoners and it was like riding a wave – in the dark. One of the highlights of the race came after a couple miles – the Ambassador Bridge crossing into Canada. Seemed like we were going uphill forever, but it was gradual and not bad at all. The runners were in good spirits at this point with a lot of banter going on, which made it even more fun. Now I really want to run a race on the Mackinac Bridge. The downhill was nice and we ran into Windsor along the Detroit River.

Historical Picture - It was much darker out than this.
The view of Detroit was very nice and our neighbors to the north (actually South in this case) were very hospitable, if not particularly great in numbers. I will be honest and say that something I was looking for was the remnants of a suddenly famous shrub in a riverside Windsor park. (It has gotten attention from various media and internet outlets and was a big topic of discussion on Drew Lane’s radio show on 105.1 on Friday). Alas, I did not see the shrub, which is just as well.

Before and after. You can find the whole story HERE.
I was cruising through Canada and, after the race, noticed my split times in Canada were as fast as I went in this race. I don’t think I was going too fast and probably made up some time by surging for about 10 seconds when I was passing. I passed the 4 hour pacers at this time and had an idea in my head that, just maybe, I wouldn’t see them again. The tunnel back to the US was another highlight, as there aren’t too many (any) other marathons where you run a mile underwater. Yea, it was just a hot, slightly stinky while tiled tunnel, but it was still pretty cool. Out of the tunnel, I saw Sara from work cheering me on and then my wife, Amy. It meant a lot to have her there cheering and I blew her some kissies *blush*.

The race continued to go well through the point where the half marathoners split off to head to the finish. Part of me wanted to make that turn and be done, but that was not the plan this day. Two-thirds of the runners made the turn to the finish and the course became much sparser. It was a bit like some of the air went out of the race, the wave was lessened and it carried us no more. We were on our own (very dramatic).
I continued to feel good through mile 15 and was still at a sub-4 hour pace at that point. I knew the race would get difficult at some point, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen with 10 miles to go. The knees had been sore for a while, but they got worse. My right leg was starting to hurt, my back was sore and my feet were waterlogged and felt like they were blistering (they weren’t, but the bottoms of my feet felt bizarrely bad). I didn’t hit “the wall”, but by Mile 20, my legs had quite enough and Belle Isle beckoned.

Put simply, Belle Isle sucked and for a couple reasons. The wind was pretty brutal and I just felt bad. I started walking the drink stations, then I started employing the run / walk method for the next 5 miles. There is nothing wrong with walking, but it sure wasn’t speedy. The 4 hour group passed me about Mile 17 and the 4:10 group near Belle Isle. While I had ”energy”, my legs and core were failing me. It was all about finishing.
When I hit the 25 mile marker, I decided I would not walk again and I ran the 1.2 miles in to the finish. I don’t know if I have hurt as badly running, ever. My first half-marathon may have been close, but I think this was worse. I was happy to finish strong despite the rough last quarter of the race. My finishing time was  4:17:48. I had no set goal, but that was in the ballpark of where I thought I would finish. I am disappointed only because I was doing so well through about 2/3 of the race and it felt like, in a way, the wheels came off. That is the marathon and a first marathon to boot. I finished, I enjoyed my experience and feel like I accomplished something – that is what counts.

Saw Jeff and Trieu and then my wife. I may have had a couple tears when I saw her, but not too many. J Had a not-free beer and then waddled almost a mile to the car. Thankfully, she drove home.

While it was not an official goal, I did have a bit of a “contest”with Jared from Subway. Without further ado, here are the results:

Subway Jared (5:13:28)


Josh + 1 hour (4:18:48 + 1:00:00 = 5:18:48)
Oh, the agony of defeat. Eat Fresh!

I hope to have some more thoughts about the marathon in the near future, as I learned a lot in this experience. For now, I must rest. Must sleep... No! I'm starving! First eat, then sleep...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Brooksie Way Half Marathon 2013

Hey all!

Time for my monthly blog post... Perhaps, one day, I'll get back to regular posts, but 'til then...

Last weekend was the Brooksie Way Half Marathon. It was my 3rd Brooksie half and 4th Brooksie Way race in all. This has become an annual race for me as I have a team for work and it feels like my "home field" race. I know more people at this race, between runners and volunteers, than any other and, even though live super close, I'm only about 20 minutes away.

For the best details about this race, check out Jeff's (aka Detroit Runner's post) on his blog. He does a great job with his race reviews and I have very little to add. Therefore, I'll just talk about a few select details of my race experience.

I arrived early and found a couple members of my race team including Dawn, Melanie and Katie (I never did see Andraya or Danny, but they were there). Due to a couple dropouts, we had a small team, but only needed 5 to have a team score, so it was all good.

Me & "The Mayor" Larry - running for Rewewal by Andersen
I also met up with Kevin, Trieu and Jeff, who I ended up running the race with. I told him I was looking to run with a goal of about 1:47, which sounded good to him. He's faster than me, particularly as distance increases, so that would allow him to run fairly hard, but not quite at full race pace. We both had green bibs, so we were supposed to be in the first (fast) corral, but that corral was bursting at the seams (and, if we "deserved" to be there, we would have been in the back anyway), so we started in the next (yellow) corral. This was probably a good call.

Shamlessly stolen from - Trieu, me, Jeff and Kevin
We started out kinda feeling things out a bit for the first half mile, then sped up a bit. For the length of the race ahead, I was pushing the pace a little (Jeff had zero problem keeping pace with me). I know you're not supposed to "bank" time in a half marathon (or that is what "they" say), but I was doing so because of the elevation profile of this course. I had run this course a total of 5 times prior to the race (2 races, 3 practice runs), so I am very familiar with the elevation advantage to about mile 6 and the hills that follow. I felt good and was going while the getting was good. Felt strong and it is always nice to keep moving past people, which we did regularly during this stretch. Hit the 10k mark in a little over 48 minutes, which would be my 10k PR if the race ended there.

Bad form (arms too high) near the Royal Park Hotel
The race didn't end there and we started the uphill portion of the race through Rochester Municipal Park on the Paint Creek Trail. The trail is slightly up hill, but Tienken Road is where the real hills begin. I felt all of the hills as well as the previous weekend's 20 miler on Tienken. Not sure why I this would be a surprise, but I didn't easily cruise up the hills. In fact, it was more of a struggle than anticipated. I could have run the hills all day at an easy pace, but trying to go "fast" on the hills was not working out well. As you can see below, I was even slower than last year on the hills. 

While I struggled on the hills (Jeff tried to pull me along and probably did to some extent), I was able to finish strong. The last mile was just under 8 minutes and I finished in 1:48:13, a half marathon PR by nearly a minute. While I missed my "A" goal, my "B" goal was a PR, so I am happy with the result. My "goal race" is the Detroit Marathon, so a PR at Brooksie is a nice bonus.

Overall, it was a great race day with good weather, friends, a nice race and a team tent afterwards (though the food left much to be desired this year). Not only was it a good race, it was a good run and a nice confidence boost leading up to the marathon, now in less than 3 weeks. This post is long enough (anyone make it this far?) so I'll summarize my marathon training and give a race preview in another post. Later!