Monday, May 25, 2009

The Race that was a Wall....And a different type of PR

Short Story: Today was not my day.  Almost DNF'd, but ended up mostly walking to the finish.

Long Story: Woke up at 5:00 AM, had a little coffee, a granola bar, a fruit bar and starting drinking my usual Poweraide.  My friend Billy and his cousin "Q" (who would be running his first!) pick me up at about 6 AM.  We make it downtown with no problems, wait in line for the porta potties and line up.  It didn't seem like a huge field, but it was incredibly crowded.  There was no "side area" etc to get to your designated position.  After 10 minutes of jockeying for position I make it up within 30 feet of the 4:00 hour pace group. 

The women took off at around 7:10 and somehow a lot of the crowd didn't get the memo.  There's a push of people from the back resulting in many people near me toppling over....crazy!  We were finally off at 7:25.  Talk about a crazy start.  It was all over the place.  The 4:00 hr dude totally took off!  It was near impossible to stay anywhere close to him....way too many people - all different people!  And plenty of race walkers clogging up the start!  (Thought they were supposed to start AFTER the runners???)  It was utter mayhem, and it didn't subside until at least mile 3 or so.  I managed to stick with the pace guy through all this somehow, but quickly started feeling fatigue - especially for being just 3 or so miles in!  WTF?!?!?!  The calm before the storm.   Mile splits (1) 6:49 - but I think that's wrong (2) 9:05 (3) 9:09 (4) 8:51.  

During mile 4 I realized I was breathing pretty heavy...and my heartrate would confirm that indeed I was struggling.  175 bpm for that pace???  Maybe 8 months ago....I mananged to click off the next several miles with the pace dude still in site, ignoring my awol heartrate.  Mile splits (5) 8:59 HR 177 (6) 8:56 - HR 179 (7) 9:06 HR 183.  I know my rates pretty well, and I definitely knew 180s this early were not going to back down.  I can handle 180s (and 190s) short term, but not for 19 miles.  I made the decision to kiss the pace group goodbye.  It sucked watching the balloons fade off into the distance.  My next goal: sub 4:10.  Mile splits (8) 9:44 (9) 9:49 

I saw my Julia and mom at around mile 9 - knowing this was not my day I informed them that I still wanted to push for a good PR and that I'd see them at mile 17 (where they'd meet me next).   Let the meltdown continue....Mile splits (10) 10:17 (11) 10:52 (12) 10:49

Before the halfway point I was caught by the 4:15 pace group.  This chick rocked, she was pep talking and animated.  Way better than the silent mysterious 4:00 dude...I thought about picking up the pace, but decided to stay with them.  Nice.  I was even comfortable, and least for a mile or two (13) 9:43.

THEN....good old fashioned GI issues.  Nausea.  I didn't puke, but sure felt like it.  I had to let the 4:15 group go.  (14) 12:02 - HR 160 (!) (15) 10:55 HR 165 (!!) (16) 12:28 HR 163 (!!)  These HRs don't go with the paces, do they?  I hooked up with my cousin Josh at mile 17 or so.  He ran from his home in SM (he's also a runner).  I was falling apart quickly though and couldn't bare to run.  We walked together for a bit.  I was a bit light headed and still nauseous.  At one point while WALKING my HR read 165.  This had me worried.  I thought about pulling out.  Something was definitely not right.  With the PR out of site it certainly didn't seem unreasonable to DNF.  Josh was worried about me and we agreed we'd visit the nearest Medical tent to make sure I was fit to continue if I chose so.  We came by Julia and my mom again at mile 18 and we finally found the medical stop.  The nurse took my blood pressure (normal) asked me questions and basically told me I was ok to go.  I decided I could not bare to DNF - that would make a tough day a tough week knowing I was physically fit to continue.

I gave hugs to the fam and carried on in a light jog.  Uh-oh.  The walking tightened me up.  My entire left side cramped up and a nasty blister had formed (from the walking?) on my right foot.  WHAT THE HELL ELSE COULD GO WRONG?  I decided to walk, walk and more walk.  At this point I had nothing except the finish.  Last year I finished this race in 5:00:50 and I wouldn't break 5 until Houston THIS YEAR (4:28:xx.)  If I wasn't gonna break 5 part of me thought well maybe I could top my LONGEST marathon time (My first in Houston - 5:09:xx.) 

The miles crept by incredibly slowly.  For awhile I turned on the iPod and tried to zone out.  Then I tried to encourage some of the runners who were obviously first timers and needed some support.  But the miles go on forever when you're doing a 16:00 pace.  (HA!)  Just before mile 25 the 5:30 pace group came up from behind.  I decided to try and run with them for a few minutes and chatted.  5 or so minutes later they were due for a walk break.  With just over a mile to go I decided to turn on the jets (more like a small electric motor with dead batteries.)  I clicked off that final bit at around a 10:00 pace.  Game over.  Final time 5:26:xx

A new PR!  PR stands for "Personal Record."  And that it is.  Officially my longest marathon.  Hopefully this is a PR that stands up until I'm elderly.  Honestly I'm somewhat frustrated (obviously).  I think I've overdone it.  4 weeks ago was Big Sur, then SM 10k, then SB 1/2, then a weekend off and now a very tough LA Mar.'s done and I'm glad for that!  I'll have many other opportunities for glory in the future.  I'm happy I didn't DNF - I'd be MUCH unhappier with that.  So no A,B,C, or even "D" goal.  I did get my "E" goal.  My dad's first name happened to be "Eric."  Very Fitting.

P.S. Ironically I watched the 2007 Ironman Special last night to get amped up.  Was definitely thinking of that elite runner who refused to drop out in the marathon after getting injured.  He walked it with age groupers passing him right and left.  Obviously I'm about as far from elite as you'll find, but seeing his dedication certainly fueled me during my "long walk."


  1. You had a bad day dude - happens to the best and worst of us. Congrats on sticking it out and finishing though (I would've DNF'd for sure).

    You'll get it next time (Houston?). Just train more, race less. Nice job.

  2. You win some you lose some. I think it is great that you kept going. How many people would have the heart to do that? Races are a dime a dozen. Learn from it and leave it is the past. Just keep pluging away and when Houston comes up....Redemption!!!

    I always love the race after a bad race. So next time you will surprise yourself.

  3. Sorry to hear about your day. You did a great job gutting it out and finishing the race. Most people would have DNF'ed.

  4. You know what? I saw you! I yelled for you at Mile 20 (volunteering).

    You did it. You marched on, and I could tell you were hurting.

    Way to finish...

  5. It happens! I have been there. SD last year my projected time was 5:00 and I came in at 6:01, I was sooooooo disappointed. But now I look at it as...well I got the worst one out of the way first...right?!

  6. Wow Cody! I actually got you beat on the PR. I did a 5:55:xx last year in the Big Sur Marathon. I literally shut down the course. They closed it at 6 hours. It was my all time PR, longest marathon ever! It was truly the hardest, but most memorable race ever. If you can call it a race! Great job on toughing it out. Better times ahead!

  7. Running is a crap shoot. Way to power through and finish. Your body gave you lots to deal with. Hope you are feeling much better now. Nice job.

  8. Yo friends - yup a crap shoot! Yup, a bad day! Was chatting with my friend Ray this AM and he was telling me about his meltdown at Badwater and how much you can LEARN from a bad race. I guess I'll take that!

    I learned:

    • Don't overdo it leading up to a race (esp a marathon)

    • Listen to your body (should have slowed down earlier once I realized that sub 4 wasn't gonna happen...)

    • I've got a good base of fitness, but a more formal training program would have been beneficial. For my next 'thon I'll definitely be doing a program rather than my "off the cuff" scheds!

    Thanks again for the encouragement race for me is Strawberry Fields Triathlon on 7/19. Not sure on my goal yet, but I'd love to go sub 2:45 (6 minutes off SB) We'll see if I can up the ante as we get closer!

  9. Sounds like it wasn't your day. Don't let it get you down, you learned something from it, I hope. Keep your head up!



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Film composer moonlighting as a runner, cyclist and triathlete