Monday, October 19, 2009

Part One: Mr. Honaker's Columbus Marathon Race Report


The Columbus marathon was my second ever marathon. I ran my first marathon in the spring of this year (Flying Pig) and finished with a 3:38. I was on track to finish in 3:30, but cramps slowed me up in the last 10k because of my low mileage (average 35mpw using SmartCoach). In the middle of my training I figured out that my mileage was too low. Although I tried to ramp up at the last minute, there wasn't much I could do at that point and tried to run a good race with what I had. I suffered in the last 10k and vowed I would do better next time. My goal when I started this cycle was a 3:20.

Over the summer I started training with the Pfitz 18/55 plan. I went from 4 days per week on SmartCoach to the 5 days on Pfitz and added an extra recovery 5-6 miles to make it 6 days per week. After recovering from my last marathon I jumped directly into 50mpw and started the 18/55 (18/65) plan there. I also added a couple of miles here and there when I could and overall averaged about 55 mpw.

I ran a few tune-up races in the last couple of months and was cranking out huge PRs from the added mileage. My 10k dropped by two minutes, my 5k by a minute, and my half marathon dropped by 7 minutes. I started reconsidering my goals for the marathon because I had smashed my goals in all other distances. In my half, I put up a 1:27:59 and then thought that 3:15 or even 3:10 was possible. I was torn because 3:10 was my BQ, but I also wanted to finish strong. I was right there for a 3:10 but wasn't sure if I would make it and could possibly have another huge fade at the end.

I had a few nagging injuries over the last couple of months of training, most recently hip flexor and IT band issues that flared up after I started adding the speed workouts in the late stages. I spent a lot of time with the foam roller and doing a lot of stretch exercises. Luckily I was able to keep the IT band problems at bay and had no problems when I started my taper. I followed the 18/70 plan taper since I was running the extra mileage througout the plan.

The week leading up to the race I was feeling great. No pains anywhere and I had tons of energy. After the Chicago folks had such great races I started comparing my training and race times to some of the other MRT folks and decided that I would just go for 3:10. I might not make it, but I thought I would come close enough that I wouldn't crash hard at the end.


Breakfast consisted of the usual wheat bread toast with PB and banana and a bottle of Gatorade (same stuff on the course). I was carrying four servings of clif bloks with me and a bottle of water when we lined up. I also had a mini bagel in the car on the way there. I stop drinking any liquids two hours before the race starts to keep me from hitting the porta-johns twenty times before the race starts. I wore my singlet, shorts, arm warmers, hat, and gloves. The temps at 7am were hovering around 30 degrees. I noticed that people were lining up early, so I hit the porta john and got lined up (DW was running the half as well, so we said our good lucks).

Race starts and I am cramped in a sea of people in the 3:10 pace group. There were so many people jockeying for position that I wasn't sure if I could take it. I tried running a bit ahead but had to keep dialing back, so I tried to run behind the group. I had the Garmin on auto lap and tried to calibrate every so often, so splits are a bit off.

Mile 1 - 7:35 Great, I wanted to start slow and get up to pace. In the middle of this mile, some girl makes a dead stop to take her throw-away pants off in the middle of the pace group. I saw her at the last second and she almost got tackled from behind.

Mile 2 - 7:08
Mile 3 - 7:08
Mile 4 - 7:15

Water stops were terrible...couldn't get over in time and it was impossible to see ahead of me (I am 5'6). People were stepping all over each other and I am not a patient man.

Mile 5 - 7:00

Ran ahead of the pace group here to get a breather. I almost shoulder-checked a kid who kept zagging in front of me and making me dodge him. I was trying to be friendly with everyone but those people were focused and not really concerned about anyone else around them.

Mile 6 - 7:07
Mile 7 - 7:19 Took clif bloks
Mile 8 - 7:18

The IT band starts rearing its ugly head. I can feel some pain in the knee increasing and we are running on a street that is a bit cracked. Every time I would step wrong pain would go shooting up to my hip. I made the call to keep going and hope it works out.

Mile 9 - 7:16
Mile 10 - 7:01
Mile 11 - 7:03
Mile 12 - 7:08
Mile 13 - 7:02

I notice at this point that the leg pain went away while I wasn't paying attention. System check shows everything is ok again. Half people cut off so I hoped the group would thin out a bit. No chance. At this point I thought I only have to do that again, and I might have a chance at 3:10.

Mile 14 - 7:19 Took clif bloks
Mile 15 - 7:27
Mile 16 - 7:20

We started getting into some turns and uphill portions here. I remember thinking to myself that I was getting tired, but I still had plenty in the tank.

Mile 17 - 7:01
Mile 18 - 7:04
Mile 19 - 7:11
Mile 20 - 6:56 Took clif bloks

Pacer says we are doing great on time and want us to give him two good miles. There are some downhill portions on the course here and we are going to take advantage of them. I had lost some ground and used this opportunity to catch up with him.

Mile 21 - 6:58
Mile 22 - 6:56

At this point the pace group has thinned out entirely. The pacer is going to drop back down to 7:15 pace. I felt like I still had enough to go on, so I tried to hold it the best I could. I left the group and started passing people one after another.

Mile 23 - 6:58

One of my friends that was working a water stop at mile 6 on my running team jumps on the course here and paces me for the last few miles. I wasn't expecting him to jump in and it was a relief. I felt good, at first...

Mile 24 - 7:05

Full on GI issues. I'm getting used to this in races and I can never figure out what it is. No matter the distance, no matter what I eat, I always have issues towards the end of the race. Luckily, I'm getting so close that I think I can ignore it. My friend is pointing out people he wants me to pick off.

Mile 25 - 7:12
Mile 26 - 7:18

My friend jumps off the course and I give everything I have left. I don't have the .2 split because I forgot to stop my watch (as always).


Official time is 3:08:53. I Boston Qualified and got a 31 minute PR. If it weren't for the support of my friends in the Runners World 3:20 group, I don't know that I would have made it. They are a great group of folks and I am glad to call them my friends. Thanks also to the Columbus Running Company folks for the support and friendship the past couple of months.


Girl In Motion said...

Woohoo Chris!! Not that you need more accolades, but congrats again for a seriously fantastic result. Can't wait to meet you and missus in April!

EGM said...

Wicked cool. I'm so proud of you. You did it!