The Lincoln Marathon was ten days ago – May 1st – so was I too beat up to write a blog post? Nah, just busy, really. .
Chart your marathon progress - you can do it!
I’ll call this my marathon PR – 4:00:17 by the chip. I’m still 4 minutes off my 1996 all time best – but after my PR article a few weeks ago – am comfortable calling this the new PR (out of 21 marathons). I’m also just a sliver under 30 minutes from a Boston Qualifier time for a 45-49 year old male – this changes in 2013. There are two things that I think might be helpful to share – the race day experience (with weeks leading up to it) and trends over last two and half years – aka shaving 50 minutes off a marathon time!
1 month before
In early March I focused on some high intensity strength training and metabolic conditioning. The two together help push your anaerobic threshold and strengthen those weak areas that play havoc on a marathon (hips, glutes, hamstrings). I think I had a good balance of run/bike/swim/row and the CrossFit WODs (workouts of the day) . Had a great 20 miler in mid March, PR on a 10 mile run. I also followed the CrossFit Endurance aerobic WOD’s closely. I tapered a bit in April – no Olympic lifting the week before the marathon, mixed in more bike and swim. I do think another 15 to 20 mile run would have been wise 2-3 weeks prior. All in all felt ready.
Had a good strategy for Lincoln. Find the 3:50 pace group and hang with them. The first two miles were slower – 9:40 to 9:10. The idea is to avoid glycogen depletion early on – smart idea! Got ahead of the pace group and helped pace a friend to his sub 1:50 1/2 (way to go Dan-O!). Probably not wisest thing on my part. Caught back with 3:50 and ran among them until about mile 14. Times for the 10, 15k and 1/2 were slightly slower than 2010 Lincoln Marathon and Tulsa.
Wasn’t feeling all that “chipper” from mile 12- 16. Was worried maybe the strong CrossFit WOD emphasis may have come at the cost of good endurance prep. Felt less confident than on my best longer run in March (20 miles at an 8:58 pace). Started feeling good again at mile 18 going into Holmes Lake – seeing friends along the way helped (shout out to Andi, Nelson, Jeanne and Barb).
150 meters to go - really difficult to look Freaky Fast at this point
Seeing my family, including a very miffed dog in Heidi, who attempted to break free and join me while howling at me to pick it up, was great at mile 19.5! Much like the Tulsa Marathon, felt strong from mile 20 in. A couple of pit stops helped. No miles slower than 10 minutes (one right at it for a mile 20.5 pit stop). Picked the pace up from mile 21 on and held it. Was doing all I could from mile 24 in to bust through 4:00 hours. The Garmin time and splits looked good, yet, I know the Garmin distance is typically 200 – 400 meters longer than the 26.2. Some of that is due to large crowds and weaving across streets. Was on the 4:02 border at mile 25 but kicked in (well relative term) final mile at 8:45 range for final 1.2.
Though it wasn’t 3:45 (or 3:30) was content with the results. I may never notch Boston but can take comfort in marathoning at a pace that’s closer to my expectations. Plus, much like after Tulsa, my DOMs (delayed onset muscle soreness) is much less. There’s nothing like riding a bike, walking, lifting the day after a marathon with just minor discomfort.
As the table above shares – I’ve been able to improve the marathon times. Bluntly put it sucked. I was ready to punt any notion of another marathon after the Twin Cities in October 2008. The time was not my worst (4 hours 50 minutes) but the experience and results were not close to what I wanted. I figured maybe one or two more shots, but drifting into the 5 hour range was not on my radar – 16 marathons – was enough to prove to myself I could finish one.
To reverse the tend I focused on higher volume aerobic, 85% running, from November 2008 to the May 2009 Lincoln Marathon. Some improvement there (27 minutes) but still felt like junk from mile 20 in. So I foolishly signed up for the Pikes Peak Double (40 miles, 2 days, all the mountain air you could hope for). I achieved a PR on the Ascent (4:43) and held together for the full marathon the day after. It’s still my overall best aerobic performance. Some nice PR 1/2 marathons followed and then “ping” on mile 9 of the Omaha 1/2 felt my sartorius muscle (groin area) in my left side scream out. Hobbled and rested 3 weeks then hobbled through the Des Moines Marathon. That was a little faster than Lincoln and was just happy to get it done.
That led to the “get fit and get strong” – so 90 days of P90x and then a year plus of CrossFit began. Saw good results in 2010 – close to PR times – 4:18 in Lincoln, able to recover and do an OK marathon 13 days later at Brookings (4:23) then good close to 2010 at Tulsa with a 4:07. More importantly than the time at Tulsa was how I felt after mile 19. The normal “wall’ish” feelings started hitting me around mile 17. Surprisingly after some salty pretzels and a little stretching felt great from mile 21 in. I had never felt that good on a back 6 (where the marathon really begins, at mile 20).
Shaving another 7 minutes at this year’s Lincoln Marathon was satisfying. I was targeting a 3:45 to 4 hour event – and came in on the slower side. Still it was another strong day and finish. Though running the front 1/2, 2 minutes slower than a year ago, I was able to finish 18 minutes faster.
Will follow same game plan for a return visit to the Pike Peak Double and one to two Fall marathons. Time to bust through the 4 hour door and say hello to sub 3:50. Then shave more time in the 2012 Lincoln Marathon. I’ll continue with 4 running workouts a week – inching upward the volume to 26-30 miles per week. I won’t sacrifice speed/stamina/ strength or flexibility.