Sunday, December 02, 2007

California International Marathon -- 2:59:36

I'm sitting uncomfortably back at home, with ice on my foot but a smile on my face. The weather was perfect except for a little bit of wind, the California International Marathon sold out (6,000 of us crazy folks), the volunteers and the support were good, and with great difficulty, I managed to achieve my goal of running a marathon faster than 3 hours. I shaved at least 5 minutes off of my personal record from this same marathon a year ago. (Results here. 208th place.)

I should start off by saying that my training has been spotty this time around. I've had the flu, a cold or two, and a minor foot injury since running that 50K at the end of August. I haven't even been keeping careful track of my miles, although I use my Garmin GPS watch and it remembers all of my workouts. A year ago, I topped off at 70 miles a week. This time around, I was mostly in the mid-50s with maybe one 65 mile week. I did hit most of my long runs and so I guess I managed to hang on to whatever fitness I had. Anyway... how'd the race go?

I didn't feel well through most of the marathon this morning, feeling like I was going to have "bathroom problems" from about mile 9 through 21. I've got to figure out this food / digestive thing. I'll spare the reader the details. :-) Anyway... I paced myself but happened to mostly stick with the 3:00:00 pace group guy. I felt soreness and even twinges of cramps for most of the race it seemed. I was rather worried and not very confident how the day was going to turn out. I told myself, "Well, just try to stay on pace for as long as you can. Maybe things will blow up and you'll end up walking or injured, but maybe things will work out; Just take a chance." At the half-marathon point, my time was 1:29:15. My miles were mostly pretty consistent. I wasn't feeling great, but was OK. Finally, we got to around mile 21 and I felt pretty good, relatively speaking, like I could pick up the pace and have a strong finish. Big mistake! 3 miles later I was suffering with fatigue and twinges of cramps and I was being forced to slow down. I thought for sure my goal was going to be lost. The 3 hour pace guy caught up with me and that boosted my spirits a bit. I tried to stay focused on the short term, thinking, "just stick with this guy for a little bit longer". I managed to run the rest of the way with him and was nearly in tears, overcome with emotion, as I approached the finish line. Damn, that was tough. 2 hours 59 minutes 36 seconds, according to the official results. Average pace - 6:51 per mile.

My mile splits from my watch:
mile #1 6:54
mile #2 6:55
mile #3 6:41
mile #4 6:37
mile #5 6:54
mile #6 6:49
mile #7 6:49
mile #8 6:57
mile #9 6:50
mile #10 6:42
mile #11 6:48
mile #12 6:51
mile #13 6:43
mile #14 6:47
mile #15 6:53
mile #16 6:49
mile #17 6:44
mile #18 6:49
mile #19 6:46
mile #20 6:57
mile #21 6:50 Was feeling better, so I passed the 3 hour pace guy.
mile #22 6:46
mile #23 6:49
mile #24 7:11 Real problems -- fatigue, cramps. Became very difficult.
mile #25 7:05 Somewhere around here, the 3 hour guy caught up and I got inspired.
mile #26 7:04
mile #26.2 1:27 It took me a few seconds to stop my stopwatch after crossing the finish line.

Other random notes:
  • I met an interesting guy on the bus named "Raytoo" (update: Reto Waeffler) who said he was a Swedish citizen, getting a graduate degree in business in San Francisco, who nearly made it to the Swedish Olympic team for the Olympic triathlon event. (That's 1.5 km swim, 40 km bicycle, and 10 km run.) His goal was to run this marathon, his first marathon, in 2 hours 40 minutes. Amazing! When the results are out, I'll check how he did. (Update: he placed 259th and finished in 3:02:36. His first half was 1:18:43, so he very much fell apart in the 2nd half, poor guy.)
  • I ate a bagel and a banana at around 4:30am. The race started at 7am. I had a big rich slice of chocolate cake last night around 10pm. I wonder if that caused problems today.
  • I'm not sure of my weight this morning, but it's been 162 to 163 lbs this last week.
  • I missed two water stations because once it was too crowded and another time I thought there was a water table, but it was the energy gel table. I wasn't thirsty, so in both cases I decided to keep moving rather than stop or backtrack to get some sports drink.
  • I intended to consume 6 energy gels for the day, but only ate 5. I ate one 15 minutes before the race began, then roughly every 35 minutes or so. I was thinking I could eat my last one around the 2 hour 30 minute mark, but then I couldn't find it in my pockets and I couldn't remember if I ate it already or not. It might sound silly, but when running fast (for me), it's kind of hard to be searching through one of the 5 elastic pouches or pockets in these special shorts. But after I finished, I later found the 6th buried in one of the pouches. Oh, well. Next time I'll try to keep better track and maybe not mix any trash in with the good stuff which made the task harder.

Thank you, family, for watching Claire and meeting together this weekend. Thank you friends, for your well-wishes and support.

I'll try to get some better pictures from relatives' cameras. Here's one of the winner.