Wednesday, October 22, 2014

MARATHON (in retrospect)

Well, I DID IT!!! It's been a LONG time coming, but I finally marked "Finish a Marathon" off my bucket list! I had all intentions of posting throughout my training, but then two thoughts occurred to me! First, while the training was difficult in the hellish Summer, I was healthy, and call me superstitious, I didn't want to jinx it! Second, while I have known the fundamentals and basics of training for a marathon for a LONG time and have been lending my advice to our customers for almost 20 years, I had a bit of a struggle with my confidence during this training block and thought maybe I should finish one of these things before I start posting "my" training tips! So, here I am, a marathoner, as one of my friends put it in a text on Sunday, and here's my blog plan! I'm going to start with a commentary in this entry and then follow up with a "series" of my learning experience, because training for and racing 7 Bridges Marathon was NOTHING if it wasn't a learning experience!

The race started at 7 AM, which on the western border of the Eastern Time Zone, means DARKNESS! The temperature was around 50 and the humidity, while we were right next to the river, was surprisingly low. Everyone gathered in Coolidge Park, which as I mentioned, is right next to the river with the John Ross Bridge overshadowing. I'll be honest, I had no idea how I was going to feel and how the race was going to go!! My training over the prior 3 weeks went pretty piss poor. OH, and did I mention I had never run that distance before! The only confidence I had was in the plan I had come up with.  Every single marathoner I talked to leading up to this race warned me NOT to go out too fast, so the plan was to go out around 7:15's to 7:20's through at least 10 and hopefully, gradually increase the pace to the finish!

The race started, and man, I have to say, race day really makes your legs feel good!! The adrenaline! The crowd! That bib on your shirt! It all adds up to making it really, REALLY hard to hold yourself back and stick to your plan! BUT, I did it! I held that comfortable pace through 12, averaging just over 7:10's. Now, this next part, you may have read about on Facebook or noticed if you just so happened to look at the results. Miles 8 through 11.5 are on the Tennessee Riverwalk. Just after mile 12, you are supposed to exit the Riverwalk through a parking lot and take a right to the next bridge. Well, I did that, and I believe I may have been the first person to do so. The leaders kept following the Riverwalk and ran the course backwards. When I crossed paths with them at mile 15, I began to wonder how the race directors were going to handle the situation. I know most of the rules and understand the reason for time checks on a course. As of now, I am listed as the overall winner, but I know I don't deserve it. I hope this can somehow be resolved!

Back to the race!! At mile 13 is when my gradual progression run began. The pace comfortably dropped, each mile faster than the previous by a few seconds, except for the 16th mile which was a steady uphill bridge for what seemed like forever! The progression continued on 18 through 22, going from 6:45 to 6:37. I looked at my watch with 4.2 to go, had 31 minutes til 3 hours and thought, "Oh, I've got sub-3!!"!! Then mile 23 happened! My right groin cramped just before a water stop. I couldn't believe it! I felt so good to that point! My first thought was to try to run through it, but since the water stop was right there, I decided to walk through and drink some Powerade. When I started back up, I again gradually picked up my pace paying close attention to my groin. Then, at mile 25, my left hammy cramped, and I knew sub-3 was gone. I wisely walked through another water stop, taking some Powerade, took it really slow up the final climb, and jogged it in to a smooth 3:05, which won me 1st Place Master (HA!), NOT 1st Overall!

Going back to what I said in the beginning, I had no idea what to expect! I've heard countless stories of first marathon experiences! There are two things I was extremely surprised by. One, I can NOT believe how good I felt at 20 miles! I kept waiting for the same sluggishness that developed in my 22 mile long run to creep up on me, and it never did! I chalk that up to a proper taper. Two, to answer the age old question, will I run another? I am completely surprised my answer is a resounding YES! I mean, I have to run Boston, right?

So, lessons learned! Keep an eye on the blog for some installments about training, shoes, nutrition, and race weekend. I can finally properly lend such advice! 

FINALLY! I have to mention a key reason for such a great first marathon experience! My wife Lena and Mom, Shelia! Man, they took care of everything! From travel, reservations, restaurant, OUR KIDS!! I literally only had to worry about getting my ass to the finish line! It was HUGE! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!


Sloan Burdick said...

Phenomenal job, Jeff!!

runnerdad said...

Good entry. I look forward to the upcoming blogs on nutrition, shoes, etc