Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Marathon Experiment

I woke up (dark and early) on Sunday morning and for the first time in over a week, yawned without coughing. Good sign, I thought! I'd been depending on Mucinex and an inhaler for several days but that morning I thought I felt ok enough to go without. I'm not a big fan of inhalers b/c I don't like the shaky feeling they give me so I was glad to not feel like I needed to take that in order to breathe.

Maui Oceanfront Marathon is a point to point course, mostly along Maui's south shore, from Wailea to Lahaina. It starts at 5AM so we ran the first 90min or so in the pitch black. It's mostly flat in the beginning and the end, with some pretty legit hills in the middle miles.

I genuinely had no plan going into this marathon. I wanted to leave myself open to the possibility that I might have a decent day, but I wasn't going to beat myself up if I didn't. I didn't use a garmin and figured I'd just run by feel and see how it went. The night before the race Kendra asked me what time I thought I might run and I didn't answer b/c I really didn't know. I thought I could be anywhere between 3:55 if I felt great to 4:30 if I didn't... That's a pretty wide range!

First 1-2 miles I started out at what felt super easy and not fast. But then I found myself running a little faster and a little faster and by mile 4ish I'd caught Heidi, which honestly I didn't really take as a good sign- I did not expect to get to the finish line before Heidi! When I came up beside her and asked her how she felt, she said she was good and just trying to hold 9' pace (she had her garmin!). At that point the smartest thing I prob could have done would have been to just run with her, but I didn't. It was a conscious decision at that point because I genuinely prefer running alone vs with anyone. It was shocking to me though how at that point I felt so much better than I expected to feel... like my core was connected and my hips were open and my stride felt strong like I was actually pushing off my back leg with every step. And while part of me thought maybe it was suicide to run ahead, another small part of me thought What if this is your magic day? What if this is where all those higher mileage weeks you ran pay off? So I carried on, accepting the risk, and wondering how long this awesome feeling might last...

It lasted ~12 miles. Too bad this wasn't a half marathon! Lol. My limiter was definitely muscular in nature. Running 20"/mile too fast for 10 miles was a muscular challenge I was not prepared for and that effort came back to bite me in the ass. Literally. In good news, feeling that fatigue in my glutes and hamstrings I take as a good sign that I'm running in less of a 'quad dominant' manner than I used to. Anyway, once it was clear to me that I wasn't going to get in under 4 hours, I shut down the effort and just jogged it in. Funny how my brain worked in that way- like I was willing to take a risk and hurt myself for that slight possibility that I might crack 4 hours, but I was not willing to dig for a 4:05. Somehow in my mind, the difference between 4:05 and 4:30 was nothing and all I was considering at that point was damage control... like just get to the finish without causing any more damage. Scott and Moana were waiting for me at the finish and Moana jogged across the line with me (4:20) which was super fun! Within 30' we had several champagne bottles open and it was a big party on the beach. Everyone finished and everyone agreed that it was harder than we thought it would be. Funny how marathons are like that. :)

My coughing fit started at the finish line and didn't stop for a few hours. It was definitely worse after a few bottles of champagne because laughing was not something my lungs were capable of doing at that point! Anyway, I don't know how much of that back half meltdown had to do with the fact that I'd been sick the week prior, or if it was lack of fitness/strength, if I just didn't care enough, or if it was simply risky pacing. It doesn't matter to me though. I have no regrets about how I tried. In a situation like this I would rather try and blowup vs play it conservatively then wonder what if at the end...

Anyway, maybe the reason why I am not worried about it is that I have a bunch more opportunities to try to crack the marathon code this year. My goal for 2016 is to run all the Hawaii Marathons in the calendar year. There are 7 in total. The next two will be a huge challenge as they fall on the same weekend... So in March I will be attempting a Marathon Maniac qualification by running Maui Valley to Sea Marathon on a Saturday, then hopping on a plane and flying to Hilo and running the Big Island International Marathon the next day. I genuinely don't know how I am going to run two in a row?? I will most certainly have to wear a choke collar type leash during the first one...

1 comment:

Steve said...

In my experience which is little, but I do pay attention. Pacing is very important the first 13-16 miles. Everyone feels good here. You better not be going fast before this time.

Probably more 16 than 13, but definitely wait for the halfway point.

Glad you were able to finish, and I like your future plan, or so it seems to me. Crack the marathon to crack the 26.2 in the ironman. I got ya. :)