This morning was the 20th anniversary of the Hartford Marathon!!
As the announcer informed us, the race has grown from 352 racers back in 1994 up to over 17,000 this year. They have certainly done well with this race and have seen this growth with every step of the way.
I went out with a goal in mind and my body and mind simply did not comply. There are plenty of things that played into the result of the day, but I have no excuses. I am disappointed with the day's execution, but in the end, I still finished. I tried, I failed, and now I will do my best to learn in order to come back next time better prepared.
My morning started at 5:00am when I woke up. I had breakfast (2 eggs, small bowl of steel cut oatmeal, a banana with pb, and two pieces of toast), checked the weather, and packed my bag. Around 5:45a, I headed out, and got a perfect parking spot one block from the race start!
If you can see the red street lights in the distance, that is the loading area for the start line. I may have lost some sleep by getting up early, but it relieves a lot of stress knowing I'm not half way across town.
As I walked up to the start line just to check out the area, I walked by the baggage check...
...the start line...
...a gigantic water dispenser called the Water Monster!...
I spent the rest of the pre-race time stretching out, warming up my hips, legs, and core, dropped my bag off, and made my way up to the seeded corral. And it certainly was nice to be in the front of the mass 17,000 person start.
Today's Goal: Qualify for Boston
That required me to run a 7:04 pace for 26.2 miles, reign in my inner athlete who wants to run out ahead, and do my best to suffer through the back half of the race. I knew going into this race that this goal was a longer reach than my previous races and would certainly be my toughest grit to date. But I wanted to test my body. I wanted to see if I could do it and if not, see how close my body would let me get.
The race started off well.
Once the gun went off, I shuffled ahead the 10 yards between myself and the start line while the 3:05 pacer made his way up followed by a decent number of athletes. Right from the start, I locked into a spot behind my pacer. While the crowd was still... well, crowded as we ran, it was much better than the previous years I've done this race now having started in the seeded corral. As we made our way down the road, took a turn and headed back on the back side of Bushnell Park, I felt loose, relaxed, and comfortable, everything I had hoped for.
I learned to keep within myself for the hills.
As the half marathon split off to the right and we turned left for the marathon, we hit a couple small rolling hills and I discovered that I was going to fall behind on the uphill, but make up time on the downhill. I accepted that fact (I've never been a great hill climber) and let my body dictate the pace while staying linked to the pacer.
I opted for a greater amount of liquid nutrition.
I usually shoot for a gel every 3 miles, but knowing that this hasn't worked for me recently and that I've been able to get a number of very good up to 14 mile runs without ANY nutrition, I opted to try relying on the on course liquid (Gatorade & water) more than usual.
Station # (Mile Position) - Nutrition
1 (2) - skipped
2 (3) - swig of Gatorade
3 (4.5) - swig of Gatorade
4 (6.5) - swig of Gatorade
5 (8.5) - skipped
xx (9-14) - Chocolate Mint GU
6 (9.5) - swig of Gatorade
7 (10.5) - swig of Gatorade
8 (12) - swig of Gatorade
9 (14) - 2 cups of Gatorade
10 (16) - 2 cups of Gatorade
From here on, I took a mix of Gatorade and water
In my opinion this nutrition course didn't exactly help me in the best way it could have.
Our pacer dropped off at mile 12.
Just before the mile 12 marker, our pacer pulled to the side and shouted "Go on ahead guys." Quietly, I heard him say to himself "Stupid cramp!" One of the runners in our group reassured us "He's a beast guys. He'll be right back." Well, he may be a beast, but we never saw him again. Soon after seeing him drop back, the group spread out without a leader to keep everyone stuck to a specific pace. I knew a couple of the runners who had GPS watches and did my best to stick to them as well as keep on top of how my pace felt.
Halfway, I was right on pace.
I hit the halfway point at 1:32:26 (7:04 pace) and was very happy with that. However, I had hoped to feel better. I had zero time banked and therefore no cushion to back off on the 2nd half. But I kept running and told myself just to get to mile 20! To get to this goal, this was the best position I could be in; having not given up any extra energy when I didn't need to.
My hips hit me hard.
Moving back a bit, starting somewhere around mile 4, my left hip began to ache. This is something I noticed recently in my training, but had hoped my taper would alleviate that. Apparently not. The pain was mainly in my left hip, tightening up my glute, and then eventually spread to both legs. I ran through it as long as I could, but as I turned onto the long out-and-back at mile 13.5, it began really affecting my run. Between the 3:05 pacer dropping off, the 3:05 pack having spread out and pulled ahead, and my hip bothering me, I began slowing down. I gutted out mile 14, but 15 dug me in 15 seconds, mile 16 added 40, and then I finally made my first stop to walk.
My nutrition came back to haunt me.
I had kept telling myself "You can't walk. You can't walk!" If I walked, I knew I'd never get the continuous run back again. It was finally my hip that caused me to walk; it really began to bother me. And at the same moment that I started walking, my body relaxed to the lower intensity and felt quite alleviated!! I was low on energy and my body wanted nothing more than to just walk the rest of the race. I took my drink at the aid station and got running again. I opted to shoot for the mile 17 turn around instead of the mile 20 mark. I didn't make it. From mile 16 to the finish, I walk/ran the rest of the race.
I saw a number of my friends.
I ran the first 11-12 miles with Andy from track practice. On my way out on the out-and-back, I saw Brian from the gym and Dave who I swim with. On the way back, I saw Wendy from the track, Holly from the gym, and got passed by Andy. Once past the out-and-back, I got passed by Chikre (I'm sure the spelling is wrong there - sorry buddy), and Wendy.
Despite the brutal final miles,
I was happy to have gone out and tried for the goal
on a beautiful day at a great local race.
The final miles were finished off at a walk/run pace of 9-10:00 and mile 26 which includes the hill over the Founder's Bridge at 12:27.
13.1 miles - 1:32:26 (7:04)
20 miles - 2:29:39 (7:29)
FINISH - 3:33:25 (8:09)
It wasn't my best performance, but given today, I am even MORE impressed with my performance at Hyannis, having run 20 miles at a rough 7:45 pace and then finishing off the final 6.2 miles at 7-7:15 pace. I officially need to go back and review the training leading up to that race.
Maybe the goal was a little too lofty.
Maybe my nutrition needs some serious work.
Maybe I simply need an off season this year (stupid "testing my limits" race schedule).
Or maybe I just need to sit back and re-evaluate.
Either way, I made it to the finish line. Time to recover and make it to the start line for the Newport Marathon tomorrow!
That's me! I've got my water, snacks, cell phone, heat pack, my feet up, compression socks on, and the live Ironman Kona coverage on the laptop. Yup, that's what I call a relaxing afternoon (mixed in with ice baths, stretching, walking around, and multiple small meals as I get cravings).
OH! I almost forgot the bling!
We've deemed the shirst "Creamsicle." I'm still questionable on their color, but I very much like the medal!! I was very happy to have a new design for the 20th anniversary.
1. What is the toughest goal you've gone out attempting to achieve? Were you able to complete it?
2. What is your race day nutrition strategy?
I know yours will most likely not work for me, but it might help to get ideas. I have some experimenting to do!!
3. Have you ever raced back to back marathons?
I doubt I'll read the comments before tomorrow's race, but any suggestions for future attempts (whether by me or other readers)?
DREAM. BELIEVE. ACHIEVE.