Tuesday, February 26, 2013

RACE REPORT: Hyannis Marathon

After finishing the Colchester Half Marathon on Saturday, I did the typical - food, massage, more food, hung out with friends, and headed straight home to recover (contrast shower and a nap).  When I woke, I had an email from BAEvents...

"We are on."

There were other words in there too, but they don't seem to be coming to mind.  That's all I needed to read.  In a matter of 19 hours, I'd be running my second Goofy Challenge of the year.  I made my dinner, packed my bags, and was out the door by 5:00pm.  I arrived in Cape Cod a little before 8:30pm, stretched, ate my dinner, and went to bed early.

What was going to happen tomorrow?!  I had trained for a marathon hoping to go sub-3:30, but certainly not for doing so after having run a half marathon.  My gut told me that it was possible, but that it wasn't going to be easy.  My mind on the other hand was not so easily persuaded and raced with questions.

Can I still hit my goal?!
Will I blow up midway?!
Did Saturdays run take a chunk out of my energy??
How will the weather affect my run?!
Did I give up my marathon PR just for a birthday run?!
Should I change my pacing??
Will 7 GUs be enough?!  

Long story short, I couldn't be more ecstatic about how well this race went!

The weather decided to meet us half way.  As I arrived in Hyannis-Port Sunday morning, it was misting with plenty of puddles in the road.  Since it was wet outdoors, the expo was packed with people trying to stay dry.  I shuffled my way to the registration table, saw that out of 20 boxes of registration packets, only two were for the marathon, and realized that I obviously chose the more popular race.  Haha.  I picked up my packet (literally just the bib and a Ninety Nine coupon), my shirt, and went back to the car. 

Back at the car, I got dressed.  The race day forecast was for high 30s/low 40s, windy, and rain.   After talking with the staff at Fleet Feet, I opted to go with a singlet instead of the long-sleeve shirt and my Ronhill water-resistant wind breaker instead of buying a real waterproof jacket.  Waterproof would have been nice in the rain, but given the temperatures, they told me I'd overheat very quickly.  In the end, I'm glad I took their advice and I might go without the singlet next time. 

I stopped at the expo one last time to use the bathroom.  Thank God I'm a male (sorry girls!).  The women's restroom line went down the hall, back up the hall, and around the corner into the conference room.  The guy's line had 5 people.  Cha-Ching!

With 5 minutes 'till race start, I took off my garbage bag and walked out into the rain.  The start line had signs on the left hand side showing pace times.  Due to the line being packed already, I squeezed in a bit ahead of the 8-minute mile sign.  All the above questions came screaming back to my head and I simply pushed them aside.  I can't worry about it now.  Stick to the plan and roll with the punches.

Off we go!  
2013 Goofy No.2

Here was my plan...
My PR is 4:07.  My goal was a sub-3:30 or 8:00 pace.  I had no idea how Saturday would affect me.  I felt fresh enough race morning, so if anything, the latter half of the race as opposed to the first was going to suffer due to that decision.  If I was going to make goal, I needed to give myself the best chance of being able to hold that 8:00 pace.  If I went out too fast, I'll be more and more likely to blow up.  Given all that, I decided to stick to my previous plan: 8:00 pace through mile 20 with constant nutrition and then re-evaluate.  If I blew up early, then so be it; I paid that price.

The Race
Thankfully, Saturdays run proved that I could hold back my pace if I really wanted to.  Right out of the gate at Hyannis, I did the very same thing.  I ran around some people and let others pass.  About half a mile in, most people around me had shuffled around enough to be reorganized in the correct pacing order.  Then around what must have been mile one I hear "Hey, it's your birthday!" immediately followed by "Happy Birthday to you!  Happy Birthday to you!..."  Yup!  I had two random guys sing me happy birthday. 

Day Maker #1

The first downside of Hyannis is the mile markers.  They are small orange cones with numbers on them.  I didn't see one until mile 5.  As you can guess, that leaves me completely guessing what my pace was.  I was 2 minutes ahead of schedule. 

I kept telling myself "Slow down Kurt!," but I missed the mile 6 marker too, so in the end I gave up attempting to stick to 8:00 pace as much as I did on Saturday and opted to simply keep the pace I was at - roughly estimated at 7:40 in my head - until I could find the mile markers more consistently. 

At mile 8, I was again at 7:40 pace.  I also lost the birthday hat.  Yes, I wore the cone hat again, but the rain wore it down.  I still felt solid, my breathing was easy, and I was stopping to get a drink of gatorade at every aid station.  If I was going to run a 7:40 pace, I've got plenty of time to make sure I do NOT lack for nutrition! 

Mile 9 and 10 I ran about 7:45 pace and found a guy in a yellow shirt and black tights who hadn't run a road marathon in 4 years.  He was back finally to see what he could do.  We shared stories and he told me "You're well ahead of your pace right now; about 3:17, maybe 3:19 at most."  In my head I figured he was a bit off 'cause that's a 7:30 pace, but appreciated his experience. 

Mile 11 and 12 were about 7:42 pace and became big support miles for those doing the half.  A lot of people looked like the distance was taking it's toll.  Whether out of the goodness of my heart or as a way to mentally escape my own trials, I started encouraging everyone I saw with a white bib!  I also was happy that I still felt fairly good coming up on the half way point.

As we rounded the corner towards the finish line, there were 20-30 people within my sight.  As we passed the finish line and I headed back out on lap number two, there were three.  "Oh, this is gonna' be fun!"  I turned around and joked with the guy behind me who looked pretty good himself...

"I'm warmed up now.  Want to do another lap?!"

I didn't get an official half time, but it was somewhere around 1:41, a 7:43 pace.  That beat yesterdays half!  Awesome, I'm negatively splitting so far.  A part of me wanted to pull ahead and speed it up.  I ALMOST did a few times, but I fell back to "Kurt, you gave up that option by running yesterday.  Stick to the plan!"  So... (*sigh*), I did.

As expected, the second lap was pretty boring.  Just around the first turn, the wind picked up and at some point the rain got heavier.  After awhile I stopped making wide births of the puddles and let my shoes do the work of draining out the water.  All I did was kept to my pace, slowly knocking off runners as I went. 
Side Note: Negative splitting really helps with a mental boost in the back half by allowing you to pass runners that have slowed down. 
Mile 13-15 were a 7:42 pace and the beginning to my countdown.  As per the plan above, I was going to hold my conservative pace through mile 20 as best I could.  That meant that after finishing the first lap, I wasn't counting down another 13 miles, but rather 7.  I honestly think that helped break up the mental challenge a lot!  At 15 miles, I had 5 miles of plan to stick to until I could change the race. 

Around mile 15, I caught up to an Asian runner who wore a black trash bag.  As a note for later, I found it a bit difficult to keep with him at times.  We both ran a very similar pace and I believe worked off one another for the next five miles, but I honestly felt the distance taking a toll on me a bit. 

We passed back and forth as I counted down the miles...  4 more... 3 more... just 2 more... final mile!  And at mile 20 I let him go as I stopped for a pee break.  The mental exercise was over.  I had completed the major task of the day.  I was 20 miles into a marathon and felt good, had not blown up, kept up my nutrition, and was mentally still VERY in the game.  Time to have some fun (the way I much prefer to race!).

Including the bathroom break about 0.1 miles into mile 21, that mile clocked in at 8:01, my slowest mile of the day.  I remember thinking I had let trash bag runner get ahead of me and might not see him again.  Nope!  I cruised passed him less than a mile up the road.  Mile 22 clicked off at 7:00 and mile 23 at 7:03.  I was booking it!  I just kept thinking "This is an Olympic triathlon.  Just dig through 6.2 miles and you'll be done!"

At mile 23 I thought I might have to slow down to avoid a blow up.  In the end, I convinced myself that as long as I made it to mile 25, I could make it through anything in that last mile.  So instead of thinking I had 3 miles to go, I thought of it as 2.  Big help!  Mile 24 was my fastest, 6:49.  I was elated, but at the same time, my legs were started to really scream!  My quads were painful and I knew I was pushing them towards their limit.

Two miles to go!  Mile 25 was 7:09; I was slowing down and the already thin group was getting more and more stretched out.  Then I saw a yellow runner up ahead.  "Could it be my runner buddy from mile 10?!"  That kept me going and I caught up to him.  He had a friend pacing him who was yelling encouragements the entire way and I wasn't able to catch him after the race, but hope he was happy with his performance and time.  As I passed him, I kept thinking "Wow, his prediction is gonna' be pretty close to money today!"

Mile 26 was so painful, clocking in at a 7:24, but the joy that I felt seeing that familiar road with the right turn up ahead that would lead to the expo center was so incredibly welcome!  I didn't even attempt pushing harder.  I kept my pace, passed one more guy, nearly waded through a puddle in the finisher's chute, and looked up to the sky in thanks as I crossed the finish line and looked at the race clock...  3:18:xx.  Not only was that awesome, but it knocked nearly 50 minutes off my PR and meant that I negatively split the the entire weekend - 1:44:xx, 1:41:xx, and 1:37:xx.  Kick A$$!!!

Day Maker #2

My final time was 3:18:17, a 7:34 pace and good enough for 38th place out of 385.  I don't even know how to explain it.  I was surprised, ecstatic, over-joyed, overwhelmed, thankful, blown away, amazed, and so many other things all in one.  I had planned for a somewhat difficult, but not at all impossible sub-3:30 marathon and had ended up running a killer 3:18 after having run a 1:44 half the day before.  I am fucking superman!!  Ok, I know I'm not - I can't fly yet - but I certainly felt like it.

Now comes the worst part of the weekend...

I went inside the expo, got some food (thank you to Dunkin Donuts and Ninety Nine), started getting chills 'cause I was still in my very wet running clothes, and decided I needed to brave the walk to my car before it got any worse.  My left hip had seized up, my quads were still screaming, my shoulders and neck were sore, and my limbs couldn't stop shivering, so I made myself as aerodynamic as possible and hobbled for 20 minutes to my car 0.5 mile away!

That's right, 20 minutes!  In hindsight, I should have just kept running past the finisher medals and straight to my car.  Along the way I got so emotional I started crying because it was so cold and I just wanted to be at my car.  One idiot yelled from across the road "Just walk it off.  Walk it off."  Thankfully, not 30 seconds later, someone pulled their car over and offered me a ride.  I was already at the parking lot, but thanked them and kept going.  Then a minute later, another person stopped in the parking lot and offered me another ride.  I could see my car so I thanked them and kept walking.  Despite the low emotional state I was in at that point in time (which was oddly preceded by such a high peak after finishing the race), I couldn't help but be thankful for such thoughtful people.

Day Maker #3

I got in the car, turned the heat on full blast, stripped right there in the car (go ahead and try to arrest me!), dried off and put dry clothes on.  About 20 minutes later I headed out and drove 2.5 hours home.  What a weekend!

And I spent a good chunk of that ride thinking of one thing... If I can do a 3:18:17 after running a half the day before, I wonder how close I can get to a 3:05:00. 

BQ attempt in the fall?!
Highly likely

Highlights of Hyannis
  • Half vs. Full Registrants.  There were probably 20 boxes of half marathon packets and only 2 for the marathon.  
  • Restrooms.  As usual, the women's line was out the door, down the hall, and into the ballroom.  The guys only had 5 people.  Haha. 
  • Happy Birthday.  Two guys busted into the Happy Birthday song around mile 1.  I loved it!
  • Aid stations.  The stations were exactly as they were described - water and gatorade, nothing else.  Most had two tables/area separated by 10-20 feet.  As an athlete very picky about aid stations, I very much appreciated their setup.
  • Police and volunteers.  Every corner with a light or major intersection was very well staffed.  There were plenty of upset motorists who I would have loved to stick around to see the outcome of the scene they made, but at no point did I feel in danger or possibly off course.  
  • Expo location.  The race rents out the Resort and Conference Center and the race starts/finishes right in front of the building.  After a wet race, I very much was thankful to be able to get in doors.
  • No real hills.  There were some inclines, but no hills to speak of.  Consider that a drawback if you prefer.
  • Two loops.  As bad as it was to be contrastingly bored on the 2nd loop, it helped to know what to expect with every turn.  This time around, the loop course was a bonus in my mind. 

Drawbacks of Hyannis
  • Mile Markers.  They were way too small.  As you can tell, I missed a number of them.  It took another runner to help point them out before I started finding them consistently.  The Colchester Half race was only $15 and had vastly superior signs.
  • Very small marathon field.  Admittedly not many people are crazy enough to run a marathon in February, but if you do, know that the first lap will be filled with people and the second will seem desolate!
  • No Baggage Drop.  After this race, whether you consider it in the context of this year's weather or just February in general, the first thing you should do is dry off and get into fresh clothes. 
    After finishing, there were no mylar wraps, towels, heaters, or even boosted heat inside of the expo, not to mention no baggage drop for people like me who had to park 0.5 mile away.  Unless you were good enough to have someone meeting you with a towel and dry clothes, you were bound to get chills. 


1.  Have you ever run back-to-back races?
I never have before, but I did Goofy in January and now Colchester-Hyannis in February.  What ever will I do in March?!

2.  Have you ever been overly surprised at how well your body performs at a race?

3.  What feature do you find key to a good vs. bad race?
If it's a long enough race, aid stations are my pet peeve, but baggage check is now on my list of key features.

4.  When/What is your first/next 2013 race?
The next planned race is a 5k in late March.  It's tri training time!

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 


My Boring Triathlon Blog said...

great job

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Geez Kurt!! Congrats on the race

When do you recover?

Coy Martinez said...

Love reading happy race reports! Doesnt get too much better than this does it? :) Ok, maybe a BQ!

I've never run back to backs, they've all been at least 2 weeks apart I believe. ALthough, I think I'm rarely pleasantly surprised by how well my body will react.


That was studly if you ask me....