Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Double-Double Animal Style: Two Days, Two Marathons!

I ran Long Beach with a bit of a tight hamstring on October 12. Ran a 3:06, which I was fine with for that day, since I didn't feel 100%. Went out to Kansas last weekend for a double. Saturday was Kansas City and Sunday was Wichita.

Three in three states in 8 days was the plan, 3 BQs (3:10) was the goal once I didn't get the sub-3 at Long Beach, and I was really looking forward to the double, because I used to live in KC, plus I got to run one in my favorite state (Kansas!) on Sunday.

So, this is my double race report from last weekend ... WARNING: This will have some religion in it. Please don't read it if that will offend you. I'm not intending to preach or anything like that ... it's just that it was one of those types of days for me, so that's included in my report. That being said, ...

My bags got lost on the flight out the day before KC. I ran around and did a bunch of emergency shopping once I got into town -- shoes, clothes, etc. Yeah, I know ... DON'T PACK YOUR SHOES! But I did. Will never do that again! I ended up getting to sleep at about 11:30 that night before knowing the bag was going to be delivered at about 2 a.m. I got the call and got my bag, so I had MY clothes and shoes. Phew! The biggest bummer of the whole situation was that my friends in KC that I saw that night ... I lost two hours of visiting time with them because of my shopping and I didn't get to see their new baby until after the race, because he was already asleep. I only see them once a year or so, but I got to visit and have dinner with them, which was nice.

So, the race ... every morning before I run or do anything, I read a piece online called "The Daily Bread". I read Saturday morning's, and it really had an impact on me. Here it is. It really stayed with me Saturday. I didn't worry about Wichita, I didn't think about Long Beach. I just took Saturday for what every day is -- a blessing -- and knew to push myself as hard as I could with whatever abilities God has given me. I didn't rule out a sub-3 just because I was on a hilly course and I ran a 3:06 the week before on a flat course. I didn't have any intention of holding back at all to save myself for Wichita. All I wanted was an effort I could be proud of. If I'm going to fly across the country, leave my wife and kids for three days, miss church, spend all sorts of money, etc., I wanted to make it worth it.

KC is probably the second-toughest course I've ever run. I think Boston was pretty tough and the difference is that Boston has the four hills in Newton at a time that you don't want to be charging up hills. This course had tons of hills, but they were scattered throughout. Sub-3 is a 6:52 pace. The course map looked like it had a long, gradual downhill finish from about 21. Just like Boston. But in Boston, once you crest after Heartbreak, your legs are trashed and you can't jet down the hill. So, I was wondering how it would go.

I ran at 170 bpm, which is my marathon pace, and held a pace in the low 6:40s for the first 3-4 miles, but then the big hills started and the average pace dropped to about 7:00 by about 8. I kept cruising, not losing hope, because it's a marathon, right? And I kept that Daily Bread in mind, knowing to just focus on today and make all I could out of it. Hit the 1/2 in 1:32:05, and I knew it would be tough in the second half, but I didn't fold mentally. I got my average pace down to about 6:54 at about 15 or 16, but I couldn't keep my HR heading up the hills that ensued and I started turning miles in the 7:20 range. Average pace crept up over 7 and I knew I was fading. By 20, I think I needed a 40 min or maybe even a sub-40 10K to finish with, so I gave up hope of the sub-3 and just tried to keep giving it my all.

The downhill that was supposed to start at 21 didn't actually start until 23. BUMMER! Had some OK miles after 23, probably in that 6:40-6:50 range. Started really cruising at 25, like I always do. That's when I like to pick people off and move up in the final standings. I decided I really wanted a sub-3:05. Passed about 5 runners in mile 26. Then, passed about 4 or 5 in the final .2. Didn't know what the actual seconds were, because the Garmin is never accurate with the chip timing for me, but this time, it was. 3:04:59, good for 36th overall, 4th AG. I didn't look past 5th in my AG, but I know I passed him 200 yards from the finish. Pushing hard at the end might not have done me a whole lot of good for Wichita, but I wasn't thinking about Wichita.

What I was most happy with was my effort in KC. I feel like I really pushed hard. My wife said she's proud of me, and I told her I hope she's proud of my effort more than my time. If you push yourself and challenge yourself and have faith in what God gave you, you can get a lot more out of yourself than you realize. Irunforbeer (RT ... don't know if he's over here) told me once that your body can do more than your mind thinks it can, and I kept that in mind and he was right.

After the race, I met up with ksrunner and n1303f from Running Times for lunch. It was nice to meet them, along with Mr. ksrunner. Very,very nice people all around the table, except for the guy sitting in my chair. :wink: And then it was off to Wichita, a wonderful 200-mile drive through Kansas, complete with a stop at McDonald's for an ice cream cone and then Cracker Barrell for some eggs, sausage and pancakes.

Sunday, didn't feel horrible ... the hypothermia-inducing ice bath Saturday night must have worked. Or maybe it was the pancakes from Cracker Barrell. Of course, I certainly didn't feel tapered ...

Felt OK in warmups, a little tight, but manageable. Gun went off and I ran by heart rate - 170. First mile must have been slightly downhill, because I hit it in 6:30. Miles dropped back to that 6:45 - 6:55 range immediately and I was holding right in that 6:52 or so average pace without a ton of trouble through about 8. And that's when I just ran out of gas. I did my best to not think about Saturday ... Saturday didn't matter for Sunday's run. Sunday's run had to stand on its own. I slipped a little bit, running slightly above 7 min/mile for the next four or so, and then it got windy, probably 20-30 mph.

Hit the 1/2 in 1:32:14, which was only 10 seconds slower than Kansas City -- encouraging, because I felt thrashed. From about 14 to 18, I was running nothing but gradual uphills with huge wind blowing in my face and my legs were just falling apart. But rather than feel sorry for myself for running out of gas, I knew I needed to put forth a little effort. I started thinking about Jack (my autistic son) and how tough and miserable things are for him, and I know that I have certain things I want to do to benefit autistic children, but I need results to make that happen. A little bit after I was thinking that, the wind was at my back and I was cruising up a hill pretty good. I won't get too spiritual, but it was definitely a nice experience.

Anyways, by about 18, my quads felt like they were going to snap. I tried to fight through the pain, but couldn't turn the wheels fast enough to get my HR much above 160. My 18th (I think it was 18th) mile was 8:05, and I knew I was cooked.

My ultimate goal Sunday, even though I knew it was unrealistic, was sub-3. I'm not gonna quit on that before the race even starts. B goal was sub-Saturday and C goal was a BQ. 3 BQs in 8 days would be pretty cool.

After that 8:05, I knew that A and B were gone. C was within range, but it was going to a painful final hour or so. I also wanted that BQ to be sub-3:10. I didn't want the extra seconds they give you. At 20, I started pounding. Not all-out, but pretty hard. Couldn't get the heart rate up, but I could tell that I was going to be in pain when the run was done. By 23, I could feel blisters on the bottom of about 5 or 6 of my toes.

At about 23.5, I got a little jump start -- an off-leash dog chased me trying to bite my feet. That'll get you moving! I passed a guy at the end of mile 24 who passed me about two miles or so earlier and got about 100 yards ahead of me. I found out at the finish that he was the 2nd half of a relay -- no fair! He was fresh!

When I passed him, I told him to beat me to the finish ... I tried to give him a charge and get him going. If we raced to the finish, we'd both benefit. But he had no answer and I pushed and pushed to make sure he couldn't catch me.

Finished in 3:09:15, good for 13th overall, 4th AG. Time wasn't what I'd hoped for, but I was very happy with how hard I pushed for the last six miles. I've never wrecked myself so hard. Followed that up with pizza, cookies and chocolate at the awards luncheon, then got to drive 200 miles through beautiful Kansas. All in all, a great day.

OK, that's all ... kind of lengthy, but it was a double report. Thanks for reading!

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