Rudolph is Gonna Be a Little Slow This Christmas


Hanging out by the start corrals pre-race

Dallas Marathon

December 11, 2016

Dallas, TX


Goal, Achieved?

2:40, changed

2:45, changed

PR, no

Sub-3:00, no

Have fun, yes (for ~17 miles)



Background


I registered for Dallas back in early October after getting my confirmation of registration for Boston, wanting to post a better time to move up a corral or two in April, given that my current time puts me at risk of being in Corral C. I knew it wasn't a blazing fast course, but I knew if I put in a couple months of solid, committed training I could PR big time (my 2:56 came on an injured leg with a huge positive split after a month of easy runs to let my knee recover).


Training


I got my mileage as high as it's ever been, consistently hovering right around 60 mmpw for a few weeks, but that was only on 3-4 days of training; a long run, two workouts, and maybe an easy run. Stupid, I know, and I'm gonna fix that by sticking to a legit training schedule for Boston. But the workouts and long runs were going great, and I was comfortable well below race pace on my long tempo runs. Had a 22 mile progression run that went great in late October (dropped from 7:20 to 6:00 pace with all negative splits), a split tempo run with 10 miles at LR pace and 10 miles at/below goal pace (6:00 or better) in mid November two days after another hard workout, plus a bunch of other speed/LT workouts and four other 20+ mile runs.


Then about a month ago (the week after that awesome split tempo workout), I started having some tendon issues in my left ankle. Not quite Achilles, but it was that area and I was worried it could turn into an Achilles issue if I wasn't careful. So I took a week super easy after the Monday long run that I felt it on, tested it in a workout on Thursday (cut that short about 2/3 of the way through), then took a week off before the Turkey Trot I'd registered for. Ran a 16:33 with an ugly second half after a hill, which translated into a 2:41 with the McMillan calculator, so I was hopeful despite the obvious problems with using a 5k time to predict a marathon. I figured I'd had enough 20+ mile long runs and workouts that it was a semi-accurate predictor.


I decided to take the rest of the week off and get in one more halfway decent week of training, but I got some sort of bug on the Sunday after the Turkey Trot that made me feel like absolute death. Achy, dry heaving, nauseous, really just all-around awful. Tried to go out Monday to run but I was getting winded holding a 7:30, which is usually my active recovery/easy pace, so I decided to scratch the marathon, take a couple weeks off, and just start fresh with an 18 week plan.


Race week


Also known as Finals Week at OK State. It was nice not having to stress about tests and the race, and I was finally feeling okay about scratching... until emails started coming in about packet pick up. After Wednesday I was done with my finals, so I had a lot of free time to just chill out and think, and I started to wonder if it'd be all bad to just go and treat it like a long run. I did some asking around, and the consensus was to go run and have fun. So I grabbed a reindeer onesie I'd bought from Walmart to ski in, chopped the arms and legs off, slimmed it a little bit (with some very poor stitching), and cut what was left of the legs up to the hip (a la split shorts) to give them a little more mobility. I even added a zipper in the back to give me access to Gu that I'd have stashed in my half tights. Pretty happy overall with how it turned out, considering it was my first foray into the realm of tailoring.


Getting There


Left Saturday with my dog, Archie, the second I got off work at 1, and did five over the whole way down to Dallas to get to the expo before packet pickup ended at 6. Luckily there wasn't much traffic until I got into the downtown area, and I made it there by 5:20. One unforeseen problem, however, was having to pee; I had three Nalgenes (a liter each) on the drive down with a bathroom break after I crossed the OK/TX border (so around halfway) and figured I'd be good until the expo, but Nalgenes two and three hit me around the time I was getting downtown and the urge grew exponentially in the twenty minutes it took me to get to the convention center and park. Standing up it went from "holy crap I really have to pee" to "holy crap I really have to pee and I am also in pain." Strangest thing in the world, but my entire lower abdomen was in pain. It felt like someone was pushing a hot knife into my belly button, kidneys (or at least that area) were super sore, I was nauseous, sweating... a really bad time in general. Took me about 5 minutes of intense focus to make it the 100m to the bathrooms. Upon washing my hands I noticed that I looked like death as well; face was pale, eyes were bloodshot, eyelids were red. Lesson learned, make sure you can pee when you're hydrating that fast. Got to the expo in time, though, and that's the important part.


At the Expo


Grabbed my packet, no line, that was cool. They were entirely out of small, medium, and large t-shirts, that was lame. I don't get why they were out, considering they asked for your size on the registration and asked for my name to check what size I requested. If they were passing them out according to what people registered with, they shouldn't have run out. The woman who was helping me offered to get me one of the women's t-shirts, so I asked if they were the same cut as the men's shirts and she said "well... They're v-necks with an hourglass fit..." so I said no thanks. She asked if I was sure and I said I wouldn't wear an extra large or a women's shirt anyway. Disappointing, but if I were only running for the hardware I wouldn't be dropping 150 bucks on a race. Poked around the expo for a couple minutes; pretty standard stuff. A few local shops, a couple stands for the big sponsors, some nearby races with info tables set up. Nothing too cool, and Archie was probably hungry, so I headed back to the car to get to the (dog-friendly) hotel. Ordered some Italian via Grubhub, had an unholy amount of spaghetti and fried calamari (interesting choice, I know, but I was craving), watched some Netflix. Went to bed by about 11.



Race Day


Pre-Race

Continental breakfast didn't start until 7, and I wanted to be at the start by then so I had a few rolls from the previous night's dinner. Put on my uniform - a singlet, half tights, my trusty Brooks running socks, some Nike LunarTempo 2s, and my reindeer outfit - and stuffed my pockets with Gu packets, popped some Run Gum (#RunSquad2017 am I right?). My girlfriend picked Archie and me up around 6:30, we parked, walked around the start area for a little while. Got pulled aside by a dude with a cameraman and a microphone who thought the reindeer outfit was cool, haven't found the video/article yet though so if you've seen anything hit me up. Did a couple strides outside the corral but I wasn't too worried about getting warmed up, considering the plan was to treat it like a long run. Once I got to the line though I saw Merber, Manzano, and a couple other elites lining up and I realized I could probably definitely make the news if I ran up with them for a bit, so I decided to give it a shot and hang with them if they weren't going ridiculously fast. They let us move up to the start line about 15 minutes prior to the start, and I was more than a bit salty to see a mom with her ~10 year old son and about a dozen guys who had no business being at the front of the A corral between me and the line (mixed with guys who did actually look fast, but I was still a little upset about being about three rows back).


The Plan

The Plan, in its final state the second before the gun went off, was to start quick enough to get on some TVs, then settle into a 6:45-6:50 pace after 800m or so. I'd cruise at that pace until 13.1, then step it up a wee bit to 6:40-6:45, then let it rip and see what I can do on the downhill from mile 22 to the finish. I figured that'd be enough to get me into the low 2:50s, and I was confident I'd be able to do that much with some proper pacing.


Start through Mile 2


Cannons fired (so loud), we took off, I was ahead of traffic by about the 50m mark and looking across the median for the elites. Leo was up ahead of everyone on his half of the street, so I decided to move over and hang with him for a bit when the median broke. Ran with him from about the 400m to 800m mark, then let him go since he was hitting a 5:30 pace. Merber and his pack caught up by the 1200 mark, and I hung with them until a bit before the first mile. I came through in 5:57, which was about as stupid as stupid gets, given my race plan. Tried to ease off but my ego got the best of me and I wound up hitting a 6:25 for mile two, simply because I didn't want the people passing me to be thinking "look at this chump, going out way too fast and dying before the second mile."


Miles 3 through 10


All pretty much the same thing. I slowed to a 6:39 by mile 5, and mile 6 was a 6:46 because of a big hill (grade adjusted pace was still sub 6:30, though). Whole time I was kicking myself for opening with a sub-6 mile, and for not easing up immediately after seeing that split, and I was feeling it catching up with me as early as the first 10k. The reindeer costume was surprisingly unrestrictive though, which was nice. It wasn't impacting my stride, and while I was definitely warm it wasn't as hot as I was worried it would be. My ghetto-stitched seams were even holding up! Snagged a Clif (not-Gu packet) at mile 8, which was good since I lost one of my four Gu packets at some point. Splits for miles three through ten were 6:34, 6:35, 6:39, 6:46, 6:43, 6:42, 6:41, 6:39.


Miles 11 through 17


The end of mile 11 marked my first pit stop - the beginning of the end. I had been looking for porta potties for three miles, and I was very grateful to finally see one. I'd gone before the race, but I'd also had a huge dinner the night before and it was hitting me a little later than dinner usually does. Stopped for about 4 minutes and Gu'd before taking off again (decided after 20 seconds to leave my watch running so I'd have an accurate representation of race time). Mile 11 was a 10:30, although it probably would've been around 6:35 if I'd stopped the watch. Gu'd at mile 15, splits for 12 through 15 were 6:40, 6:46, 6:39. 6:45. The first couple miles finally started taking their toll on mile 16, which I hit in 6:52. I stopped to stretch and Gu in mile 17, plus I made another porta potty stop, so it was 13:17 (probably around 7:15 without the bathroom break).


Miles 18 and 19


This is where it stopped being fun. The weather was warming up and I was starting to overheat in my fleece onesie, plus my legs were really feeling heavy. Pace dropped a lot, 7:17 and 7:28 for these two miles. I was not having a good time, and I knew a PR was pretty much out the window at this point, so I decided to just take it easy and walk water stops, stop and stretch when I needed to, etc., until the finish. Popped some Run Gum at the end of mile 19; I was getting tired and the caffeine boost was really nice.


Miles 20 through finish

Ugly, ugly, ugly. 8:31, 8:53, 8:33, 9:42, 7:48, 9:53, 9:10. I was stretching a lot, trying to do what I could to save myself from needing to take more than a day or two off afterwards. Not much else to say about this final stretch, other than it was probably the longest 10k of my life. Only positive is I wasn't dehydrated, despite how much I was sweating under my onesie. Managed to hold a 6:49 pace to close out 26 miles through the finish (wound up being half a mile since I was pretty careless about hitting tangents on turns), which was a win in my book. Final time: 3:24:47


Post-race


Archie found the Astroturf unnatural

Checkout time at the hotel was 12:00, and given my slow time it was already 11:30 so I had to hurry and find my girlfriend to get to the hotel (I'd been counting on having about an hour to get back, shower, pack, and all that). Got my medal, snagged a thermal blanket to hang on my bedroom wall (heaven knows I didn't need it for warmth), and jogged through the ridiculously long finish chute as a cool down. Found my ride, snagged a couple pictures in front of the big ornaments, and hobbled back to the car. Luckily the hotel was cool about giving me a few extra minutes to rinse off and clean up. Refueled with a bacon cheeseburger and an incredible chocolate milkshake from Five Guys, then hit the road to get back home.



Thoughts


This is the only race that I've run for fun, and I was really bad at it. I honestly don't think I can just run for fun, at least not on my own; even with a reindeer costume I was still doing math the entire way, trying to figure out what my pace would need to be for the rest of the race to hit 2:50, 2:55, 3:00, etc. Fun for me is pushing my limits, and I did a very poor job of that with this race. I ran stupid, and I paid the price. That being said, I walked away with another marathon and the first few miles were a blast, rubbing shoulders with Olympians and hearing people laugh at my outfit, so I can't complain. And no matter how ugly my splits were, I still ran a marathon after almost three full weeks off, which I think is cool. All else equal, I think I could've gone sub-2:50 if I'd paced better.


What next?

I'll be starting Pfitzinger's 18/70 plan this week, although I might have to make some adjustments for the next week or two considering how sore I am from the race. Nothing's really excessively sore, but every single muscle from my lower back down hurts a little so walking just sucks. Next race currently on the calendar is Boston, but I'll for sure be hopping in one or two half marathons, as well as a handful of tune-up races according to the training plan.


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