Sunday, September 20, 2009

TOU Marathon - Complete

I ran the Top of Utah Marathon this morning. I am both elated at my finish of my first sanctioned marathon and disappointed because I bonked at mile 22. My original goal time for this race was 3:30, but then I thought I could Boston Qualify and focused more on 3:15. I had set a strategy to hit that goal and for the first 20 miles was well on pace to get there. My splits for the first 19 miles of the race were:
Miles 1 - 19: 7:33, 7:23, 7:28, 7:24, 7:31, 7:30, 7:36, 7:22, 7:29, 7:30, 7:40, 7:29, 7:33, 7:19 (end of the big downhill through the canyon), 7:23, 7:26, 7:30, 7:38, 7:52.

Mile 20 – 8:18: things still were ok even though I was feeling tightness in my legs. I had some uphill and it was hot, but I was still moving and had BQ in sight.

Mile 21 – 8:09: thanks to some short downhills and flats I even picked up a little.

Mile 22 – 8:52: here’s where things started to break down. I was losing all of my energy and it was all I could do to keep any semblance of a pace.

Mile 23 – 10:04: this was a full on BONK. I’ll go into the reasons for all of this later, but at this point my ITB in my right knee hurt and I walked through the aide station and even walked for a short distance on stupid hill.

Mile 24 – 10:18: almost in tears and fearing I might walk the rest of the way in all I could do was grit my teeth and make some mental decisions. It was after this mile that I “refused to quit” and to finish this thing properly.

Mile 25 – 9:32: I started running again. I found that running was better for my IT Band than walking because I could control my form better, thus reducing the pain. My general belief for running has been, “if I can get to a point to where I have 2 miles left, I can finish the race”. And that’s what I was determined to do, no matter the time.

Mile 26 – 9:48: regardless of some downhill on this mile I was still barely moving. I had no energy left. All I wanted was to see my wife and give her a hug.

Mile 26.2 – 9:24: the home stretch where you can see the finish. I wasn’t sprinting like others or throwing my hands up. I was just looking for my wife, who I never saw. Sad.

As I crossed the finish line and they removed my timing chip and gave me my enormous medal I made my way to the drinks and turned to my left and saw Emily. I hobbled over and wrapped her up and broke down. Tears came (I’m not afraid to admit it) because I was happy it was over, because I was sad I came up short of my overall goal, elated that I completed such a huge goal of finishing an actual marathon race, but more than anything, because she was there to see me finish and to hear how proud of me she was. That will be what I am most grateful form.

As to the bonk. There are a number of possible reasons I’ll site and then I’ll give the real one (in my opinion). First, I spent the last two days ill and only had two meals in 48+ hours. Second, my wife was supposed to grab me a banana off the counter when we left my cousins this morning. She misunderstood me and thought I was telling her I was grabbing one and we didn’t realize it until we were almost to the drop-off. Not to worry, I was going to meet two of my friends at the bus loading area, except they never showed. I guess they forgot where we were going to meet and caught one of the busses on the corner. I had no breakfast before the start of the race and had only a gel 15 minutes before the guns went off. I had three gels during the race, but with that and Gatorade and water I just don’t think it was enough. But the real reason to me is this: I simply didn’t take enough time to train at distances over 18 miles at marathon pace. I’m willing to take the responsibility for myself and simply say I came up short. I’m ok with that. Over the summer I was focused on other things that while were difficult, didn’t require a fast pace for an extended period of time. And I’m ok with that. I can live with the fact that I just ran a 3:31:19 marathon without having run more than 13 miles at marathon pace.

Here are a few photos taken at the finish line.

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