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Posts Tagged ‘marathon’

Suncoast Striders Walking & Running Club

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

The Suncoast Striders started out in 2006 as a club based out of On A Shoestring Inc., the local specialty running store in Bradenton, Florida. They offered an organized walk/run on Monday nights for customers, friends, and family, basically anyone in the community who was interested in walking or running as a way to get in shape. The club was originally named after the store. After a few years the club officers saw a need for a walking and running club that offered more opportunities for walkers and new runners to train and receive coaching advice on a regular basis. The need for a club to help local charities organize fundraiser races also grew. In 2010 the name changed to what it is today:  Suncoast Striders Walking & Running Club.

From SuncoastStriders.com: “The mission of the Suncoast Striders is to promote walking and running as a way to achieve a healthy and fit way of life through group training opportunities, community events, and coaching.” The club’s focus has always been on encouraging all ages and all abilities to become more active. Sadly, On A Shoestring Inc. closed April 30, 2013 but the Suncoast Striders have thrived, offering four group training opportunities per week plus numerous social events throughout the year. There is literally something for everyone. They promote walking as an excellent form of exercise when many local clubs focus only on their fast runner members. While the faces in the weekly training groups change from season to season with the weather, work and vacation schedules, time changes, and the different events they train for, the heart of the club is a strong group of individuals striving to make our community a healthier one.

Most recently they awarded their second annual running camp scholarship. This news was featured on Running Journal’s website: http://tinyurl.com/ss14schol. The Suncoast Striders offer incentives for their members through programs like the 1,000 Mile Club / 500 Mile Club and summer group run/walk attendance contest where members are challenged and encouraged to be consistent in their training, track their mileage, and attend more group training sessions. The club hosts a number of social events, including picnics and movie nights.

2014 Scholarship Recipient Sydney Britt of Manatee High and Coach Rae Ann

One of the most memorable moments for the club was when well over a dozen members decided to train together for the inaugural Celebration Marathon and Half Marathon in January of 2014. They spent 18 weeks working together and encouraging each other through some tough training, weather, and dark winter nights. But that is how they all made it to the finish line. For many, it was their first ever marathon or half marathon. At such a small, first year event it felt like the Suncoast Striders owned that finish line. One member even bought mylar blankets for everyone in the club so they could be wrapped up once they crossed the line and have that big marathon finish line experience.

This quote, shared by Suncoast Striders member Laura, describes the club very well: “Running has given me many things but the greatest gift has been the people that it’s brought into my life.” Thoughts from Maggie: “I enjoy being part of the Suncoast Striders because I have met so many wonderful people who want to live a healthy and active life. Also it’s not just about walking/running, but making lifetime friendships and going to social activities together.” Another comment from Laura: “I love the Suncoast Striders because I feel like I am at the bar Cheers where everyone knows your name except we drink Gatorade and water instead of beer! I get a great workout and training but also true friends to run with.” From Katie: “Through The Suncoast Striders Walking/Running Club, I have met a great group of like-minded individuals. Together, we strive to be better than we were yesterday. To me, being a Suncoast Strider is about friendship and consistency.”

Follow the Suncoast Striders Walking & Running Club on https://www.facebook.com/SuncoastStriders and https://twitter.com/SuncoastStrider

The Suncoast Striders Walking & Running Club is a Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) and USA Track & Field (USATF) club with certified running and walking coaches.  SuncoastStriders.com

 

Suncoast Striders before a Sunday group run/walk

Close to Home

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

I remember receiving all kinds of text messages, phone calls, and facebook messages last year asking if I was in Boston.  Thankfully I was not.  I could not imagine being there during the bombings.  My heart went out to everyone there and continues to go out to everyone it affected, especially those who were physically or emotionally hurt.  I wasn’t there physically, but it still hit close to home.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a Yankee as a person from New England.  I am most definitely a Yankee.  I grew up in Monson, Massachusetts (about an hour west of Boston) where I spent the first 22 years of my life.  We had Patriot’s Day (Marathon Monday) off from school and always watched the Boston Marathon on television.  My dream as I became a runner at age 11 was to run it one day.  I have run it five times so far in 1997, 1998, 2001, 2011, and 2014.

After last year’s bombings, I wanted to be part of the 118th running of the Boston Marathon more than ever.  Luckily I had already run a fast enough qualifying time in January 2013 to register and make the cut.  My husband and I decided to make Boston our vacation this year and spent almost a week enjoying the true history of our great nation that can only be found in New England.  Somehow the whole experience, despite it being my fifth time there, seemed more exciting and special than ever before.  Maybe it was the fight, the spirit, and the determination to show that we were one year stronger.  It was literally all around us.

We spent four hours at the expo.  We have never spent so much time at an expo before but there were so many amazing people to meet, including Dick & Rick Hoyt, Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, Deena Kastor, Kara Goucher, and one of my favorites “Boston Billy” Bill Rodgers.

Boston Marathon Expo with Deena

 

At the expo with “Boston Billy” Bill Rodgers

 

Team Hoyt

 

The weather was pretty cold for this Yankee who has lived in Florida since 1995, but race day warmed up to a near perfect 60 degrees and sunny.  Everything was pretty much perfect the whole trip.  Even my first half splits were near perfect; sadly, a little too perfect on those down hills.  I did try to hold back and stay relaxed like you need to that first half.  I had a pretty strong emotional moment in the first three or four miles when we ran by a large crowd outside a bar screaming, holding signs, and blaring music.  When I reached half way, I knew my legs were toast and this would not be a good second half.  Despite how annihilated my legs were with 13 miles to go, I never even considered dropping out.  I knew I had to finish and be part of the 36,000 who were there to show that we were one year stronger.  I am a very competitive runner so it was quite the epiphany for me to stop caring about my finish time or mile splits and push through the pain for something so much bigger than myself.

Running down Boylston to the finish

Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston.  Words cannot adequately describe the feeling you get when you turn left on Boylston and can see the finish line.  You cannot hear your own thoughts.  I almost had tears running that last stretch to the finish.  I am definitely not happy with my finish time, but I was incredibly happy to have finished Boston Strong.  This city, this marathon truly inspired me.

Exhausted in the Public Garden after the finish

The Craziness of the Long Distance Runner

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner was originally a short story (Alan Sillitoe, 1959) and then a film (1962).  I have not read it or watched it yet but I like the title and it influenced the title of this blog entry.  Both titles remind us that long distance runners are a little different to say the least.

My tale starts last night about this time when I was supposed to be going to sleep.  I couldn’t sleep despite being extremely tired.  So I sat up with laptop on my lap and the Hansons Marathon Method book open next to me as I reviewed my calendar of races that I am already signed up for, keeping in mind that Boston is only 8 weeks away!  I had no training plan, nothing to guide me to Boston.  That coupled with less than stellar training since the Celebration Marathon on January 26 was really starting to worry me.  I took about 3 weeks to “recover” after Celebration and then started training by basically doing what I felt like doing.  I did run several hilly runs over bridges and even a couple of hill repeat sessions but that was about it.

Sunday I ran the Gasparilla 8K, won masters, and was 8th overall female but my time was 50 seconds slower than last year and I had a couple of issues with leg/hip pain and a very bad cramp for the last 2+ miles.  All of these contributing factors seemed to hit me last night at bed time.  So I sat up trying to put together a plan.

Between planning workouts around my races and coaching/work schedule and posting like crazy all over social media, I must have stayed up until 1:30-2:00 a.m.  I don’t really remember.  Then I got up at 7:00 a.m. to start my day today with a BodyPump class and dentist appointment.  I thought for sure I would take a power nap mid day before my afternoon track practice.  But I didn’t.  I wasn’t sleepy.  So I used the time to get caught up on some work then headed to track practice.  After practice I lead a group of school board employees (mostly teachers) through a workout to get them ready for their next 5K or 10K race.  This was the last class of the six week session before their 5K and 10K races this Sunday.  As the day went on, it got colder, the wind picked up, and it started to rain.  Thankfully I packed a light jacket and pants.  By the end of class I was wearing all the layers I had and had my hood on!

After class I drove to our Suncoast Striders group run at Riverwalk.  It was cold, rainy, and pretty dreary looking.  I didn’t see anyone when I first arrived.  After changing and getting my Garmin ready to go, Leah, Laura, and Meagan joined me for the dynamic warm up.  I was still pretty chilled from being out in the cold for the past three hours.  I don’t mind running in the rain, but when I am coaching and not moving around too much, it gets cold!!!

I knew what I had hoped to accomplish in tonight’s workout but with so little sleep the past two nights and doing a BodyPump class in the morning, I was not sure I would be up for the more challenging pace.  The workout goal was a 2 mile warm up, 6 miles at goal marathon pace (GMP), and a 1 mile cool down.  My GMP runs for Celebration were 7:50.  The Hansons Marathon Method worked so well for me that I decided to up the ante a little and train at a slightly faster GMP of 7:38-7:49 for Boston.  Despite rain, wind, and cold I had an amazing run.  For 6 miles I averaged 7:38 exactly, even with going over and back on the bridge twice.  I am trying to run bridges (Florida hills) as frequently as possible as I prep for Boston.  When I finished that sixth mile I screamed inside “heck yes!!!!”  Part of me wanted to let that out but I didn’t want to scare anyone walking or running near me at the Riverwalk.  Or have them think I was crazy!  ;)

I don’t know if the reason for my great run tonight was that I was rested enough after Celebration Marathon, was inspired and encouraged by my fabulous friends/running buddies out on a cold, rainy, windy night, or if it was knowing I have a training plan in place after my late night planning session.  Maybe it was a combination of all those factors.  I think part of it was definitely knowing that I now have a map, a plan to get me to Boston.

On my cool down I found Laura and Meagan (they were doing a different workout), we stretched, then met Leah for dinner where I had the most amazing hot chocolate.  Crazy how good a day and a run can turn out!

Space Coast Marathon: Mission Columbia

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Second marathon in my mission to join Marathon Maniacs. With an 18 miler one week ago, a 30K trail race two weeks ago, and a marathon three weeks ago, I knew trying to race Space Coast Marathon all out would not be wise. On top of that, I was sick for the past couple of weeks and my goal marathon is about eight weeks away: Inaugural Celebration Marathon. To join Marathon Maniacs, the minimum to become a member is to complete three marathons within 90 days.

My plan for Space Coast was to run comfortably around 8:40-8:45 pace to start then speed up and run negative splits. It has been so long since I have run negative splits and been able to finish strong in a marathon, I needed to not only remind myself but almost relearn how to pace myself early, hold back despite feeling good, and stick to a race plan. I was tempted by the 3:40:00 pace group and the 3:45:00 pace group. I could join the group and just hold on letting them do the pace work. But as a bit of a loner I decided to run my own race. I started out comfortably, letting the 3:40:00 pace group go by me. My Boston Qualifying (BQ) time is 3:45:00 now that I moved up to the 40-44 age group. In my mind I thought it would be nice if I ran a BQ and was able to stick to my race plan. At times during the first half I could hear the 3:45:00 group talking behind me but luckily they stayed behind me.

The first half of the race was comfortable which ended up being 8:30-8:40 pace and with the few rolling hills I clocked a few miles around 8:16-8:29 thanks to those down hills! I focused on hydrating, taking Gu every 45:00 or so, running comfortably, and happily watching my Garmin click off a nicely paced first half. At the halfway point we pass by the start/finish area so there are bigger crowds. The cheering and excitement of this area was where I picked it up too soon when I ran this race in 2011. Throughout the race I kept smiling and reminding myself of what I was trying to accomplish – a strategically paced race with negative splits. Once I hit mile 16 and then 18 I reminded myself again to stick with the pace. I told myself that once I reached mile 20 at the turn around I could let loose. I liked the fact that this was an out and back course because I was able to count all the women who were ahead of me by the time I reached mile 20. Once I started on the way back, my goal was to pass as many of them as possible.

There was a fairly strong head wind on the way back (last 6 miles) so I just focused on my targets ahead and did not worry about pace. I was having fun! I was tired but still felt strong and despite looking at my Garmin less and less I knew I was running faster. I must have passed at least 10-15 female marathoners in the last six miles. It was not always easy to tell because there were half marathoners on the course and some other women who were just out for a trainng run too. I don’t know what all my splits were towards the end but mile 24 was 7:56 and mile 25 and 26 were 8:05. I definitely ran negative splits, finished strong, ran a BQ 3:40:39, finished 4th in my age group and 21st overall female. I did not win anything or run a PR (technically it is a masters PR but I won’t go into that right now). I was so happy walking around the post race party area with my husband because I successfully executed my race plan, finished strong, and ran negative splits. Victory can have so many meanings.

I would definitely say the Space Coast Marathon was a mission accomplished!

2013 Space Coast Marathon

 

X-Country 30K

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

I had to run this race again this year despite it being only one week after the Random Acts of Giving Marathon since I came so close to the course record last year!  When I justify to others why I have to run certain races, it’s really more to convince myself than anyone else.

The Overall Female record is 2:28:15 and the Masters Female record is 2:34:37.  Last year I was only 39 so not eligible for the Masters record just yet.  The X-Country 30K is a gorgeous trail run at Alafia River State Park in Lithia, Florida.  There is a section of the course that you run twice so when you exit the sandy section and trail near the restrooms, pavilions, and finish area the first time you take a right so you can go do the second loop, and then the second time you run straight to the finish.  Last year was a cool day, perfect for a long race like this.  It was my first time running the 30K and I was on course record pace when I exited the trail the second time only to have the volunteer send me to the right AGAIN.  I ran about a half mile in the wrong direction before I decided that this was ridiculous and wrong so I headed to the finish line as the overall female winner.  I ran over 19.5 miles and my average pace was faster than the Overall Female course record pace but because I had run longer than 18.6 miles (30K), my finish time was 2:33:20, slower than the record.  I was so frustrated by this experience at first but after filling out the finish card, getting a drink, and walking around a bit, I realized that the volunteer who sent me the wrong way made a mistake.  We are human and we make mistakes sometimes.  I should have known the course.  I still won the race and a very cool trophy but vowed to return in 2013 to go after that course record!

2013 rolls around and now I am 40 so I had a shot at both the overall and masters records.  I was very excited about this!  I knew the course so there would be no mistakes heading to the finish line.  A very hot day and being sick thwarted my course record attempts.  But I still enjoyed the beautiful cross country course and won the race.  The woman who was in the lead dropped out around 12 miles.  Not sure if the heat got to her or something else.  I felt bad for her but it reminded me of a quote from a newspaper article from my high school cross country days:  “Sometimes even good runners need a little luck.”  Source:  Original 1987 article by Gregory Kerstetter

As I exited the trail to head to the finish, a volunteer asked me as I whizzed by if I was 30K and heading to the finish.  All I could manage to blurt out was “FINISH!”  They weren’t going to make me run more than 30K this year!  Ha ha!

This is a tough race for volunteers since there’s a marathon, 30K, and half marathon all using the same trails.  I definitely do not expect volunteers to keep track of everyone, which race they are in, and which loop they are on.  I am just very glad I knew the course this year.  TampaRaces.com puts on some great races and definitely THE best trail races I have run.  Next year I am hoping for cooler temperatures for the X-Country 30K as I once again attempt an overall or masters record.

IMG_9555

First ultra

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

So how did I get here?  My husband will confirm statements that I have made in the past about how I have no interest in doing an ultra, that “those people” are crazy, and why would you want to run all day anyway?  That was my former opinion about ultras.  This opinion was formed really knowing nothing about them or the training required to prepare for them.

I guess the progression to “here” (having just signed up for my first ultra) would begin with doing longer training runs for my last few marathons (Boston–April 2011, Space Coast–November 2011, and 5 Points of Life–February 2012).  I had several long runs over 20 miles including a few of 26.2 miles during the past year.   I enjoyed my training for these races and really enjoyed those long runs over 20 miles, especially the 26.2 mile ones!

So good training plus better hydration and fuel during the marathons, yet I still could not break that darn 3:30 barrier.  What is up?  I thought I would rock the 5 Points of Life Marathon because I had figured out I needed Gu and used it in training.  I had done the hill training, the long runs, the GMP runs, tempo, speed, everything!  And I tapered.

That is the beauty and the heartache of the marathon.  You train for months and months and then when the big day arrives you can have a great race or you can walk away disappointed.  I think because it is such a big physical and emotional build up, such a commitment and investment of time and energy that if it does not go perfectly, it can be such a let down.  If you bomb this weekend’s 5K or 10K it’s no big deal.  You can go out and do another one next week or the week after.  But not with the marathon.

So with the disappointment from the last three marathons, I thought maybe I need to get away from the marathon for a while and stop obsessing about breaking 3:30 and do something else.  But what?  Maybe I would try my first ultra this year.  Maybe a nice 50K or something.  Then an opportunity, a race, presented itself and I could not pass it up…

Tornado Alley 50 Miler.

It is a six person relay race (similar to Ragnar or Keys 100) where each person runs three legs of varying distances of 2-6 miles and they pass through relay exchange zones where they find their vans full of teammates and take turns covering the 50 miles.  The course follows the path of the tornado that ripped through Western Massachusettson June 1, 2011.  This event even benefits all the towns affected by the tornado, including my hometown of  Monson, which was hit the hardest.  I had to do this!  But I knew there’s no way I could get five people plus a crew/driver to Massachusetts to do this thing with me.  So I emailed the race director asking if I could run the whole thing myself.

Ringling Bridge Run 26.2 Miler

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Most people know this race as the Ringling Bridge Run 4 Miler which is the biggest local timed/scored race in our area.  It’s mind boggling year after year to see more and more people who want to race over the Ringling Bridge!  I mean, I love hills and bridges, but people think I’m weird.  ;)

It looks like there were 2,158 finishers in the 4 miler this year.  I have no idea how many participated in the one mile.  But it’s for a great cause and the money stays locally so it generates great community support.

I ran the Space Coast Marathon on November 27, 2011 then took a couple weeks of rest and recovery before deciding to sign up and train for the Five Points of Life Marathon on February 19, 2012.  That didn’t give me a lot of time to recover, start training again, get in all the long runs and workouts I wanted to, and fit in all the other races I had already signed up for in January and February.  So I created the best possible training schedule I could with all the weekend race commitments I had already made weeks and months earlier.

This brings us to the Ringling Bridge Run 4 Miler and the Saturday I’m supposed to do my longest long run of this hybrid marathon training schedule.  So I combine the two and am very happy with the result!

I ran approximately 8.5 miles before the race then raced 4 miles in 27:09 (6:47 pace) which is 12 seconds slower than my PR.  Wished I realized that during the race so I could have gone for a new PR!  After the race I had some Gu and water then set off for my 14 (approx.) mile “cool down” with water and Gu stops throughout.  I averaged 8:55 for the 26.2 miles and went over and back on the Ringling Bridge (biggest “hill” in this area) four times.

This was the second time I had done a 26.2 mile training run.  I decided this was important to do again for this February marathon because I recovered so quickly from the November marathon.  Oh and did I mention the rolling hills I would see in the February marathon?  Luckily I have this hilly 26.2 mile training run under my belt and have been doing weekly hill workouts since last fall.

Inaugural Disney Marathon Relay

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Team RunnerGirl has had some pretty good success at relay and team events in the past, so why not try the new Disney Marathon Relay?  I teamed up with my speedy friend Kali and we tackled this inaugural event together.

Team RunnerGirl

Team RunnerGirl

In this relay, we each ran half of the marathon and we started and finished with the marathoners.  I ran the first leg, starting at 5:30 a.m. in corral #1.  It was a great experience for me to be near the front of the marathon for my whole race.  I mean, I was running HALF marathon pace while most of the people around me were running marathon pace.  There were not that many relay runners around me (that I could tell).  I was in awe of everyone, especially the women who were up there with me.  I can only dream of running a marathon that fast.  They were simply awesome!

My half of the race was mostly dark but the sun started to come up as I was nearing the final miles of my 13.1.  I mainly ran through and near Epcot and Magic Kingdom, including through Cinderella’s castle (my favorite part!!!) before high fiving my relay partner outside Magic Kingdom.  The whole race was amazing and inspiring.  I felt elite running with these fast marathoners and it was not crowded up front at all.  Knowing that Kali was there waiting for me, inspired me to run fast and keep pushing the pace no matter how I felt.  I did not waste any time through the water stops, just cruised through quickly drinking out of the side of my flattened out cup.  Even when I took my packet of Gu, I saw the approaching water stop ahead, ate the Gu right before then washed it down as I reached the water stop.  I tried to be quick and efficient so as not to keep her waiting.

It would be my fastest half marathon since the Sarasota Half Marathon in March 2011.  Disney was only about six weeks after my last marathon so I wasn’t exactly in the speediest shape since I mainly focused on distance and volume before the marathon and then took a couple weeks off after the marathon.  Doing the relay was exciting, inspiring, and definitely helped me run faster than I thought I could at that point in my training and racing cycle.

Kali is one of the most energetic, happy, and upbeat people I know.  On race morning, there was no exception.  Now when I ran down the straightaway to the relay exchange zone, she took it to a whole other level!  I was laughing and smiling as I approached her even while trying to finish as strong and fast as I could.  She danced around, waving her arms, jumping around, just filled with the same excitement I felt, I’m sure.

Relay Exchange Zone

Racing a relay event is a game changer.  No matter how you feel, you are driven by the fact that you are running with someone and for someone else.  You need to reach that finish line (or relay exchange zone) as fast as you can, knowing you did your absolute best for your partner, your teammate.

We were the second overall female relay team in 3:13:08.  We averaged 7:22 per mile for 26.2 miles.  There were 270 female relay teams.

2nd Overall Female Relay Team Award

We had such an amazing time.  Now we’re teamed up for the Sarasota Half Marathon Relay in March!   :)

Gu rediscovered

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a big fuel problem at the Space Coast Marathon.  During the two weeks after the marathon I was a bit bummed and did not care to talk about it much.  When people saw me around town at cross country meets, group runs, and at the running store I cringed when they looked so excited and asked how it went.  I think they were excited because they also knew how well prepared I was.

But I gave my standard short version recap of how it was pretty good through 20 miles then I just fell apart and struggled to finish.  It almost felt like a script after explaining it to so many people.  After Phil and I finished timing and scoring the county championship middle school cross country meet on December 10, we were headed out the gate to the parking lot and got stopped by a good friend who has completed many marathons, half marathons, and has done even more crazy stuff like Ironman and several half Ironman races.

Anyway, when I gave her the scripted recap of the race she then asked, (paraphrasing here) “you didn’t take any Gu?”  When I answered “no” and continued to explain my intake of water and Gatorade, her jaw dropped and she looked shocked and amazed.  I so wish I had a photo of her face at that moment!  We laughed so hard at her reaction.  It was the perfect mix of surprise and disbelief.  As funny as that moment was, it really stuck with me and got me thinking…

I tried Gu way back in the mid to late 1990s when I was running lots of marathons and I thought it was so disgusting.  The consistency was gross and the flavor about made me gag.  But as with so many things…they can and do improve over time.  I asked around about the flavors that my fellow endurance athlete friends preferred.  I even tried eating Sharkies during a long run before I gave in to try Gu again.  Although I love Sharkies – taste, consistency, healthy – everything about them!  It was too much for my stomach to deal with during a run.  I know people who can eat bananas and Clif Bars during training runs and long races; I am just not blessed with that type of iron stomach.  ;)

So, here we are on Sunday, December 18 at our group long run.  I ran a 10K (about 8 miles total with warm up and cool down) the day before so I only planned to run 12 miles.  I took half a packet of Gu with water at six miles.  The run was supposed to be easy and I averaged 9:23 for the 12 miles but my last three miles were 8:47, 8:43, 8:24 and I felt pretty good.  No stomach issues from the Gu and the Vanilla Bean flavor was not bad.  Still not crazy about the consistency but there’s the incentive to get it down quickly!  Tuesday and Thursday that week were pretty hard runs followed by acupuncture and massage for my knee and Achilles on Friday in preparation for Saturday’s 20 miler.

The Christmas Eve 20 miler ended up being an awesome group run at the preserve.  I think we had over 20 people join in.  The 20 miles took 2:54 for an average pace of about 8:44.  I took a full Gu packet at mile 8 and mile 14 with water stops about every 3 miles.  I felt great and knew I could run more if I had to.  I ended the 20 miler with the last 3 miles in 8:34, 8:19, and 8:08.  That never happens!

2011 Christmas Eve 20 Miler

So, yes, I have given Gu a second chance and discovered its many benefits.  I am a fan!  And no longer wondering when my next marathon will be.  Gu has worked so well for me in these two training runs that I signed up for the Five Points of Life Marathon on February 19, 2012.  I will keep using it in training so I know exactly how much to use on race day.  Fueling issues are now under control.

Go long

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

In keeping with the theme of George Sheehan’s “experiment of one,” I have to say that my experiment of going longer than 20 miles in marathon training definitely worked for me.  As I look back on my training for the Space Coast Marathon I see many more long slow runs than I have ever done in any other marathon training before.  I took a longer taper of 3+ weeks, did not do much speed work other than the weekend races, ran a few tempo runs, and did a lot more hill work.  My 26.2 mile training run on November 1, 2011 was a first for me and was a huge factor in preparing me for Space Coast.  I ran it in 3:51 which is about 8:49 pace.

First ever 26.2 mile training run

On race morning I woke up feeling rested and really ready for the Space Coast Marathon.  My goal was to run the first 20 miles at 8:00 per mile pace and then hopefully pick it up a little the last 6.2 miles to achieve my goal of running just under 3:30.  I was amazed at how good I felt as each mile buzzed on my Garmin:  8:04, 7:54, 7:52, 7:48, 7:54, 7:56, 7:46, 7:56, 7:59, 7:55, 7:54, 8:00, 7:48, 7:50, 7:58.  The first half of the course had rolling hills which kept it interesting.  We ran north out and back and when I reached 13 miles near the starting line I was still smiling and feeling good.  I was happy to see the crowds and hear someone call out my name.  Then we headed south on the same course as the half marathoners.

By the time I hit 18 miles my average pace was 7:56.  And that’s when I felt it.  I knew right then that the miles would no longer feel good and be on pace.  Miles 18-20 dropped to 8:10 and 8:20 which took my average pace to exactly 8:00 by mile 20.  At that point it was mind over matter.  I used every mantra, every bribe, every positive thing I could think of to convince my body that it could give a little more…just 6.2 miles, a 10K, no problem!  I focused on one mile at a time.  I then focused on just getting to the next water stop.  I willed myself to close to mile 25 and then had to walk.  My breathing was so labored that I walked for six minutes straight and that labored breathing would not slow down, which had me a little concerned.  After walking and drinking some super concentrated Gatorade I somehow started running again and made it to the finish in 3:43:08 which is 8:31 pace.

2011 Space Coast Marathon

Normally I am extremely sore through Thursday after a Sunday marathon.  I mean I cannot walk normally until at least Thursday and stairs – forget it!  This time I had some soreness Monday and Tuesday but it was not that bad.  By Thursday I was out running again.  This more than anything has me convinced that I was properly trained for this marathon.  Maybe for the first time in my life!  This was the first time I ran several 18-20 milers and one 26.2 mile training run.  This is very exciting!!!

The reason for my “bonk” at Space Coast around mile 18-20 and eventual walking at mile 25 was lack of proper fuel during the race.  At first I was extremely upset and disappointed at missing my goal but after realizing it was not due to training but fuel, I am now determined to figure out how to fix that.  I can’t wait to start some long runs again and experiment with Sharkies, PowerBar Energy Bites, Gatorade, and water to figure out the right mix for me during a marathon.  I’m not sure when that next marathon will be, but I am already excited to do another so I can see what I am capable of doing now.  My marathon PR was set back in 1998 and I have not run close to that 3:18 since then.  Yet, my half marathon PR was set in 2010 so I know I still have some fast races in me!

For my next marathon, I will definitely run more long runs of 26, 28, and who knows, maybe close to 30 miles!  That is definitely what works for me.  And you can bet I will be eating and drinking a lot more than usual during those training runs until I have that down to an exact science for me, in my “experiment of one.”


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