I always tell my athletes do as I say not as I do. To race a full Marathon less than a week after a half ironman is not usually advisable. Then again there are Ironman Athletes who have raced Ironman Races in back to back weeks. So Kit Verzosa and I both took on this challenge. After Hunterdon, I pretty much took a very easy week having both Monday and Thursday off. Ideally I would have liked to have been down in B'more Thursday but because of logistics we took the drive down Friday. I made sure I did my normal pre-race workout friday am. A short run on the treadmill with some pick ups and an easy swim. I was feeling good! But the 4 hour drive down wasn't exactly good preparation - also the 1 hour+ it took to get the race number, and T-shirt strategically placed at opposite ends of the expo was probably not a good idea either - alot of time on the feet the night before a big event. But we had a nice last supper in little italy to top off the glycogen stores and a single glass of red wine to help get sleep and I was passed out - so tired I didn't even remove my jeans and jacket when I laid down in bed!
I first woke up at 4:30 to put on my compression tights and went back to sleep again! The alarm went off at 6 but I didn't wake up again til 6:30 - time was officially of the essence as there was an 8am start and we still had a decent walk to the start line so I was figuring about an hour to get ready. I went downstairs to get my bike to set up on the trainer to do a short 10 min warm up spin in our hotel room. Then I drank some red bull since there was no coffee - ate a little bit of pancake which we ordered from room service which arrived too late - I got dressed and we headed to the start!
Finding the start was a bit nerve racking as no one seemed to know where exactly it was. Finally we saw the crowd - I stripped out of my sweats and made my way to start. Around this time was when the parachute guy was gliding down over us:
Anyway I still had 5 min to spare after they fired the gun for the wheelchair start. I was standing ahead of the 3:10 pace banner which was for the 7 min/mile pace guys. The kenyan runners were standing ahead of me so I figured that was a good place to start.
making sure all systems are go before the start
So the gun goes off! I'm feeling pretty good - I still feel a few twinges on my left leg which always seems to cramp up when I run under 6min pace but after about the 2nd mile it seemed to subside. The beginning of the race is always crazy as people are jockeying for position. I was trying to find a good group to run with but I saw a lot of people running fast - I took a look down at my GPS and saw 5:55/mile so I told my self SLOW DOWN take it easy you got a long way to go - so I let those runners get ahead.
and off we go!!
I eventually found a group of local runners who seemed to know what they were doing and tucked in behind them - we were still going about 6:30/mile uphill! so I was still worried it was a bit too fast - but I looked behind and there was already a gap to the next group so I figured I should stay where I was. I pretty much run like I ride my bike. So we finally crested the first climb and started the long descent back into town. So I started opening up my stride - and what I noticed was Most runners don't know how to run downhill!!! I started gapping the group I was with! There was one black runner ahead of me that was opening his stride up even more than me - he even made a comment that I was taking 2 strides for every 1 of his - anyway I let him go ahead also. I caught another runner wearing a Tylenol shirt and we ran together til about the the 11 mile mark when the group who I dropped on the down hill finally caught me. It was here also where I took my first gel.
I realized that runners run a constant pace. As a triathlete/cyclist, I run with constant power - so I don't run uphills as fast - because running constant pace requires accelerating up hills and using more energy - conversely I use the downhills to run faster as I use gravity to help propel myself forward by opening up my stride. But I really have to thank Bob Narcescian who taught me this new style of running. If anyone ever wants a clinic or demonstration of this please send me an email.
So I tried hanging with that group - but they just seemed too fast - I think most of them finished in the mid to high 2:40s - I went thru the halfway point at 1:24 - I was thinking this might have been quick also but I was feeling good. 1 of the local runners also fell of pace - a tall guy named Jason - he was receiving a lot of local cheers so I tucked in behind him for the next few miles. It was then that we passed Aliceanna st where my niece Mary was staying - I gave her a high 5 and posed for a couple of shots - then I settled back in.
over 20,000 runners!
Then at mile 16 the climbs started again. It was a little confusing since there were relay runners also in the mix - so 2 guys who were relay runner caught and passed Jason and myself - like a bike racer, I jumped on the back of these 2 guys and we dropped Jason. But these guys were too fast and I had to slow my pace down for fear of blowing up. The entire day I was trying to keep my HR at or below 160bpm. that's why on the downhills I run faster because I can run that faster speed at the same HR - also the reason why I don't attack the hills. So now I was pretty much running alone - and I was taking the wind staight in the face at certain times and sometimes it was a wicked cross wind a la queen K where my feet would almost cross each other.
A short mexican runner passed me also at this point and I just kept him in sight as my dangling carrot. The 20 mile mark happens when you loop around Lake Montebello this was probably my favourite part of the course. It was also here that I took a port-o-john break to do a #1 and also popped a motivator tab (I really have to thank Brian Shea of PBN for introducing me to those lovely green pills!) So now I was back - that short break helped me to lighten up and re-focus - I think I quickened the pace slightly. I then caught the 2 relay guys who had finished their legs and were resting at an aid station - I then caught and passed the short mexican guy so now I had no one in front of me that I could see. I had to keep asking for directions at every turn as it was confusing since there were 3 races going on - a full, half and 5K. Finally I reached the last downhill section back to harbor and started opening up my stride again. Only now it was just a bit more painful at 23 miles then at 4miles. I caught the black guy who had dropped me in the first down hill section then another runner who went with the fast 2:40 group and I started kicking towards the finish line. My niece Mary found me again before I entered the section between the stadiums and I gave her a 2nd high 5! I was now almost in full sprint - but I still couldn't see the finish line. My GPS beeped already for mile 26 but I was still going - finally I saw the black arch, pulled up my sunglasses and saw the clock 2:52!!!! I was really surprised as I didn't have time displayed on my GPS just distance, pace, HR and Cadence. I was stoked! I slowed down slightly and did my signature handstand finish with half pirouette, walked a couple of steps then went down on my hands and knees with exhaustion - much like at the end of some of my track sessions. But there was a med crew there who whisked me away with a wheelchair - I guess it was just standard procedure - so I took it! I was really tired anyway - so I chilled out on in the med tent took some soup and let my HR get back down - It was here where I was interviewed by the baltimore sun about my handstand finish - too bad they didn't have a picture of it but here is the article
And if you want to see my GPS data complete with elevation HR Cadence:
I'll try to upload more Photos to this blog entry as soon as I find some
thanks for reading! til the next race.....