Sunday, November 20, 2016

Back to the Drawing Board

A week ago I took on my 5th Marathon, Myles Standish down in Plymouth, with high hopes of knocking out my BQ for 2018 and even higher hopes of knocking out my first sub 3 hour marathon.  Unfortunately, the race did not unfold as planned and we are back at the drawing board.

Myles Standish Marathon
Location: Plymouth, MA
Date: 11/13/2016
Distance: 26.2 miles
Primary Goal: 3:07 (7:06 / mile)
Reach Goal: 2:59:59 (6:52 / mile)
Actual: 3:15:19 (7:27 / mile) Place: 9 / 117 OA, 2 / 18 AG

The original title of this post bounced around from a few different names before we landed on this one.  It was anything from "FU Myles Standish" simply to "F@%k"

After botching re-qualification at Boston last April, I have been quietly looking for a qualifier.  It didn't end up fitting into the plans before the 2017 cutoff as my focus was on running my first 100k (which I can happily say went well this past October). 

During my search attempts I found Myles Standish, a marathon with the first 16 miles in a state park in Plymouth, MA.  Sounded like a perfect fit and was just over an hours drive from my house.  I bounced around the idea with a couple friends from my running club and was told, "You know that course is really hilly" I laughed it off saying "You guys think running by the Charles is hilly." I am a F@*king ultra runner.  Don't tell me what hilly is.  This would later come back to bite me. 

After finishing the TARC 100K, I had five weeks to recover, hit some specific training, and race.  I was a little unsure if this window was really long enough (and it probably wasn't), but once again, I am an ultra runner, a marathon is nothing to me (This would also come back to bite me).  

With recovery and taper, training was broken up into a three week segment, with the volume roughly at 50 - 70 - 50.  Each week had Saturday progression run with the 12, 22, 12 with the 70 mile week being the test; the last 6 miles under marathon pace.  Even with the short cycle, I felt I had a good amount of pop in my stride and was ready to go.

The timing of the race didn't quite work out as well as we had hoped (Amy was traveling to China for work beginning the day before the race). Luckily my parents agreed to taking the kids for the night.

Race day started at 5:20am where I made the 1 hour drive to Plymouth.  Myles Standish is a point to point race.  We parked at Plymouth High School, the finish line, and caught a bus into the state park.

After checking in, I had roughly an hour to kill so I sat down and relaxed.  The race started at 8am and consisted of 16 miles on the roads of Myles Standish State Park before working our way back to Plymouth High School.

I started off by dropping a 6:45 (mostly downhill) mile and was able to easily keep my splits between 6:50 - 7 over the first half of the race.  At the half way point I was holding a 6:55 average and thought to myself, if I can simply hold 7:15 for the back half, I will easily get to where I need to be.

After completing the 15th mile, I was still feeling good, so I decided that I would start pushing a little harder and see if a sub 3 hour race was in the cards. As my watch beeped signaling the end of the 16th mile, it read 6:48, right where I wanted to be.

Then something happened that I can't full explain.  Right after we left the park my legs went from feeling great; no soreness, lots of pep, to extremely heavy and starting to cramp.  With 10 miles to go, I said out loud, "You have got to be kidding me."  Now that 7:15 pace that I needed to hold for the back half (which was probably more like 7:22 after knocking out solid miles between 13.1 and 16), seemed like it might be out of reach.

Mile 17 and 18 had some rollers, but with a net uphill.  I pushed as hard as I could to hold onto sub 7 minute pace, but ended both of them with 7:02.  Mile 19 nearly killed me with a net gain of 100' and my pace slowed to 7:37 and for mile 20, I was only able to hold onto a 7:29 even with a 100' drop.

Mile 21 is when the pity party began.  After I stopped and walked for a minute, I got my shit together and told myself I could slog as slow as I wanted, but I wasn't stopping to walk again.

For the remaining water stops, I grabbed both a cup of water and a cup of gatorade and drank them fully before moving on.

After what seemed forever, I finally got back to the Plymouth High School and ran my lap around the building before finishing the race -- 3:15:19 -- a far cry from what I had set out to do.

I got my medal, drank about 40 ounces of Essentia (Electrolyte water), ate three slices of cheese pizza and headed home (with a stop at Dunkin's for a medium Coffee).  It wasn't until hours later that I realized how dehydrated that I had been.  Even with 60 ounces of liquid following the race, I still didn't use the bathroom for another two hours.

What Went Wrong
The problem is that in 2014, I didn't just burn both ends of the candle.  I burned the whole candle and I was rewarded for it at each and every race.   Looking back, life was a little simpler that year:  One kid instead of two, lower stress job, the world was not on a path back to the 1950s.  I simply had more time to focus on me. For Myles Standish, it probably was a group of things that went wrong.

  • Five weeks is probably not enough time to recover from an all out effort at a 100k, let alone, recover, get in some race specific training, and taper.  
  • I totally botched my hydration at this race. Beforehand I kept telling myself that I am a cold weather runner and a race in the 40s and 50s is good enough.  Had a run with my camel bak, the whole story may have been different (specially if it had caffeinated Tailwind :).
  • Life is simply too stressful at the moment.  That final gear that I am used to tapping into just hasn't been there this year.  
  • I just haven't taken any time off this year (or backed off at all).  I have only two weeks where I have run less then 30 miles (and one of them I was sick) and only 7 under 40 miles.  

I am shutting it down race wise for the rest of the year.  I still have my goal of completing my third straight year of running every day and breaking 3000 miles for the year (271.2 to go).  I can do both of those at a lower intensity and a lower stress level.

As I plan out 2017, the possibilities are endless; I am thinking about taking on a bucket list item, Tuckerman's Inferno, taking another crack at a 3 hour marathon, maybe at Hyannis, and then Amy and I are planning a bike vacation for our 10 year anniversary.

While 2016 may have not gone entirely to plan, I still see a bright future.

- Scot

1 comment:

Julia Magnusson said...

Sorry to hear it didn't go as planned. It's funny how much it turns out that life stress can get in the way of a decent race! I'm on a different path (and much lower intensity, etc.) and decided, last-minute, to knock out a low-pressure 6-hr trail race yesterday rather than struggle through an upcoming 32-miler that my head and heart are not really in the space for (not to mention lack of training...). Felt like a good end to my muddled year of running and a confidence builder for 2017.