Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Sunday, November 13, 2011

3:08:34 Thunder Road Marathon- 9 Minute PR

Q: Why would a 9 minute marathon PR be kind of ho hum? 
A: When you know you could've done better.

I decided to run this race less than 48 hours before the gun went off because Wren's soccer tournament times were different than expected & I could make the Saturday game and still run. So my training wasn't exactly what I'd want for an "A Priority" race. I am focused on the Kiawah Island Marathon Dec. 10 & Frosty 50K in January, with a big push after that for a couple of spring marathons. Thunder Road was just thrown in there because it was close to home, I knew I could PR & wanted to test some strategy.

I was confident for the 2 days before the race until I tried to go to sleep. Sitting in bed, I started letting my mind get to me. A friend texted me, "You will have a great race. Your training has been great. I will be thinking about you while you're running." That did the trick & I fell asleep by midnight.

I've really been on a roll this year of running well with confidence & focus I've never had before. In this race, though, I just never was that into it. Didn't seem... I don't know... important for some reason. I still gave my best effort but things didn't exactly click. My running's been different the past 3-4 weeks. I'm going as fast or faster than ever, but it seems to be more of a struggle. My legs feel heavy and not really sluggish but like every step, the muscles are flexed. Feels like I'm pushing- like running uphill, instead of the light, quick (for me at least) feeling I had before this. ...just muscling through. Every step seems like an individual effort that has to be thought about rather than just moving along with fluid motion.

The first 8 miles were uneventful except for a bathroom break that cost me a minute. It was my only one of the day, so not a killer. My sciatic nerve gave me problems starting around mile 8 & I remembered I hadn't taken ibuprofen. I was surprised by the number of spectators I knew who yelled.

Around mile 12, when the half marathoners went one way and the marathoners went the other way, there was a big letdown. There always is, but this time was different. I HATE running a marathon alongside a half. I certainly have nothing against people running a half marathon, but it just messes with my head. I guess I was in about 35th place in the combined race, but I was told I was 12th after the split. For about 4-5 miles, I didn't see a single person in front of me. 11th place must've been pretty far ahead. Then a group of 3 passed me around mile 17. At mile 18, my sciatic nerve was hurting more and I stopped for a second to stretch my hip. It was one of those moments where I thought, "I just gave up. I am still on pace to break 3:00, but in this one instant, I've told myself I can't."

I started back up after 20 seconds of stretching and was fine for a half mile before noticing an unusual pain in my chest. Never felt anything like that. Got worse as I went along. By mile 20, I had decided there was a decent chance I was having a heart attack. I backed off by about a minute/mile and really took uphills easy. I knew even if I managed 9:30 miles, I'd set a PR but hopes for sub-3:00 were over and breaking 3:05 didn't look likely. I focused on 3:10... but more than that, just surviving! That's all I could think about and I kept going back & forth in my head, "Should I drop out & go to the hospital? No. You're going to set a  PR & it's probably nothing." If I saw anyone looking remotely like an EMT or something I probably would've stopped.

I ended up in 3:08:34, breaking my PR (set in June in Seattle) by 9 minutes. That's a major accomplishment but I'm disappointed because I knew I could do a lot better. I went to the medical tent afterwards & they said I had a tight diaphragm and worked on it for 20 minutes. No heart problems.

So, I'll push hard to Kiawah, have better luck there & expect another big PR.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad you are doing well after that PR! Good luck on those winter races!

Jason Sullivan