Sunday, February 17, 2008

2008 A1A Marathon Results

17/504 Overall
6/59 Age
dead toenail count: 1.5
08.a1a.finish.jpgOk, yes I know I was supposed to be closer to a 2:55 for this one, and I was on that pace for the first 16 miles, I promise. Then the proverbial wheels fell off.

For the third time in (sort of) three times, a legitimate taper killed me. I was shooting for a PR at this race because of the flat course and expected nice weather (which I sort of got). That means I reduced my mileage quite a bit the last 3 weeks. I ran the Miami marathon three weeks ago as a jog and it was my last long run before this race. My weekly mileage, which is normally ~55 miles a week dropped to less than 30, with me only running 18 miles the week of the marathon. On Monday, 6 days before the race I went home and proceeded to violently vomit up my chili lunch. After a few very painful trips to the bathroom (dry heaves, yuck) I went to bed feeling awful. I took the next day off from work, went to the doctor and got some anti-nausea meds and tried desperately to rest and recover the rest of the week.
2008 a1a Marathon
 Come race day I thought I felt ok, and my legs felt great. I was just tired. My whole body was dragging, not anything specific. By mile 16 I knew I was slowing and by mile 20 all I wanted to do was stop, lie down and take a nap. That and I was really hungry too. Like Big Mac hungry. It was a feeling I have never experienced during a marathon before.

It was last years A1A marathon I had my famous dehydration hallucination bouts, so this year I made sure to drink plenty during the race, and I did taking water AND Gatorade at almost every water station. Stephanie was there as my cheering squad and each of the 4 or so times I saw her I had her offer me a water bottle with Gatorade just in case I was not getting enough at the aid stations. It turned out I did not need it, but she was such a good support crew. At about mile 21 there was an ‘alternative’ aid station. A big sign just before said ‘next stop, water or beer, your choice!’. As I came upon them I yelled ‘I need a beer!’ they cheered me on and gave me a nice cup of what tasted like Michelob. I think it was the best tasting beer I had ever had. :)

2008 a1a Marathon The race course, being the same as last year was still beautiful. The temperature at race start was about 69 degrees and warmed to about 76 by the end. There was a stiff steady wind (maybe 8 mph) off the ocean that at times kind of annoyed me, but kept the effective temperature down which was nice.

Last year I did not get to enjoy the post race food as I spend an hour in the medical tent due to my dehydration. This year being a smarter runner allowed me to partake of the most excellent post race goodies. Pasta from California Pizza Kitchen, muffins and cookies from Publix (Yum!) and free Michelob Ultra from the local Budweiser folk made my starving tummy very happy afterwards. I managed to save enough energy at the very end to do another handstand at the finish line which seems to be a new tradition that I have. As tired as I was I manged to hold it longer than at the Miami marathon.

In the end, I finished a respectable 17th (top 3.3%) even though I had to take walking breaks starting at mile 20. This is partly why I run a marathon every month. When I have ‘down’ races, I do not have to look far into the future for my redemption. My next marathon, only 5 weeks away is one the ocean front once again, only this time in sunny New Jersey!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

What am I? I'm a Marathoner

26.2 Marathon Euro Oval Sticker 4x6
Yeah yeah, so is everyone else who runs marathons, what’s the big deal. Well, my running has taken over my life, or at least a good chunk of it. Let’s look at some facts:

- I have run 11 marathons between June of 2006 and January of 2008, a time of roughly 18 months.

- I run 5K races as often as I can, just for the speed training. Of all the work I need to do to become a better marathoner, I detest the ’speed’ work the most. So to properly motivate myself, I run 5K’s because my competitiveness will get me through it as a hard ‘fast’ workout. A t-shirt for my speed training? Cool!

- Here in early February I have registered from my February marathon, my March one, and one in April. I know which marathon I am running in May as well and have a good idea what marathons I am running in June, July and August. If you pressed me, I could tell you what I am running in September, October, November, and December. Remember, this is early February when I write this.

- I run 50-60 miles a week, every week. At ~8 miles an hour, my running is a 6-8 hour/week part time job. I plan my days around my running. I will run at crazy hours, getting it whenever I can. I have never missed a run because I didn’t have time. I find the time, every day.

- As I pen this blog entry, I have 6 pairs of running shoes, each with some amount of effective ‘life’ left on them.

- Halfway through writing this blog entry I went and got my bucket of ice water to soak my feet, a ritual I do to cut down on inflammation. I decided to look at my toenails, and in that evaluation, I decided to remove the toenail on the big toe of my right foot. It did not hurt as it had ‘died’ a little while ago. I have lost the toe nail of every one of my ten toes at least twice, each. This fact does not bother me at all. People talk about marathon runners having blackened toenails. I remove the toenails long before they ever get black. I am a trained professional.

- I will talk about running with anyone who wants to talk about it. It fact, when I tell people that I am a marathoner, they are more impressed with me as a person than when I tell them I am have a Ph.D. in chemistry (I say ‘molecular spectroscopy’ when I want to sound high and mighty) and am currently a college professor. This used to bother me as I busted my arse getting that Ph.D. I left society for the entire 1990’s (graduated High School in 1990, awarded Ph.D. in 1999) to get that title. Anyone can be a marathoner, it just takes some time and dedication, and every marathon has someone who used to be a couch potato and decided to change their life and finish a marathon. Getting a Ph.D. is very hard work, and not everyone could do it, I know that. Yet, people are more ‘wowed’ by my running than by my education. I believe it is an evolutionary construct. For millennia, the human race has praised the physically fit and strong because those individuals are beneficial for perpetuating the species. (You are attracted to the strong and fast because then your kids will be strong and fast, and your kids will be able to go kill the mastodon, etc.)

Am I obsessed? Addicted? Cracked? I am not sure. My running is not coming between me and my loved ones, they always take precedence. It is one of the healthiest addictions a person could have. I have seen how much I have improved as a runner over the last 2+ years and so my competitive streak feeds on my running. I do well at races, I want to do better, I train harder and run more races. It is a good thing that my ankles can only handle ~60 miles a week (although I am trying to fix that, thank you very much) otherwise I would be running more.

It is such a good thing that I am a college professor, as it is a flexible enough job that I can plan marathons long in advance because I know my ‘work schedule’ from essentially now until the day I retire.
You see, I think from now on when someone asks me what I ‘do’, my first response will not be ‘college professor’, it will be ‘marathoner’. After some light conversation I might add that I am not good enough to get endorsements, so I am Ph.D. college Professor so I can pay the bills. But that’s just my day job.