Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The good and the bad from UVM #2 with tips and advice from a marathon novice

As I was struggling to finish my first marathon without collapsing or soiling myself, I was taken aback by a tall fellow just running along with a happy, goofy grin on his face. While me and many of my marathoning colleagues wanted to end our life by hopping in front of a bus, this guy seemed to be enjoying himself.

I wanted to be that guy.

I was that guy. I'm about to annihilate that runner in the bright green.

The good (during the race)...

Pacing. The most crucial part of my race plan involved the first seven miles, the fastest part of the course. I vowed, however, not to start out fast like most runners do on this course. If I was going to error, it was going to be erring on the side of caution.  I stole the first seven miles. I knew that many of the people passing me on this stretch would be wishing they were me in the second half.

Negative splitting. I didn't necessarily plan on negative splitting, especially with the first half having more of an elevation drop, but I did. I ran the first half in 2:00:55 and the second half in 2:00:00.

Still felt good at the end
Passing people. I passed over 250 people the second half of the race. It was freaking awesome. From mile 13-24, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I felt strong. Last year I felt exactly like all those people I passed. I couldn't believe how many people were walking. I was 862 at the halfway point. I was 419 the second half and 605 overall. In short, I was that guy.

The good (training)...

Miles. I ran considerably more miles in preparing for my second marathon. I set monthly distance records three times.

Slow miles. The first time around, I did every training run as fast as I could. That was stupid. This made recovery difficult.

Base building. I used a heart rate monitor and applied the teachings of Phil Maffetone to build a strong aerobic base. That allowed me to set multiple prs over the last nine months.

Consistent schedule. I had a basic schedule. Run on Monday, semi-long. Run on Wednesday, tempo or mile repeats. Run on Thursday, recovery (In the building phase I would do 6-8 mile slow runs on both Wednesdays and Thursdays). Saturday, long run. Although I had to alter the schedule because of life, I knew when the week started that I was going to run four times, one would be long and one would be fast.

Long run difficulty. I knew the course had a tough hill at mile 7 and mile 16. I tried to put a hill at mile 7 of medium runs in training and, more importantly, I put a long hill (about 5 miles) at around mile 15 of my long runs. I was also lucky enough to get strong headwinds at the end of those runs too, just in case (there was no actual head wind at the marathon). The uphill segments during the race had little effect on me.

The bad (the race)...

Piss problems. I drank way too much the night before and the morning of the marathon. I stopped five times to pee in the first ten miles and used the port-a-potty at mile 13. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why I barely missed that 4:00 marathon time.

Too conservative. I may have run the first half too conservatively. Oh well.

Tangents. Running to the side of the road to pee five times makes it difficult to run the tangents. I ran over .25 miles too far.

The bad (training)...

Hip. I got injured in the middle of February. Since I'd never injured my hip before, I had no idea that that hip flexor soreness would cost me six weeks of good training. I was really in a groove up to that point.

Fat. I'm too fat. I weighed about 186 for this marathon.

Running from Mediocrity

I finished 605/1471 overall; 402/823 for men; 62/128 for my age group. That's the top half in all three, but still dangerously close to mediocrity. But at least I'm running from mediocrity and not running to it like I had been.

What about Boston?

Well, the ultimate goal is to qualify for Boston. I'm not even close. Will it happen? Probably not. But I'll keep trying.

What next?


Thinking about Running from an Angel Marathon in January or Boulder City Marathon in December. I will not sign up, however, until my weight is 175 or below. My only hope for getting better is to stop eating so stupid.
That's one fat marathoner (with good chi-running form)


  1. Hi Trent,

    Great improvements! Great pacing too...don't be so hard on yourself. Beating the fade is a big thing that many have never done.

    Of course then you wonder if you should have gone faster..that is natural and way more fun exploring from a known good pacing event rather than just crashing and burning every time.

    Re: Pee.
    I have only had to use pee twice during marathons. Once was in a trail race where it was easy 8)

    I avoid having to pee by not drinking much at all the morning of the race...NO coffee either. But I do show up at the starting line with a disposable water bottle (16oz to 20oz) which i sip from at starting at about T-15 minutes to the start. (I also have my first GU at about T-5).

    I don't start drinking it any earlier because they it runs through me ;)

    So I'm pre-loaded with quite a bit of water and I usually can then pass up the first aid station. (which is often a zoo)

    This has worked well for me... assuming normal temps I have always passed water within 1/2 of the marathon finish. I practice this on every medium to long run....chug some water before I start out, and so I'm quite used to it.

    On warm days all bets are off and better hydrate to pee a bit much ..can't do PRs on those days anyway....

    Keep up the improvements and congrats again on your PR!

  2. Ment to say "within 1/2 HOUR of the marathon finish"

    FYI 8)

    1. Hey, Thanks for the tips Paul. I'll experiment during training for the next one.

    2. Hey, Thanks for the tips Paul. I'll experiment during training for the next one.