Friday, October 21, 2011

Hartford 2011: You Only Get Out What You Put In


It's been nearly a week since The Hartford ING Marathon and I've been grappling with me feelings about those 26.2 miles. The 2011 event was my 13th marathon and my 3rd after returning from a 6 year hiatus. I also ran Hartford last year so it wasn't a new event for me.
What I'm troubled with is how to describe my experience. Normally after a marathon I have a dominate thought, whether it's something like last year's return to the sport after 6 years off or this Spring' s brutally hot/humid/hilly Memorial day marathon. But this year's Hartford event has almost no story (for me).

Race day was cool and clear, maybe a little windy, but nothing too terrible. The race started on time  and I felt a little crappy for the first 6 miles, but that was probably because I was above my desired pace. I ate a gel at mile 6 which seemed to mellow out that transparent feeling. I settled in and the miles just ticked away, I wasn't suffering anymore and I ran reasonably well, enjoying the Fall weather and the course entertainment (there were some very good bands).

Hartford has a portion of the course that's an out and back where the turnaround is at mile 17 so you then have a 9 mile run back to the city and the finish line. I'm always a bit anxious to find the turnaround when I'm running away from where I'll eventually have to finish, but that too was not anything I hadn't been through before.

I seemed to have managed my nutrition and hydration well enough and never really hit the wall. Oh sure, there was a rough patch or two but again, I pushed through those reasonably well and managed to keep moving.
After mile 20 I was still feeling reasonably well and felt like the last 10k was going to be ok without any major issues.

I seemed to have the strength to keep the legs turning over in the last few miles when others seemed to be walking through the hurt. My last two miles were even stronger and faster than I anticipated.

I finished in 4:05, just ahead of the 4:05 pace group leader (who was alone at that point).

The majority of my marathon finishes have been sub 4 hours, so coming in after the 4 hour mark was somewhat disappointing, but again, nothing too terrible. But as I reflect on the marathon experience I have to look back at the months prior to the event.

One of the first things that comes to mind is that I turned 50 years old in September. This was my first marathon at the ripe old age of 50.

I don't want to make excuses, but in the Northeast this year, we had some terrible rain and late season humidity that made weekend long runs a challenge. The humidity squashed a couple of my planned long runs to no more than 11 miles and I only managed two 17 mile runs and one 20 miler before it was time to taper.

It was definitely not my best training season and I'm a few pounds heavier than I'd like to be, but I knew I could run a marathon. After having a dozen marathons in the bag, I've learned how to run a marathon. I may not be perfect (like going out too fast) but I pretty much know what I'm in for.

Could this mentality have had an impact on my training and ultimately on my race performance? By knowing that I could do it, did I not push my self on those weekend training runs? Maybe.

I guess the real story this year is that my marathon performance was reflective of the effort and training that I put into it.

I'll have to compare this performance with my Spring plans.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You Know You Are A Runner When...

...you think "If my car breaks down, I can run home from here"

...you've registered for a Spring Marathon and you haven't even run your Fall Marathon yet

...you keep extra tissue in your glove compartment in case the race day Porta-Potties run out of toilet-paper

...you watch your weekly mileage like others watch their stock quotes

...you have race T-shirts in every color in the spectrum

...your toenails look like you listen to Goth music


And one more....


...you don't mind spending $12 on a pair of socks!

When the Days Get Shorter

When days start getting shorter my whole way of running changes.

I've found that I no longer buy any gear that is blue or black anymore. In fact I tend to buy highway orange or green mostly.

I really like the Vizi-Pro line from Saucony -- they just released the pinks, but I'm down with the orange Gear. So, when I go out in the dark I'm usually wearing a fluorescent jacket, vest or shirt of some sort.

I also have some reflective vests if I think the shirt I'm wearing isn't bright enough

I have a Vizi-Pro orange visor that I rest my headlamp on top of -- I find headlamps without a brim somewhat annoying and I usually overheat with a full cap.

My Vizi-Pro jacket came with a small USB charging clip-on light that helps light up my body.

I have a small (fist-size) led flash light that I've wrapped in that tennis grip stuff so it doesn't feel gross when I get it sweaty -- I like it because it supplements the headlamp in terms of seeing where I'm going but if I think a car hasn't seen me, I shine it towards them and then onto my flouresent shirt which lights up in the darkness... seems to work pretty well.

My reflective ankle-bands have worn out, I probably should get another set of those...

I wear my RoadID all the time and I will only listen to music in the dark on the slower, less busy roads

It's fun doing your morning miles before the sunrise, but it's not worth getting hurt.

I'm also of the opinion.. nobody wants to be the driver to hit a runner who is dressed with more reflective gear and lights than most safety vehicles have.

Run Safe!