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Toronto Goodlife

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Not to brag, but I’m awesome! I had a great race Sunday in Toronto. I PR’d (personal record’d) with 4:14:07, and had NEGATIVE SPLITS! 2:11 for the first half, 2:03  for the second. All factors outside of my control worked out: the weather was beautiful, there were no logistical problems getting to the race, nor were there problems along the race course. The race course itself was wonderful, the hardest hill is at the beginning at 2.5 km, and it’s not even that hard. The rest of the course was rolling hills and flats, enough to engage different muscles at different times, so no muscles were pounded endlessly. My success is probably attributable to my good luck, and the benefit running 67 miles in 24 hours gives your body. And a tribute to the value of rest.

I was worried that this race might end up a huge failure. I basically have not ran since my 24 hour race. I’ve been to the gym, playing Frisbee, biking to work, walking a lot, and lifting, but the longest I ran on a weekend was 13 miles on Labor Day weekend. After that, I had two tournaments (which are an endurance workout) and a 3.15 mile obstacle race (which was amazing as well!) and then was this marathon. I ate all you can eat Sushi at lunch the day before, and wasn’t paying attention to my hydration as I wandered the streets of Toronto. But I had a great race!

First, what was wrong at the Philadelphia Marathon: I dug a gigantic hole to plant a tree the day before! Bad idea!! And it was my first marathon, so my body didn’t know what a marathon felt like (that’s not exactly wrong, but that’s why people should be able to improve their time after their first marathon).
What was wrong at the 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut race (though I wasn’t specifically racing it): It was a freaking hot day, and I was not in the shape I should’ve been in.

What definitely went right for Toronto: a really good taper, and decent race strategies, and a good mental state of mind.

My strategy was to relax in the first half of the marathon, and then push harder in the second half. I read a blog or advertisement lately requesting that people treat their marathons as more than something to check off the bucket list, to respect the racing aspect of them, and thus in my mind was that I wanted to push myself in this race, and I felt confident that I could push myself. I had the same race strategy in Philadelphia, but it didn’t pan out. I think I pushed too hard immediately after I passed the 13 mile mark, and my muscles got ridiculously sore at mile 22 because I dug a hole the day before. In this race, I  was reminding myself often to run easy until the end. The mental coping strategies I used paid off, too. I told myself to hold back some and run easy in the first half. In the second, I kept focusing on the time I wanted to be at the next km marker, and I told myself to run easy, I used the mantra “I look good, I feel great, keep going!” said in time to my stride pace, I pretended I was just leaving the house and starting a new run and any pain I felt were kinks that would work themselves out when I warmed up, I thought about tasty beer at the finish line, I picked up a Powerbar Gel and was using it like a stress ball, at different times I tried to shorten my pace a little and keep the cadence fast to work my muscles more efficiently. When I was 2 km away from the finish, I keep repeating “4:14, I’m getting under 4:14:30!!” Some people unassociated with the race crossed the street in front of me and I yelled at them, because I was not slowing down or veering from my path! In the final chute, there were two people in front of me (at different intervals) who I tried to pass (successfully passed one, came within 2 seconds of the other).

I think running 67 miles was a huge benefit to my bodily endurance. I didn’t feel like I was challenging myself immensely during that race because I was taking plenty of rest and I was going slowly, but that amount of pounding on your body really does change how your body handles future pounding. Whatever ultrarunning does to your body, I don’t think it’s something that goes away easily (like how I think my cross country experience in high school is still something relevant to my running career now, even though I haven’t been continuously running since then). I guess I subscribe to the idea that your body knows/learns things that your mind may not be conscious of, and that knowledge plays out without you realizing it. Your body will react differently without you monitoring it when you start your 5th marathon than it did when you start your first, because those 4 marathons gave your body data that it remembers intrinsically.

I think lifting once a week (sometime slightly more) also probably helped this race.

I think not training with running may have negatively effected my soreness levels.

Oh and also, with this run I knew there would be enough hydration along the course, so I didn’t carry anything except gels, chapstick, and ibuprofen. Which reminds me of my last strategy, taking 2 ibuprofens before the run and two in the middle. That probably helped me mentally and physically with the physical stresses of running a marathon.

My left calf was feeling really tight for the last 10ish miles, and my right foot was feeling crampy at different times starting at mile 9. But besides that, I was relatively pain free.

And miracle of all miracles, even with my hobbling post-marathon gait, and my inability to find the right shuttle when trying to get back to the hotel to get to the airport shuttle, I made it to the airport, through security and customs, and managed to make it back to my house in Philly by 11pm. I will be avoiding that travel plan when possible in the future (traveling immediately after a run). It’s not pleasant to rush through your post race meal and shower because you’re afraid you will miss your flight out of the country.

I can’t wait until the Philly Marathon!!! I’m aiming for a 4 hour race this time.

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Categories: marathon