Sunday, I ran the Skagit Flats Marathon. Held in Burlington, WA about 70 miles north of the Emerald City. I chose this marathon because I had ‘hoped’ to improve my BQ time, fast enough to actually get into the 2015 race. Though I ran a BQ last December, I only qualified by 31 seconds, and since the BAA (Boston Athletic Association) grants admission to the fastest qualifiers in their gender and age group to register first since I barely qualified, I only have a ‘chance’ to get into the race.
Did I truly believe I could run faster than 3:24:29? No, not really. I had several minor injuries during this summer’s training cycle that reduced several weeks total miles. Also, I dropped numerous speed workouts due to tired legs and/or aches and pains.
As I’ve come to learn, usually the hard way, achieving your goal marathon pace, many stars must align:
- You trained the right way, logged enough miles, enough speed work.
- You tapered correctly so you arrive at the start line with ‘fresh’ legs.
- You carbo loaded correctly
- You fueled and drink correctly during the race
- *** the weather cooperates. Not too windy, not too wet, not too cold, and definitely not too hot.
We’ve had a stellar summer here in the PNW. So many summer days, mostly in the 70s but a few in the 80s and just several days in the 90s. The end of last week was unseasonably warm. And Sunday (race day) was the warmest day of the week. Dang it!
It was bright sunshine, around mid 60s at the start at 8am and mid 80s when I finished. Ten degrees above ‘normal’. By mile TWO, 15 minutes into the race, I knew the day may turn against me. At the very first water station I was hot enough to start dumping water on my head to cool off. Through the single digit mile markers I was cruising, on pace but slowly, I wilted in the heat like a little yellow flower. Fell off pace (7:45) by mile 12, knew I was cooked and that “the wall” was approaching.
Here are the mile numbers that demonstrate an ugly way to spend a beautiful, warm sunny day in the Pacific NW:
Started to walk at mile 21. Finished 4:02. Ugh.
Few thoughts and lessons learned:
- Why did I continue to hold target pace for nearly 13 miles, knowing I had NO chance to hold that pace for 26 miles? I should have slowed down within the first hour. If I had dropped to 9 minute mile pace, my body would have appreciated it, I could have easily finished under four hours and I would have skipped the stomach cramps, intense dehydration and walking.
- I left the South 20 years ago so don’t run a marathon in the heat. My body prefers marathon day temps 60 degrees or colder.
- DO NOT run a marathon with no shade, when the temps will be in the 70s-mid 80s. Even dumping water on my head at every single water station, I couldn’t prevent the heat of the sunshine to penetrate my hat, into my skull.
- A 12 week training schedule is too short. 16-18 weeks is ideal. Sacramento was an 18 week program. I should know better.
- Didn’t drink enough. Drank 40 oz first 2 hours. That’s the minimum. Didn’t drink “more” to compensate for the heat. I should know better.
- Don’t eat lasagna with meat sauce the night before the race. But it tasted so good…
- If I don’t get into Boston 2015, (should know in few weeks) that will be my motivation to keep running next year and I’ll pick a better course and give a BQ for 2016 another shot.
- Lastly, I don’t think I was fully recovered from the significant soreness from the Sun Flower Mountain Marathon in May.
On the bright side:
- I arrived at the starting line healthy- I never want to take this for granted.
- This was my 18th marathon finish.
- Set a new PR for a half marathon. Previous was 1:41 and looking at the numbers above, I likely ran about a 1:38.
- After a proper ‘recovery’, I expect to keep running/training and maybe do one more marathon this year.