great article by Dean Karnazes…
The Marathon isn’t about running; it’s about salvation. We spend so much of our lives doubting ourselves, thinking that we’re not good enough, not strong enough, not made of the right stuff. The Marathon is an opportunity for redemption. Opportunity, because the outcome is uncertain. Opportunity, because it is up to you, and only you, to make it happen.
There is no luck involved in finishing the Marathon. The ingredients required to tackle this formidable challenge are straightforward:
read the rest at: The Marathon — Medium.
Three years ago today, I went for my first run.
I’d lost about 100 pounds at the time (all without exercising…counting calories worked very well for me) and, according to my doctor, needed to get active if I wanted to keep it off…this time. “Find something you will enjoy,” she said.
Being basically lazy (ok, i am generally lazy) and not having a desire to do the gym thing, I didn’t know what to select that would last.
On my commute one day, I saw a 2011 Silicon Valley Turkey Trot billboard and thought, “Hmmmm, maybe I’ll run.” [wow, that sounds almost Forest Gump-ish…]
So, I downloaded the Couch -to-5K app, bought some running shoes, and started.
Day One Workout:
I don’t recall how I specifically felt after that workout; but, as a life-long (at least that far) couch potato, I bet I was winded, tired, and probably wondering simultaneously: “what am I getting myself into?”, “how long will this last?”, and “Hey, I might be able to do this!”
So, I kept going.
I finished or “graduated” from the C25K program and I ran my first 5K…
…and have NOT looked back, checking the 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, and 50K boxes off progressively over the past three years – with a total of 5,347 miles logged along the way.
Fast forward to today’s training run:
Three years ago today, I went for my first run.
Dr. Chang, I think I found something I like…
Six-Word Race Report*:
No PR, but best 50K yet!
On August 23rd, I ran the Headlands 50K, which is put on by the Tamlpa Runners club. This event only has the single distance, so it draws fewer participants than some of the other runs in the area. It does have a limit on the number of runners and did have a wait list when I checked the website the week before the race, so it is a popular one.
Weather. My Garmin showed 59 degrees at the start and there was a nice cloud cover. That was pretty much the weather for most of my run, though it did seem to warm up after mile 20 and the cloud cover burned off for good by mile 26.
Course. Beautiful and challenging! The Headlands 50K course is a tour of most of the notable trails in the Marin Headlands: Coastal, Miwok, Matt Davis, Dipsea, Steep Ravine, Coast View, and the Heather Cutoff. The combination single-track/fire road course takes runners through hills, valleys, ridges that have awesome views of the Pacific as well as redwood rainforest-type conditions – all with ~7,300′ total elevation change (though my GPS said 6,476′.) Again, it is an amazingly scenic course – I can only imagine how much more beautiful it would be without California being in a drought.
Management/Support. SUPERIOR! I recently read a blog post that mentioned the significant differences between course management/aid stations at ultramarathons and bug-name events/races. This event was a prime example of how excellent things can be done with course management and aid stations. The event itself was extremely organized and managed well. Course markings and marshaling was spot on and aid station volunteers were up there with the best I have experienced in all races/runs I have participated in. There have been great volunteers at races – I have shared that in my past race reports – but this event somehow seemed a little bit above the others. The aid station fare was the standard for an ultra, but the aid station volunteers were proactive in making sure each runner was attended to and supported. WOW and THANK YOU!
Finishers. In reviewing the results, there were 188 finishers – 136 men and 52 women.
Post-Race. In addition to a great spread of typical, post-race fare (fruit, cookies, water, soda, beer, etc.), all finishers enjoyed fresh, handmade pizza from Firetrail Pizza that was baked on site in their custom, wood-fired oven. It was excellent! I normally don’t partake of the post-race food, but it was hard to pass this up! I even chased my four pieces with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – hey, I’d just run 31 miles…i deserved it!
Medal/Shirt. Each finisher received a medal and bag of SWAG. The medal was nice and the SWAG, which came in a branded, reusable bag, was pretty good as well. My favorite item was the event-logo’d, Barking Frogs headgear – as I am a Buff addict/collector. I’ll definitely be sporting this at upcoming races. As for the event shirt, the WESR (Wife’s Event Shirt Rating) is a 2.5/5. The color was basic (white) and the small logo on the front and sponsor’s names were nice and minimal. It was a Brooks shirt, but just “average” in the shirt department.
This was my third 50K and, based on my review of the course profile, was going to be the most challenging one yet. Mainly because of the elevation change listed on the website: ~7,300…which was ~2,700 more than my previous, challenging 50K. Still, based on a review of the previous results and photos (which I will call INTEL gathering,) I knew that it was doable. Oh, and I’d been training appropriately too…
With that, the goals for the day were:
I got to the venue early, hung out in the car for a bit, then cruised to the outhouse and took care of business (love being the first user!) After checking in, I wandered about, went back to the car and put my kit on, then found a seat in the start area and chatted with a few runners.
We started exactly at 0730 (gun start timing make that necessary) and I placed myself in the top half of the group. My intent was to get a decent position for the first section’s single track so I didn’t get too bogged down in the pack. I kept a slower pace all the same, knowing that I would pay for a “fast start” later in the day if I didn’t.
I don’t really have a mile-by-mile recollection of the race – I just put it in gear when the RD said “RUN!” and kept the forward motion going. I fast-walked/ran the hills and ran the flats and downhills, keeping an eye on the pace, but really going by feel and effort. Again, keeping forward motion at all times.
I pretty much zoned out and just went forward on most sections, though I did chat with a few people along the way. I paced/traded positions for most of the race with another guy wearing Altras, talking shoes periodically along the way – probably keeping our minds off the course as well.
As I wrote above, the course was beautiful. I had never been to the Marin Headlands before (shame on me as a native to the Bay Area!), but it lived up to all the posts I’d read about: scenic views, challenging hills, awesome single track, etc. I did shoot some pictures and probably would have shot more if this had been a training run – it’s that picturesque.
For me, the most memorable and enjoyable section of the day was the descent down the Matt Davis Trail to the Stinson Beach aid. Don’t get me wrong, the other sections of the course were picturesque, but this was flat out FUN! This section was a challenging, yet runnable, downhill switchback, with roots, stairs, muddy conditions thrown in to make it interesting. Coming into it, I was running with two other people and paced with them most of the way. I passed the other guy in the group and ended up trailing/pacing a woman who was absolutely hammering the thing. I put it in gear and hammered it too – at least until I stutter-stepped and almost took a spill. I slowed for a few seconds, probably yelled “WHOA!” in my head, did a quick “systems” check, and resumed hammering the downhill. Reckless abandon! That said, the woman I was trailing was looong gone. It’s funny, as I reviewed the data from the run, I actually wasn’t going as fast as it felt I was; but the combo of the downhill, the short switchbacks, and technical/wet trail made it seem like it. I felt like a pro!
The toughest parts of the day weren’t the Dipsea or Steep Ravine sections – which I thought would be in reviewing the course. They weren’t a cakewalk, but the toughest section was the final two miles, and especially the last mile, which was the Heather Cutoff switchbacks. Even though it was downhill, my legs were tiring and the final switchback section just seemed to slog on and on and on and on. The thing that kept me going was a runner that was a couple of switchbacks behind me. I could hear their footfalls and kept telling myself, “they are NOT going to pass me” repeatedly. And they didn’t.
I crossed the finish line, got my medal, and walked to the car to drop my vest and clean up a bit. I walked around a little more to unwind and then headed back to the finish area to enjoy some food, sit for a while, and talk with some fellow runners.
As for my goals:
Some photos from the day:
Fueling. I did my usual, pre 50K-race, carb loading/regimen: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +1100 calories above my normal day. Race-day fueling: Bagel with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours. During the race, I drank about 128 ounces of Tailwind Nutrition’s Mandarin Orange mix and about 24 ounces of water. I also grazed at two aid stations, eating some watermelon and bananas – and a couple of pretzel twists…which were so dry, that I choked on ‘em and spit them out.
Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Buff visor, tech shirt from the 2012 San Jose Giants Race, Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Ultra Vest (with 2 Hydrapak soft flasks,) Ultimate Direction 10oz bottle (for Tailwind syrup solution,) SPOT 3 GPS Tracker, Garmin 910XT, Road ID (Slim), Mio Link heart rate band, ASCIS 55 Shorts, CEP Compression Sleeves, Injinji Run 2.0 socks, Altra Olympus shoes.
*Six-word race report is something I read about in a blog post (that I can’t find now); but, according to a Goggle search, finds its origins in two things: a 2008 blog post I stumbled on, which based the challenge on the book “Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure”, by Rachel Fershleiser, published in 2006. Moving forward, I plan to include this in my reports as a challenge to succinctly synthesize my report…for those who are not interested in reading the oft-painful details!
On July 27th, I ran The San Francisco Marathon. Yep, another late run report post – bad blogger!
Anyway, on to the details…
The San Francisco Marathon event is THE marathon in SF. OK, there are others, but this one is the official one! The SFM boasts runs through most of the sections of the City and is the only event where you actually get to run on the surface of the Golden Gate Bridge – all other runs/races and walks are run on the pedestrian walkway. It draws all levels of runners, which makes it a fantastic event. The SFM is actually made up of five distances: the marque marathon, the “First Half” 13.1 distance (which, according to this year’s finisher count, was the most popular distance), the “Second Half” 13.1 distance, a 5K, and the “Worth the Hurt, 52.4″ double (which starts at 12AM and has entrants run the marathon course in the reverse direction (replacing the Golden Gate with an out and back on the Great Highway), only to have the finishers join the regular marathon when it starts.)
Weather. The weather was on the warmer side for San Francisco, 63 degrees at the start and I’m positive that it warmed up to at least the mid 70s over the course of the day. It was overcast at the start and bright and sunny when I finished. No real wind on the Golden Gate, which was nice. Heading up to the Golden Gate, it sprinkled a bit, but that was shortlived and mainly because of the fog and low clouds blowing through. All in all, an excellent weather day for running.
Course. The challenging, but doable marathon is a loop course that starts and finishes on the Embarcadero near the Ferry Building, then running through Fisherman’s Wharf, the Marina, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through the Presidio, then into Golden Gate Park (which is the first half.) After meandering through Golden Gate Park, runners head to the urban portion of the course: down the Haight Street, through the Mission, Potrero, and Mission Bay Districts. Passing behind AT&T Park is the sign that runners are almost done. Merging back on the Embarcadero, runners cross under the Bay Bridge and give their final kick to the Finish Line (which is the second half.)
Management/Support. Course management and support was great, by my observation. I carried my handheld, so I only made use of the aid stations at miles 10 and 18 to refill and restock my Tailwind Nutrition mix. I’ve heard that there were issues with water shortages at a few of the aid stations later in the race. As for course marshaling and management, this was excellent! Volunteers were abundant and the SFPD and Biker crews made sure all runners were safe and supported. Another benefit this year was free race photos – such a cool thing…thanks SFM!
Finishers. Again, SFM is a group of events. By my review of the results, the finisher counts were:
Post-Race. The post race area was average for any event – good flow for the finish and the usual food and SWAG booths. Because the shut down the Embarcadero, there are plenty of places to hang out and recover, which is always great.
Medal/Shirt. Each marathon finisher received a coaster medal, which is specific to the 26.2 (the other distances are unique to that particular distance…and smaller.) As for the event shirt, the WESR (Wife’s Event Shirt Rating) is a 3.5/5. The color was basic, but the logo on the back was great this year, so it raised the rating. I didn’t like the official race apparel that they offered this year. IMHO, it was boring. The shirts were all basic colors and only text this year – I miss the cool shirts over the past few years: course map t-shirt from 2012, orange sunburst t-shirt from 2013. Needless to say, I left without any t-shirt souvenir. :( Bring back the cool shirts SFM!!!
This was my fifth marathon and I had PR hopes coming out of my training.
BUT, exactly one week out from the SFM, on my final, pre-race, long run, I jammed my foot on a speed bump. Of course. I didn’t have a bruise or any swelling; however, it was pretty sore on the bottom outside of my left foot – enough to cause a noticeable limp when walking that Sunday (no hiding it from my wife.) I didn’t go to the doctor, but did R.I.C.E it throughout each day until the SFM. I did a few short & easy check-out runs and rode my bike to stay loose that week. By the end of the week, I was feeling better and decided to stick with my original pacing strategy and goals, but also be flexible enough to adjust mid-race and forgo my goals to ensure I’d heal properly and be able to run the other runs I have scheduled for the remainder of 2014 (4 50Ks, 1 marathon, 1 half marathon, and a 10K.)
Bottom line: I certainly WAS NOT going to NOT run. Mainly out of stubbornness and also because this year was the final leg in my 52 Club challenge and I wanted to earn that sweatshirt.
With that, the goals for the day were:
In the end, I accomplished only one of the three: I had fun. The details about the other two are below…
Amidst the throngs of people, I was able to meet up with a friend at the start and run with her. This was Ruth Ann’s first SFM, so it was great to be able to run with her – especially since she was shooting for a sub-four finish. In the end, she made her sub-four…huge congrats to her!
My story didn’t play out as I had hoped/planned, though I still gritted out a time of 4:07:43 – which, after the initial, post-finish bummer attitude passed, I decided was a respectable finish time (even though it was my slowed 26.2 to date.)
If I said that my foot was pain free at the start, I’d be lying. It was “there”, but not enough to abandon my goals. So, at the horn I went for it!
I’m won’t recount each mile (you’re welcome), but I stayed pretty close to my mile-by-mile pacing plan through mile 15. In fact, my 13.1 split was actually just 18 seconds slower than my planned pace. My foot issue was noticeable, but not painful; however, as the first-half miles went on, it started to increasingly bug me. Ruth Ann knew about my foot, but I didn’t tell her it was starting to bug me as the first half went on. After we hit the mile 15 marker, I told her that that my foot was bugging me, I needed to pull over, and for her to keep on going. I was bummed, because I wanted to pace with her and be there when she finished sub-four, but it wasn’t meant to be… :(
After we separated, I transitioned to a run/walk/run pattern and still kept up a decent pace; however, I eventually realized that there was no way I could recover the pace or earn a PR. I considered just “sucking it up”, “embracing the suck”, and “running through the pain”, but didn’t’ want to aggravate my foot, given that I would be running a challenging 50K four weeks later. It’s funny, I actually thought I saw Ruth Ann ahead and increased my pace for a bit to catch up with her, only to discover that it was someone else wearing a similar singlet! WHA WAH WAH WAHHHH
It’s funny, once I accepted that a PR wasn’t happening and the race was about finishing with a respectable time, I was actually quite content. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t disappointed that I missed the PR, didn’t get to finish with Ruth Ann, or even grit out a sub-four. It smarted. But at the end of the day, it was about finishing, keeping the foot as healthy as possible, and positioning myself/it for recovery and running of the Headlands 50K (plus the other races through the end of the year.)
So, I crossed the line with a 4:07:43 finish time – again, my slowest to date – but knowing that I earned my 52 Club sweatshirt, still with a decent time, and positioned to heal and run well another day.
Some photos from the day:
Fueling. I did my usual, pre-race, carb loading/regimen: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +1000 calories above my normal day. Race-day fueling: Bagel with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours. During the race, I drank about 45 ounces of Tailwind Nutrition’s Mandarin Orange mix.
Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Buff, tech shirt from the 2012 Big Sur Half Marathon (I seem to wear this for races alot!), Armpocket armband, Amphipod handheld, Garmin 910XT, Road ID (Slim), Mio Link heart rate band, Brooks Essential 3.5″ Split Short, CEP Compression Sleeves, Injinji Run 2.0 socks, Altra The One(2) shoes.