I kept it off social media. Maybe for selfish reasons. Maybe for the fear of putting it out there (again) and falling short (again). Maybe I thought that if no one knows about it, I can go out and finally reach this goal. Maybe I was fooling myself.
Rewind back to the end of November 2014 — I decided to take a few months off from racing constantly and focused on trying to train myself. February came around and 8 miles into my attempt to break 3:30, hamstring blew up and hopes and dreams were shattered. Looking back, I had set myself up for failure.
After that, I decided I needed some help. I started working with a strength trainer to figure out why the right side of my body was falling apart and how I could become a much stronger runner. Angela Tieri was recommended through a friend and she quickly broke down some problem areas I needed to focus on and built me a regimen, along with exercises to help that hammy issue. CHECK!
I then started working with a running coach, Daniel Clayton, co-leader of November Project San Francisco. (pictured below as we discuss race strategy days before). He put me on a 16-week plan and I was secretly-not-so-secretly training for a marathon. Honestly, I’ve never been on an X-week plan since my very first marathon back in 2006… I’ve sort of just been winging it this whole time, and it’s amazing how I’ve made it this far considering the work we put in.
Okay. Background story covered, now onto race day.
The plan: 8 min splits the entire was to a 3:29 finish.
The back-up plan: keep it faster than 8:15 to a PR.
mile 1: 8:04
mile 2: 7:52
mile 3: 8:03
mile 4: 8:03
mile 5: 7:58
mile 6: 8:00
mile 7: 8:10
mile 8: 7:56
mile 9: 8:01
mile 10: 8:04
mile 11: 8:08
mile 12: 8:10
mile 13: 8:21
1:45 at the half way point, feel good. There were some unexpected climbs the last couple miles that I wasn’t expecting. Those splits are strong tho, exactly on pace for 3:30. It’s funny because at this point, unlike any other race I make a note of how good I’m breathing over the last few miles… how I’m keeping a really consistent pace and I don’t fell like I’m putting in a strenuous effort. Much different from previous races.
mile 14: 8:10
mile 15: 8:02
mile 16: 8:20
mile 17: 8:49 (stopped to tighten up shoes, blister formed, but didn’t bother me the rest of the way)
mile 18: 8:16
mile 19: 8:28
Since about mile 16, I haven’t been able to take a deep breath. I wasn’t working hard, legs felt pretty good, on par with what you would expect at this stage in the race… not really a side stitch, but I just couldn’t take inhale/exhale properly. It had been bothering me for the last couple miles and I was trying to power through, but it just really started to mess with me. I had to shorten my stride and as you can see the pace slowed since 16.
At mile 17, the 3:33 pacer passes me, but I feel like he is going a few minutes fast, but I’m still holding onto a PR pace, around 3:30-3:35 range, through 19 miles.
mile 20: 8:59
mile 21: 9:50
mile 22: 11:06
mile 23: 10:26
mile 24: 11:48
mile 25: 12:22
mile 26: 11:57
At mile 20, I had to pull up. I still wasn’t able to breathe and I had been battling trying to catch my breath for the last few miles. If I walk, take a minute, maybe I can catch my breath and salvage the race for a 3:45. Sadly, that wasn’t the case, once I stopped, my focus and mental strength just called it quits. The last 6 miles were made up of running/walking. I basically went from an 8’s to 10+
Throughout the training cycle, I never had a strong long run over 16-17 miles. They sucked. Flat out. Sometimes it was the heat, sometimes it was fatigue. It was the one thing in the back of my mind that I was concerned about and it played out on race day. I was KILLING my speedwork. Repeats, progression runs, tempo runs, Yasso 800s, all were solid, exactly on par (if not faster) than what I was supposed to be doing. It was just those darn long runs that weren’t playing nicely.
- Hamstring. ZERO issues. Although I know I still have some work to do in the strength game, but it gave me zero problems and was never a factor on the course. I actually forgot about it after the first few miles.
- 20 miles at PR pace. Considering my long runs were well above 9 min miles on the average, I’ll take a strong 20 miles and look to build on it. I’ve always said that your overall marathon time is decided in the final 10K and that was clearly the case.
Keep moving forward:
I hit the wall, I bonked, call it what you will. But this is the closest I have been to 3:30. Although my overall time might look like some of my other attempts, this one felt different. I felt stronger. I felt more confident that this was something that I can do. I had some missteps in the training cycle, but now I know where I need to improve.
My apologies for keeping this one off social. I guess me and marathon number 29 needed some alone time.
That being said, marathon number 30 will be at CIM in Sacramento in December. It’s where I set my current PR of 3:37.
What are you planning for the fall (or winter) race season?