CTR Mt. Diablo marathon 2014
|September 8, 2014
|Posted by Melinda under Event Report, Product Reviews
Isn’t life a lot more fun when nothing goes to plan?
As I’m driving down 680 (a bay area major high way or interstate or something) I had a blow out.
Now, I often wonder as I plan my routes to various running events, “what if I get a flat tire?”.
The obvious answer is “I would change it”, but that’s not the point because the question is really asking “what will I do if nothing goes to plan and I have to deal with *stuff*”.
Tires are just easier to quantify.
I’m sure I set the record for “girl clad in spandex changes own tire”. I changed it in 10 minute LIKE A BOSS. About 12 minutes from taking the key out of the transmission to starting Earl Grey and pulling into traffic.
I was highly motivated by the fact that I was changing a tire between my car and a concrete wall, next to traffic moving 70 mph, and theoretically I could still make it to the race start on time if everything else went *perfectly*.
It took me an additional 10 minutes to get back on track since I had to pull over on an exit that was really a highway splitting off and had to go down said highway (24) before turning around at an exit and getting back on 680.
tire+slight detour meant that I was cutting race time very close.
Very very close.
And the excitement and adrenaline of the whole adventure is what I’m blaming my distraction on. The distraction that prevented me from realizing that somehow during the whole thing the GPS had reset itself to take me to the trailhead on the *other* side of Mt. Diablo. A fact I didn’t realize until I was at the *other* trail head trying to pay for parking and it was the wrong amount and then I realized I wasn’t in Clayton and the correct trail head was 40 minutes away.
It was 8am. The race started at 8am.
I won’t lie. It took a full 15 minutes for me to decide that if they let me start, 40 min late, I would run the marathon.
Because what I really wanted to do was go pick up my tshirt, justify driving home, and declare I was never going to pre-register for an event again, having just wasted $63.
But after sending just 2 whiny texts about my predicament to people who hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet, I had pulled on my big girl panties (completely figurative panties, but “pulling on my trail shorts” doesn’t have the same ring) and decided I would BEG coastal trail runs for the privilege of doing their marathon 40 min late.
Because there wasn’t a chance in the world I would run this sort of hill mileage on my own between now and my fifty miler. And the mental aspect of starting 40 min late and the adrenaline and excitement of the morning made for really good 50/100 mile training.
Not to mention a good blog post.
I ran up to the registration table where they knew me by name, ran to get my bib, took my keys for safekeeping and sent me on my way.
There’s a lot of ways to add 40 min to an endurance race. Once I could think straight, I remembered the sheer number of stories during 50’s or 100’s where a runner could spend 40 min trying to work out a cramp, or puking. Driving around in a car for 40 min and fixing a flat does seem like a more enjoyable way to add 40 min to a run time, don’t you think? Things really could be worse.
Have multiple goals
Not just having your A goal, but also a B and C goal so that when things unpredictably (or predictably since it *is* distance running) go south, you can still play the mental game of keeping yourself going forward.
I picked this race specifically because an age group award would qualify me for the end of the year “Blazer award”. That was my A goal.
My B goal, which quickly became my main goal since toeing the start line 40 min late isn’t exactly a recipe for winning your age group, was to finish in 6ish hours.
Surely I am finally capable of running a half way decently fast marathon? Good God I was able to run my very first road marathon severely undertrained and do it well under 6 hours!!!!!
This goal perhaps wasn’t realistic since if I had bothered to look up course records, I would have seen that the FASTEST people have EVER run this course is in 4 1/2 hours – a time that is comparatively terribly slow to most marathon courses and should have given a glimpse into the difficulty of this run.
Lastly there is the ever trusty “C” goal. Trudging along at the 5 hour mark, my C goal was to finish. Just to finish. At some point in every race I hit a low spot where no matter what my previous goals for the race were, I’m ALWAYS doing it just to finish. Sometimes I snap out of it and am able to go for a B or A goal, and sometimes the “to finish” C goal takes me to the finish line.
And then, a couple miles from the finish I realized with a bit of push, I could finish in sub 7. So I picked up a nice little tempo pace and raced in for a 6:57 finish. (they mercifully had the finish clock off at the finish so I didn’t have to see that my *actual* time was 7:40ish and I could go off my watch).
And, because life is sweet, through the luck of either being the only one in my age group (not sure yet) or running a really good race (aside from starting late), they handed me a first place age group medal when I crossed the finish line. A goal achieved after all!!!!!!!!
Brain governor reset
I’m a little shocked that I ran so very well yesterday and still barely squeeked sub seven. And yet I’m reminded that to focus on finish time is a fallacy for trail races. Each race is unique terrain and to compare my marathon times across different trail races isn’t fair.
I was in the bottom third of the pack, but not last (interestingly, the person that finished ahead of me finished in 6:57 – my exact unofficial time. The forty min late start only cost me between 0-1 placings!), which for a race with this type of terrain is about right.
Bottom line: A seven hour marathon yesterday wasn’t my worst marathon even if it was one of my slowest.
This was my first marathon since doing my 50 mile run and I noticed something very peculiar. My brain governer has reset for the marathon distance.
You know – that thing in your brain that is constantly matching precieved effort against future predicted effort and decides how much fatigue you will feel.
Usually at a marathon start I’m cautious. Keep that heart rate down and definitely no running up hills.
At this race, even when faced with all the ingredients for major bonk (hills, heat, solo, mental stress) I never felt like I was close to running on empty.
Oh sure, I got tired, I had some minor walls. At the end I was done…..but it was amazing. I ran harder during this marathon – and my mythical governer allowed it – nay encouraged it, and I felt great during the whole thing. No physical issues. No IT band issues. No cramping.
A perfectly executed race that allowed a tempo pace for the last couple miles into the finish, a sprint at the end feeling exactly the right amount of tired.
What’s interesting is I didn’t get that boost from doing a 50k, or doing longer-than-26-mile training runs. The fifty mile is what it took.
Training through races
Why train through races? Because I would never do that to myself. The miles? The heat? Being out there for hours and hours and hours? Ummmm no thank you. I got such a good training run in on a kick ass trail. It might be different if I had a training group or friends that I ran with, but for now, to push myself a little bit harder on trails that are my weakness (hard ground and huge hills) I need a t-shirt and some EZUps sheltering M&Ms, bananas and peanut butter sandwiches on pasty white bread.
Not to mention that sometimes races take you to really cool places – like the top of Mt. Diablo.
I decided to use my Altra Lone Peak 1.5’s for the entire race. The only other significant mileage I’ve put on them was the last half of my 50 miler. The Mount Diablo ground is really hard and there’s rocks – I felt like it was a good test of the shoes since I bought them exactly for this situation.
The good news? My feet felt significantly less beat up at the end of the race, and the day after. And even with ample opportunity for rock bruising – I didn’t get one.
The bad news? I can’t keep my toes from hitting the toe box when running down hill. I’ve NEVER had this issue. But this shoe – while having ample toe room, has a sloppy fit in the heel and over the midfoot. I tried all sorts of lace tweaks and nothing worked.
I fear I may have finally earned that elusive badge of running – the blackened toenails.
Hard to tell since they are currently painted a dark metallic blue.
Where do I go from here? See what’s on the market for zero drop cushion when it’s time and continue to rotate the shoes I have picking the “best” (but alas not perfect) shoe for the situation.
One ear piece went out mid way through the race (sounded like a wire?), and then went completly dead a couple miles from the finish.
Lovely. They are about 5 months old. I’m going to contact the company and see if a little squeaky can put some grease on the wheel.
Darn tough lived up to their name. NO HOLES IN THE TOES. First 10 + mile run I’ve been able to do on the trail without ruining a pair of socks.
OMG I <3 this pack. Can’t wax on too eloquently since I suspect I’m writing a full review for ultrarunner podcast who supplied it to me, but I started off using this pack as a skeptic, then as a convert and now I’m a true believer who has found true love.
I really really really really really really really really really hope they let me keep the pack.
Because otherwise I might be much poorer having bought one of my own.
The 50 mile Pioneer Spirit (Elemental Running) in October! It’s a relatively flat race so knowing I have enough base to handle some hills, I’ll turn my focus on extending my tempo runs.
Oh and clinics and ponies and being a newlywed and doggies and entertaining a certain bird and….