It not only sounded like a perfect course for me, but the timing was ideal too. The race was exactly 9 weeks after the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships. That would leave me one week to lay low and recovery from a long stretch of triathlon training before jumping right into an 8 week marathon specific training program. I had already taken that weekend off for Maya's birthday weekend, so my work schedule was not an issue. Sarah's parents have a cabin (that I have talked about before) in Cayuga, which is about a 30 minute drive south of Ashland. So there really was no reason not to do this race. As you could imagine, it didn't take long for me to be convinced that this was "THE" race for me to set my marathon PR and redeem myself from my first ever DNF. I jumped online and registered that day, the same day I posted my DNF. We made immediate plans with both my family and Sarah's family to make a long weekend of it and spend the weekend in Cayuga, and hopefully celebrate my new Marathon PR with Maya's impending birthday (on the 13th). Or so I thought....
Training for This Race
This year was the year for cookie cutter training programs. Every single year prior to this race season, I created my own custom, personalized, specific training program. But this year, I opted to scour the internet for training programs. I did this for a couple reasons (or excuses). One, I wanted some new workouts opposed to the usual workouts I would schedule myself. Two, I was a little lost when designing a program specific for Sprint distance triathlons. Three, I was looking for a marathon specific program that would theoretically prepare me adequately for a 2:59:59 or faster marathon. So, I utilized Runner World's free Smart Coach feature which allows you to create a "custom" training program based on a previous race result. I entered my half marathon time from this past April of 1:24:31 and scheduled my race date to be 8 weeks out with an average weekly mileage of 40-45. It spit out a weekly training program with prescribed paces for each workout. The program had me running 4 days a week; Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and a long run on Sunday. Below is a link to a PDF file of my training program.
In general, my training was spot on. I was hitting all my weekly mileage and my prescribed paces. I was feeling great throughout my entire training plan and was seeming to progress rather nicely. Typically, every Friday was a speed or tempo themed workout. My first speed workout was a 7 mile run consisting of 4 mile repeats which I did at my local track. It was during my last interval that I felt a similar tightness in my left calf. I finished my interval (stupid?) and proceeded to take an extra day off to insure proper recovery. I proceeded to train through the tightness, at the direction of my apparently newly appointed "coach," Sarah. I proceeded to make my next long run of 18 miles and just dealt with the tightness, but it never became such and issue where it hindered my run. All of long runs and most of my daily runs were done on local trails. I did this with the belief that it would better prepare my legs for the softer running surface of the Marathon. I ran on either the Wiouwash Trail or the Friendship Trail for most of my runs. My last long run was run on the Fox River Trail, South of Green Bay. I think this decision was as beneficial for my mental strength as it was for my running fitness, due to the simplicity of just running out and back for 10-20 miles at a time. Doing this forced myself to remain focused on my breathing, heart rate, feeling in my legs, and just listening to my body opposed to relying on the constant changing scenery or constant turning of city running.
PreraceI was fortunate enough to have off of work for most of the week leading up to the Marathon. My last night at work was on Saturday (into Sunday) October, 4th. I was then off Sunday through Wednesday. On Wednesday night I made a Ginger Beef Stir-Fry for dinner and didn't think anything of it... Until 12:30am that nigh, when Sarah and I were both woken up by Delaney screaming and crying. We both immediately thought she had wet the bed. Sarah went in to check on her and found that she had thrown up in bed. Within the next hour, Sarah was now puking. By 4:30am, Maya was now up throwing up. Grrrrrrreat....now the entire family will be struck down by the flu for the next 3-4 days and my hopes of running in the WhistleStop Marathon were going to be taken out by the flu. For whatever reason, I felt completely fine throughout the remainder of the night and woke up at 6:00am for my final training run before the race. I was scheduled to have SWAT Training from 8a-4p on Thursday and made it through the day with no stomach issues, even though my stomach never felt "right." Sarah ended up staying home from work on Thursday and all three girls just laid on the couch all day randomly puking throughout the morning. As the day progressed, however, the vomiting stopped and all three of them felt relatively better. After I got home from SWAT, I packed up the car and Sarah decided that they all felt well enough to make the 4 hour trip to the Northwoods. We were on the road for Cayuga by 6:00. Maya and Sarah were both asleep within the first 15 minutes of our drive, while Delaney stayed awake for the entire trip. We finally made it to the cabin minutes before 10pm and were unpacked and in bed around midnight. By the time we arrived, all three girls were feeling somewhat normal, albeit, tired and sore. We never really figured out if they had a form of stomach flu or a type of food poisoning from the stir-fry. I opted to sleep apart from Sarah and the girls in case they had the flu.
On Friday, I just laid low around the cabin, colored in Maya's coloring book, did some word searches, and watched some TV. I ate my scheduled menu for Friday, which was a pretty simple diet with all easily digestible foods and nothing new....and definitely no Ginger Beef Stir-Fry. At 3:30 I drove up to Ashland for the packet pick-up, which was about as simple as they come. I picked up my packet and walked through the couple of vendors that were selling their end of year gear and was back on the road heading back to the cabin within a half hour. After getting back to the cabin, I ate my dinner and hung out with the gang before heading over to my mom and dad's cabin for the night. My parents made the trip up north for the weekend that Friday night and got into town around 5:00. They rented a cabin for the weekend on Gordon Lake, which was about a 15 minute drive south of the my in-law's cabin. I was in bed around 8:30pm and was asleep before 9pm.
|Keeping busy with crayons|
|My morning breakfast|
|A view looking left from the start line...gorgeous!|
Nutrition PlanWhat I had planned for my race nutrition plan and what I actually did throughout the race were two completely different things. I won't dive into what I ended up doing on race day here, as I will let you read the actual report for that, I will just stay with what I had planned to follow on race day. So, I already discussed what I ate and drank for my pre-race breakfast after waking up that morning. I then continued to sip on my 53x11 Organic Coffee throughout the morning during the bus ride to the start line. At 8am, 1 hour before the race, I took, 2 Anti-Fatigue Caps, 2 Race Caps Supreme, 1 Mito Caps, and 1 Endurolyte. During the race my plan was to take a Hammer Gel at miles 3.9, 7.9, 12.2, 16, and 21.6. Doing this would provide me a total of 450 calories or about 150 calories per hour. My preferred flavor for the WhistleStop Marathon was the new Peanut Butter-Chocolate, which is seriously, the best flavor gel I have had. Throughout the race, I was planning on taking 2 Anti-Fatigue Caps at miles 10 and then at 20. I also had several Energy Surge tabs and Endurolytes to take as needed throughout the race. My plan was simple and had worked for me throughout all of long runs in training. To carry my pills and capsules, I bought a pack of 2.5"x3" resealable plastic bags which would keep my pills dry and separated without taking up a lot space.
Cheap, knee-high socks with the toe cut out to throw away during the race
Cheap, knit gloves that I can also throw away during the race
1 - 6:51
2 - 6:39
3 - 6:44
4 - 6:48
5 - 6:39
6 - 6:42
7 - 6:35
8 - 6:47
9 - 6:44
10 - 6:57
11 - 6:38
12 - 6:39
13 - 6:55
14 - 7:17
15 - 7:41
16 - 7:01
17 - 7:33
18 - 7:11
19 - 8:47
20 - 7:24
21 - 8:00
22 - 8:59
23 - 8:31
24 - 9:05
25 - 8:42
26 - 9:48
|Finisher's Jacket and Medal|
|My post race beer at South Shore Brewery|
The race itself, as I look back on it, was an awesome race. As I mentioned above, if I were to make on complaint it would be the quality of the running surface. For majority of the race, the trail surface was much softer and sandier than I had expected and frankly, more than desired. The course was uber scenic and there was rarely a section of the course that wasn't picturesque. There were large gorges with large wooden trestles. The fall colors were at their peak throughout the entire area. I would highly recommend running this race, if you are able to make the trip to Ashland. Just expect the course to be run on a sand/gravel covered trail. If you are able to accept this fact, its a race that I guarantee you will enjoy and not regret.
The Day in Music
I'm going to try doing something new here. I want to just put a song up that I feel summarizes my race. I am a huge believer in the power of music, not only to motivate, but to tell a story, effect emotions, or even inspire. I won't go into any details as to why I chose the song I did, and will leave that up to your own interpretation. So, for my first crack at this, I have chosen "Takes Me Nowhere," by The Offspring.
What's on Tap
|How lucky am I to have such a great support crew!!|
The more I sit here and think about it, I am torn. I don't know where to go. Almost immediately after I finished this race, Sarah looked at me and didn't offer any words of accomplishment, apathy, or congratulations. She simply looked at me with a disappointed face and said, "maybe you just need to step away for a year." I'll be honest, it pissed me off, it wasn't really what I wanted to hear at that moment in time. But, that's my wife, she's very strong, and bull headed. She doesn't sugar coat anything. Frankly, she has every right to share her emotions with me. She has made just as many sacrifices throughout the years for me to race and train, so I would be foolish to think she owes me anything. But those words stuck with me, and still stick in my mind. I wonder if maybe she's right, or if she was just speaking out of frustration from watching me train so hard just to continuously fall short. I honestly don't know what to think at this point. I know I want to run a sub 3 hour marathon more than anything. I know that I am unwilling to just give up. I am not a quitter, I will not give up, nor will I accept my mediocrity. I don't know what it will take for me to accept the fact that running a 2:59 marathon just might not be in my deck of cards. What I do know, is how I feel right now, as I sit here sore as hell, writing this report. I feel frustrated, angry, and a desire inside that is burning bigger and hotter than ever. I am motivated, driven, and unwilling to quit. I may have numerous other goals (just check out my bucket list), but none are more meaningful or more important that running 26.2 miles in under 3 hours. Right now, today, I am here to say I will most likely be running another marathon, hopefully early this spring. I think I am going to set aside my cycling and swimming fitness to focus on my running, if that's what it is going to take, that is what I shall do. I will train like a runner....not a triathlete. I will add strength training to my program to strength up my legs to better withstand the torture they endure over the course of a marathon. I will continue to refocus my diet and continue to pursue my desired body composition. Ultimately, I will run a 2:59 marathon. Mark my words.
So what now...like right now, the immediate future? I do need a break, I am not a fool. I need to recharge both physically AND mentally. I am taking a week or two off from working out and possibly 3-4 weeks off from running. I want to get in some yoga, strength training, swimming, and cycling before the snow starts to fall. So until then, I will continue to stay up to date with my blog, so stay tuned!
Thanks as always for following my journey throughout yet another successful race season!