Tuesday, November 20, 2012

RACE REPORT : Philadelphia Marathon 2012

The Day Before the Day Before
- Normal (busy) day at work, but got out at 5pm, super excited.
- Slept 6 hours
- Normal fueling

The Day Before
- Woke at 5am to fly out at 8am

- Started carbo-loading.  5g/kg of carbs / body weight is the minimum, 7g/kg is medium, and 10g/kg is ideal.  I knew it would have to be more morning-heavy, since as you get later in the day, there's less time for whatever else you have to digest before race time.  Here's what I had, along with nutritional info:
I tried to keep it going throughout the day, taking in the next dose whenever I felt like I could eat it without feeling uncomfortably full.  It was tough!  I don't know what my usual calorie count is, so I don't know how 1650 compares (I'd think that I normally hit about 2,000), but I couldn't have done more without feeling stuffed at certain points during the day.  

- Upgraded to 1st... nice.
- Landed, and met up with my friend from college.  We drove to the hotel in the middle of the city.  It was located only 0.5 mi from the expo, which was really convenient... ones less parking issue to worry about.
- Walked to the expo.  Got our numbers and shirts, really quickly and easily.


- My friend's ITs had been bugging her knees, so she was going to try the KT taping booth.  It was interesting to watch the KT team work on people... I love the science of sport, so I like to learn what I can about PT from my PT buddy and KT from these guys.  Tip: if you think you may need KT, wear shorts under your pants.  I decided to do my left knee (the one that's been yoinking) while I was there.  We waited maybe 30 minutes.
Very professional.  My taping was for knee stability purposes.  How did it go? I gotta say, that I didn't have any knee yoinks over the 26.2 miles... I don't know if it was the calf compression sleeves or the tape, but one of those seem to help very much.  I had used the compression sleeves during one of my training runs, and there were no yoinks then, either, so it could've been either.  It didn't seem to be as helpful to my friend, but we think that the taping had been applied to the wrong place for her.
- Next, we looked at a few more booths and got some SWAG.
- On the way back to the hotel, we picked up Chili's for her, and we prepped our racing kits.  It was still just 3:45ish.
- I was kind of light-headed today... don't know if it's the OD of glucose in my brain or the airplane.  Airplanes don't give me issues, so maybe it's related to my hyper-carb day.
- I was kind of tired at 5pm and rested my eyes while my friend read and watched tv.  I got up to use the restroom a few times.  My friend went to bed at around 10pm.  I tossed and turned until 4am.  My mind was racing.  I didn't have any caffeine, but I felt as alert as if I had.

Race Morning
- Fueled, hot showered, suited up in my gear.
- Packed quickly, since we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to find parking.
- Parked off-street, about 0.75 miles from the start. Waited in the car a little while as I put on some final gear.  Then, it was time to head towards the start.  It was in the low 30s.
- We arrived about an hour pre-race.  Our first stop was the porta-potties, and the lines were nearly empty, which was great.
- Next, we scoped out the gear check area.  UPS had vans lined up by last name.  We found a spot to camp out near the van so that we could continue to wear warm clothes as long as possible before taking off our warmups and heading towards the corrals.  We found a nice pallet to sit on and just took in the race day excitement.  My friend's roommate had given her the instant hand warmers, which were great for sticking into our gloves... it made a huge difference.
(City Hall in the background)
- Finally, it was time to just dive into the cold pool.  Took off the warmups, checked in the bag, and walked over to the corrals.  Appreciated other runners' body heat.  I was wearing a sports bra, arm sleeves, gloves with the thermal packs, shorts with side pockets, calf sleeves, my visor and shades, and my Kinvaras.  I had a Shuffle with tunes for the race.
- I met my Clif Bar pacer, and people started congregating.  There are always many women around the BQ pacer.  The woman next to me was doing her 10th attempt.  I didn't catch her number, so I don't know how she did, but I hoped she made it. 
- The pacer's strategy for an even effort race (slower on the uphills, faster on the downhills, otherwise, even splits) perfectly matched my own, so I had a lot of confidence in him.  This was to be his 43rd marathon, and he has a PR of just over 3 hours. 
- There were wave starts, and it worked really well.  We were off relatively quickly, and the crowds weren't bad.
- Time to get the run on. 

The Race
Oh, the race...
- First mile, kept it on.  During the initial walk to the start, it was crowded, and my pacer got maybe 40 feet ahead of me.  I figured I'd gradually catch him, though, and 40 feet is nothing, so I wasn't too concerned.  Started off smoothly.  I actually ended up running on the opposite side of the street to the pacer to many of the early miles, and actually, for pretty much the whole time I was with him.  In Albany, my strategy was to stick right behind the group to draft, but I think both strategies were optimal for their situations.  In Albany, the crowds were sparse, so mobility within the stream of runners wasn't an issue, and sparse crowds means less opportunities to draft unless you're with a group.  Here, there were plenty of people to block wind, even if you weren't in a pace group.  It would probably slow you down a bit to run right in the middle of the group, too, because there was a big continent behind him, and perhaps mobility in that pack would've been tricky. 
- The water stops were good.  In the early miles, the crowds are medium-sized.  You're just getting in the groove.  I'd look over to the right slightly to check that I was still more-or-less in line with my pacer.  Especially in the turns of the course, it was useful to be slightly in front of the pacer, to avoid the big pack.   I liked that part of my strategy very much.
- At mile 6-7, along Chestnut Street, the crowds were multiple-people deep and LOUD and ENTHUSIASTIC.  That was my absolute favorite part.  It just made me smile the whole time that I was running down.  I loved the crowds there.  A lot of other runners seemed to have my name, too, because there were many signs for "Jen", which is nice to see, even if you're not that Jen.  The race numbers also had our names on them, and I always really appreciated it whenever any spectators singled me out - I always tried to thank them early on, although that would stop at around mile 20, haha...
- Mile 7 is the first gradual uphill, going at about 2.5 (maybe... that was just what I had estimated, although it felt more like 3) for 1.2 miles or so.  I'd fall behind a little bit on the ups, but I'd catch up on the downs, as usual. 
- Mile 9 is the steep but relatively short hill - 7 degrees for 0.3 mi.  Not too bad.  Got our first Clif Shots at around mile 10.  I had taken in my own shots at miles 3 and 8 (worth 3 coffees total), so I just grabbed two more and stuffed them into my pockets.  I had also had 1 gel about an hour pre-race, along with 2 chocolate-covered coffee beans.
- Mile 11, I saw Spartans.
- Mile 12, I was a bit ahead of my pace group, but it felt right.
- Another good friend from college, who was still working in Princeton, was coming out to cheer, too.  She's a good, good friend, and I hadn't seen her in 2-3 years.  She was going to be cheering at the 13 mile mark, so for a lot of the first half, I was getting really excited at the possibility of seeing her.  It would be tough with the crowds, but who knows.  It turns out that she got stuck on the half marathon side, so she wasn't able to see us run by, though, so I didn't see her.
- After the 13 mile mark by the Art Museum, it's out onto Fairmont Park, to Manayunk, and back.  The pace team caught back up.  At mile 14, it started getting harder to keep up, but I hung in til about mile 16.  We started seeing the elites come by, and it was fun to cheer the early ones on as they passed.
- I probably started falling behind at about this time.  People say that you can have bad patches during the marathon but get through them, so I was hoping that it would just be a bad patch.  I saw the 10th-attempt runner again... or really, she saw me and encouraged me as she passed, which was super-sweet of her. 
- The pace team gradually drifted away.  I kept up hope that I'd collect myself and get back to normal and even strengthen for the final miles.  Just keep going.
- Manayunk was longer than I had imagined.  I kept hoping to see the turnaround.  It was hillier than I expected... steeper, too.  It was tough.  At the turnaround, I saw how much I was falling behind.  Had to keep going and hoping, though.  Now, it was just the journey back.
- I knew Boston was drifting away, but I decided that I was going to run for my friends who came to run with me and to watch me, and that gave me strength.  I kept up a pace that was still as movin' as I could handle, but that was controlled enough so that I wouldn't blow up any further.  I noticed that in the last 10K, I was much more mentally aware than I ever was.  I think my glycogen levels were fine, especially as evidenced by my brain function.  I think it was really my muscles that weren't holding up their end.  Lifting my quads and pushing off were just getting hard, as if my legs were sapped.  It kind of felt like one feels when one has lactic acid buildup.  I didn't push as hard on my training runs during this cycle.  I think that contributed to what was happening.  I need more fatigue-resistance training.  I thought adding extra volume (by like 20%) during this cycle would make me a better runner, even if my runs were at a slower pace, but I think I need to change that up for my next marathon.  I need to do plyos and the hard-effort runs that I thrive on.  I had feared that those would make me peak too early or make me more prone to injury, but I don't think those risks outweigh what happened.

- Based on my friend's target time, I had estimated earlier that I'd either see her on the opposite side of the out-and-back at either the 21 mile mark, the 22 mile mark, or somewhere in between.  Something that kept my body moving forward and my mind occupied was looking for her.  In between, the outbound side would do a side-trip across a bridge, and there were some other separations, so I hoped that we wouldn't be missing each other because of it.  I didn't end up seeing her, but I later found out that she had seen me at the last possible second, but that it was too late to call out.
- The last few miles, just hanging in there.  At about 1.5 miles left, there was a guy dressed up in an inflatable sumo suit who had a sign that said "If you stop, I'm gonna eat you, and he must be a runner or something, because his tone of voice in his cheering showed that he knew just what we needed... really loud, earnest, motivational, talking to the deepest parts of your heart, stuff.  He actually ran with another guy who was behind me for a while, too.  That's probably my favorite cheerer.
- It was tough, and now, I was thinking that when I crossed the line, and I was able to find the friend who was here teo cheer, that I'd just ask her to hold me for 10 minutes to make the exhaustion and hurt go away.
- The last mile was rough.  I thought my form might start deteriorating to the point where I'd pull something, so it took all the mental strength I had to force my body to keep up good form.  Even if the crowds were loud and cheering, in the last miles, it's hard for me to notice, unfortunately.  If I wasn't as tired and struggling, I'd notice the crowds, but that all fades away when it gets rough.
- Finally, crossed the line in 3:39:23.  No Boston, sad.  Sad, sad, sad.  I didn't even want to look at my time when I was at the 26 mile mark because it would make me sad.  I had finished, though, for my friends.  I reconnected with my pacer at the food tent.  He was really gracious and nice.  Too bad about the result, though.  Got my gear bag really easily (thanks, UPS!) and made my way up back upstream on the spectator side to try to find my running friend.  That was another big effort.  I dropped stuff a couple of times because I was juggling food and camera equipment, and it was hard to pick it up.  Walking was difficult, too.  It felt like wading through an upstream river, hoping to get there in time.  It was really a short distance, maybe 0.35 mi, but I felt so slow.  I finally found a spot in the crowd that I could fit into, and I started the lookout.  This was my friend's first marathon, by the way.  Sticking my head out over the gate to see the oncoming people a little bit sideways made me a little dizzy after a while... that plus the noise and the exhaustion, but I stayed vigilant.  4:15 passed... 4:30 passed (her estimated time had been 4:15, but since I didn't see her on the out-and-back, I figured that she had probably struggled somewhere along the way.  I just prayed that she wasn't injured and on the side of the road, but I figured that she was really ok and was just still coming along.  I saw a bear run and took a video... it was fun.  I really want to do a race (any distance) in costume one day.
video
Not long after, I saw my friend, but I failed to push the 'record' button all the way, so I didn't get any video.  And it turns out that she had something against the bear, too, haha... the bear had run at least 3 miles leap-frogging her, but it looks like it passed her.  I think it would be funny to see my friend fight the bear.  Anyway, saw her and cheered for her.  She looked good and still doing well, or at least put on a happy face for me, haha.  Time to go back downstream.  On my way back to the gear check area, my cheering friend caught up with me, and we walked down together.  We finally all met up and took some pics.
We hobbled over to Wholefoods, where I satisfied the protein craving that I had after that muscle damage, salt loss, and carbo-loading. 

Unfortunately, I didn't have the bib# of the 10-time attempter, so I don't know how she did.  I feel like and hope that she made it, but who knows.  Third time was not a charm for me... but... you know how many peoples' final 10K strategy is to think about a person for each mile of the last 6?  I did that at my first marathon, with the plan to be thanking God for them along the way, although I only was able to do the first two people before my mind went completely fuzzy.  Well, today, of the 6 people from that list, I got to run with one of them and see another one of them today, so I couldn't ask for more.

Splits> 1- 8:29, 2- 9:08 (I think this was long), 3-4 - 15:22 for 2 (7:41), 5- 8:13, 6-8 - 24:27 for 3 (8:09), 9- 8:08, 10- 8:26, 11-12 - 15:58 for 2 (7:59), 13- 8:02, 0:49 for 0.1 at the half, 14- 7:49, 15- 8:03, 16- 8:15, 17- 8:24, 18- 8:29, 19- 8:34, 20- 8:46, 21- 8:38, 22- 8:36, 23- 8:40, 24- 8:33, 25- 8:59, 26- 9:31, 1:47 for 0.2.  Hmm... maybe I ran some of the early miles fast. 

2 comments:

bruce yang said...

Congratulations Jen. While I was reading and looking at the online news, articles, photos from the 2012 Philadelphia marathon, I came across your blog. It is very entertaining to read about your experience at the marathon. Thank you for running with the group. It was my pleasure and honor to be the 3:35 pacer and it was my way to give back to the running community. Yes, it must be quite disappointing and frustrating to have come so close to BQ. The bright side is that you still achieved a really awesome fast marathon time. 3:39 is no joke. That is some really fast time. I want to thank you for writing such a wonderful blog about the 2012 Philadelphia marathon. It totally made me relive the wonderful experience. During the marathon, I was so focused on hitting the goal time that I almost did not remember what happened along the way :) I totally agree that mile marker 2 was way off :) The marathon course was certified but the mile markers were not. So occasionally, many marathons have missing mile markers or misplaced mile markers. Again, congratulations on your 3:39 2012 Philadelphia Marathon finish. That is some extraordinary running achievement that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Rest well, recover, and there is always another day for BQ.
Bruce

bruce yang said...

Congratulations Jen. While I was reading and looking at the online news, articles, photos from the 2012 Philadelphia marathon, I came across your blog. It is very entertaining to read about your experience at the marathon. Thank you for running with the group. It was my pleasure and honor to be the 3:35 pacer and it was my way to give back to the running community. Yes, it must be quite disappointing and frustrating to have come so close to BQ. The bright side is that you still achieved a really awesome fast marathon time. 3:39 is no joke. That is some really fast time. I want to thank you for writing such a wonderful blog about the 2012 Philadelphia marathon. It totally made me relive the wonderful experience. During the marathon, I was so focused on hitting the goal time that I almost did not remember what happened along the way :) I totally agree that mile marker 2 was way off :) The marathon course was certified but the mile markers were not. So occasionally, many marathons have missing mile markers or misplaced mile markers. Again, congratulations on your 3:39 2012 Philadelphia Marathon finish. That is some extraordinary running achievement that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Rest well, recover, and there is always another day for BQ.
Bruce