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GO! St. Louis Marathon - RunMarathon

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St. Louis, Missouri
United States
GO! St. Louis
70F / 21C
Total Time = 3h 07m 40s
Overall Rank = 45/2080
Age Group = 25-29
Age Group Rank = 15/206
Pre-race routine:

I kept it the same as I always do. Spaghetti pie the nights before the race, and Maple & Brown Sugar oatmeal the morning of.
I was up at about 4 because Miles woke up hungry. Rather than just wait for my alarm to go off at 4:30, I got up and got the morning started. I was able to roll out of the house by about 5:00. I arrived downtown, directly in front of Union Station at 5:15. I sat in the car and watched things come alive while listening to some RATM and Limp Bizkit. Very calming!
Event warmup:

Took off at about 6:40 to warm up down the street. Went through my normal range-of-motion warm up drills to work out all the kinks. By 6:55, I was able to hop into a portapotty without standing in line at all, and then jump the fence and get in line about 8-10 rows from the front of the race. The race was delayed 5-7 minutes, so I stretched a bit more and just tried to stay loose. I was eerily calm.
  • 3h 07m 40s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 07m 10s  min/mile

Next thing I know, we're off, like being shot out of a cannon. I make a concerted effort not to 'eat the paste.' I know that the initial surge is going to carry me along quickly, especially because it is down hill, but I am still concerned that the first mile is too fast. Tons of people are passing me, huffing and puffing away, ready to burn out by 5k. I let them all go, and keep being what I think to myself, is disciplined. It feels so easy. Too easy. That is good, it should feel really easy. I imagine that if I were running the half marathong, I'd be going out even faster. Satisfied with that, I continue to cruise at about a 7-flat pace.
About an hour into the race, a tan, shirtless, sopping wet kid came up on my left shoulder. I could see he had something scrawled on his chest and back in permanent marker, so I thought I would make a small talk for a minute, and said, "What's it say? Oh 'YELL GO MARC.' Nice." His only response is, "Yeah, Marc." Wow, what an interesting character. He was a tool, and it was affecting everybody around him. As he ran on ahead, every single spectator was so amused, they actually yelled "GO MARC." So he was the only one in the crowd getting any love, which was pretty annoying since we all had our names on our bibs (which by the way, I loved about this marathon). A couple other runners near me commented about how obnoxious it was getting. So, knowing only one way to fix the problem, I passed him until I couldn't hear about him any more. I was happy to have that distraction out of the way. Onwards and upwards!
I was cruising right along, picking off people as I made my way into Forest Park. At this point, I was really racing, and it was pretty clear that it was taking more and more effort to maintain my pace. Still, there was a certain amount of comfortability that told me I was going to be able to work through the difficult hilly area of Clayton, and enjoy the backstretch on Delmar. I didn't know it at the time, but I was truly in te midst of the definition of "leaving it all out there" as I trotted confidently through the half-marathon point in 1:30:45, less than a minute off my half-marathon PR. I was really looking forward to Mile 15 in particular because the girls volleyball team I coach were the volunteers for that handed out gels and encouragement. They did a great job, and it was awesome to get a boost of energy through there!
Next, I was motivated by knowing that I would see my wife, 2 children, sister-in-law and her boyfriend, at mile 16. It was terrific how much noise they made for me. I was feeling pretty strong, and even optimistic about possibly going around 3:03 or 3:04, at that point. I got through the hilly areas while keeping myself together. I was ready for some downhill action.
Well, there was plenty of downhill, but not much action. I imagined I would be hitting 6:45's here, loving life, flying into U City, getting amped up for a strong last 10k. But the opposite was true. It barely felt comfortable to run a 7 pace, and I knew a final push of any sort was going to be almost impossible. I kept fighting the heat by drinking what I could handle, and by dumping water on my head to stay cool. It may have only been 70-ish, but it felt oppressive.
I still hit mile 22 in 7-flat, which was awesome, but the wheels were falling off, and I quickly turned to damage control mode. I was running scared. I would check my watch and try to do some quick math. It was probably all wrong, in retrospect, but I came up with the minimum speeds I could run to still meet the qualifying standard of 3:10:59 for Boston. With every step my cushion got smaller and smaller. I wasn't upset with myself, or even frustrated by what was happening. I was ever-present, and thought about what it felt like to try to run up a long hill with absolutely no energy left. I felt like I could still breath okay (which perhaps wasn't even true), but I didn't have another gear for my legs. The best way to describe the experience of the last few miles would be to suggest that it was like putting on a sweatsuit and a lead vest (like at the dentist's office) and be forced to run a treadmill knowing the if you stop you'll fall off, and just to add to it, the lights are really dim even though you know it is supposed to be a sunny day. The legs were on autopilot, I think, just doing whatever it took to keep me upright and moving forward. They performed admirably to the last step.
The final 3-4 miles were the hardest I've ever run. Period. The "wall," which I met head on, but doubtedly climbed completely over, was more formidable on Sunday than it was during my marathon at Ironman Louisville '08 (and it was 100F that day!).
Also during this final stretch, I mentioned the darkness that seemed to have clouded my head. I remember wanting to stop very badly. My body begged for rest. Even my mind wanted a break from the constant "go Go GOOO!" that I was force-feeding it. Twice I closed my eyes. Just for 5-10 steps. Each time I opened them I said, "Shit, I'm still running." I tried like hell to shake the heavy feeling in my legs, but they were topped at a 8:xx pace. Not even the double-caffeine Gu I choked down earlier was making an impact.
Making the turn to head for the marathon finish line was loud, and awesome, but I didn't have the wherewithall to look for a camera, let alone smile at one. At that moment, my sense of pride was overshadowed by sheer exhaustion and then tremendous pain.
Today, it is quite the opposite. It was a very hard-earned 3:07:40, and one that I'm extremely pleased about.
What would you do differently?:

I would be more careful to go out more slowly. I knew it was too quick, but it just felt so ridiculously easy. I couldn't convince myself to really dial it back until mile 3, which was a much more reasonable starting pace.

Post race
Warm down:

This one was executed in the med-tent. Two volunteers drug me onto a cot and took my pulse and asked me some questions. I heard one of them say my pulse was 200bpm. That's excessive for me!! I could barely keep my eyes open. Overheating and dehydration are a little scary. Ice bags under my arm-pits offered some relief, but it took a long time to get my core temp down. I was given about 70oz of gatorade and water, and some salty foods before I felt less like death.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The weather was a beatdown. But I was limited by my hydration level probably. Those are decision-making issues that I have control over. Still, I don't think there's anything I'll come to regret about how I ran this race. I went for it. I let it all hang out, and while a positive split like I pulled isn't always ideal, I think I came very close to getting the most out of myself.

Event comments:

I think the event is terrific. The course is a gorgeous challenge. The volunteers at aid stations were energetic. The medical staff at the finish treated me really well. This is a rock solid race.

Last updated: 2010-02-08 12:00 AM
03:07:40 | 26.2 miles | 07m 10s  min/mile
Age Group: 15/206
Overall: 45/2080
Performance: Good
1. 6:51 2. 7:02 3. 7:13 4. 6:57 5. 7:10 6. 7:09 7. 7:09 8. 6:54 9. 6:47 10. 6:57 11. 7:01 12. 7:09 13. 6:58 14. 7:10 15. 7:22 (long hill) 16. 7:10 17. 7:05 18. 7:06 19. 7:03 20. 7:09 21. 7:19 22. 7:00 23. 8:03 24. 7:58 25. 8:22 26. 7:26 27. …
Course: Down a hill, up a hill. Repeat.
Keeping cool Average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %yup!
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? No
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2010-04-12 4:12 PM

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St. Louis
Subject: GO! St. Louis Marathon

2010-04-12 8:51 PM
in reply to: #2786352

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Subject: RE: GO! St. Louis Marathon
AWESOME race report. Love it. Congrats.
2010-04-12 8:59 PM
in reply to: #2786352

Subject: RE: GO! St. Louis Marathon
good race. Your race report is way too long for me to read-I don' t have that big of an attention span-but it sounds like you had a good time.
2010-04-12 9:22 PM
in reply to: #2786352

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St. Louis
Subject: RE: GO! St. Louis Marathon
Awesome race and congrats on the BQ.  That is a smokin fast pace.  I thought about you when I hit the half turn around.  I was glad I was only doing 13.  It was definitely getting warm.  Anyway, way to go.  That is quite an accomplishment. 
2010-04-15 8:27 AM
in reply to: #2786352

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St. Louis
Subject: RE: GO! St. Louis Marathon

thanks, all! 

and i'm happy to report that i'm not walking funny any more.  feeling much better!


2010-04-24 11:49 PM
in reply to: #2786352

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St. Louis
Subject: RE: GO! St. Louis Marathon
Congratulations!!! Dude, you hit the wall and smashed right through it. WTG!!! You earned it

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