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Mayor's Marathon - RunMarathon

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Anchorage, Alaska
United States
UAA Athletic Department & Municipality of Anchorage
68F / 20C
Total Time = 3h 48m
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

Nothing terribly different. Race start was 8am so got to sleep in a little bit. Stopped by Starbucks early for some pre race coffee and oatmeal then off to the start line.
  • 00m
  • 26.2 miles
  •  min/mile

I wasn't really sure how this race would pan out or how to even attack it. Training was going pretty well until around week 14 I ended up with a slight tear in my right calf. That left me with no running for approximately a four week lead in to the race and in the week of (taper week) I was finally able to start putting some miles in again. I knew my original goal of BQ was pretty much out the window but was at a loss for what I could actually manage. Figured I would just shake it out and see how I felt and run with it.

Considering the lack of running coming into the last month I planned to just take the start easy and feel it out while determining a race strategy. The original plan was to just lay back, run easy and have fun but it seems I'm not too capable of that, guess I'm a competitor. At the gun I just took it easy, covering the first mile in around 7:50 while thinking, "man, I feel great". Second mile passed and as I warmed up I was really feeling good, like I could fly. "Maybe the time off didn't hurt me as bad as I thought" raced through my head. It was then, around mile 2, that I formulated my strategy: keep it easy but not too easy for the first 15 considering it's mainly uphill (ever so slightly) and reevaluate then. I could hold this pace all day and make up time on the back 1/3 of the course, coming in around a 3:10 to 3:12.

Around mile 3 I had settled in to around a 7:15 pace when I caught Katie, a local Army officer, former cross country runner (scholar) who was running her first full. She pulled alongside me and asked if I minded if she tagged along with me and we could work together. The company was great and for the next 17 miles her enthusiasm was amazing. We talked about everything but mainly she had a lot of questions about race strategy, when to go, when to hold back etc. She was obviously a really strong runner and I kept assuring her that she needed to just settle in, take it easy and if she had pop in her legs left at 21 then that was the time to pick it up.

So we ran, side by side, chatting the entire way, slowly picking off runners one by one. Katie had a large support crew on course comprised of her husband, her coach and a lot of locals that were constantly shouting out where she stood. "Top 12 Katie" and then "You're into the top 10 Katie". I honestly found myself no longer caring about my run but wanted to just help her through and watch her finish top 5 women on her debut.

The running was effortless and I couldn't believe how easy the miles were just flowing by. We covered 13.1 in around 1:36 and a negative split was definitely doable given the course layout. Once we cleared the climb right after mile 15 or so we started ramping it up a bit; the pace started slowly coming down (aided by the net descent) until I popped the lap button on my TGT at mile 17 and found we'd just run a 6:40. "Woah, we need to throttle back a little bit, Katie or we're going to die before we finish". So we agreed to keep it just under a 7:00 mm pace until mile 21 and then we'd make our push in on the final 5.

A couple things to note: I had to pee, bad, and ever since the start. I thought I had that all under wraps but found myself at the start, just less than a minute before the gun, saying "I need to pee". Too late, I'm holding it. Secondly, I somehow missed my gel target of every 35-40 minutes right off the bat. I was taking in water only (usual) and next thing I know I'm sitting at 45 minutes without any gels in me and the next aid station a mile and a half off. Planned on four gels for the course and ended up with 3 total, miles 9, 14 and 18.5 and that wasn't good.

Back on course and through 18 miles my legs were still fresh as could be and judging by Katie's turnover and conversation, she was every bit as fresh as me if not more. It was at the moment when that urge to relieve myself finally took hold. See, I still hadn't gone and while it had faded a bit it had never truly went away. Now coming onto mile 19 it was building with a force and there was no way I was making it to the end. As we came into mile 20, both feeling strong, I had to tell Katie I was peeling off for the bathroom and that garnered a "You really can't wait until 21, please?" but there was no way I could make it another step. I told Katie to keep it easy and slow and if she felt good in another mile then to turn it up a bit. With that she gave me a high five and I peeled off.

That's when the wheels starting coming off. As soon as I stopped I could feel all the tightening in my legs instantly. Immediately I cursed my decision to stop and knew this decision (or the decision not to just take the time before the start) was going to really cost me. I finished my business and emerged, jumping back into my 7:00 mm pace. Every step from that nature break on resulted in increased tightening in my legs, most notably my calves. Six more miles, six more miles I kept telling myself.

Mile 21 came and I was really starting to feel the cramps come on. I grabbed water and sports drink (some nasty crap I'd never heard of) at the aid station and it hit my stomach like a bomb, almost instantly bloating me. Push through, you still have a respectable time going for you. By mile 22 it was over, my leg/calf was fully knotted into the biggest mess I had ever experienced in my life. I ended up on the side of the trail, cussing my locked up muscle out as I tried to massage it and stop it from cramping in every single direction. I looked for an aid worker because I was done. I was fully ready to call it a day and hitch a ride back to the finish line. The pain from the cramping was so intense I could do nothing but reflect on the injury, subsequent loss of training weeks and how it was most likely the culprit.

I spent 15 minutes on the ground trying to figure something out when one of the TnT coaches came my way asking if I was ok. After informing him that I was just suffering the effects of a leg that wouldn't work he offered me a packet of bio freeze and then continued on. I ripped it open and began massaging it into my leg, still knotted and tight and in pain, hoping it might at least enable me to get up and walk to the finish. After 10 or so minutes of massaging it started to finally loosen up, enough that I felt I could begin walking towards the finish. I walked the next mile pausing momentarily as needed to stretch the leg out some more and then kept going. Finally, after about 30 minutes of lost time it was gone, magically no more cramp. Started a light jog and it tried coming back so I stopped and walked a bit more then when it subsided I took back off on a slow jog. After a couple minutes of jogging with no issues I turned it back up and felt fresh as I'd started. Next thing I know I'm back to running 6:50s with zero issue, left with reflections of what just had happened. In those last two miles I managed to get around at least 50 of the hundreds that passed me as I sat on the side of the MUP and I remember it being beautiful. Not the passing of people but just the fact that I could even run again. The air felt better, my smile returned and I looked around at the scenery in amazement of the beauty that is Alaska.

That 3:48 was nowhere near my list of what I sat out to do but I suppose every race can't be your best. Now I have a great reason to come back again next year and get my revenge.
What would you do differently?:

I'm not sure I could have done anything differently and changed the course of events. Granted, missing my nutrition right off the bat didn't help but I'm pretty sure the root cause of the cramping was just those 4 weeks of missed training leading into the race.
Post race
Warm down:

A little stretching, some fruit, a cookie and then off to Moose's Tooth for beers.

Event comments:

I cannot say enough good about Mayor's Midnight Marathon and the volunteers that support it. Awesome venue, loads of locals out cheering everyone on and great organization.

Thank you to the TnT coach that was nice enough to give me the bio freeze and a huge thank you to Katie for the great company.

Last updated: 2011-12-13 12:00 AM
00:00:00 | 26.2 miles |  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Bad
Course: Absolutely beautiful course running through the wilds of Anchorage and finally finishing in town. Course terrain was varied, mainly a slight elevation increase for the first 15 miles with a number of good rollers and then finishing off the last 11 with a slight drop, final turn to the finish found an 80 foot hill before flattening out for the last .2 miles. Course started on a MUP for the first couple miles before transitioning to some closed road running. Around mile 6 it turned from paved roads into gravel roads running through the Army base, typically off limits to civies. After some miles on the gravel (the rocks got old fast) it transitioned to some beautiful single trek through the woods and around mile 17 finally back to the MUP on the Anchorage greenbelt.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2012-06-27 3:25 AM

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Scottsdale, AZ
Subject: Mayor's Marathon
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