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Colorado Marathon - Run

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Fort Collins, Colorado
United States
Colorado Marathon
70F / 21C
Total Time = 5h 15m 20s
Overall Rank = 860/1017
Age Group = F4549
Age Group Rank = 48/63
Pre-race routine:

We were on vacation in Moab the week leading up to the race. I tried really hard to eat right and stay hydrated in the high desert. I had a Corona-rita the first night we were in Moab and that was the end of the adult beverages for me (until after the race). I also cut way way back on fruits and veggies in an effort to mitigate GI issues for the race.

I also went to see an amazing massage therapist while there to get the residual soreness out of my legs and glutes. She was experienced enough that she worked the trigger points during the massage. She worked a lot on my hamstrings which were way more bunched up than I realized. I wish I could go to her all the time!

On Friday we headed to Denver then on Saturday morning we had breakfast at Denver Biscuit Company where I also got a biscuit to go for my pre-race breakfast. Later on Saturday we went to the expo then drove to figure out where I needed to be Sunday morning.

We opted for Noodles and Co for pre race dinner, then walked back to our hotel (in the rain). Relaxed and laid out my race clothes. I took some melatonin and drifted off in to a Christmas Eve type sleep. Unfortunately our hotel was about a block away from the train track and we heard the train blare it's horn through town several times through the night.

Sunday morning I woke at 3:45, got dressed and headed out to the bus. There was a local SBux that not only offered to be open at 3AM for the racers but they also offered a free drink to everyone with a bib! So I stopped there on the way to the bus and got a venti Flat White. I parked the truck, grabbed my stuff and got on the bus.

On the bus I ate (half) my DBC biscuit and drank my Flat White. This had been the winning combination for energy and GI happiness in my training.

I talked a bit with the young man sitting next to me on the bus. He was a collegiate runner and had done many marathons. I was sitting behind the man who would be the 3:45 pacer. As much as I wanted to start with him I knew that would be starting out too fast and mean a sure crash n burn.

At one point the bus driver pulled over and we all knew it wasn't far enough up the canyon. I think he'd pulled off at the HM start and someone up front let him know that we needed to go further up. Ugh.

Above the driver was a clock/temperature display (it was a tour bus, not a school bus, yay). As we went up the canyon the temp didn't seem to be dropping as much as I (we) would have liked. It seemed to linger in the low 50's which would certainly mean much higher temps as soon as we got out of the canyon.

Once we made it to the marathon stop I hit the porta johns then started to look for Beth and Will. After a while the porta john line grew to the point that it reached to where I was standing so I got in line for one last try to take care of bidness. No luck. Ah well, I guess it would mean a mid-race stop. Not the end of the world as there would be porta johns at each aid station.

I finally found Beth and Will and we chatted for a bit then it was time to line up. I lined up behind the 4:00 group.

National Anthem... and GO!
Event warmup:

None really, I'd planned to go easy the first mile to warm up
  • 5h 15m 20s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 12m 02s  min/mile

I started behind the 4:00 group and they immediately started to pull away. I decided before the race to run my race and not try to force a pace. I decided to do consistent effort,, not consistent speed. So I let them go. I was so happy to be starting my first marathon and just enjoyed the pounding of feet. People were quickly shedding layers and arm warmers, shirts and gloves were scattered everywhere.

Sometime shortly after, mile 2 or 3ish, I caught and passed the 4:00 group. My effort felt easy and I was just letting the body go with that comfortable pace. We were allowed the whole road for a couple miles then were funnelled to the shoulder next to the river. I was still loving every minute. The river, the chatter of the racers around me, the cool morning air...

It's really all a blur so I don't remember when it started to hurt. I do remember that at 13 I was glad I was trying a longer distance as I still had more to give. At some point I remembered I hadn't taken the SportLegs pill I had with me so I slowed a bit and took it.

Somewhere along the line it got HOT. And somewhere along the line my hip started to hurt. I remember still enjoying the atmosphere with my hip hurting. I had slowed and I was with some Marathon Maniacs who were at about the same pace so I chatted with them. Somwhere in there I was passed by the 4:00 and eventually the 4:15 and 4:30. I let them go with some sadness.

At the 19 mile aid station my Skratch bottle was empty. I probably could have made it to the end using the aid stations but, like a toddler, I wanted the security of MY bottle. Two of the aid station workers offered to fill it for me. I told them they are angels. They replied that I was the one running a marathon, they are just helping.

I don't recall how many gels I used or where. I do know I timed them to get water at the aid stations so maybe at 5, 9, 13, 19 ish...

Around the 20 mile mark I was really hurting. There was a man saying "you're almost there". I wanted to say something to him that wasn't very nice so I just kept at it. Around the same time I knew I had about 5k to Mary and 5k to the end so that became my focus. I came across one of the Marathon Maniacs who was struggling so I walked with her and talked for a bit. When I started "running" again she did too.

Somewhere in the 23 mile I saw DH. It was so good to see him and get out of my own head. I asked him about Mary and he said he hadn't seen her but that she might be on top of the hill. THE WHATTTT?! "Oh, it's a small hill for you" he says. Um, no, not after 23 miles. I turned the corner and started up the hill and there was Mary. What a sight for sore eyes. She was smiling and cheering. I made quick work of that hill to get a hug from my wonderful friend.

Seeing DH and Mary really did propel me to the end. I knew I could keep going because they said so. It was still hot and I still hurt but I was out of my own pity party.

The last mile the hip really really really started to hurt. It was feeling like it was "siezing up". If it'd gotten that bad sooner I would have stopped but I was not stopping with less than a mile to go.

I could hear the finish line and when I turned the corner the tears started. From the pain or from knowing I was done I'll never know. The girl who put my medal around my neck really looked like she cared about my accomplishment. It wasn't as mechanical as they usually are. Then I literally fell in to DH's arms. I love that man.
What would you do differently?:

I don't know but here are the miriad of thoughts that have been swirling in my head for the last few days...

Everything I planned for and practiced went well. No GI issues (never needed that porta john stop), nutrition seemed fine, I carried my own Skratch and gels. Clothing was fine, no raw spots. I got blisters on my feet but c'mon, its 26.2 miles. That's gonna happen. And no IT Band issue, unless the hip was a morphed IT issue. I'm no doctor but it didn't feel like it was. I've been rolling and doing yoga to try to keep the muscles stretched out and flexible.

I built up my mileage as much as I safely could. I followed my plan to a "T" except for the week DS2 graduated from basic. That week was a sh!t storm. I was coming off of an injury in December and limited it to the 10%. That being said, maybe this is as good as it gets for me unless I am willing to dedicate more time to training. A friend of mine mentioned to me after the race that she'd felt like traiining was a part time job. Yup, that's pretty much it. I don't know that I can or am willing to give more than the 8-9 hours/ week I was doing. At least not right now.

Maybe I went out too fast. It felt easy and it was similar to my training runs.

Like my Moab race, after this one I've struggled with why I do this and if it's worth it. I considered skipping the PPA. But I still love to run, and I still want to run the trails. So I'm going to talk to Coach Lisa about a plan for PPA and get my self-pity-ing azz back out there.

Post race
Warm down:

DH helped me sit down near the finish to watch for Beth. We waited till the cut off but she didn't come through. Figuring we'd missed her we headed over for that free beer. As we walked up the the ID checker I realized I'd lost my ID on the course. Crap. She felt sorry for me and let me get a beer any way. O'Dells "90 Shilling" AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!

In the beer tent we found Will who told me he'd been with Beth until they put her in an ambulance. The heat was too much. (I talked to her later, she's fine but dissappointed).

After our beer we went back to the hotel for a shower and later had dinner with my bro and his family.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Training, genetics, time... Maybe I just suck. Maybe I"m weak, mentally and physically.

Event comments:

This race is very well done. Plenty of wonderful volunteers! I thanked as many as I could. I realized after the race that while I was lost in my own head I missed some great aid station themes, like the pirates!

From the expo to the bus to the finish everything was well done.

My only complaint is that there was NO food at the finish, zero, zip, nada. There was some info about a brunch at one of the local breweries but a) it was several blocks away and b) we heard from another racer that they were turning people away.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2014-10-17 12:00 AM
05:15:20 | 26.2 miles | 12m 02s  min/mile
Age Group: 48/63
Overall: 860/1017
Performance: Below average
AVG HR 156 Max HR 175 1 9:51 2 8:35 3 7:10 4 8:57 5 9:08 6 9:33 7 9:27 8 9:40 9 10:33 10 10:09 11 11:04 12 11:11 13 12:50 14 11:44 15 12:44 16 13:27 17 12:45 18 13:17 19 15:07 20 16:31 21 13:17 22 15:59 23 15:52 24 13:22 25 12:42 26 13:35
Course: Down Poudre Canyon in to Ft. Collins.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 1
Good race? No
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2015-05-08 3:23 PM

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Rio Rancho, NM
Subject: Colorado Marathon

2015-05-08 6:43 PM
in reply to: #5114019

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Englewood, Florida
Subject: RE: Colorado Marathon

TJ, before you go riding further down the line on the pity train, take a look at the picture you posted. That smile, that face, that says it all. That is why you race, train, and work so hard. But sometimes things don't go the way we plan. So what you do is analyze, prioritize, and start working all over. You are one of the toughest people I know, so I see this as nothing more than a bump in the road for you.

Thank you very much for your honesty and for writing this out.  It will serve you well in the future.

2015-05-11 12:56 PM
in reply to: cdban66

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Subject: RE: Colorado Marathon

 I realize you're disappointed, but you didn't give in to your negative thoughts and didn't give up on your body. Shut up hip! Maybe marathons are hard even when they're supposed to be "easy".  Completing one is something you should be proud of.  

Were you able to get in that 20+ training run like we talked about? That was a big mental/physical wall that I wish I would have broken down before my first full mary.

2015-05-11 1:00 PM
in reply to: #5114019

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Denver, CO
Subject: RE: Colorado Marathon

Dearest TJ, you don't suck and you are SO not weak, physically or mentally.  Nobody who is weak physically or mentally does what you've done: marathons, HIM's, etc., etc., etc.  You might feel strong right now because you didn't do as well as you thought you "should" have, but I agree with Chris--just look at that smile in your picture!!  You look strong, confident, and beautiful!  Just look at what you've done--you're a *marathon* finisher!!!!  There are lots of people (including me) who will never be able to say that.

Good job running your own race and supporting others when they were struggling.  I was so proud of you when you came up that hill (that terrible RUDE hill!).  Even though you were hurting, you pushed through and made it to the finish.  Of course you cried.  Doing something that intense, with all the time and energy you put into it, is bound to bring up an emotional response.  I cried when I finished my 1st 5k last year after all my injuries, and again after my 1st tri.

It's so cool that (a) you have such an awesome DH!!!, (b) the medal-draper was so sincere in acknowledging your accomplishment, and (c) the beer was good.   Boo for no food.  That's just cruel.

Chin up, friend.  Good for you for talking to Coach about the PPA.  I'm looking forward to doing some more Manatee dancing for you!

2015-05-11 1:11 PM
in reply to: #5114019

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Rio Rancho, NM
Subject: RE: Colorado Marathon

You guys are the bestest!!!

Thank you so much for the encouragement.

Erin, I did run a 20 during my training but the "wall" came long before that point in the marathon   That was part of my frustration. I expected it to get hard at 20 or 21 and it hurt wayyyyy before that. Ah well, live and learn.


2015-05-11 1:43 PM
in reply to: 0

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Katy, Texas
Subject: RE: Colorado Marathon
TJ - things weren't going your way, but you didn't quit!! That's something to be proud of!! And all of the massive amounts of time/miles you put in training. To me that's the most impressive part and what we should be the most proud of.

Now as to where maybe things went wrong, you mentioned maybe going out too fast. Looking at your splits, that seems painfully obvious. But you mentioned that your training runs were similar? 7:10 for the third mile? I don't really have any experience here, but if you'd have run miles 2-5 @ 9:30/mi instead I have to think that you'd have finished much stronger. Hopefully experienced marathon folks will chime in.

You said you weren't monitoring speed but effort. Was that just RPE or HR? Did you notice your HR jump when it got hot? One of my big lessons learned looking back at the HIM was not paying closer attention to my HR.

Edited by Jet Black 2015-05-11 1:45 PM

2015-05-11 1:53 PM
in reply to: rrrunner

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Subject: RE: Colorado Marathon

TJ, until you run a marathon it is very, very hard to understand how difficult they are.

So first, congratulations. You should be so proud. For all the reasons Chris and Mary stated as well as the entire "journey." The ability to complete a marathon is due to commitment to the training. You can't fake it. You should be very proud of yourself for your commitment. And in those last miles, the mental toughness.


Remember my crappy marathon? I really struggled afterward with why I wasn't able to meet my expectations.

I read and reread this definition all the time to realign my mentality

expectations: My fantasy of how things "should" be other than dealing with how they are. Virtually always toxic. 


There are far too many variables that are out of your control. 


You've got to do everything within your parameters (and control) and let the rest go. Now that you have run a marathon, you likely have a much better idea of what those things are (training, nutrition etc.) So, rather than being down on yourself and shying away, take the opportunity to build on your base. You are now armed with some critical data that you were not before that you can translate into all of your athletic endeavors. 

And finally, if investing the kind of time that marathon training depends is not something you want to do, that's alright too! But running one really is the only way to know for sure.





2015-05-11 1:54 PM
in reply to: Asalzwed

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Subject: RE: Colorado Marathon

and yeah, when you are ready, if you would like to talk about some specifics about what went wrong and what went right let's do it!

2015-05-11 3:53 PM
in reply to: Jet Black

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Subject: RE: Colorado Marathon

TJ, my dear 'twin', I am so incredibly proud of you for taking on a marathon and finishing the sucker!  That is no small feat!  You did a wonderful job of taking it in and drinking the experience for better or for worse, you will have those memories forever. and you can look back on them proudly and smile  More than likely the best ones will remain while the 'bad' ones will fade.  Yes it was tough and challenging, but you surely came out a better person, a stronger person for facing your fears and pains and finishing what you started.

No food at the finish line of a MARATHON?!?!  I'm shocked and confused.

Mary - big kudos to you for being out there to cheer TJ on.  Clearly your presence helped boost her spirits.

TJ - that DH of yours is a keeper!

Congrats again!

2015-05-12 10:04 AM
in reply to: melbo55

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Raleigh, NC area
Subject: RE: Colorado Marathon

TJ, congratulations on your first marathon.  You Did It!  I love love love that picture of you.  Beautiful! I know that more great stuff will be coming from you in the future.  Enjoy your recovery and get pumped for the next thing around the corner.

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