The Race That Went South…Twice

The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon (Marathon #9 for me) is a point to point race.   It starts at Grafton High School and proceeds south to Veteran’s lakefront park.   It’s a fast race which usually negates the prevailing west wind.  Unfortunately, my actual running went south as well and led to a disappointing day.

I can’t put my finger on any one thing the destroyed the race.  My parents decided to join us for the trip. The day before the race was very relaxing.   I got plenty of sleep the night before and we grabbed lunch about 2pm at AJ Bombers which is known for it’s peanut delivery system.   A quick stop at the very small expo to get my bib and back to the hotel for some rest before dinner.   We found a fantastic restaurant before last year’s race. If you are into homemade Italian everything while in Milwaukee, go to Mimma’s Café.

I slept probably better than most nights before a race.   Usually, I’m waking every hour but not this night.  I got up about 4:45 and had brought my own breakfast.  Oatmeal and a half bagel w/peanut butter.  Standard issue marathon runner race breakfast.   I sipped on some Hammer Perpetuem.   The only thing missing was coffee.  But the Hyatt had promised to open their shop up at 5:30 for some Starbucks.   I refuse to drink in-room coffee.  Not because I’m a snob and I actually prefer non-corporate coffee. but who only knows what bacteria grows inside of the in-room makers and the coffee just plain tastes bad.   I got to the lobby to catch the bus to the start at the high school at 5:45 only to find there was ZERO coffee to be had anywhere in the lobby.  Even Holiday Inn’s have some sort of coffee free in all of their lobbies.  Hyatt fail! (you could have sold overpriced coffee and breakfast and runners would have gladly paid it).   Luckily there was a coffee shop open across the street from the hotel and I grabbed some to go before boarding the bus.   I sipped on some PowerAde while at the school to top off any hydration deficit.  I really don’t think I drank all that much but the race proved otherwise.

It was cold (36F) but the sun was out so I wore some layers and my Brooks gloves.    My goal was to go out at my PR pace of 3:27:00 and negative split the race.  My “A” goal would have been 3:25:00.  At 7:30 we were off.   I had no problem hitting pace early as the first two miles were downhill.  I felt good but my stomach felt bloated and slightly upset.  It took two port-a-potty stops to get rid of the excess liquid at Miles 4 and 12.    I brought four Hammer Gels but while rearranging them in my back pockets I dropped one and did not want to stop to get it for fear of being trampled to death. 

I knew early that it wasn’t going to be my day with some stomach issues and legs felt beat up way too early.   I took my first gel at Mile 6 1/2.   The second gel I only took about half of it at Mile 12 1/2 because my stomach was feeling weird.   I tried to keep on pace thinking it would all pass eventually and I would be back to normal.  After Mile 12 when I took the second gel I actually gagged because I almost hurled.  Sometimes niggles, pain or discomfort do magically go away for no apparent reason during a run.  But they never did.  About Mile 11 I felt my adductor muscles sore.  During training they would get this way after a hard week or a really long run.  It never affected my running really.  Taper did not heal it I guess.  I saw my family at Mile 15 and even they said I looked like I wasn’t having much fun.   I kept plugging away telling myself I might right the ship.   I was on pace early but it just kept slipping away.  I just refused to walk and let this become a complete disaster.

The cold hard numbers:
1 – 7:45
2 – 7:44.8
3 – 7:57:2
4 – 8:13:8 First stop
5 – 7:41.3
6 – 8:01.6
7 – 7:59.4  Expected finish 3:27:19
8 – 7:50.8
9 – 7:57.2
10 – 7:56.8 Not a good sign.   Fatigue in my inner thighs.
11 – 7:58.3
12 – 8:20.1 Second bathroom stop
13 – 8:04.6  Uh oh, it’s slipping.
13.1  – Expected Fish time 3:29:11
14 – 7:59.1
15 – 7:58.6
16 – 8:10.2   The wheels starting to come off.
17 – 8:15.3
18 – 8:28.9   C’mon fight this thing.
19 – 8:26
20 – 8:36.5 Can only break 3:30 if I finish at 8:00 pace the rest of the way
21 – 8:14.7  Well so much for 8 minute pace the rest of the way.
22 – 9:00.7  Yep, the wheels are off.
23 – 9:21.7   What the…
24 – 8:59.4   Probably just quicker because I was angry at the last mile
25 – 9:21.5   No longer angry I guess
26 – 8:59.1   Final time 3:37:07  

In last year’s race, my slowest mile was the last and even then I only slowed to 8:20.   So what was my major malfunction?  Too much food pre-race?  Too much liquid?  It feels like I didn’t sweat much in this cool weather. Overtraining or sore adductors not resolved by taper?  Bad nutrition during training?   I’ve run three faster races on less training!  Sometimes it’s as simple as it’s just not your day.   Time to move on and schedule a shorter race within the next 30 days.  At least I have Boston for redemption.

“At mile 20, I thought I was dead. At mile 22, I wished I was dead. At mile 24, I knew I was dead. At mile 26.2, I realized I had become too tough to kill” – Unknown quote

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