About This Blog

As time permits, in-depth musings on myriad subjects will be posted. Abbreviated adages will be announced via Twitter.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Austin Marathon Update

Forgot to mention the other night that, while my chip finish time for the Austin Livestrong Marathon was a pathetic 3:56:56, my adjusted finish time, courtesy of the Paul Ryan Marathon Calculator, was a blistering 2:51:45. Check it: http://www.paulryantimecalculator.com/?submitted=yes&time=3%3A56%3A56&distance=marathon&gender=m

Think the Boston Athletic Association will accept that?

Neither did I, but it was worth a shot. Or at least posting.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2013 Austin Livestrong Marathon Race Report

This past weekend was the Livestrong Austin Marathon. I finished the race in 3:56:56, my worst, non-pacing finish for a non-Ironman-connected marathon. But it was the most awesome & emotional (full) marathon I have ever run.

Registration for Austin opened in early June of 2012. Since I had resigned from coaching swimming for the 2012-13 school year, I registered for Austin with the intent of training to run fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon. For my age group, that would be a 3:15 marathon finish time, or a 7:30 minute/mile.

A couple of months later, though, I agreed to sign back on to coach swimming for the year. This, coupled with an infant at home, made training all but impossible. Getting out once or twice a week for a 5k or 10k was about all I could manage. One week later, reconsidering running Austin began to cross my mind. Then I took my aunt her birthday card.

She wasn't home, but my uncle was, and I had the opportunity to listen to him talk, in depth, about his battle from this past summer with testicular cancer -- which he won. This conversation got me to thinking. People who are diagnosed and are forced to fight cancer don't get to train and prepare for it. I'd run marathons before, including Austin. Twice. 

And, so, I decided to run long the next morning. Fueled by inspiration from my uncle's story (and a heavy dosage of Public Enemy on the iPod), I headed out for what was supposed to have been an 18-mile run. However, because of the lateness of the start and that I needed to be back by a certain time, I managed to eek out only 15 miles. The pacing wasn't bad but did grow progressively slower (regressively?) as the miles ticked by. On the up-side, there was no soreness later that day, nor was there any the next.

Two weeks later, it was marathon time. As the weekend approached, my sleep schedule was off, and I began to get congested, unable to breathe properly. Three days before the race, the Boy started running a high, consistent fever (virus, as it turns out), that was still spiking in excess of 103* on Friday. It was really beginning to look like the 2013 Austin Livestrong Marathon was not going to happen.

Saturday morning, the boy awoke with no fever. There was a chill in the air, but the sun shone brightly in the sky, so we loaded up the Fit with the Boy, the Bob, a playpen, some toys, baby food, and a bag or two for Nicholle & me; Austin, here we come.

After a quick stop at Whole Foods for lunch & dinner, plus some goat milk & yogurt for the Boy, we checked into the Radisson off of Congress & Caesar Chavez. Our suite, however, was not sweet enough to include a microwave, in spite of assurances made by Radisson staff earlier in the week. A couple of calls to the front desk yielded no results, so it was off to Twitter to seek resolution. And it must've worked, too, for, within an hour, there was a microwave in our room. Naturally, Radisson was thanked through the same means that got us the microwave in the first place. In spite of this being Kai's first away trip, he did surprisingly well, playing within a reasonable volume of noise and sleeping well through the whole night.

Race morning, it was an early rising (4:30) to get stretched & fueled. Fortunately, there was a Starbucks in the lobby of the Radisson where we stayed, and they were kind enough to open early for race morning. Blueberry oatmeal & ice coffee were chugged down, with a banana & bottled water to take to the starting line.

For me, this was around marathon #12, including two Ironmans, and I don't think I've ever been this relaxed, this at ease at the start. Maybe it was not having any expectations (other than finishing), or maybe it was something greater, but the start went off smoothly, and I found myself in a good pace, a good place by mile two.

Over the next couple of miles, a guy by the name of Dustin (I think) & I were running side-by-side at the same effort, so we settled in a little over an 8:00/mi pace, telling one another about our respective lives: Family, education (he's engaged and in his last year of law school at t.u.), and marathon experience. We also discussed the merits & detractors of training or racing with technology (he was sporting a Garmin 910xt, while I wore my trusty Suunto t6d [including heart rate strap -- which I don't typically use in a race, but I was glad I had decided to, but more on that in a bit]). By mile fifteen, I was beginning to feel the effects of having taken in no nutrition, other than Gatorade & water at the aid stations, so I dropped back.

Just before mile 19, I became aware of the fact that my body was not producing sweat. My heart rate, however, was kind of high for the effort I was putting out. So I walked. For more than two miles. I did manage to find some nutrition, although, by that point, I was in damage control. Every time I would start to pick up the pace, my HR would skyrocket beyond what would be considered normal.

Prior to that slowing down, I was on-pace for around a 3:40 finish, only ten minutes off of my usual, comfortable marathon pace. That, however, was not to be, although I did manage to pick up the pace again by a full run by mile 23. When I hit mile 25, I was almost at a sprint, and the final 800 meters was just that. 

I yelled victoriously as I crossed the line in 3:56:56. Yes, this was my slowest, non-IM, non-pacing marathon, ever. But to have done so with no training and with the motivation of running in honor of my uncle made it well worth it. Seeing Nicholle, with our smiling baby Boy in the lobby was the icing on the cake. Giving my uncle my finisher's medal later in the day was the cherry.

Granted, there are things that can be done to prevent cancer. There are also things that can be done to better prepare for a marathon. To paraphrase Christopher McDougall, when the time comes, it's best to be prepared to run.

This year will likely be my last year to run Austin. This has nothing to do with the hijinks of Livestrong's former chairperson; their mission is far too important to let something like that get in the way. Rather, it has to do with how management managed things leading up to the marathon. Here are my primary gripes:

  1. I registered for the marathon on the first day registration opened. A month before race-day, there was a post on social media that anyone who registered on 01/21 for the 2013 event would get free entry to the 2014 event. I was rather offended that management would screw over those who were obviously dedicated to the running of the event because, up until then, it was the best marathon in Texas.
  2. Nicholle wanted to walk the 5k walk/run with the Boy in the Bob. However, she was told strollers were not permitted. Since walkers were permitted, as are headphones, the argument of "safety" just held no water for us.
So, with my q-time for Boston at 3:15, I'm going to have to find another race, which is a shame. Austin is so close and so fun and has such great memories for the full and half marathons I've run there that it seems such a shame to run anywhere else. However, with how pre-registrants were treated with later promotions, coupled with the "no stroller" -- but headphones and plodders are OK! -- I just can't give my money to the marathon. Livestrong, though? You're still OK, in my book.

Thanks for reading.