Monday, October 06, 2008

New PR Set at Twin Cities Marathon

We are back from the Twin Cities. While I fell just short of the goal of 3:05, I achieved a new PR of 3:06:50. It was a hard fought race through some very cold rain and limited sleep.

If you haven't slept in a hotel room with an infant for two consecutive nights before a marathon, it can be a bit challenging.

Morning race conditions were great. This would be my 13th marathon. I always get choked up at the start of a marathon knowing how fortunate I am. I have a great family, financial stability and the fitness to be able to travel to these events and challenge myself.

Early on in the race, I really struggled with pacing. I started out too fast. I somehow missed mile marker 1 and saw 14:25 at the 2 mile mark. Sounds perfect, but this included 30 second pee break. Worse yet, mile 3 was downright reckless at 6:32.

Shortly thereafter, I straightened things out. I was happy with my 10k time of 43:50. Interestingly, my second 5k was a full minute slower than my first. I really felt strong and comfortable at the 10k point.

Then the rain started to really pelt us. I was content with the steady drizzle, but I was not ready for the intensity we felt.

It was as I approached mile 10 that I began to feel the effects of sudden temperature drop. Sounds crazy, but I had fears of hypothermia for a stretch there. I simply could not generate enough heat. Melodramatic, right? I truly became concerned. I felt my head and it was freezing.

I wore an orange singlet for the race. I was regretting it in the middle since I was really cold. However, it was really cool to hear the chants of "Go Orange Shirt Guy!" or "Go Orange Dude!".

My wife and baby girl, Alivia, were planning to meet me after mile 11. With the total downpour, I did not expect to see them there. But they were there. And it was a big lift. We shared quick kisses and I felt rejuvenated as I got back to task.

It was back to business miles 11-17. The rain began to slow. My half split of 1:33:15 on my watch was right where I had hoped to be.

Another strange moment happened at mile 17. My shoelace became untied, which is rare in a race for me. However, re-tying it was harder than normal. My hands were still very cold and I could barely manuever them to tie up the laces. After about 20 seconds, I finally sprung up -- almost too fast, since I felt dizzy all of a sudden. I was able to regain stride and not fall over.

I found new life when I hit mile 20. I was pumped when I broke through "the wall" (a display that had been set up there) knowing that I was right at 2:22 as planned.

This was the beginning of the ascent. Chad, who was out there racing as well, had said these hills were not that bad. I have to agree with him. It is amazing how the elevation chart can create fear. While I did run miles 22 and 23 at 7:25 and 7:21 respectively, it came far easier than I expected.

When I hit the crest of mile 23, I realized that I had enough in the tank to flirt with a PR. I also did not know how substantial the downhills would be. I really started to fly.

I cannot describe the determination I felt when I hit the downhills. I was ready to start pushing pace hard. Knocking out 7:03's for both mile 24 and 25 was thrilling.

And as I approached mile 26, I was on track for my strongest marathon finish ever. I kicked it into overdrive down the hills toward downtown St. Paul. Mile 26 showed a 6:39. Then it was showtime...

I was pumping my fist and waving my arms at the crowd as I cruised to the finish. Pure adrenaline. I was sprinting and flailing like a maniac. I covered the final 1.2 miles of the course in 7:57.

I am quite proud of this performance. It goes to show that even a poor half marathon (e.g. a 1:38 for me 8 weeks ago) shouldn't dash your hopes.

It has taught me that I can overcome a slightly fast start. It also taught me that I can overcome the feeling of despair from the conditions. I also know that I have more room to improve.

I am ready to step change my training and try for sub-3. I have said it before, but now I know what it is going to take. Pfitz 55-mpw has been great, but it does not have enough tempo work. I need to figure out a plan real fast if I plan to go for it in Austin. We are 18 weeks out from next week.

I admit that I am concerned about work-life-run balance. Can I achieve sub-3 and avoid my work and family life from suffering? For now, I will savor this one for a few days. After all, that's 3 BQ's in the bank now. Cool!


yumke said...

Congrats! Again, you're an inspiration to follow. I have no doubt you can sub 3. I think the conditions would have done me in :)

Chad said...

Great job!!! I'm guessing you passed a ton of people during that last 10K too.

Jon said...

Congrats on your PR!!! I ran the race too (#3881) and for me, this years TCM had to be the most mentally and emotionally challenging marathon I've ever completed. The rain (and the fact that I had a cold the previous week), the wind, running while soaking wet - all things I had to fight on my own. I think I stopped at those porta-potties three times just to wring out my shirt, and it just seemed as if the rain was going to last for the whole race.
It wasn't a PR for me, but it will go down as the most memorable race I've ever done. In order to make it through the kind of weather we had that day, it took determination, will, courage and strength - mental and physical. So many people I know would have just walked off the course and said 'foget it!' after that downpour near the beginning. But we made it, the finisher shirts were beautiful this year, and I look forward to next year!

crossn81 said...

Congrads that's a great race and report!

jen said...

WOW, Congrats Ryan!!!

How incredible that you have PR'd with a brand new baby in your life. That is really inspiring to hear! You dispelled a couple of myths here... the new baby myth and the "slow" (ha) half marathon myth. Basically, you triumphed over every obstacle and had a great freaking race. Awesome.

Of course you can go sub-3. Can't wait to follow your journey.

ps, love Alivia's shirt!!

Arcane said...

congratulations on the finish! Baby steps on your way to sub 3. You'll get there.

Darrell said...

Congratulations on a well run race. Sounds like the conditions were not exactly in your favor. Seeing your sweet baby girl at mile 11 must have been a great motivation. What a trooper she was to be out there in the elements to cheer on Daddy!

Love2Run said...

Nice race in slightly less than ideal conditions. But better cold than heat as they had last year. The strong finish was awesome too!

Running Jayhawk said...

Seriously. You're superhuman.

Superhuman with a super cute baby girl in a super adorable onesie. :)

I knew it'd come in handy!!

Great job and of course, congrats on the PR! I'll keep my eyes open for you on Sunday!!

Nathan said...

Congrats on the PR! Sounds like you ran a smart race!