Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Race Report - Half at the Hamptons

Here is a race report from last Sunday's Half at the Hamptons, lifted almost verbatim from my post requesting feedback from some of the generous (and often similarly obsessive) folks who frequent the Runner's World Marathon Training Forum.

Last day of week #3 of my Pfitz 18/55 plan. Ran about 42 miles in 7 days prior, pretty high mileage for me. Had run 2 prior 1:40:xx HM's and was looking to PR this time. Went out with the 7:30 pace group, but pacer had us closer to 7:15/mile. Fueling disaster at mile 6 (despite pre-opened Sport Beans, couldn't get them out of package, so I had to walk to deal with it), and I let the small pace group go. HR was high, 170+ during those first six miles, and on through about 8. I was still on 1:38 pace through 8 miles.Last 5 miles were along the coast, into a strong & ever-intesifying wind. Started to have trouble with leg turnover (hip bugged me, but not bad; just couldn't lift my legs very well). It was a typically schizophrenic New England day, with nearly 40-degree sunny start, followed by clouds, then rapidly-dropping temps, sleet/freezing rain at mile 9, then intense snow squalls from miles 10-12. Though legs felt heavy, breathing was fine and HR actually dropped as pace slowed. Started struggling to hold 8:00, then 8:30, pace in final miles. When I saw the 8:00/mile pacer pass me in the final mile, I dug deep, found another gear, and managed to run the last 0.5+/-mile at about 6:25 pace. Finish time was a very disappointing 1:43+, and I HATED getting passed by others in the late stages (it's usually the other way around for me).Lessons learned:

(1) Fatigued from running right through my training plan (nearly 60 miles in 8 days is an all-time high for me), so shouldn't worry about PR's at that point in training
(2) Dumb to stay with pace group for so long, knowing they were taking me out too fast
(3) Need to run MY race, which so far seems to involve holding back and finishing strong (ran both prior HM's that way); really just an extension of lesson #2
(4) Only gels during races from now on
(5) Possibly needed to "carbo load" a bit more, since was uncharacteristically casual about carb consumption in couple of days before

I received some very good comments, but mostly what I take from the experience is that I picked a lousy time to be greedy about running a personal best. I'm in the "base-bulding" part of a marathon build-up. I'd run one of my highest-ever mileage totals (including a tempo run) during the prior week. The weather in the last part of the race was miserable. I stupidly followed a pace that I knew was too fast for me for well over half the race.

As one of my work colleagues (an accomplished college runner and now 2:55 marathoner) put it: a year ago, I couldn't even have dreamed of running close to 60 miles in 8 days, with the last 13.1 being a half-marathon only 3% slower than my best time at that distance. Several RW forumites noted that this is the worst phase of training in terms of fatigue, with several weeks to go before I should start to feel the benefits of the hard miles. And most agreed that the result was solid, even if personally disappointing to me in terms of my expectations.

As I look down the road at the schedule, I'll get a bit of a respite in Week #6 (from 46 down to 37 miles), and then will tackle my first two 50+-mile weeks ever. My body seems to be holding up pretty well, though I'm struggling in terms of the time the mid-week medium-long (from 10 to 14 miles) runs take and am still getting far too little sleep (maybe 5 hours a night during the week, 6-7 on weekends, usually interrupted once or more by awakening kids).

I should comment on the fact that the weather has been consistently miserable, with snow, sleet, rain, winds, ice, extreme cold, yadda, yadda, and it's making an already-challenging scheduling that much more difficult. If and when the weather breaks, training will likely seem so much easier. I can't wait.


No comments: