Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Race Report: Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon 2013

On April 6, 2013 I ran the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon in Springfield, IL.  This was a race that I signed up for in 2012 so I would have a race under my belt for the marathon at the end of April.

The goal of this marathon was to enjoy it and run at my marathon pace.  Since I have been training for a marathon my speed is a little slower than in the past so I knew there would be no personal record today.  My goal was to run it under 1:45 and I came in at 1:44.

Overall - 159/1475
Age Group - 25/101
All Men - 131/1639

This is a really well ran race and a unique one too.  The route takes you back in history by running by the Old State Capitol, Abe Lincoln's home, Lincoln's tomb, other historical sites.

The race started by the Lincoln Presidential Museum with Abe Lincoln greeting all of the runners and wishing us well then the race was officially started with a musket volley from the 114th Volunteer Regiment.

The conditions were pretty good, except for the wind, with  temperatures in the low 50's.

The first half of the course was pretty flat.  My goal was to do the first 2 miles at an 8 minute pace then settle into a 7:40-7:45 mile pace until we got the hilliest part of the course.  Well, I started a little quicker doing the first 2 miles at a 7:40 pace but I did not feel I was pushing too hard.

A mental defeat was realized about mile 2 when I noticed that my bottle holding my Hammer gel popped out of its holster.  The race had Gu gel but my stomach cannot tolerate that brand which is why I use Hammer products.  I usually take a gel about every 5 miles.  Time would tell if this would affect my effort level.

There were a few small hills in the first part of the race nothing too steep or too long.  The first big hill was just after mile 7.  You could see this hill as you were running down the preceding hill that led up to it.  I powered up the hill at a pretty good pace but was a little gassed at the top but kept on with my pace.

The first 8 miles I was feeling pretty good averaging a 7:40 pace then came mile 9.  Mile 9 took runners into Oak Creek Cemetery where Lincoln's tomb is.  You go  down a pretty good hill to then run up a good long hill by the tomb.  Although I struggled to get up hill somewhat I did take a moment to relish in the American history I was in.  I have never been there, and even though I was running through it, it was still pretty neat.

At this point, the two previous hills were starting to catch up to me because my pace slowed down.  Then around mile 10 the route took you through Lincoln Park where it was up and down with at least three good hills if I remember right.  This is where my pace fell apart.  I just could not power up the hills like I had hoped.  I kept thinking to myself it would have been nice if  I had my gels to consume and give me a little energy boost.  Wasn't the case today.  There is one last steep hill coming out of Lincoln Park and at the top, on the pavement, read, "Last Hill".  Thank God.  But by this point I was literally out of gas.  I ran mile 12 at a 8:49 pace which is slow for me.  As we got closer to the finish I didn't even have enough for the final kick.

My marathon pace is between 7:45 and 8:00.  I always kept an eye on my pace knowing at a 8:00 pace in today's race would get me my 1:45 goal time. At mile 12 I realized that the only way I could not get my goal time was if I stopped and walked.  Since this was not my "A" race and there was no chance at a PR I just backed off and coasted the last mile or so.

Overall, I was happy with my race and had a great time running this event.  The volunteers do a great job.  All of the intersections were closely manned with volunteers and there were plenty of water stations.  The volunteers were also very encouraging.  My legs were definitely sore from the hills.  The next day my previously injured hamstring was bothering me but thankfully it started to feel better by Monday.

If running through history isn't enough for you, you can also get your picture taken with Abe Lincoln, and you get one of the best medals I have ever seen....a giant penny!

I recommend this race to anyone.

Now, I got a few more weeks to go before my first "A" race in 2013.  The Illinois Marathon.

Train.   Race.  Repeat.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Let's Get This 26.2 Mile Party Started

It has been awhile since I have written on here.  Since my last race back in November 2012 the road has been a little interesting.

During that 5k in November I tied my personal best time.  It was a great way to head into the off season in preparation for my first marathon in April 2013.  However, the day after the race my hamstring was really sore.  I did the normal RICE method and nothing seemed to help.  After a couple of weeks of being stubborn I finally went to get a free consult at a local athletic rehab center.  They told me I pulled my hammy and that Astym would be the best treatment for the injury.  I agreed because my wife had success with Astym on her past injuries.  The only problem was that I had to get a referral from my doctor.  Well since I haven't seen my doctor in over 7 years I was no longer a patient of his and he couldn't see patients until mid January 2013.  That would not work at all because marathon training started January 7th.  Needless to say I found a doctor with an immediate opening to get me the referral I needed for physical therapy.  

Therapy consisted of about two sessions per week for about 4 weeks.  The main treatment was Astym along with strength and conditioning.  The best part about Astym treatment is that you are encouraged to run after treatments.  Score!  At this point my marathon training plan would remain intact and I proceeded with caution.

By the time I started my 16 week marathon training program I was on the tail end of my physical therapy.  The first couple of weeks of training were rough because I lost some of my base after the hammy injury and was a little timid and babied the hammy.  Once I got over that mental hurdle  my runs started getting better.

Weeks 1 through 8 were nothing unusual because the distances I ran during those weeks were nothing I have never done before while training for a half marathon.  It wasn't until week 9 (16 mile run) that I realized how crucial my diet is before these long runs.  I am learning what nutrition works and what does not work in the days leading up to a long run as well as during the run.  GI issues are absolutely the worst thing that can happen during any kind of run.  I can typically run through soreness and pain, but any GI issues will bring me to my knees.  

My best week of running was in week 11.  That was spring break and our family went to SW Florida for a week.  It was nice to run without having to wear all kinds of cold weather gear and was nice to run on very flat roads.  The change of "venue" was mentally refreshing.

I am currently in week 13 of 16 and I am up to 18 miles.  Back in January I signed up for a half marathon on April 6th, 2013.  The date of this half marathon didn't jive that well with my marathon schedule but I found a way to do it.  So, this weekend I've got my first race of the year.  I am looking forward to race day even if I am just classifying as an assisted training run.  I have a goal time for this half marathon of 1:45 which is tad slower than my anticipated marathon pace.  I really am going to try and stick to that plan and not get too competitive.

Once that race is over I have one more long run which will be a 20 miler.  I am looking forward to the taper after that.

Marathon race day is fast approaching and this is the first time I have really sat here and reflected on my journey thus far.  The mental battles that I have had to overcome, the good runs, the bad runs, the bone chilling temperatures, and the soreness have all been apart of the ride.  The biggest thing is the time commitment it takes to pull this off and the sacrifice it takes.  Thankfully, my wife is very tolerant and understanding of my goal to finish this marathon.  Anyone that has trained for a marathon or Ironman can tell you that support of your family is crucial and I appreciate my wife and kids having patience with me.

It's an exciting time of year.  The start of the racing season, temperatures getting warmer, days are getting longer, and my daughter will compete in her first State gymnastics meet.  As a parent it is very rewarding to see your children succeed.  Speaking of her State meet, it's the same weekend as the Illinois Marathon.  Let's just hope her session is not on that Saturday morning.
I don't know how the next 4 weeks will transpire or what curve balls will come my way. All I can do is enjoy the journey one day at a time and be thankful for being able to do what I am doing.

Train.  Race.  Repeat.