24 October 2010

The 52nd Atlantic City Marathon

Some time in September I got the crazy idea that I wanted to run the Atlantic City Marathon the week after the LBI 18 Mile Run. Even though LBI didn't really go as well as I would have liked I told myself if the weather forecast looked good, go for it. The first thing I did the Monday morning after LBI was get the weekly weather forecast. The second thing I did was register for the 52nd Atlantic City Marathon, the third oldest running marathon in the country. "America's First Festival of Running." Who knew?

I limped away from LBI disappointed in my performance but was confident that it wasn't my best effort. The early changes in pace as well as poor nutrition did me in yet again. Would AC offer me redemption? The plan was to go and run a PR and considering my PR was 2:59, I felt confident it could be done. I took the Monday after LBI relatively easy running just a few miles and strides in the evening to shake my legs out. I was surprised at how good I felt with no real soreness that one would expect the day after an 18 mile race. As was the case of my two previous marathon outings, I was completely wrecked right after the race but the next day I felt fine. I attributed this to poor nutrition during the race and was determined not to let that be the reason for poor performance again. With that in mind I tried to pick a few different flavor gels that I thought I could stomach on race day and opted to go with GU; strawberry banana, Roctane pineapple and tri-berry w/caffeine. Would they work on race day would be another story... Here's a look at my training the week before the marathon.

October 12, 2010
Snatch Grip Push Press 4,4,3,2,2 with 90 seconds rest between sets followed by Back Squats 3,3,2,1,1 also with 90 seconds rest between sets.

October 13, 2010
AM. WOD: 10 x 1:1, one minute on, one minute off x 10. The main focus when I do a 1:1 is form and technique. I felt like my form held together pretty well during the LBI race with no hot spot issues with my feet.
PM. WOD: 20 minute row on the C2 (no info because the computer is broken) followed up with 60 walking lunge and 60 air squats.

October 14, 2010
12 x 100 Hills Sprints with 10 squat jumps at the top of the hill after the last 6 repeats. The workout called for 30 second hill sprint but the hill I used didn't quite cut it so in order to get a little more out of the workout I decided to throw in some squat jumps to add a little more effort to the workout.

October 15, 2010
Speed development and technique work on the track, 6 x 150 with 150 walking recovery, 5 x 30 and 6 x 120. I tried to keep everything comfortably fast and focused on keeping my feet under my general center of mass.

October 16, 2010
Not your normal typical pre-race shake out. 30 Muscle Ups in 12:55. Did the first 7 unbroken and continued to do 3 - 4 unbroken until I got to 25. From 25 to 30 it was one at a time. After my muscle up WOD I did some light running with my XC team as they warmed up for their hill workout. After practice I headed over to the Power Center in Red Bank for some yoga with Lauren Brunelli

When my alarm went of at 4 a.m. I asked myself am I really going to run a marathon in a few hours?!? The answer was yes but I will admit I was a little nervous after last weeks 18 mile implosion. After a quick shower and WAWA stop I headed south for Atlantic City AKA the "City of Broken Dreams." As I drove down the parkway I reminded myself to relax, have fun and enjoy the experience. I knew if I could do those things I would walk away from a positive experience. An hour later I was rolling into AC still nervous but confident it was going to be a good day.

Packet pick was at Boardwalk Hall and when I opened my packet and saw that my race number was 7, I knew for sure it was going to be a good day to run a marathon. With my packet and shirt in hand I headed back to my car to relax and eat a little before it was time to warm up.

A little before 7 I left the parking garage to head over to the start to warm up. At the 18 miler my warm up was lacking and half-assed. I wasted time talking to friends and didn't warm up the way I knew I should have. Regardless of what pace you are running or how far you are running I still feel going through some range of motion is the key to a good performance. So, one hour before the start I started moving my body and didn't stop until 10 minutes to gun time. After some easy running on the boardwalk I found a place away from the start but near a bathroom to do my drills. As I did my drills I saw a few of my Running Works friends warming up and we wished each other good luck on the days endeavors. One thing I happened to notice as I continued to warm up and this I believe was a first for sure, was another runner smoking a cigarette. Yes I'm sure he was a runner, he had a number on. Two things instantly popped into my head when I saw this; 1. I thought I had done some crazy shit before some of my races and 2. I have to remember to put this in my blog. When it was all said on done I had put in a good hour of active movement and I felt much better about my warm up then I did the week before.

Race time had come and I was about to find out if it was really possible to run an 18 mile race and then a week later run a marathon all on less then 30 miles a week. It took me 45 seconds to get to the starting line and another mile to weave my way in and out the traffic of three races starting at once. At 5 miles I took my first GU (strawberry bananna) and surprisingly I had no problem getting it down. I also made sure that I grabbed water/Gatorade at every aide station in order to avoid the cramping issue that did me in at LBI. I rolled through 5 at sub 3 hr pace feeling relaxed and comfortable, 5 down 21 to go. Some where around 6 miles I found myself running with a gentleman who was running the half-marathon, unfortunately I neglected to catch his name. I was reluctant to strike up a conversation because I was so focused on sticking to my plan and I didn't want to be distracted or end up running faster then I wanted. After a mile of one word answers I gave in, figuring it would help pass time. We talked about the marathons that we had run, injuries, nutrition, training and coaching. At 10 miles I downed my Roctane Pineapple and again had no problems getting it down and almost instantly it seemed like I could feel it take effect. I passed the 10 mile mark still under my goal pace still feeling comfortable and relaxed but I noticed that my quads weren't feeling great. Was I coming unglued already or was I just sore from the hills and squat jumps?

At 12 miles my new running buddy pealed of to finish the Half and I pressed on southbound towards Ventnor and Margate on Atlantic Avenue. From miles 8 to the 15.5 the race ran into a head wind and around 14 it started to get a little annoying. At this point I started to talk to myself, coaching myself to stay positive and not let things I had no control over bother me. At 15, I downed another strawberry banana GU and again didn't have much of an issue getting it down. At the turn around at 15.5, I was reminded that I should have looked more closely at the course map. I can't even begin to stress how important it is to know the course you are running. I assumed that after the turn I was headed back to the boardwalk to finish and in a way I was. Just not directly. When I was directed inland it dawned on me the I still had some running left to do and heading straight back to Boardwalk Hall would have left me a few miles short of 26.2 miles.

By the time I got to 18 miles I was still feeling strong but knew a lot could go wrong if I tried to force. Although I had been doing it the entire race from 18 on I really did a lot a self coaching and I began to get tunnel vision. Not the type you get when you're about to fall out but the type you get when you're in the zone. I repeated over and over to myself "don't force", "don't chase", "keep it up", "you've got a good one going." At 20 miles I took my last gel, GU tri-berry with caffeine and I felt great. Mentally I was dialed into my mantra and physically although my quads were sore I new I wasn't about to let another one slip away. I knew I was feeling great because I was still thanking the people on the course who where telling me that I looked great. At LBI I had stopped thanking people at mile 10.

When I hit the boardwalk to head to the finish I was 11th and I had number 10 in my sights. Even though I only had a little over 3 miles to go, I still didn't want to force the issue "don't force, don't chase" I repeated over and over. Sure enough around 25 miles I moved into 10th and with a little over a mile to go the fear of blowing up no longer existed. I ran my last mile in 6:08 to finish with a chip time of 2:51.11 over and 8 minute PR on less then a weeks notice and off of less then 30 miles.

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