Monday, December 10, 2007

Recuperate and Refocus

Today: 30 minutes exercise bike at moderate effort and appx 85-90 RPM

It's been a full day after my debut marathon, I have a few more thoughts about my marathon and the direction of my running. First and foremost I'm really happy I competed and I'm anxious to meet my BQ goal in Houston in about five weeks. I really had a great time.

With Julie's help I did a bit of research about my condition over the last 1.5 miles. It seems as though I had the classic symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar.) My experience was eerily similar to this person's attempt to qualify for Boston:
"I started out at a moderate pace and never went more than 4 seconds above or below my goal pace of 7:15/mile, staying slightly ahead of the 3:10 pace group. Near mile 19, I was passed by the pace group, but managed to stay with them with a little extra effort. By mile 22, I had to work hard to stay with the pace group, but I was focused on staying with them because my goal was to qualify for Boston with a 3:10 time."

I was passed by the 3:10 pace group at mile 21, but kept within 20 feet of them until I completed mile 24. I knew they were ahead of pace by looking at my watch, and I knew I'd qualify if I finished within 50 yards of them.
"By mile 23, I was still at the tail end of the pace group, but felt I was exerting myself as much as possible. I began to get a little dizzy and see some spots. I was concentrating hard and telling myself that I had to stay with the group, and that my discomfort was part of reaching my goal."

I started getting dizzy at mile 25.
"By mile 24, I began to fall about 50ft behind the group, and noticed my field of vision began to narrow. My pace slowed by about 5 seconds, but I was still running. I was concentrating so hard on keeping running that I forgot I had a Cliff Shot in my pocket."

I started getting confused and my field of vision also narrowed during mile 26. I remember seeing this crazy person riding a bicycle on the course shouting out commands. Even though I could hear him perfectly, I couldn't understand why he was there or what he was saying. Later on it dawned on me that he was a race official telling the marathoners to finish to the left, and the half marathoners to finish to the right.
"Shortly before mile 25, I got an extreme case of tunnel vision, and could no longer keep up a fast running pace. Suddenly, within a few hundred meters, my vision blacked out and I stumbled to the side of the road. A spectator or race volunteer had to help me from falling down. He kindly encouraged me to sit down, but I made a feeble attempt to keep walking. He said I was in bad shape, and that 'I should save myself for the next marathon.' Within about 20 seconds, I could no longer stand and I gave up. I did not lose consciousness, but I could hear myself slurring and I lost control of my bladder and could hardly move."

Thankfully I never progressed to the stage of collapse or blackout. But my pace slowed to the point that I missed qualifying. The Garmin is inaccurate due to GPS error and other factors, but through 24 miles it registered a 7:10 pace (probably closer to 7:12), and the remainder of the run registered an 8:01 pace.

Look here if you want to view my marathon on Motionbased.

Yesterday's splits according to the Garmin:
1 - 7:15 -- started close enough to the starting line to see the elite men. It's windy and a few drops of rain are falling here and there, but I'm wearing a ridiculously looking pink skull cap and a long sleeve tech shirt and I'm not too cold
2 - 7:00 -- Ryan catches up with me and taps me on the shoulder. We were supposed to run together, but I was nervous when I never saw him. Turns out he got there late and had to sprint to catch up. Knowing he is there makes me feel better. The streets are wet, and I'm feeling my shoes slip just a bit with every step.
3 - 6:52 -- Feeling great, but I feel overwhelmed and nervous about the fact that I still have 23 miles left. This split is fast because there was a downhill near Breadwinners on McKinney, a great breakfast restaurant.
4 - 7:12 -- Running Along Turtle Creek, looking at the beautiful houses. I think Jerry Jones has a house somewhere around here. The Christmas lights around here are worth the trip to Dallas.
5 - 7:12 -- Significant uphill as we veer off of Turtle Creek and near the highest point of the course. I'm only three blocks from the old alma mater, SMU, but I can't see it from my vantage point. I take off my pink skull cap and hold on to it in case I need to put it back on.
6 - 6:59 -- Cross over US 75 (aka I-45) and ditch the cap to a cute spectator. I can only imagine what she must have been thinking.
7 - 7:00 -- I pass the Grenada half way into this mile as we turn onto Greenville, and I joke that I'm going to stop by to see what band is playing and catch back up to the group.
8 - 7:06 -- Now I'm really close to where I used to live, and I've forgotten how beautiful it is this time of the year. Trees line the street, and the leaves are in full color. At this point I quit worrying about my run and had fun the rest of the way. I started to hi-five the kids, wave at the spectators, and thank the race volunteers the rest of the way. This mile marked the point where I knew I would run another marathon. Just when I don't think it can get any better, I see Julie for the first time and she looks beautiful. I ditch my long sleeve running shirt, and now I have on only a running tank, shirt, and gloves. The temperature is perfect, despite the occasional very light precipitation.
9 - 7:13 -- I pass some spectators with a sign that says "Free beer for runners." I'm having fun, but not that much fun. I think back to how I drank a mid-race beer at the Crescent City Classic last year, and how I'd be all over it today if it weren't so early in the race.
10 - 7:18 -- This is where I got lost the night before the race while trying to drive the course. I get my first look at White Rock lake which will provide background for me for the next 10.25 miles. Just before I get to the lake there is a sharp incline, which, coupled with a water station, contributed to a slow split. It's been windy all day long, but running next to a lake makes it worse because there are no trees to dissipate the force of the wind.
11 - 7:10 -- I'm really in the groove now. I don't want to go out too fast, but I'm really enjoying this and I start to whip off series of fast miles. I've been running with the 3:10 pace group but it's difficult to navigate the water stops with so many people, and there are a few lanky runners who make it difficult to bunch up. I decide to run in front of the group, and I follow Ryan.
12 - 7:02 --
13 - 7:04 --
14 - 7:03 -- I hit the half way point at 1:34:01, for a 7:11 pace and a 3:08:02 predicted finish. I programmed my watch to look only at overall time and last half mile pace, so the half way point kinda snuck up on me. In fact, most of the race I couldn't have told you what mile I was on because I was so focused on running according to how I felt that I didn't become a slave to my watch like I usually do during training runs.
15 - 7:08 --
16 - 7:05 -- The boy scouts have an aid station here, and I grab a gatorade.
17 - 7:17 -- I think this is where I saw Julie again. Ryan is looking strong and made a move ahead of me. I decide to conserve some energy and roll back the pace. This comes as the wind is really slowing me down, averaging 11 MPH at the airport and possibly higher at the lake. Somewhere around here I hear a girl with two guys catching up to me. I'm not sure where they came from, but I'll end up just ahead or just in front of them for the next four or five miles before they get away from me.
18 - 7:16 -- Will this lake ever end? I'm pretty sure there was some sort of mistake and either 1) this is my second lap or 2) we were accidentally routed around one of the Great Lakes. I run by the White Rock Waterfall, which has always captivated me despite the fact that it's man-made and not particularly beautiful.
19 - 7:12 -- The Hooters aid station is here, and a slightly obnoxious DJ is cheering us on, but I'm digging it. I'm still feeling strong, but I make my mistake here and pass on the opportunity to get gatorade and gel packs. The Hooters aid station has a "Start" line, complete with balloons. I guessed correctly that they were referring to the "wall" at mile 20. There is a common adage that a marathon is composed of two races . . . the first twenty and the last six. I'm still feeling strong, and I scoff at the sign referring to the "wall".
20 - 7:41 -- This split is slow because it's all uphill. Even though my legs are tired, I'm feeling fine and excited to be headed down the home stretch. There is a sign saying that you're entering the "Dolly Parton Hills." I'll let your imagination take over for a second . . . welcome back. There were a couple of guys dressed in drag with baloons in strategic locations. I ask and get permission to touch the balloons for good luck. Shortly thereafter I see another sign saying "free beer for runners." I declined the fist go-round, but I'm not going to be so foolish as to decline twice. I grab about two ounces of beer to the delight of the two guys handing them out. They probably don't get a lot of takers in the 2:30-3:30 groups.
21 - 7:25 -- The 3:10 pace group catches up with me and catches me off guard. I'm upset that I'm being passed, but I don't give it much thought and I step up the pace to make sure they don't leave me.
22 - 7:08 -- Down Swiss Avenue, and I'm kicking butt to stay up with the 3:10 group. Although I'm not looking at my watch to gauge the pace, I have this feeling that we're running too fast. Based on this split I guess we were running slightly fast since our target was 7:15 miles.
23 - 7:08 -- I pass by Baylor Hospital, Julie's old workplace. I picked her up from work many a day when we lived in Dallas. Downtown is in the background and I'm way ahead of schedule to qualify for Boston. I'm really tired at this point, but not unlike the end of any of the other long runs I've done in the past. I haven't taken any fluids or nutrients since mile 18 or 19 (2 oz. of beer excluded), but nutrition and hydration are the last thing on my mind right now.
24 - 7:21 -- I get my first look at the half marathoners, who join us at the end of 24/beginning of 25. I prepare myself for some problems because they started the half an hour later than me, but will be finishing about the same time. My pace = 7ish per mile, their pace = 10ish per mile, and we're about to merge.
25 - 8:20 -- I've already written a bit about my collapse. I lost a full sixty seconds during this one mile. Had I been able to maintain a 7:15 pace on this mile I would have qualified for Boston. But it wasn't a question of willpower or desire -- I didn't have anything left.
26.2 - 7:48 pace -- I saw Julie about 100 yards from the finish, but I was concentrating on not falling on my face at that point and didn't muster much of a response. She must have screamed at me to get my attention because there were hundreds of people. I felt so terrible that I couldn't enjoy the most enjoyable part of the race where everyone is cheering you on. But I saw the finish line and managed to cross it.

On my condition: I usually chew on shot bloks, but it was too cold throughout the race to get them out of my pocket while wearing gloves. So I didn't get the sugar I needed and I crashed during mile 25. After you stop running (or when you start running slower) your body is used to generating so much heat, and all of a sudden you're not generating as much heat by exercising. So your body continues to give off heat, but not generate it. That's why they meet you at the finish line with those metallic blankets to help keep your core temperature up. In my case I slowed down significantly and stopped at the end of course. Right as the course entered the downtown finish the wind amplified (as they always do in downtowns.) And hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) accelerates hypothermia because of some biomechanical things that Julie understands but I don't.

so, hypothermia set in b/c
1) hypoglycemia
2) slowed down my pace at end
3) as I slowed down the wind really picked up

The good news is that this is a learning experience, and that it didn't have to happen to me if I had been more diligent eating the shot blocks or gells that they pass out, or even drinking more gatorade during the run. I like to believe that I would have finished better than my goal time if I had taken the proper nutrients throughout the race. I'll know better next time.

And next time is Houston, which is five weeks away. I wanted to run Dallas hard and qualify so I could run Houston easy with some friends. But now H-Town is my qualifying race and I'm excited. I'm sore, but everything is muscle related and I have no joint pain. My toes (which have been my weak point) feel fine, and my IT band must have rested duing the taper period because I didn't have any pain from that area. Basically I feel the way I felt after the first time I ran 13 miles back on July 14 at a 9:05 pace. I'm sore, but I'll get better in a few days and I'll probably do a long run this weekend. So I started the road back today by biking 30 minutes.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Great job on your first marathon. I was telling of your accomplishments with my running group this morning. They all felt for you coming so close. I am sure you will make it in Houston.