Monday, October 29, 2018

the Cape Cod Marathon (Marathon #7) Race Review

Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen 
Durch des Himmels prächt'gen
Plan,Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,
Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.
 --Schiller, Ode to Joy

Ran the Falmouth Track Club's Cape Cod Marathon yesterday.

I was a bit apprehensive about the race because I had some overuse injuries, because I kept building volume, and I suppose my base wasn't as ready for it as I thought. For about a month I've had some joint pain, and tendon pain in my left foot. I laid off the running quite a bit in the two weeks leading up to the race, and just trusted the base I built up.

Friday after work we headed out to our accommodations on the cape. Pretty nice little hotel with a kitchenette. I brought lots of run stuff this time, because I really worked on my sports nutrition this time around. Lots of energy gels, powdered carb drinks, etc. Went out to a local supermarket to pick up food for the couple of days, also picked up some sweats to toss after the race got going. I ended up getting a solid eight hours of sleep, which was really good.

Saturday was a super windy day, with winds that actually resembled a tropical depression. We ventured out to the hit expo. Found some cool stuff there, and I picked up a couple of extra gels in my favorite flavors, along with some anti-friction gel (having left mine at home.) Met and mingled with some of the FTC folks, who were all very nice. It was a surprisingly well stocked expo for how small of a marathon this was. At least two running gear places, and then the track and running club booths.

Found a British pub place for lunch, with some familiar New England sights and weather, and then returned to the hotel. We stayed in and played board games with the toddler. Learned dominoes, but also taught her to play Barrel of Monkeys, and Connect 4. So that was a lot of fun, and she really enjoyed it. I made pasta and a bland sauce for dinner, which worked out well for me. Got all my race stuff together before heading off to bed.

Oh man, Friday night's sleep? That was great. Saturday night was rough -- the toddler just DID NOT want to go to sleep. I mean she was up until like 9:30. I had planned to get up at 5:30 the next day to start going through pre-race rituals, but that was just not realistic. I fell asleep around 9:45 and ended up snoozing until 6 am. The race start was at 8:30, so that didn't throw me off much, but it was just not as planned.

The race day itself was beautiful -- started off a bit cold, and damp from the previous day's storms, but I ended up being happy I chose to run in a singlet and shorts. Paced myself pretty comfortably for the first eight or nine miles, having talked through the pacing plan with my wife, I knew to save some stuff for the hilly back half of the course. The whole course was rolling hills, but a very familiar kind of hill to me. Many of the hills resembled the ones I live around and train on all the time, so my legs were able to lift me through them and let me coast down the back side. I pushed my gels up about five or ten minutes from my usual gel schedule, hoping to get a little more juice out of things, and I think that plan worked OK, except I should have added an extra one in there somewhere -- because I had a bonk at mile 24.

Mile 24 is such a crappy place to bonk. I knew looking at my pace, though, that sub-4 was still in sight, and adjusting my expectations a bit, I did my best to dial in a pace that would keep me about 9min/mile overall. The last stretch along the beach was really lovely, and I managed to run the last mile of the course in before taking a picture with the kiddos and grabbing a bite to eat with everyone before heading home. I'm very sore today, moreso than the previous few marathons. But I think that's in keeping with the effort expended (both mental and physical.) I'll be taking a couple of weeks off to get ready for the holiday run streak, and looking into one or two fun races to wind down the season.

"A runner must run with dreams in his heart."--Emil Zatopek

Checked a couple of goals off yesterday at the Cape Cod Marathon.

First, I went sub-4 for the first time since Baystate in 2015. My marathon results look like this:

Baystate (2013): 3:47:53

Marine Corps (2014): 3:52:07

Baystate (2015): 3:48:48

Big Sur (2016) 4:34:17

NYC (2017): 4:37:12

Newport (April, 2018): 4:02:22

Cape Cod (October, 2018): 3:56:

So, my timing was significantly better and I think that's owing to a couple of things. 1) I trained better (and a bit harder) for this race, and I wasn't trying to lose weight simultaneously, and 2) I wasn't running the race as a vacation primarily. With Big Sur and NYC I threw myself into the experience of the race, knowing that I'll likely never get to run those events again. So, for me, those races were about the sights and the people. It didn't make me want to rush to the finish. I'm only about an hour away from the cape, and the terrain is very familiar and similar to other races I've run, so I was willing to really see what I could do in my current shape.

The other goal was that this was the first time I've run two marathons in one calendar year. That's been a goal of mine for a couple of years now, but it didn't feel really do-able to me until this last very successful training cycle. I don't know that I'll ever get up to a marathon every weekend or anything, but it helps me look at some goals that I'd like to meet next year, which will all show up here when I start writing the posts planning for the future.

Also, the toddler is getting very interested in doing a kid's race. It's led to a lot of discussion about what it means to win a race, which led to this really fruitful discussion:

Me, "How do you win a race? What do you have to do?"
Toddler, "You cross the finish line."

Out of the mouths of babes, right?

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Autumnal Rambling

Very, very busy between work and childcare. The sensation of living many days in one 24-hour stretch is becoming very familiar, and I'm hoping it's not aging me too much. I'm also extending my hours at work, which means one day is really starting to blend into another.

Finally arrived at Saturday morning -- my wife is feeling sick with a cold, but the toddler is up and active. I've been on the verge of getting sick, so I've been taking it easy this week. Focusing on sleep and taking it easy because I don't want to go into the marathon with a cold. Anyway, got up early with the toddler and went out to breakfast. Impressive kid knew just what she wanted to eat, and it's neat watching the hand-eye dexterity coming along with her utensil use. Sang along with "Yellow Submarine" on the way home, which did my hippie heart a lot of good.

Now we're hanging out watching Saturday morning cartoons and playing with toys. I'm running as much laundry as I can today, too. So that's fun. At some point I'll get out for a forty-minute run, just to keep things going. Tomorrow is a 16 mile (thereabouts) run.

The baby is doing well -- now has the helmet, and isn't too averse to wearing it. She remains the happiest baby ever, and she's a delight to be with. Although, I still have the guilt that she isn't getting as much of my attention as baby #1 did, but that's to be expected, I guess. She absolutely loves her big sister, and smiles every time the toddler sings her a song or talks to her.

I'm still pretty sore from an overuse injury, but I'm not planning to drop out of this marathon. There will be plenty of time to recover AFTER I suffer through it. I have wanted to do two marathons in a calendar year for a couple of years now, and I'm really planning on this year being the year.

Getting colder here in New England, which very little in-between weather. I prefer the cold, anyway, so no complaints there. But it is making me feel like I have not a lot of time to get the yard ready for winter. Yikes. Lots of cleanup to do.

Re-reading Jeff Smith's Bone with the toddler. A chapter each night before meditation and bed. Definitely a big change to the night routine, which used to be a solid hour of music and rocking her to sleep. It's a good routine, though, and often means I pass out and am able to log a solid seven hours.

All that said, though, I'm still just as worn out as I was when I did my heaviest marathon training week. So that isn't great. I'm thinking about getting a indoor trainer for one of my bikes, and just starting to log lots of indoor miles on it over the winter. I'm planning to do a holiday run streak, too, but I think I'd benefit from the additional cardio training indoor for the few months.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Autumnal Routines

"...I am the autumnal sun,
With autumn gales my race is run;
When will the hazel put forth its flowers,
Or the grape ripen under my bowers?
When will the harvest or the hunter's moon
Turn my midnight into mid-noon?
I am all sere and yellow,
And to my core mellow.
The mast is dropping within my woods,
The winter is lurking within my moods,
And the rustling of the withered leaf
Is the constant music of my grief... "

Henry David Thoreau, I am the autumnal sun


As the late summer's hurriedness and anxiety give way to early autumns consistent work, I find I have a bit of time to stop and write. I love this time when I'm often busy, have to work my training in around work and family life. It has a good rhythm to it, and is quite in contrast with the enjoyably lazy summer.

We pursued the scans for the baby's skull shape, and there's no need for surgery. That news was quite a bit of relief to my us, although the babe will need a helmet for a few months to help things grow correctly. She's the happiest baby of all time, though, and seems to be moving along at a normal developmental pace, so that's good.

The toddler and I have been reading Jeff Smith's Bone. It's a favourite graphic novel of mine, that I first read in college. I'm reading it on an app, as it allows us to follow one panel at a time, but only a couple of weeks in and we're nearly through with the story. Should finish this weekend. I was somewhat worried about some of the scarier bits, but she seems to be dealing well enough with it, and has a lot of fun telling her mom all about the rat creatures and how Fone Bone escapes them with the help of a dragon.

Training wise I'm a bit sore these past few days, starting to feel some overuse pangs after last week's speedwork (in which I over reached, impressively.) I'm going to cut this week's speed work, but still aim for time on my feet as an active recovery. As it is things actually feel better once I get moving, so I'm not sure there's much of a need to stop. My body is showing me the tell tale signs of over use: elevated heart rate in the morning, soreness. I'll do what I can to start eating better and sleeping more (as much as I can.) I'm adding more ice baths in and foam rolling. I'll get to that second marathon at the end of October, and hopefully I'll be feeling better by then, too.

I've had to order another pair of shoes from wearing out my first pair of the cycle. Not thrilled about that, but otherwise my other new gear is holding up well. And with the muscle soreness I've been running more in my sandals anyway, so this new pair of shoes should easily last me until the marathon. If I'm able to recover on the run like this, it will mean pretty great things for the rest of the fall and winter, but I'm hesitant to let this plan quite out in case I should jinx myself.

Today marks day #132 of my run streak, which is pretty cool. I haven't been keeping a table on this streak in the way I do for the holiday run streak, but I'm averaging just over 50 miles per week according to Strava. I think that my highest weekly mileage is only in the high 50s, anyway, so maybe it means big things are on the horizon for me endurance wise. It would be exciting to find out that this first six years in running had just been the prelude to a really fun life in endurance sport.