Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Arizona Marathon - Full Report

OK, let's start with the executive summary:

Time: 4:09:53 (9:32 average)

Splits
10K: 55:23
1/2 Mar: 1:56:14
20M: 3:01:05

Statistics
10400 registered for the marathon, 8031 finished, 4176 males, 565 male (age 45-49)

Overall place: 2453 (69th percentile)
Among males: 1718 (59th percentile)
Among males age 45-49: 239 (58th percentile)

My goals were sub-4:00 and no cramping and I didn't accomplish either one. But I am not at all disappointed with the effort (yeah, me!), and the cramping was not as bad as my previous marathons. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning.

4:30 a.m.

Dueling alarm clocks break my peaceful slumber. Yes, I did get a good night's sleep. (Unfortunately, the previous two nights were a little short.) But I quickly get up and dress.

I've got a running shirt I was about to retire so I decided to make some modifications for this race. I printed "Kurt from Boston" on the front, and "Kurt from Boston / Running Blog Family / fastandfar.blogspot.com" on the back. I remember my first marathon running behind a guy with "Jim" on his shirt and hearing everyone cheering for him. I decided then that was a good idea.

The pre-race breakfast: a peanut toffee buzz Clif Bar (a tasty balance of carbs, protein, and fat), plenty of water, half a bagel spread with organic peanut butter and sprinkled with a little salt, more water, a banana (need that potassium too), some more water, one relatively small cup of coffee, and some more water. I am fully hydrated and am alternating between stretching and reviewing my race plans.

My target time is 3:50. I've broken down my mile splits for the entire race, starting with a 9:15 first mile (accounting for additional slowness due to the crowds at the beginning of the race) and then running negative splits down to 8:45 at the midway point. After that, if I'm feeling good, I'll continue on down to 8:30 by the end for 3:50, otherwise if I'm not feeling so good, I'll just hang on or even slow down slightly and hopefully bring it in under 4:00.

5:30 a.m.

Wake everyone up.

6:10 a.m.

Hit the road. Anita and I are staying at Mom's house out near Surprise, Arizona, so we have a bit of a drive to the start. The time to get to the start was estimated correctly and they drop me off right at 6:40. Anita and Mom are going to go have breakfast and then look for me around mile 5 (Camelback and 7th Avenue).

I spend my time stretching (especially that pesky right adductor), slather on the sunblock and then get in line for the john. Again, timing is impeccable and I finish up with just enough time to drop my gear bag and get to my corral (#2).

Just before the start, the announcer claims Frank Shorter is there to send us off (and I thought I heard he was to run the half marathon). I don't see him. I don't see much of anything beyond the crowd of runners around me (some of whom obviously don't belong in corral #2).

7:40 a.m.

We're off and ... walking. Somewhere around 7:41 or so I begin running, cross the mat, and start my watch.

I feel the tightness in my right adductor for maybe 30 seconds but that's it for the entire race (what a relief!). I am trying to hold back and am staying behind the 4:00 pace leader since a 4 hour pace averages to 9:09 per mile and I'm trying to run a 9:15 mile. I figure it's a good way to calibrate my pace right off the bat.

Mile 1 - 9:11 (pretty close)

I'm trying to resist the urge to speed up too much as my next mile should be 9:00, but I feel like I've sped up too much. And I'm still behind the 4:00 pace leader.

Mile 2 - 8:38 (OK, the pace leader is going too fast now!)

Holding myself back further now. I pass the 4:00 pace leader. I reach the first water station and walk briefly as I drink down a cup of water. The 4:00 pace leader passes me again.

Mile 3 - 9:06 (I really think that pace leader is going out too fast.)

I start to pick it up just a little bit. The last mile was a bit slow, but I've already got a couple faster ones in so I figure it's a wash. I pass the 4:00 pace leader (and groupies).

Mile 4 - 8:44

That last mile was slightly fast but I'm feeling good. There's a water/endurance station coming up and as I've decided to walk through each one I figure the times are balancing out. I'm mostly running on the right side of the road and I look for Anita and Mom near Camelback and 7th Avenue. I don't see them but I start hearing more "Yeah, Kurt from Boston!", "Go Kurt", "Boston!".

Mile 5 - 8:58

Again a slightly slower mile due to the aid station, but I feel they are balancing out. As we turn East on Missouri, everything is feeling pretty good, though a bit warm.

Mile 6 - 8:45

10K Split - 55:23

Unbelievable! My TARGET 10K split was 55:23 and I've hit it exactly. I am psyched.

Mile 7 - 8:52

From this point on, it feels hot and every water station I pass I drink one cup and a second cup douses my head with cool water.

Mile 8 - 8:52

I really feel like I'm in the groove. I'm clicking off consistent miles as we turn south on 24th street. This is a great stretch of the race, the crowds are huge here, and the band is tearing it up. Turning East again on Camelback, I go straight for the shade of the buildings.

Mile 9 - 8:51

Mile 10 - 9:01

After 10 miles, my legs are starting to get a little tired, and each consecutive water/endurance station takes just a bit longer than the previous one. I take my first Gu (gel) - Orange Mango (I think).

Mile 11 - 9:12

As we head South on 44th street, for a while I run near a guy in a pink tutu, and for a while there is a little less "Yeah! Kurt from Boston!", and a little more "Go Fairy!". I decide I prefer not running near the pink tutu as he's getting way too much attention.

Mile 12 - 8:48

Despite the minor complaining from my legs, I'm still feeling good.

Mile 13 - 8:51

As we pass under the Half Marathon "gate", and over the timing mats, the announcer tells us that Haile Gebrselassie has set a new world half-marathon record on the course we are about to complete. I was not aware the he was running a separate course from all the other half-marathon participants. Turns out he broke both the half-marathon record and the 20K record on the second half of the marathon course (58:55 for the half). The announcer further informs us that we are going to break 4 hours in the marathon as the 4 hour pace team is behind us. I thought to myself, "that's a little premature".

Half Marathon Split - 1:56:14

My target 1/2 Marathon Split is 1:56:02. I am only 12 seconds behind my target at the half-way mark!

We turn East on Oak, and soon after will turn North on 47th. We are approaching an area of the city I know very well.

Mile 14 - 8:46

At Thomas we make a jog in the course over to 48th street and continue North. There is a band at Osborn and as I pass it I wonder if Anita and Mom will be at Whitton Ave and 48th Street. You see, that's where I grew up. My parents lived in that house for over 45 years. Anita and Mom are not there and it feels strange to pass by it. I recognize none of the people sitting there watching the race. I tear open a salt packet and lick what I can from the sweat soaked paper.

Mile 15 - 8:59

Starting to feel quite hot and tired. I take my second Gu (espresso love!). I walk a bit longer through this station. The race is taking its toll as we head East on Indian School Road.

Mile 16 - 9:37

As we approach 56th Street I again wonder if Anita and Mom will be there. Ingleside school, where I went to Kindergarten through 8th grade, is just before 56th street. I don't see them and continue fighting through the miles, again walking through the aid station.

Mile 17 - 9:26

The miles become a blur and I'm just trying to hold things together at a decent pace. It feels good, though, to still be moving at this pace at mile 17. In San Diego, I had my first leg cramp at mile 16, but there is no sign of cramping today (yet). I take my third Gu (Vanilla) at the aid station.

Mile 18 - 9:30

There is no aid station along mile 19 and my pace is still holding up fairly well as we enter the historic area of Scottsdale. I feel good as I pass beneath one of the race photographers.

Mile 19 - 9:07

And now the race gets interesting. I can feel the initial twitches of muscle cramps in my legs. The race is taking a lot out of me now, but there is a big crowd at mile 20 and for the only time along the course, I see Anita. She smiles and waves and tries to get a picture. I know that, at best, she probably got a picture of my back, but seeing her really lifts my spirits. I've completed 20 miles at race pace without cramping. But I am tired, tired, tired.

Mile 20 - 9:52

20 Mile Split - 3:01:05

I am more than 5 minutes over my target split - for a 3:50 marathon. Time to reset. Just looking to get in under 4 hours now.

At the next water station I grab another salt packet, rip it open, dump it into a cup of water and drink it up.

And just as we turn East on McDowell I'm nailed by the first of several nasty cramps. It stretches along the outside of my left leg from my foot to my knee. I have to stop to stretch it and it takes me a while to figure out how to actually stretch this one out (it's not like a simple cramp in my calf muscle). I have to walk for a little bit as the cramp relaxes and then I continue running. But I now know it will be a battle to the end.

Mile 21 - 11:18

I am so glad I took that salt packet. I get through mile 22 without any major cramping. But the muscle twitches are almost constant now and with every step I wonder if a cramp will set in.

Mile 22 - 10:17

I take my fourth and last Gu (another Vanilla) and get hit by another cramp soon after. I'm able to stretch it out a little more quickly and continue running.

Mile 23 - 10:54

I look at my time and realize it would take under 8 minute miles to get under 4 hours. Damn. That's not going to happen. But I do have a pretty good mile without any major cramping.

And then I can't believe what I see next. This can't possibly be happening?! Holy crap, these guys are handing out beers! Anyone who takes them up on that offer, probably gets what they deserve.

Mile 24 - 9:13

Now the cramps start coming more often and I have to alternate stretching and walking with the running. We finally turn West on University and I know the end is soon.

Mile 25 - 12:12

Another grueling mile of running and cramping. But as I turn North on Rural I see Elizabeth taking a picture of me and cheering wildly. Elizabeth - thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the picture in between the cramps. It really lifts my spirits and after the next major cramp I determine not to stop anymore and to just run through any remaining cramps to the finish.

Mile 26 - 12:18

Oh, those cramps hurt. And both legs are cramping as I approach the finish line. But I grit through it and finish as strong as I can.

Last .2 - 2:36

Total time: 4 hours, 9 minutes and 53 seconds. And with that, the shadow of San Diego has been lifted. The albatross is flung off my neck. That abysmal performance last June is forgotten and once again I am at least close to a 4 hour marathon.

I still believe I will do sub 4 without cramping. And in fact, it wasn't the cramping alone that put 4 hours out of reach. I was dead tired. I gave it everything I had and even without the cramping would not have gotten sub-4.

In the finishers area I picked up my swag, got the picture taken, drank some of the recovery fluid, and sat down and stretched a little bit. After maybe 5 minutes I got back up and headed for the reunion area. Right in the most crowded area, a bottleneck leading to the reunion area, I decided not to keep the recovery fluid in my stomach anymore, bent over and deposited the vile stuff in the grass. I stood up, took a swig of water, and continued walking.

Resting near the other W's, first Mom found me, then Anita. I gave them the brief version of everything and then Mom had to leave for a wedding. Anita and I hung out for a while as I continued to rehydrate, refuel, and eventually claim my free brewski.

We didn't have a big RBF meetup, but I called Elizabeth, Ellie and Tammy to confirm things as we had planned on dinner together in the evening. After a long walk to the car that did my legs a lot of good, Anita and I picked up Tammy, drove over to my sister-in-law's house for a quick shower and change, and then we headed over to Los Olivos for dinner. We ended up with a somewhat large group as I had also invited a couple friends to join us and then Anita's cousin and family also wanted to join us.

Elizabeth, Ellie and Tammy really are some of the nicest people you'd want to meet (spouses too). They really are sweet and we all had a wonderful time. All three of them inspire me. Tammy did a great job with her first marathon (What an amazing story, Tammy). And I don't know how many marathons and triathlons Ellie has done (I do remember hearing 11 states so far though). Thanks for the "succeed" tip! And Elizabeth is a speed demon (talks fast too). Read their stories on their blogs if you haven't already. (I know, I'm delinquent in getting this done.)

You gals know you are more than welcome to stay with Anita and I anytime you come to Boston. (And you know I'm serious.)

After dropping Tammy off at her hotel, Anita and I stopped at a Starbucks on the way back to Mom's place where we had a little coffee and just hung out for a bit. Then it was back to Mom's place where we heard all about the wedding fiasco...but that's a topic for someone else's blog. And a good night's sleep was had by all.

And as soon as Anita e-mails me our pictures, I'll post them.

12 Comments:

Blogger Josh said...

Congratulations on the finish Kurt and great update! I was only a little behind you until I converted until the 'enjoy the bands' mode; sorry I couldn't meet up with all of you.

1/18/2006 12:45 AM  
Blogger mouse said...

awesome job, Kurt! You WILL break that 4 hour barrier next time, I know it!

great race report, too. I felt like I was right there with you!

1/18/2006 10:51 AM  
Blogger D said...

Great race report. Dang those cramps!

1/18/2006 10:12 PM  
Blogger E-Speed said...

Awesome report! I am so glad I was able to grab a photo of you! It came out great! Will email it later!

We definitely will have to meet up in April!

I think the pink fairy was just ahead of you. Around 4 hours. You beat the storm trooper and the hulk though!

1/18/2006 10:47 PM  
Blogger boiledpnut said...

Great race!

And best "laugh out loud" race recap quip:
... for a while I run near a guy in a pink tutu, and for a while there is a little less "Yeah! Kurt from Boston!", and a little more "Go Fairy!". I decide I prefer not running near the pink tutu as he's getting way too much attention.

HA!

1/19/2006 10:26 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

Wonderful recap and a great performance in spite of all the cramping and the heat. More power to ya, Kurt.

1/19/2006 1:33 PM  
Blogger Running Jayhawk said...

Great recap, Kurt! I'm bummed I missed you guys, but the picures look great!

Cramps suck...but I know you can break the 4-hour monster next time around.

1/19/2006 2:53 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

Hey Kurt ~ I finally got time to read your entire report. How do you remember what you were feeling/doing every mile?? I try to block out the last 5, at least. LOL!

Way to go... you will break that 4-hour mark soon!

1/19/2006 6:10 PM  
Blogger Kurt in Boston said...

Thanks everyone!

It was easy for me to post-visualize the race because I grew up in Phoenix - right around the middle of the course. I can still picture every street.

And the pink tutu must have passed me in the last couple miles. Things were a little hazy there.

1/19/2006 8:03 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

Awesome job Kurt!! Congratulations on a race well run, and plowing through those cramps.

1/20/2006 10:21 AM  
Blogger Rae said...

Great job! Congrats on running such an awesome marathon. Love the pics!! I know you'll break 4 next time!

1/20/2006 11:32 PM  
Blogger Curly Su said...

Great finish...stupid cramps...i know all about it.

1/24/2006 3:32 PM  

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