Some adventures in road and trail running.
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Monday, December 8, 2008

California International Marathon 2008

I posted the short and sweet story right after the race: I missed my goal of sub 3 hours.
This is the long version telling all about the race and lessons I learned as well as some new questions to solve in future races. The picture is of Mount Shasta on the drive back home.

The place we stayed at, the Holiday Inn at Capital Plaza, was good. Nice price, close to the packet picket up and finish line and the staff were all very helpful. Next time we will not stay on the 15th floor as there was some very early noise from the party wrapping up on the 16th floor which has all the gathering rooms.

The bus ride from the Holiday Inn worked out well: leaving around 5:25 with about 45 minutes to the start to arrive around 6:10.
I would not want to get to the start any later. We arrived before the main crowds but when we got back from our warm-up things were pretty crazy. Even with 1 porty potty for every 24 people (250 total) there were some good lineups. Everyone is over-hydrated :-)

It was really hard to move up to the correct place in the start as well. I had to keep pushing forward during the playing of the national anthem...something I usually try to avoid. Sean Meissner had real trouble and likely cost him about 2 minutes. Possibly need a staggered start with the skinny road we start on? Or maybe corrals like Boston? If I did do this race again I would head to the line at least 10 minutes earlier around 6:45.

The crowd support was good with music and cheering squads along the course. The relay exchanges (every 6miles) always had very large crowds with loud cheering.

The aid stations were frequent and seemed well stocked. Gels were available out on the course in good supply. And not just some nasty flavors no one likes. I even remembered to grab one but I don't remember where.
But why, oh why, did they use hard plastic cups for water!!
No way to squeeze the cup in to a funnel to shoot the water in and after discard you have sharp, slippery plastic bits all over the road.
Please, all race directors, do not use hard plastic cups. Really made me appreciate packing my water in my Ultimate Direction hand held. I could steer clear of the crowds and the mass of plastic on the road.
Talking with the other (faster) runners I still need to drink more. I got through about 20 ounces and should probably have done 40.

One weird kinda note to all race directors out there...if you have porta potties en route it would be great to help runners who are really trying to get in and get out fast to "prime" the toilet paper. I was lucky enough to get an outhouse that no one had used on the course but had to fumble around for what seemed like forever try to rip off the roll's wrapping...erg!

I ran with the 3 hour pace group for the first 16 miles. It was good but after my first bathroom break I think I should have taken a few more miles to catch back up...3 miles at 6:40 was too fast. Easy to look back now. I really was hoping that the one pit stop was all it was going to take to "rotate the tires". Nope...not today.
I think I would also run the first 4 miles slower next time and catch up to the pace group around mile 7 or 8. The first miles just felt too fast. Others in the group seemed to share the same sentiments. Also more conducive to the holy grail of running: the negative split (which Sean achieved...stud!). But again the 3 hour pace group crossed the line right before 3 hours...awesome job by the leader, Kevin Sawchuk.

After the first 4 miles I settled into a nice pace with the group and was feeling awesome. Fueling with my gels (alternating GU Strawberry Banana with Clif Shot Double Expresso) about every 30 mins. Sipping from my hand held. 10 km in 43 minutes. As shown below, made it to the half in 1:29.

This was about when I knew my stomach was going to have more impact on the race. With the minute in the bank, I dialed back the pace to around 7 minutes. Still no love. Dialed back to 7:30. More pit stops. At this point I lost a bit of mental focus.
I knew I was not going to make sub 3 nor a PR. 3:15:59 was my next real line as it is the Boston qualifier for my age group.
I also thought I could likely break 3:10. Nope, not in the cards. Not entirely sure when the 3:10 pace group passed me but I just could not pick it back up as they went by. Erg.
I did like the last 2 miles more than I thought I would. You are running along a straight stretch on L street for the last 3 or 4 miles. I think from like 56th street down to 8th street. I actually liked ticking off the blocks. Not sure this would always be the case but it did work on this day. Slight increase in pace at the end to make it into the 3:13s

No real damage to the body as the legs did not get the chance to work hard enough, long enough. This is a good thing. Might lose my right big toenail. Not sure what the story is there. I did run in my marathon racing flats (Saucony Fast Twitch) but I have never had anything like this before in any race. Maybe it was all the pit stop squatting...ewww :-(

The CIM course is fast but not flat. Rather rolling in a general down hill....which I liked. There are uphills. But all of the hills you can see the top from the bottom and with a little bit of a change in stride and a push you are at the top. And each hill you are immediately rewarded with a nice downhill usually both before and after. Last miles are the flattest. The course most closely reminds me of Boston.

Now to plan for the next marathon: Surf City near L.A.
I may dive into the boot camp world that has done such great things for Trisha and Ronda.
I would like to be about 5 pounds lighter for the February race. And stronger.
I may run with Trisha at Surf City and pick another race to go for the gold.

Either way I really don't know what to do with this stomach. Maybe the strict fueling plans of boot camp will fix me? Wish I could just fuel intravenously :-) So much more direct and would skip the weak link in my system Possibly being stronger will allow my backup pace to be faster so when the stomach does go sour it will not have as much effect on the end result. Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

Much respect and congratulations go out to Jeff Caba (2:36), Sean (2:39) and Ryan Altman (3:04)...the Bend boys who all set awesome PRs. I want to grow up to be like you guys :-) Glenn Miller ran a great race after some time away from the marathon. It was great hanging with all of you. Also great was hitting Johnny Rockets for hamburgers, cheese fries and malts after the race. My stomach seemed fine after crossing the finish line.


Mile 1 : 6:47 Mile 7: 6:48 Mile 14: 7:00 Mile 21: 7:51
Mile 2: 6:37 Mile 8: 7:28 Mile 15: 7:06 Mile 22: 813
Mile 3: 6:45 Mile 9: 6:38 Mile 16: 6:59 Mile 23: 8:47
Mile 4: 6:34 Mile 10: 6:40 Mile 17: 7:11 Mile 24: 8:45
Mile 5: 6:55 Mile 11: 6:39 Mile 18: 7:32 Mile 25: 8:58
Mile 6: 6:53 Mile 12: 6:54 Mile 19: 7:37 Mile 26: 8:47

Mile 13: 6:54 Mile 20: 8:47 1:42 3:13:56

(half in 1:29) (2:21 total time) 3:13:56


Rooster said...

Bummer Darin, there's nothing you can do about needed pit stops. Double check your concentration level of carbs to water...needs to be around 7% or the stomach will freak. Sounds more like your intestines were pissed than the stomach. Clean eating will change that digestion so it will interesting to see. I would suggest a 4 day pre race menu that is very clean and simple and see if you intestinal tract settles.

That 3 hour PR is there!

Darin Swanson said...

You are right Ronda. I should be more accurate: the stomach was was lower down in the digestion system. I had had problems for the 1.5 weeks leading up to the race. I had moved to simpler diet but will be even more rigorous next time.

saschasdad said...

You know, what Ronda says about the 7% may be a factor here, Darin. You gu'd every 30 min. (which would be about 6 for the race, meaning 6 oz), but only drank 20 oz. of water. Hm, 6/20 = 33%...WAY over that magic 7%, or even tolerable 10%. I remember reading that on Ronda's blog a year or more ago and when I do stay below 10%, my tummy is much happier.

Thanks for joining the central Oregon group for the boys road trip. It was a blast!

JCaba said...

GI stuff is the worst. It can humble the best of runners. Don't worry, it wasn't the hardy platter of pasta the night before. Don't let Meissner and his petite platter convince you otherwise:) Curious what your pre-race meal was. You still had a nice race and are fit for a sub 3:00. Good luck at Surf City. Thanks for the weekend.

Darin Swanson said...

I did 5 gels. Thanks for the advice...I plan to drink more in the future.

I had a bagel and a half for pre-race.