Wednesday, August 3, 2011

SF Marathon Dreadful Race Report


On Sunday, July 31, I ran the SF marathon.  My 7th marathon!

To get the the bottom line - I'm really disappointed with my performance.  I got sick on July 4th (right when I had to go on business travel).  The cold/flu took me down for a week without running.  Then, the next week I tried to run but really struggled as I was still recovering.  After that week, I had a two week taper.  I just could never get a good feel for running after getting sick.  Every run I took after getting sick was a struggle.  Especially, with chest pain.  I went to the Doctor the Wed before the SF marathon because of the chest pain.  My heart tested out fine.  She thought my lungs might still have some inflammation.  She thought it was safe to run the marathon.  I guess this is a big excuse for my poor performance.  But, before I got sick I was running stronger than I ever had.  I was putting in 50 plus miles a week and running faster than I had in the past.

I took off work early Friday to get to the expo and pick up my bib.  I had a church meeting on Sat and worried about getting to SF on Sat.  I did not spend much time at the expo.  I picked up my bid, shirt and changed my wave group (moved back a group).  I ran into one of my running friends (it was nice to see her there) and talked a little.

On Sat night I drove up to SF and stayed the night in the city.  I went up there close to Brooklyn's bed time so I got into the room about 9pm and just relaxed until I fell asleep.  As normal, I woke up early and often . . . checking the clock to make sure I did not oversleep (even though I set about 5 alarms on my iphone).

I woke up about 4:30am.  Slowly got ready and then headed out to the start line.  I had to walk about a 1.1 miles (walking the morning was fine, the walk back after the marathon was painful).  I got there in time to run into some of my running friends at the SF marathon training group tent.  We lined up together.

I decided to try to stay behind the 3:50 pace group.  I felt (before getting sick) that I would have tried for a sub 3:50.  My thinking was that I had to give it a shot.  I had very little confidence, but I did not want to kick myself for not trying.  So I said let me see how long I can stay with them.

I felt good the first 5 or so miles, but then (like my recent runs) my chest was bothering me (below my ribs) and I was losing my endurance.  On the GG Bridge I realized that I would not be able to keep up with them so I let them go and told myself "just enjoy the race."

I ran across the GG bridge and made the turn to run back across it.  Here is a video I took (I have no idea how to get it to play properly - it is sideways):

Then, the trouble really started.  Halfway back across the GG bridge, I developed major stomach cramps.  I mean major ones.  I could not run.  I had to stop a couple of times (on the GG bridge).  I did not have a choice.  A couple of my running friends passed me as I really struggled to control the stomach cramps.  I finally was able to get running again.  Thanks a lot to my running friend Rachel who passed me.  I was able to catch up to her once I started running and was able to run with her for a while until I ran into the porta potties.  I had to stop.

After that I started running again.  I ran into Aaron.  I thought maybe she recognized me because she said hi Tim, but I realized that my bib had Tim on it.  :)  It was nice to see her because I was thinking about her great SF marathon course descriptions (I really relied on those) and how she thought the hill after the GG Bridge was the tougher one.  I always feel a bit strange when I run into bloggers that I really don't know, especially when I think they don't know me (I don't want them to think I'm some crazy guy).  But, it was very nice to see her out there.  She was one of the first blogs that I followed and still follow (it is like seeing a star out there).  Next time I need to get her autograph.

Soon after running into her, my cramps started up again.  This time I was getting side cramps.  This sucked.  I really was thinking of stopping at the halfway point.  I wondered whether I could get a half metal if I just followed the first half marathon runners.

I pushed forward.  I ran into one of my other running friends.  That was a real pleasure as I felt that at least I could pace along side him for a few miles.  About mile 16 I needed to walk through an aid station to get some water.  My running friend kept going and I knew that would be the last I would see him as I just did not feel strong.  The next two miles were horrible.  I struggled with chest pain and stomach cramps.  I forced my way to mile 18.  I used the porta potty again and then just tired to focus on getting the last 8.2 miles or so done.

About mile 19-20, another running friend past me.  I told her I was struggling and wished her luck.  She broke 4 hours!  Yeah!

About mile 20, two of the trainees from the SF marathon training group approached me.  I ran with them for about a mile or two.  I turned off my watch and just focused on getting 1 mile done at a time.  Once I got within the last few miles I knew I would finish.  I tired my best to run as much as possible the last few miles (maybe the last six miles, I just walked through two aid stations for water).  Here are two videos I took:

After the finish I waited for the two trainees to cross the finish line.  It was incredible to see them finish their first marathon.  Here are video's of them crossing the finish line.

Overall - I'm still disappointed with my performance. I came in about 4:17 and change.  I know I could have done so much better.  I want to run another marathon right away to "make up" for this performance, but I'm still letting things settle before making a plan.  I would have likely signed up for the NorCal marathon in Sept, but that weekend I'm signed up to do a relay in Napa and can't really let down my running friends.

Although I am disappointed with my performance, I also need to keep positive.  I did complete my 7th marathon!  I did lose about 10 or so pounds this training period.  I made some great new running friends and enjoyed running with old running friends.  I really loved working with the trainees in the SF marathon training program.  It was a great experience to be a pace and help lead so many Rancho Thurs. night hill runs.  I was able to run in SF for the first time. And, there will be a next time.


Mark said...

Congrats for pushing through and finding positives....still a good time!

Nelly said...

Sorry to hear that the marathon didn't go as well as you hoped for.

It seemed like your training was going amazingly well until you get sick in early July, that really is a bummer that it happened. Bummer on the stomach cramps and chest pain.

Those videos are really awesome, thanks for taking them. Honestly, I don't remember anything of the last 1-2 miles, other than looking at the pavement, so that was nice to see what it looked like.

As for doing another marathon soon, I think the Silicon Valley Marathon is in October, and another possibility is CIM in December. I would resist the temptation to do another marathon really quick.

You can probably day in decent marathon shape without doing a full on marathon training plan depending on the next marathon that you pick. I would probably pick CIM if I were you, but that is a fair amount away.

And thanks for the comments on my posts recently, I appreciate the support - this week I'm finally starting to feel normal again. Maybe I can start running in a couple weeks or so.

Nelly said...

Thanks for the comment on my knee! Yea, it is gradually doing better, I'm not there yet, but I'm glad to see some progress.

I'm trying to ask as many people as possible who've dealt with runners knee, did you wear a patella strap while you did elliptical? Do you wear one now while you are healthy and running?

What exercises did you do that helped the most with runners knee? I'm realizing that leg strengthening exercises seem to be the best one's I think I have a decent routine now - basically the routine I posted on my last post.

Anything else you found useful battling runners knee? What was the tipping point to progressing from elliptical to running? I'm going to ask my physical therapist these questions too, but since you dealt with it directly I'm curious on your thoughts.