Going the distance

Life is like a long distance run. Most of the time you're looking forward, but occasionally you look back at what you've covered… You know there will be obstacles throughout the journey - but deep down, you know you can handle anything that comes your way. Most importantly... you keep putting one foot in front of the other and let 'NOTHING' stand in your way!!!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Half so nice, I did it twice.

So what to say about the Columbia Marathon?

I had no intention of doing it but when a Theoden Presented a Face Book contest to win I had to try for it. I solicited enough friends to like my comment and I won.

It was timed perfect in my Umstead training. I figured I could run in and use it as a long training run. No pressure and just have fun. I also knew it would be a chance to have a decent PR. Since my first Marathon in 2009 was my only official 26.2 race. 4:20 shouldn't be too hard to beat. I have paced a few 4:30 and a 4:45 since then and had tackled the distance many times in training runs.

So as race day approached I kept telling myself, just take it easy don't push it. DNS do nothing stupid. Then a few days before the race someone posted this quote:

"Spinal Tap once observed that it’s “such a fine line between clever and stupid"

Now armed with my new motto I started How many marathoning rules am I about to break?
First, nothing new race day.
At the beginning of February I decided to try a new shoe. The Pure Flow, 4 miles in it went back. Then the Pure Connect 2, 60 miles in and still not making me run happy. So 7 days before the race I get Brooks to work out an exchange. It would be tight but the new shoes were to arrive before race day. Of course they came late Thursday no time to break them in.
Second, taper.
Because I was only using this as a long run I continued with my normal training week plan of 60 miles. From Monday to Thursday i had put in 40. So no taper.
Third, hydration.
I have been training with Nuun. Race day probably should have carried my own hydration but decided to go with what was on the course.
Fourth, nutrition.
I knew the race would have GU every other water stop, so I decided to not pack my own and take a chance on mystery flavors. I was right about mystery flavors. They had Chomps in watermelon, or fruit punch and gels in Lime, espresso and chocolate. I decided to go with chomps. I also like it when races offer this much GU. It feels like trick or treat and gives me a chance to pick up some extra training fuel.
Finally, sleep.
I never sleep well the night before a race and this race was not in the budget right now. I figured a two hour drive before the race would be fine. I went to bed at 10 with having everything ready to go in the am. I woke up at 3:45 and was out the door by 4. So now I was going to run on less than 6 hours of sleep.

I stopped for coffee at Mc Ds and was on the road by 4:15. I learned a few things about driving at 4 am. 1st is Classic rock really does ROCK. Thanks to WRFX In two hours there was NO bad music played an only one commercial break.
Next I learned or began to question if we are securing the borders to the north of our great country. I have never seen so many Canadian licence plates. I began to wonder if the only drive at night?

Enough rambling. Back to race details.

Just outside Columbia I have to stop for the bathroom, to my surprise McDs was only open for the drive through. However the Comfort Inn looked inviting. I found a spot and snuck in to use the lobby rest room. Too bad I had already ate breakfast, they were getting ready to open the continental breakfast area. On my way out I met a runner from Ohio who was just heading to the race. We chatted for a minute then we both got back on the road.

My GPS navigated me into the parking garage where I was set to meet Jason and Katie Rose. they had my shirt and bib. While I waited I set my Garmin my original plan was to go with 4:00 and see how things felt. Then I decided why not go for 3:45. So I decided to set Virtual training Partner to 3:45:00 Why not?

I met up with the Rose family and we made our way to the start, or what I thought was the start. I was standing at the finish and was wondering where everyone was 15 min before the start and It barely any one around. I decided to walk over to the bag check and realized the start was on the other side of the Capitol building. SMH

As we went to line up I looked for the 3:45 pace group. It was strange because all the pacers were only spaced about 20 feet apart? I lined up just behind the two 3:45 pacers and made some small talk. I wasn't impressed that they were not getting the group around them organized. I like to know who is going to be using me to pace and what there story is. It makes a connection before go time. I also let them know what to expect of me and my pace experience.

And were moving. I decided I would keep with this group for the race. That worked well until about mile 8. I had to use the bathroom and made a quick stop. As I exited I could still see them. I decided I would just run my own race and not worry about them Going into the mile 8 we had 2 min in the bank according to my VTP. I decided to just run my own race and not worry about the pacers. It felt strange for a while. After pacing so many races and being conscious of others. This time it was all for me.

I have no idea what mile the photographers were set up on but I decided to do a heel click. I barely stuck the landing. I hope the shot was worth it.

I continued to load up on GU chomps. I would grab 2 packs every time they offered them. I ate one pack around mile 10, As we came into down town I started to remove my arm sleeves, I was going to toss them in the bushes and pick them up after the race. As I tied them together I decided to stuff the extra GU and Chomps I had picked up in them an tie them closed. By the time I got things together we were already nearing the half split/ finish line. As I rounded the corner I saw Jason picking up his drop bag just off the course. I made a quick detour and asked him to drop my make shift bag at my car. Katie turned and saw me heading back out and gave me the "whatareyoudoin" look.

Great Job to the Rose Family on their outstanding Half Marathon PRs.

My half split was 1:52:57 so I was still good on time. As I crossed the start line again I could clearly see the field had been more half runners than full. Where was everybody. It looked more like our Saturday group run than a Marathon. At least with the lack of a crowded street I could take a look around and enjoy the second half. I really enjoyed the course being a double loop of the city.

I began talking to a runner that had been leapfrogging with me. He was from Milwaukee. He was exited to be running in the sun and away from the snow. We made casual observations that the hills were not so bad the first round but may suck the second time. I kinda felt bad telling him I was hoping just that. Being most of my Umstead training was focused on training for the suck.

My VTP had me ahead of the 3:45 pace by 3 min so I decided to pull a Galloway on the second half and walk through the water stops. Anything under 4:20 is a PR and your not out here for that anyway, this is just a training run... right?

I was happy to see they had banana half as an option instead of GU. All the tables had Chomps but the only gel flavors were espresso love, and chocolate outrage. I grabbed a few more went for the chomps and had one more pack at mile 16. I did not like the fact that other runners who had taken the banana option felt OK with dropping the peel in the road. Have they never seen a Bugs Bunny cartoon?

The walking water stops was working well but I could feel my hips getting tight around mile 18. "OK now the suck is going to begin." But in never really did. In the back of my head I expected the wheels to fall off. I put my VTP on the countdown screen to watch my pace and to see how much more I had to go. I gave up working out any math on a finish time. I came into mile 20 and said to myself only a 10k from here.

Mile 20 -23 is for the most part all uphill. I put my head down and focused on the 10 feet under my hat and kept moving forward. Mile 21 was the first time I let myself slow to over a 9 min pace. my worst mile of the day was mile 23 I slowed to a 9:24. From here I knew it was only a Saturday morning 5 k to finish. Mile 24 and 25 were still tough. Once but with the finish line in sight I picked up my last mile and found the 8's again.

I would say one of the coolest finish straightaways I have run. A farmers market was set up on both sides of the street. The SC capitol building was the backdrop for the finish line. The people were cheering and yelling your name. Probably the most crowd support on the course. I gave it everything I had left. I pushed my way through the finish to see the clock read 3:51:XX. I was handed my medal and immediately corralled for a photo. After the photo I remembered I should stop my Garmin. It had me at 3:48:xx So I figured chip time should wash out around 3:47ish. Official results were 3:50:16 ( I forgot to turn auto pause off , bathroom , and bag drop) A 30 min PR. I'll take it. Especially for a training run.

BRYAN HOJNACKI 26193 00:42:34 01:19:47 01:52:27 02:37:57 03:16:53 03:51:21 00:08:50 03:50:16

After the race I walked around the Capitol building and debated climbing the stairs. Then the thought of up would be fine, down would suck. I decided to head for the car to get some cash. I swore I smelt BBQ in the little farmers market set up. Checking my phone I had a text from Jason telling me he felt like a drug mule dropping off the GU at my car.

I went for a walk in search of BBQ, this is never good to do when your hungry. Apparently i was wrong the Q place was on the course somewhere and knowbody could give me a name or directions. I would have to leave hungry. A I made my way back to the parking garage I cheered in other runners. I guess there were more out than I had thought. In the parking garage I watched runners take the elevator. I laughed as I took the stairs thinking I just ran 26 mile I surly can take the stairs.

I'm extremely happy with my race. Only regret was failure to bring a camera. I love this course and probably will put it on my list for next year. I would definitely recommend it. Someone told me it was hilly. But I never felt like it was more than Charlotte. Only thing I think they were missing was neighborhood and crowd support. A few residents were out cheering but very few. The Columbia Hashers were out with 2 beer stops. ( I declined) The Police were great. And the aid station volunteers were awesome. A very well organized event in every way.

Next up 27 days to Umstead.