Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lakefront Marathon

This was my first small marathon. (3000 runners) Hardly anyone in town even knew there was a marathon going on. We were walking to the host hotel to catch the buses to the start and the streets were empty. We looked at each other and asked if we got the date wrong. It was 5:30 AM in downtown Milwaukee and we did not see another person for the first ½ mile of our walk. I always have a Gatorade in the morning to sip on till the race starts and to wash down my first pre-race GEL. I forgot it in the hotel. We rode the bus to the start and when we got off it was in the mid-30s at Grafton High School. We went in the school and got to hang out and use the bathrooms in the school. About 20 min before the start we went outside and walked to the starting line a couple of blocks away. I lined up about 10 feet from the start. Although small the race officials at this race take the rules very seriously. One walked up to me and asked what time I was shooting for. I told him 2:56 which is maybe top 30 the previous year. He told me if I was going to be top 10 I would need to turn off the GPS on my watch. I could have HR and time but no GPS, headphones or pacers. I figured I was good as I would have to have a great day and the top 20+ racers would have to DNF.

Mile 1 - 6:40 First mile is downhill. Any traffic was done after a ¼ mile.
Mile 2 - 6:32 another downhill mile. I realized I forgot to take a GEL before the race started. Another mistake that probably didn’t amount to much.
Mile 3 - 6:50 this mile was uphill. I took my first GEL at 3.75.
Mile 4 - 6:43 this is where the course just started to roll. Front here to the end the course was consistently going up or down.
Mile 5 - 6:34 First funny mental moment here. I am thinking like I do in all marathons how I am going to write my race report. How I am going to describe how I knew it just wasn’t my day and I just never felt good. Then I looked at my watch and realized that I was a few seconds ahead of pace. I instantly started re-writing my RR in my head. How I started out too fast and crashed later in the race. I giggled at myself and thought, could we just run this race all out and right the race report later. Just too many negative thoughts.
Mile 6 - 6:42
Mile 7 - 6:49 this mile was going thru Concordia University. We had some crowd support but it was very hilly. I think I cussed one of the streets.
Mile 8 - 6:45 this is the first time I started to struggle. I was a third on the way thru but it felt like my legs were already starting to take a beating with all the hills. I made a huge training mistake with this race. I had abandoned my weekly hill runs for more speed and social runs. I was about to pay the price.
Mile 9 - 6:47
Mile 10 - 6:40 at most marathons mile 10 is tough for me. I was mentally prepared and probably overcompensated here. This mile is uphill and still I ran a fast mile.
Mile 11 - 6:43 took my second GEL here. Started to get a side stick soon after that.
Mile 12 - 6:48 I knew I was about 20 seconds behind pace. I was hoping to hold on for now and make it up on some down hills later.
Mile 13 - 6:52 this was not a good split. I hit the halfway point at 1:28:36 about 30 seconds off pace. I figured I could still salvage a 2:57 with a nice 1 min PR.
Mile 14 - 6:44 Pretty close to pace. I just needed to hold this till 20 and then pick it up.
Mile 15 - 6:42 another good mile. Could I hold this for 11 miles? Sounds easy enough.
Mile 16 - 6:38 Wow, this is a good sign. Just 10 more miles of this.
Mile 17 - 6:50 this mile was uphill or my legs were done? I was thinking just a loop around the lake. I meant to teak my GEL this mile and just lost focus and ran thru the water stop with the GEL in my hand. Another mistake.
Mile 18 - 7:00 I really lost it here. I know it was uphill but this was easily 10 seconds too slow. I took a huge mental hit when I saw this split. A mile starting with a 7. (ugggg)
Mile 19 - 6:57 not much better. I thought I always run a couple of 7:0x miles in Boston on the hills. I could pick it back up.
Mile 20 - 6:42 I took my 3rd and final GEL. Somehow I had picked the pace back up. I was not looking at my watch and just going on feel. The problem is I need to press with all I had and instead I think I was jogging.
Mile 21 - 6:47
Mile 22 - 7:11 obviously jogged out this mile. Just a bad job of holding focus. The last 10K is a fight and I just wasn’t able to fight back for whatever reason. I think the legs were too beat up from the hills.
Mile 23 - 7:05 I had kept hearing about a big downhill at 23. I couldn’t find it. It finally showed up at the end of the mile. Since my auto splits were ahead of the mile markers it probably showed up in the next mile.
Mile 24 - 6:53 by now I knew it was just about breaking 3 hrs.
Mile 25 - 7:16 I was pretty well jogging it in and trying my best at math. This is where we hit the beach at the lake and it was starting to get warm. Around 52 degrees I guess.
Mile 26 - 6:56 I figured I was going to have to pick it up a bit to go sub 3. Funny how sub 3 was my ‘C’ goal. How things have changed.
Mile 26.2 - 6:19 I started picking people off the last half mile as I knew I was close. Passed the 4th overall female in the last 200 yards and tried to pull her but she was done.
Total - 2:59:40 Not a PR

Finished 50/1202 overall 5th in Age Group

I had a great time with my friends over the weekend and loved how they all had big PRs. I was probably in 2:58 shape but went for a PR and made too many mistakes. The biggest was my loss of focus over the final 6 miles. I underestimated the course and trained poorly. Too much trail running and slow long runs. And the biggest mistake was not doing my 12-15 mile MLR on my hill route. Because of the summer heat my long runs were too easy and slow. I think Texas runners are much better off to shoot for a marathon a little later in the year so their last two months of training can be in the fall.


  1. Great job, Nick. 7:0X and 7:1X miles in the last 10K is still impressive. Makes me think it was more focus than muscle/energy. Great last mile to hit the C goal. One more notch under then ole' belt. Congrats!

  2. What a funny thing, the mental rewriting of the RR as it goes from one end to another in a matter of seconds, hilarious (though obviously not for you when it was happening). Also, wild on the no-GPS thing for top 10. Never heard of that before. Anyway, huge congrats! For losing focus, nutrition blips and all the thoughts going through your head, I think you did a fantastic job! They can't all be PRs and you were pretty darn close. Congratulations.

  3. Great job! In your report, you acted like you weren't fighting the fade, but really you were only a few seconds off pace! Excellent work!

  4. Nick - one thing that always comes through in your reports is that you are tough as nails. This report is no exception. Obviously it was not your day, but you still gutted out a sub-3. I know that was not the A goal, but that's still damn impressive. Interesting about the little things that had your routine thrown off and the rewriting of the race's always nice to know I'm not the only one who makes these mistakes sometimes. Great job out there, can't wait to hear about the back to back 50s.