Monday, April 11

2011 Big D 26.2 Race Report

Before I get too wrapped up, I would like to throw this out there.  My running team - Dallas Running Project has a saying they use all the time before races.  I used to hear them saying it and I would think - "nice title for a motivational poster."  I can now say I not only understand it, I feel I have earned the right to use it...


Now to the report...
I am not sure where to start here.  I guess I will start at the beginning.

I decided to run this one as a last ditch effort to BQ before the qualifying times drop 5 minutes.  I figured it would still be cool enough as it was still early April.  Big D is a bit notorious for being a slower, tough course.  It is really hilly and wind on the lake can be challenging.  The upside is it is a week before Boston and I was able to sync up training with all my Boston training buddies.

A month before the race, Nick Polito told me he would pace me.  This is a big deal because there are no pace groups in this marathon.

For those that don't know Nick, this organism is not human.  He consistently runs 80-90 miles a week and recently ran a 3 hour at a hot Houston Marathon.  Nick has been a huge mentor and friend for me.  Also, as race week approached, I was thrilled to find out that most of my running friends and family planned to cheer me on around the course.  I estimate over 20 people were cheering for me.  AMAZING!!!!

I feel like I had a great two week taper and was well fueled and completely injury free and fresh at the start.

PHASE I - Mile 1-10
The start was a nice change up from the big mega-marathons where you have waves and corrals.  Basically we just lined up and started.  I was across the start in 8 seconds.

The first few miles ticked off nicely.  I had a new ipod thumpin and ran into a guy I know that was running the 1/2 so we chatted a bit.  There were two big hills on the way to the lake and I was thinking I needed to slow down, but was just feeling really good.  By the 3rd mile, my splits were 7:20 and I was starting to sweat.

I saw My dad and Grant and Jayce working the water stop at Garland Road at mile 4.  That was cool to see Jayce passing out water.  My ipod totally died from sweat shorting it out here so I had to go on "thump free."

Mile 4-6 was super easy at 7:20s with the wind at my back headed north up the east side of White Rock.  I connected with Nick at mile 6 and was glad because I knew I was running too fast and had almost no pace control.  Nick and I chatted a bit and we settled into a 7:30 pace.

At mile 8 I saw Sheri, Mom, my sister Rebecca, and most of my DRP friends.  I think I took my third GU here.  Edgar jumped in and ran a couple miles with us.  Edgar has amazing form and he talked me through the 1/3 mile climb from the lake up to Peavy.

From when I saw Nick to Mile 10, Nick was reeling me in with "Take it easy cowboy" encouragement.

At the end of mile 10 we were still at a 7:20 avg pace and I had 3 minutes in the bank.

I mentally see this point as phase 1 complete.

PHASE 2 - Mile 10-16
Phase 2 is through the hilly neighborhoods to the east of White Rock.

We headed down Peavy which is downhill and really picked up the pace.  I think this was a 7:10.  The next five miles are a long series of gradual ups and downs.  1.5 mile climb up Creekmere.  1 mile down Sinclare.  1 mile up Lippit.  1 mile down Fernald.  Then one last nasty climb up Country Club.  These hills are taxing and we probably went too fast through them.   Nick says we passed about 10 people in this second phase.

We were taking it easy on the uphills and picking it up downhill.  We actually had a 7:00 mile somewhere in there.

It was cool seeing Steve P and Steve H all over the place back in these neighborhoods.

I was feeling great coming down Van Dyke and getting back to the lake at Peavy/Mockingbird.  It seemed like everyone was there cheering.  There is a steep downhill on Buckner and it is nice to clear the legs out a bit at mile 16.

At this point, It had all been fun and games.  I was still feeling strong, but starting to get a little tired.

PHASE 3 - Mile 17-Finish
I knew the wind was going to be a factor when we headed south on the west side of White Rock.  That was a huge understatement.  It was blowing "stink" out there.  My guess is 25+ mph.  It felt harder than hill climbs.  Nick was so cool trying to let me draft him, but I am twice his width and it was only marginally effective.  This went on forever.  Fortunately, we were able to hold 7:40s through here and I remember telling Nick " I have never been happy to get off White Rock before" as we turned onto Tokalon.

This part was easier than I expected.  Going up Tokalon is much more gradual than Lakewood.  It is still hilly but not bad.  Cliff Welch was biking and taking pics.  I got a chuckle because it seemed like he kept catching us at the end of an uphill when we were slowest.

As we crossed Abrams and headed over to Swiss I saw all the DRP guys again.  It seemed like they were everywhere.  Shaheen and Steve gave me bottles and I just dumped them on my head to cool off.

At this point, I was starting to get hot and really tired.  My calves were threatening cramping a bit, so I slowed it down.  Our pace dropped to 7:50s and 8s on Swiss and Haskell, but I still had 3ish minutes in the bank and felt confident that I had the BQ sewn up.  As we approached Fair Park, I saw the gang again and was starting to get a little hazy, but this was mile 24 and you are supposed to be hurting at this point.  I remember my breathing coming up a bit and I was grunting a little.

The finish is tough because you have to run all the way around to the back side of the park.  I was really slipping from mile 25-26.  According to Nick's splits, that mile was an 8:30.  I was starting to get really light headed and just remember locking on to Nick and don't remember anything on the periphery.

Then we turned the last corner and I heard a woman's voice right on my side tell me I had a 1/4 mile to go.  It sounded like Dalton and I thought it was her until she cracked and inside joke about me popping her on the tush and I realized it was Tami Darlington.

PHASE 4 - Last 200 Meters
Then all of a sudden everything stopped.  I mean EVERYTHING.  I don't remember anything from here to the finish.  The anecdotes I have gathered go like this:
1.  I collapsed at 200 out.
2.  Nick and Tami help me up.
3.  I start moving again with a wobbly shuffle and almost fall again.
4.  Nick and Tami support me to the finish line at a walking pace.
5.  I cross the finish and puke on my sister.

PHASE 5 - Recovery

Within a minute, I was rushed to the EMT tent and they went into serious action.  I don't remember the details, but I know I threw up more and my calves totally cramped and they gave me salt (which is the last thing you want  when you are that thirsty).

I think I got the first IV while still in the tent and next thing I know, I am in the Ambulance, in the Baylor ER and getting a lot of attention.  Every Vital was out of whack.  Temp was 102, BP was 70/33, HR was 150+ and I was still sweating like crazy.

After 14 bags of IV fluid, I felt normal again.  The doctor decided to admit me for the night to make sure my kidneys restarted OK. 

This whole incident really freaked Sheri out and she has been by my side the whole time.  Poor thing had to sleep on one of those crappy hospital bed/chairs.

I am typing this on Monday after the race and I am feeling fine.  Nothing is hurting and I am not really that sore.  In fact I got up and stretched for 30 minutes this morning.

I was really surprised to learn that I got 13th overall and 3rd in my age group even after completely falling apart.  Also, I got a PR at 3:23:30.  The bad news is I missed BQ again.

The crazy thing is my GPS says I was at 3:18 at 26.2mi.  It looks like the finish was at 26.47mi at 23:30.  So it took me 5:30 to go .27 miles.  CRAZY!

As it turns out, it was just a really hot day and everyone was slower.  Over 1/2 the field of 700 ran in over
5 hours.  I cannot imagine running in those conditions for 5 hours.

I learned that on hot days you cannot set audacious goals.  You have to have a plan B and be willing to back off and live to fight another day.  Nick has been trying to tell me this, but I did not want to hear it.  This race was not just hot (over 80 degrees at finish) but hilly, windy and humid.

I am definitely wiser now.  It is hard to think about running another 26.2 right now, but that always wears off with time.

Cross Post to Martina's Post on The Race

 I want to thank so many people for cheering me on yesterday and especially Nick the "Pace Master".
-Steve P
-Steve H
-Elizabeth & Todd
-Matt T

Special thanks to Cliff Welch for the amazing pictures at the finish.  I will look back at those before every future race to do a sanity check.

Plus all the well wishers at work and FB and email.