Monday, November 28, 2011

Valencia Marathon: Post Mortem and Photos

Post mortem

The last post on the Marathon, I promise, but I have to exorcize my demons...

Here are the official results from the Marathon webpage:

One thing that is quite interesting is that I finished only one place behind the position I was in at the 15k mark (and, incidentally, only six places behind my starting position)! That means that my fade was pretty much par for the course. Compared to my target pace for a sub 3 hour Marathon you can see I was pretty much on the money (only just) until kilometer 34 - I even managed to get slightly ahead of pace in the beginning of the second half which was ever so slightly downhill.

Kilometer Target Actual Difference
10 00:42:40 00:42:58 -00:00:18
15 01:03:59 01:04:13 -00:00:14
25 01:46:39 01:46:34 00:00:05
30 02:07:58 02:08:13 -00:00:15
35 02:29:18 02:29:59 -00:00:41
40 02:50:38 02:55:47 -00:05:09
42,2 03:00:00 03:06:40 -00:06:40

Just for info - because a Marathon is about crossing the line, not clocking up 42,195 meters on your GPS watch - my Garmin reckoned I ran the first half at an average pace of 4:12, some 5 seconds per kilometer (and two whole minutes) faster than my actual pace. Things seemed to even out somewhat over the second half because my average pace according to Garmin was 4:22 while my real pace was 4:25. This is why it is a good reason to ignore the GPS altogether and to press the good old fashioned "lap" button manually every time you pass a kilometer (or mile) marker. Here's the graph of my heart rate and pace during the Marathon - you can see exactly where things started to go pear shaped.

If I go by my Garmin GPS, I ran the first half 6 seconds per kilometer more slowly than I ran the Half Marathon in Miguelturra two weeks ago and at a "cost" of 3 heart beats per minute more on average. If I go by the distance according to the organizers, the difference was 11 seconds. Supposing that Valencia was measured properly and Miguelturra was a bit short, the difference comes to 10 seconds per kilometer which equals - lo and behold - 7 minutes over the course of the Marathon. So it required more effort to run 7 minutes in a Marathon more slowly than I was running only two weeks ago and at 600 meters higher altitude (although it was a couple of degrees cooler). So it wasn't just a feeling, there was definitely something wrong. And the cruel thing about the Marathon that almost everyone who has ever run one knows, is that if you run a few minutes ahead of pace in the first half, you pay it back with interests that would make even a loan shark blanche.

Things I have learned from this experience:

- Don't wear triathlon shorts unless they are liberally slathered in chamois cream.
- If your pulse is higher for a given pace or your pace lower for a given pulse it means something is up. Don't run to pace, run to pulse. In fact, I think I may not even press the lap button or look at the time next time I run a Marathon.
- If I need to dig deep, I can, and without cramping. So if I ever find myself on for a time of 2:55, say, and fading, I can still make it to the finish before the clock strikes 3. Be prepared to fight.
- I should put vaseline on TOP of my toes which is where I tend to get blisters with the Vivobarefoot Ultras.
- I can run a Marathon with extremely minimalist shoes without any problem, running on the balls of my feet the whole way.
- The kilometers from 1-34 went ticking by very quickly. I was surprised how little I had to wait before the next one popped into view.
- As long as it is no hotter than 20 degrees, I don't need to drink much more than the 9 High5 Isogels I took. I drank a little water every 5k at every station after the 10k mark just to be on the safe side.
- More important than beating an arbitrary time (like 3 hours) is beating your own best time.

What next?

Apart from running the 10k San Silvestre race with my wife on New Year's Eve, the next goal is the Half Ironman in Marbella in April next year. I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike even if it isn't really the best time of year for it. On Saturday I have a bike fitting and my priority is healing my undercarriage from the chaffing so that I can actually sit on a bike seat in relative comfort.

Then the question is how I can achieve two potentially conflicting goals: (1) run NY Marathon 2012 and (2) break the @#%€&! 3 hour barrier. Why conflicting? Because NY Marathon is not well known for its easy flat course so breaking 3 hours in NY is that much harder. If I am in as good a shape as it looked as though I was before Valencia, even that should be possible. I'm looking into various options like

1) Running NY at 3:30 pace, maybe pacing a friend, as a "long steady run" and then racing in San Sebastian 3 weeks later.
2) Squeezing in a Marathon in February in Seville before focusing on the Half Ironman.
3) Going for sub 3 in NY.

none of which seem too sensible. I have plenty of time to decide but I like to have my goals set well in advance.

Some photos...

Trying to spot my family in the crowd

I finally got to grit my teeth

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