Things I Learned in 2 hours and 49 minutes

December 15, 2011

Family, Health and Fitness, Running

Things I Learned in 2 hours and 49 minutes

I recently surprised myself by running a marathon in 2 hours and 49 minutes.  It was the California International Marathon on December 4th that makes its way through several different cities as it heads from Folsom to the steps of the Capital in Sacramento.  It’s a course that I know pretty well as I’ve completed it every year for the past 6.  It’s a distance I know pretty well as I’ve run it 11 times now.  A few years ago I ran a PR of 2:59:37 and I was hoping to beat that time by about a minute.  I beat it by 10 minutes and learned a few things along the way:

  1. Pace Groups are amazing. I’ve run with pace groups in the past and I’ve always found them somewhat helpful. If I want to run a 3 hour marathon, I can just tuck myself in with the rest of the group and try to hang on to their pace for 3 hours. There’s no need to look at your watch or think about your pace; you just stick with the guy holding that 3:00 sign. When I got to the start line on December 4th, I was planning on staying with the 3:00 group for about 20 miles then seeing if I could pick up my pace a bit for the last 10k. Then I saw someone holding a sign that said 2:46. I immediately thought that 2:46 was a weird time for a pace group so I asked the guy, “Why 2:46 instead of 2:50 or 2:45?” He explained that 2:46 was the Olympic trials qualifying time for women. I looked around and realized that there were about 40 women all fired up to try and qualify. I knew that 2:46 would be quite a bit out of my reach but I thought it would be fun to stay with them for a few miles and see how that pace felt. A few miles turned into 22 when my legs told me that I’d have to let them go.
  2. Caffeine can be a pretty powerful substance. I’d heard that caffeine could be a great race day stimulant if you had fasted from it for at least a week. I thought I’d give it a shot so the Sunday before the marathon, I slowly enjoyed my last cup of coffee. After a daylong headache, I felt pretty good. On race day, I had a cup of coffee in the morning and carried a few gels that contained caffeine. I didn’t feel jittery at all, just more alert and excited to run.
  3. I need my family. Since I’ve done this race for the last 6 years, my family has spectating down to a science. They know exactly how fast they have to drive from one spot to the next in order to be able to see me 3 times along the route then make it to the finish. They even know all of the best coffee and bathroom stops are along their drive. When I started to feel my legs burning around mile 19, I wanted to stop. I kept going because I knew that I’d see my wife and my three kids in just two more miles. They’d be holding signs and ringing cow bells. When I saw them I couldn’t help but smile and run a little faster.
  4. Don’t walk at the 25-mile mark. I let the 2:46 group drift away at about mile 22 but my pace still pretty decent. Perhaps it dropped from 6:15 to about 7:15 minutes per mile. When I got to the water station at mile 25, I was hurting pretty badly. I decided that I would take a quick break and walk for a few seconds while I sipped on some water. As soon as I grabbed a cup of water and slowed to a walk, I got this look from one of the gentlemen passing out water. He didn’t say anything with his mouth but his eyes and hands and posture said, “Seriously? You’re going to run that fast for 25 miles then take a walk break with one mile to go? Are you kidding me?”  I heard him loud and clear and started running right away.
  5. A massage might not be the best idea, even if it’s free. I crossed the finish line in 2:49:14 and I was hurting but ecstatic. I found my family and some food and I was feeling ok. Then I saw a tent where some folks were offering free 10 minute massages. I couldn’t resist. I’m not sure if it was the massage or if it was simply the fact that I laid down but after 10 minutes of massage, I was in some serious pain for the next 2 days.

Next year, I’m shooting for 2:48.

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About Mr. Zerwas

Passionate about Family, Health, Fitness, Nutrition and Multimedia - Teaching Video and Broadcasting and Del Oro High School in Loomis, CA

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