Sunday, October 13, 2013

Golden Hills Marathon 2013 - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good
  • I felt really positive with my training and my strength training leading up to the race.  
  • I lost 10 pounds since last year (we're talking body fat here, the less to 'carry' the better).
  • Felt confident on Das Beast, and actually did conquer it in the race!  By first aid station I was well on my target pace.  That felt great!
  • Pace was slightly faster on entire course compared to last year.
  • Despite some issues, I was surprised by how good I felt for the most part.
  • Didn't want to get caught behind any slow 'trains' this year so I passed on the downhills and ran at my own pace.  And actually ended up with a couple of runners that stuck with me for about 16 miles!  I kept asking if they wanted to pass.  Love the silent bonding of miles on the trail.
  • No tight hamstrings!!  Every race I've ever done the back of my legs were on fire.  Not this time!  And I attribute that to the strength training.  
  • I did beat last year's time.  Even if by only a few minutes.
  • I got to high five three of the five people I knew running the 50 mile race (all of whom I met while volunteering at the WS100 Duncan Canyon Aid Station).  It really made me feel like I'm starting to become part of the trail racing community.
  • Even though my running buddy Torie was in Japan, I summoned her spirit plenty... especially on that first ascent.  Running with her has helped break a barrier in my mind about my running and I am deeply grateful for that. 
  • I had a hard time deciding if it was comforting or insulting that in the last 4 miles of the race I was being passed by 50 milers.  Just whizzing by, I felt like I was doing 55 on the highway.  I decided it gets put in The Good because they are Beasts and totally inspiring
  • My phone didn't die until I went to turn it off at the end!  This means I have all the split information recorded in RunKeeper.  Now I can obsess on that... 
  • No port-o-potty stops!  (Or side of the trail behind a bush) ...
  • (added two days later)  Best recovery after any race!  I woke up the next morning and wanted to move, so I went for an easy hike with the dogs.  Last year it took two weeks before I had the desire to get out again... there is some specific soreness, but I don't have the usual "hit by a truck" feeling.  I attribute this to all the running specific strength training that I did.  This is a huge positive!

The Bad
  • The wheels came off at mile 6.  Can't figure out why.  Did not push the first five too hard, had taken in calories.  Felt strong up until I had nothing.  About 10 people that I had passed earlier passed me.  Started to feel better around mile 8.5.  But this was a blow.
  • Zero uphill gears, other than doing really well on the beast.  This was really confusing because I had trained well on hills, knowing that this was a weakness I needed to improve.   In fact I had granny geared every single ascent on the route at some point in training.  I went in with confidence on the hills.  This may be the most baffling and disappointing part of the day.
  • Calf cramps between mile 15-17.  Third time in a race, never in training (but only trail races... hmmm... downhill!). Not fun.  Came on later than last year (mile 11-15), and not nearly as bad, kept running, took salt tab, they faded.  A sneaking suspicion that the plantar fasciitis, the tight achilles and calf cramps are related...
  • Felt bloated in second half.  Drank to thirst.  Had a bite of potato with salt at most aid stations (hoping to avoid calf cramps).  Related to salt?  Liquid? Food?  Didn't feel like I over ate/drank at any point.
  • Side and diaphram stitches.
  • Sharp stomach cramps - shortly after only gel used on the trail (mile 17.7), have used gels in training with no issue.  I've had success with Perpetuem (liquid food), a few gu chomps and gels are last resort pick-me-up backup.
  • I hiked instead of granny gearing most of the hills that I had planned on tackling, but I just didn't have "go" in me...
  • Even though I thought I felt good and strong, I just couldn't get myself to push the last 6 miles as much as I planned. Kept saying 'after x, I won't walk any more' and that kept getting pushed back, until about mile 24. 
  • Negative Mind Monster - I ended up very close to last year's finish time and it was curious to note that last year I was ecstatic to finish in a faster time than expected.  This year, finishing around that same time was quite a disappointment and I felt my mind turn quite negative after mile 20.  At the start line, I felt confident of my ability to shave off at least 20-30 minutes, so 7 minutes felt quite disappointing considering the training effort I had put in and how much I felt I had improved my fitness (and dropped weight!)...

The Ugly
Nothing ugly about this day!  It was typical Bay Area beautiful Fall weather, awesome trails, stellar race organization, amazing volunteers.  Fun to run with the two runners that joined me.  It was great to have the support of my family and friends at the finish line.  Looking back, I did my best in that race on that day...  and that's all anyone can do.

Generally it was a fantastic experience.  And I am hooked.  I will look at the information from this experience, where I had issues, and figure out how to solve them.  I don't need to be a fast runner, but I do want to extend my race distances and remain injury free.  I'm am already looking forward and hoping to get into the 2014 Way Too Cook 50k (it's a lottery entry) and trying to figure out a good beginners 50 mile race in the next year, so I can get focused on training.

Also, Congratulations to my friend and running buddy Holly on completing her first full marathon!!  She's one tough cookie and kept going despite a knee issue.  She is the one responsible for getting me to run my first Half Marathon three years ago!  We continue to inspire one another, but who knew we'd one day run a full trail marathon together. 

Thanks to NorCal Ultras and all the amazing volunteers!!  Thanks for a great day on the trail!

Happy Trails!

Elevation Profile

Me and Holly, photo bombed at the Start

6 hours and 44 minutes later...

One of the things I love about this video is how happy I look! 

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