Thought for the Day

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Valley of the Sun Marathon 2004

I'm sure some of you are asking yourselves things like, "Isn't Jerry ever embarrassed to report on his marathons?" or "When is Jerry going to wise up and train correctly for a marathon?" or "Why doesn't Jerry pace himself better so he doesn't have to hobble in to the finish of a marathon?"

Well, yeah, I am kind of embarrassed to post my marathon results sometimes. I swear I'll train for a marathon before the end of the year. I don't know if I'll ever get the knack of pacing myself properly for 26.2 miles.
Leading up to Valley of the Sun, I knew I needed to get in some long runs, but there were too many little races going on every weekend. I have a limited amount of time and energy. I'd tell myself I could run a race and a long run in the same weekend, or a long run in the middle of the week, but I'd do the race and not the training.
Lack of discipline killed me. Between the Pacific Shoreline Marathon and Valley of the Sun, I ran six races, and no long training runs. On one occasion other than the half marathon race, I ran 13 miles.

2/8 Runners Den Classic 10K
2/15 Desert Classic Half Marathon
2/21 Foothills 10K
2/24 ARR Open Mile
2/28 Run to the Sun 5.5 mile hill climb
2/28 Diamond Run 3 mile
3/13 Chandler Gold Medal 5K

So I didn't train for the long haul, and I got used to racing at a faster pace. That last 5K, the day before the marathon, was just the final disrespect to the distance.
The Valley of the Sun is a very fast, downhill course. The downhill is all in the first half, and after that it levels out. There is one steep uphill near mile 16, but it's just a bump in the road, and it really is just giving back what we had gained in a steep downhill near mile 15.
Results posted for this race include an interesting statistic you don't usually get, your relative place at the chip splits along the course.
Here are the gruesome details:

SPLIT TIME PLACE PACE
10k: 0:46:44 64 7:31
Half: 1:38:37 55 7:31
20 Mile: 2:40:06 68 8:00
FINISH: 3:58:41 116 9:06

I have plenty of other excuses for a bad performance. It was getting very warm in the second half of the race, high 70s to low 80s.
My blood sugar wasn't bad at the half, but was out of control when I checked it at 21 miles. It most have been rising steadily for those seven miles. I had decided to cut my insulin basal rate even more than I usually do, and see if I could do with eating less, then during the race I forgot about that adjustment.
My calves were cramping during the last mile. I would jog a few blocks, start to cramp, walk a little, then start jogging again.
The finish line was on the track in the stadium at Red Mountain High School. I jogged as far as I could, then stopped and started walking while I was still a few yards from the end. Someone in the crowd yelled at me to run. I can't imagine that anyone who knows what it's like to do this would yell something like that. I knew my priorities at that point. It wasn't worth it to me to make my legs cramp up just to cut a few seconds off my time.

So here's my trouble. I haven't committed to training to run a great marathon. Similarly, I haven't committed to training to run a great 5K.
About all I'm committed to doing is running for fun.
If a race sounds like fun, I'll probably do it, marathon or 5K.
This works fine for short races if you enjoy competition but you don't really care if you get a medal. But it's a painful way to run marathons, especially if you feel compelled to compete, which I do.

Marathoning well takes discipline. I know. Out of 24 marathons, I've run three or four in which I was somewhat comfortable.

I'm looking at training to run the Whiskey Row Marathon, May 1.
But I'm also looking at the other races around town before then.

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