Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mississippi Blues Marathon

This marathon was supposed to be a nice getaway from the winter blues of Illinois and into the warmer southland region. January in Mississippi is normally in the upper 40's to low 50's. Perfect weather to run a marathon. Race weekend ended up being "abnormal" for this part of the US as a huge cold spell rocked the south. Race day temperature started at 17 degrees and maybe increased to 20 when the sun came out briefly, but overcast skies kept it quite chilly to the end.

My friend Eric and I drove down to Jackson, MS the day before the race. Even though we left very early in the morning to try and get down there by mid afternoon, a nasty blizzard kept the highways pretty slick until we got out of Illinois. We arrived a little after 4pm and picked up our race number/packet before checking into the hotel. A bunch of other friends made the trip down to Jackson on the train. (Mark, Adrian, Brad, Dennis, Julie, Leann, Terry, Carolyn)

I've done many races while travelling to the site the day before and it's pretty challenging to get a good meal and eat right. Unless you bring your own food you have to be pretty resourceful to find the right roadside food stop. I brought my own breakfast (bagel and peanut butter, coffee) and we stopped at a Subway for lunch (Foot-long turkey/ham). For dinner we were not planning to eat as late as we did but ended up finding a place to eat a light pasta/chicken dinner. I typically like to eat a bigger lunch and a lighter dinner the day before a race of this length. Dennis and I checked out Hal & Al's after dinner to meet Mark, Adrian, and Brad. We had a beer and watched a good jazz band.

The marathon started at 7AM and since the overnight temps were in the teens, I knew it was going to be cold at the start. Our hotel was about 1/2mile from the starting line so we stayed in the lobby until 6:45, and then had a nice “warm-up” jog to the start line. I thought I dressed “almost” perfect for the conditions. Race singlet for a base layer, long sleeve running shirt, and short sleeve (Hammer) running shirt on top, shorts, running pants along with gloves and a stocking cap seemed to keep me warm but I still did not feel like I was warm enough. The sweat froze on my shirt keeping my core a little too cold, but my hands/feet were fine.

My plan going into this race was not to break any records or even PR. I just wanted to get it done and remind myself what it was like to go long and push myself through it, mentally and physically. I was going to start out easy and then pick up the pace near the end, say, at 16 or 18 miles. Well that never even happened. I hadn’t looked at the course profile but heard it was hilly and challenging. It was basically downhill for the first 8 miles, flat for 5, then hilly the remainder of the race, especially 20-24. Therefore, the course pretty much dictated my pace. I ended up staying very consistent and averaged 7:45 per mile until mile 20 and then could not hold on to a sub 8:00min mile until the last 2, barely. Completely fine with me, I felt like this course made we work for it and I was happy with my results...3:26

Race day nutrition breakdown:
Pre-race - ¾ of a bagel w/peanut butter, 1 bottle of HEED, 2 Race Caps, 3 Endurance Amino, 3 Anti-Fatigue, 1 Mito, 1 Fish oil, 2 Endurolytes.
During the race – every hour 1 Race Cap, 2 Endurance Amino, 2 Anti-Fatigue, 2 Endurolytes. I also packed in my Fuel Belt 1 bottle w/7 servings of Espresso Hammer Gel. However, at mile 8 I quickly found out my bottle of gel froze and I could barely get a serving squeezed out. I didn’t panic since they had Hammer Gel on the course at mile 8, 15, and 20. This was a lifesaver!! The gels they handed out were also a bit frozen so I kept them in my hands, under my gloves which kept them nice and fluid for when I was ready to take them. It was actually pretty nice to have a variety of gels on hand. I typically only carry a gel flask with one flavor.

Overall I felt my nutrition was on. I did have a slight feeling of GI issues when I would start to push the pace. I was able to go to the bathroom prior to the race but maybe I just didn’t get everything out J. That, along with my peanut butter bagel might have been a little too much substance especially at <2hrs prior to my race start. Looking back at my calorie usage, I consumed approx 560 calories in my 3hr 26min race. I started consuming calories at 1 hour into the race. This gave me approx 240 cal/hr which I thought was perfect.

This marathon accomplished two things for me. It got me back into shape for the season to come, and it reminded me of the suffering I’ll need to endure at Ironman in September. I didn’t do an Ironman last year for the first time in 4 years (which was actually good) but I needed that to remind myself of how much I’ll need to dig to perform well. Now I’ll just keep the run fitness going while working on my bike strength.

Next race is not planned at this time. Probably be something like a 5k or cyclocross maybe. I did see an 8hr adventure race offered by the Ultramax people out of Missouri. Hmmm, checking into that now.

Later, cd