February 16, 2010

Lost Dutchman- Back to Marathoning

I made a solid return to marathon yesterday.  Last time I ran a marathon was December of 2008.  I remember limping in the last 5 miles and feeling terrible after the race.  My brother had to help me to the car and back to the hotel room.  I could barely walk for 4 days after and my IT band still bothers me to this day.  Yesterday's race was much of the same but it felt a little sweeter.

I managed to run over 10 minutes faster than I did 15 months ago.  I can attribute it to consistent training, running up and down mountains at high elevation, and more experience with running longer distances.

I questioned even running this race because my right knee was bothering me.  I planned on hanging with the leaders for the first half and keeping an eye on the knee.  I did exactly that.  The first place guy set a solid pace, 5:40's, so I tucked in about 100 meters behind him.  To be honest, I felt the pace was a bit hot and I didn't think I could maintain it. 

My knee had noticeable discomfort through miles 7 or 8 at which point I seriously contemplated stopping or at least backing off the pace.  I had been overstriding with my legs trying to make up the ground between myself and 1st place.  I wasn't focusing on my body but instead on him.  I was constantly questioning my ability to beat him and monitoring his stride for any signs of weakness.  The beautiful thing about the marathon is that you can make adjustments on the go.  I made a mental effort at this point to shorten and quicken my stride with the hopes of reducing the stress on my knee.  It worked.

By halfway point, I caught the leader and any thought of knee pain was thrown out the window.  I was just competing.  I just wanted to blow the doors off the second half and run as fast I could. 

We ran together through 19 miles where I created seperation on a long uphill.  At this point, we had joined the half marathoners and would share the course with them for the rest of the race.  They were an enthuiastic bunch who pretty much cheered for me the entire way to the finish.

At mile 20, I made an effort to push the pace and get away because I surely didn't want it to come down to a final sprint.  I ran a mile 20 to 21 in 5:16 and literally never looked back.  By mile 23, I was feeling it bad but still managed to run in the 5:30-5:40's range for the final 3 miles.  As I turned the 90 degree corner at mile 26, I looked up to see the entire course lined with spectators.  I think I slowed down noticably as I pumped my fist and raised my hands in the air.  I was as excited as one could be after running a hard 26 miles.  It was an awesome experience, one that I will never forget.

To put it all together on race day feels awesome and justifies the hours of time I spend pursuing this silly and seemingly meaningless pastime. 


  1. Great job! and take care of that knee!


  2. you're getting fast man! keep it up, London is rapidly approaching

  3. 2:27:27. Great time (27 happens to be my lucky number...which makes your time immeasurably better in my book). Additionally, did you intend to race a marathon in the week following a 30 miler? Just wondering if the 30 miler and/or the marathon was a sponataneous decision.

  4. Great job Zach I wish I could've been there to see you at the finish!

  5. family- yes i wish you could have shared the moment with me and as always i love the support you give me

    Rider- isnt Deena running london? I still think she could get me so I wont be on that side of the pond this april.

    Brian- Good Question... The 30 miler has been on the calender as I have been gearing up for a 50 mile race. In fact, my weekly long runs have been as follows: 4) Phoenix half marathon 3) 2.5 hour, 20+ miler 2) 3:10 mountainous, off road, difficult footing long run 1) the infamous 30 miler. I signed up for the marathon literally 1 hour before registration closed on Wed. last week. I decided to run even though i was nursing a sore knee for a few reasons: a)I wanted to get a boston Qualifier b)I thought i could run sub 2:30 if i had a good day with no knee problems and most importantly c)I felt my training was getting stagnant with so many long, slow runs alone. The marathon offered me a chance to spice it up and run with some people.

  6. Couple more questions. How is the knee holding up? Now that you ran 2:27 on a whim, any chance of you chasing after a faster time in the future? Best of luck with training...regardless of your plans (or lack thereof...spontaneity is always fun), its good to see that you are still enjoying that absurd and arbitrary past time of running.

  7. Thanks for the inquiries brian. My knee is not feeling that great. I am not sure what it is but I think I just need to take it easy and maybe sandbag the 50 miler. A lot can change in two weeks though.

    2:27 is a great time, im happy with it, but I am definately going to try to bring it down. In marathoning it takes time and baby steps. i just have to keep showing up for a few years to see the times drop and hope that other absurd pastime, life, doesn't get in the way.

    As for planning or not planning or tapering or not tapering, I felt like i had no pressure: I signed up on a whim and ran a 30 miler the week before. I had no expectation or mental pressure to run fast. Could I have run faster with a taper? I dont know. In college, i could run 14:50 any day of the week regardless of having a taper or not. Big tapers didnt seem to help me back then...so i am not sure if they would help now.

    I am enjoying this absurd pastime of running. I can't seem to let it go. I can't bring myself to being the person who watches others compete. I like being the one in the arena suffering, overcoming setbacks and failure, and emerging from the battle field triumphantly.

  8. I understand the feeling. I'm actually making a return to the cycling this year after a one year hiatus (due to finishing up grad school and coaching high school track). I hope that the next couple weeks provides enough time for you to recover. I'll be sure to check back and see how things are going - I am glad that you are still enjoying one of the many absurd pastimes that we partake in.

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