Marathon Maundering — Excuses, Excuses

… this disturbed sky
Is not to walk in.

Julius Caesar I.iii

I never feel that I’m going to do well before a long race. There’s a certain justification to this; I usually don’t.

This marathon is no different.

I am learning that I consistently fall apart at about mile 18.

For a long time I thought this was because I just ran out of energy. So I tried traditional carboloading, but it made not one whit of difference. I continued to fall apart around mile 18. My last three marathons have all seen me finishing in 3:06 or 3:07 whether I carboloaded or not.

So either I’m not carboloading properly, or something else is wrong. Next thought is that I’m not drinking enough. After my last 50 miler the people in the medical tent told me I was significantly dehydrated. So when I paced SBIM last month I tried really hard to hydrate, and yet still my heart rate climbed after the halfway point. Damn it, if I can’t stay hydrated on an easy run where I can actually drink at every water station then I’ll never manage it in a real race.

Then I looked at the weather forecast for Sacramento. Cold rain. High winds. Flood warnings. Possible thunderstorms. Or… maybe… I can stay hydrated if I run with my mouth open in the middle of a downpour?

And then I caught a cold.

I really don’t think I’ll do well in this race.

OK, that’s the wrong attitude. Traditional depletion/carbo-load hasn’t helped me, but there are other ways of doing it. There’s this Australian method of doing a very short very hard workout the day before the race and then carboloading immediately after. In theory, if I carboload properly then I’ll also waterload. Perhaps I can kill two problems with one stone?

Two and a half minutes at mile race pace. Hunh. What’s mile race pace? Haven’t raced a fair mile since I was 16 (State St. doesn’t count). Using the age graded tables to extrapolate from what I did in high school suggests somewhere between 5:30 and 5:40. I’m not going to run that fast on the city streets with stop lights. The closest track to my hotel is about 5 miles away; that’s too far to go, and anyway it’s pouring rain. So I checked out the hotel’s “fitness center”. They have three treadmills, and … yes, the treadmills will go fast enough (many treadmills go no faster than 10mph, but these claim to go up to 15. I want about 10.8).

So at 6am I head down there. I’m a little worried that everyone in the hotel will be at those treadmills doing their version of this workout, but no, I’m all alone. I do a 5 minute warmup and then run the mill up to 5:33 and hang on for dear life. After two and a half minutes I slow down to a jog for a minute or two and then send the thing up to 5:00 for a half minute sprint. And that’s supposed to be it? Not as bad as I feared. Of course running on a treadmill is easier than on a track… Perhaps I should have gone faster? Oh well, too late now. I’m dripping with sweat though 🙂 I guess it involved some effort.

Then back to my room to shower and eat.


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