Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

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Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby Jwolf » Mon May 26, 2014 12:27 pm

Run for Water, Abbostford
May 25, 2014
Finish time: 4:32:37

I ran my fifth marathon yesterday, my first since fall 2011. It has been a training season with lots of challenges, and I am very grateful that I was able to do this race. It turned out to be a much more difficult race than I planned, and I finished with a time of 4:32 for a PW. I have been having trouble writing this report, but I will do my best to put my experience into words.

I started training for this race in January, with the plan of following a modified version the Hanson Beginner Marathon Plan. The Hanson plan is a challenging plan and has the unique aspect of maxing out at 26K long runs (vs the standard 30K+ runs). Instead of placing so much importance on a single long run, it spreads out mileage more evenly through the week and maxes out at pretty high volume. The plan also has marathon-paced tempo runs which max at 16K at pace, plus various speed workouts. The concept of the plan relies on “cumulative fatigue” which makes the training effect of the 26K runs more like the longer runs of other plans. Rob has done really well on this plan, improving significantly over the past two years. I was anxious to give it a try, although I was still dealing with some injury recovery issues from last year. I used 4-hours as a tentative goal for setting the paces of the workouts, but I modified the plan to reduce the early speed work. Overall I was able to handle the workouts and the mileage in the plan fairly well. I did have a setback in February when I had difficulty recovering from an early season half-marathon, but was able to come back strong in March and April. A very strong 30K road race at the end of March gave me the confidence I needed to keep training for the marathon. However, things did start to go a bit south at the end of April. I had some strong weeks of training, but then was starting to feel some fatigue. I had worked two races more into my plan, with the intention of modifying the paces of the weeks’ workouts to accommodate them (a 10K on April 27 and a half-marathon on May 4, three weeks before the marathon). Looking back I realize it probably was not wise to do both of these training races, although I might have simply been suffering from a bit of over-training by then anyway. In this plan it was hard to tell the difference between the expected cumulative fatigue and actual over-training, and think I might have crossed that second barrier.

I have to repeat that I am very grateful I got to the start line of this race. That was half the battle. The half-marathon on May 4 went really well and I executed my plan perfectly, but afterwards I had a very difficult recovery. By adding a 5K warm-up and keeping the pace in control, I worked it into the plan as my last 26K run. I modified the paces of some of the runs before and after the race, and was hoping to be able “train through” it to finish the last three weeks of the training. The plan continues with another week and a half of pretty tough workouts and mileage before the real taper begins about 10 days before the marathon. And I was not able to do any of those. So this de-training combined with already losing some before the half probably contributed to my marathon difficulty. Still, I thought with a modified goal I would have a decent chance of finishing well.

My race plan was to start around 6:00/km, a bit slower in the first 10K and close to that in the second. If it felt good after 20K I would pick it up a bit for the next 10K, and then try to hang on for the last 12K. The plan actually worked really well for about the first 30K. The 6:00/km pace felt smooth and I kept it fairly steady with it for the first half (crossed the half-way mat at 2:07, right where I wanted to be). The pace came pretty naturally, and the kilometres seemed to pass with ease. After the half-way point, I did start to get a burst of energy and ran the next few kilometres just a bit faster, trying to execute the race plan as well as I had on May 4. But I worried that I was getting overzealous and just continued to stay close to 6:00. I was taking my gels every six kilometres, so mentally I was thinking of the race in 6K chunks. After 24K I was thinking, “OK, make it to 30K, then just one more 6K segment. The last 6K will be tough after that but I’ll just tough it out by then… this can work.” Up to around 27K I still felt pretty strong. But soon afterwards, I started to get slight twinges in my right calf, which in past half-marathons have preceded all-out seizing cramps. “Oh, no- not again.” I still had a long way to go, and did not want to be hobbling in this marathon. I modified my gait and slowed my pace a bit to make the cramping stop, and walked through the next water station. I thought I could manage it, but I knew I would have to try to relax and keep my pace slower. As I was approaching the 3-hour mark I started to think about Rob who was hoping to finish under 3:20. He said he would text me when he finished—so I was expecting I would be at about 33K by then. In fact, I was just over 33K when he did text me at about 3:25 to tell me he had finished in 3:20:something. I was ecstatic. He also texted me some short inspirational messages – “Go Jen Go, You can do this!” It really helped and I tried to relax and keep going strong. I managed to text back, “I’m hurting.” He was worried and asked, “Are you ok?” I answered back with a simple “Yes” just to let him know I was ok enough to finish. In fact, at this point I even hoped I could run reasonably strong and still come in close to 4:20-ish. I really hadn’t lost that much—yet.

After about 34K the cramping stopped, but I was going so much slower and walking every 10 minutes or so. I just couldn’t go faster. I guess the proverbial wheels fell off somewhere in there, so it was not just the cramping that slowed me down (maybe that was more of a symptom than a cause). When the cramping had started, I also noticed that my fingers were quite swollen. Not enough salt, apparently. I had taken my usual diluted Gatorade bottle plus fluids on the course, and gels with electrolytes every 6K. But maybe I didn’t eat enough of a salty meal the night before. I also forgot my morning banana. All of these things didn’t help, but in the end I think I just wasn’t prepared, for several reasons, for the pace I was trying to run. Despite it being essentially my long run pace and much slower than the so-called “marathon pace” I was using for my long tempos in the plan.

The last 7-8K seemed to last forever. I was passing a few people, being passed by others. Jogging easy was not always possible, so I walked every 10 minutes or so. We merged with the half-marathon route at around 35K, but these people were already over 2 hours into their race with 7K to go. So most were walking. It was very tough, but I just kept moving forward, waving at volunteers and spectators and trying to encourage others. I kept smiling as much as I could. At some point the plan became just to finish and I wasn’t even that upset when the 4:30 pace bunny passed me with about 2K to go.

At about 500m from the end I could see the finish line and was ecstatic. Just keep moving. Cheryl was watching and cheering about a hundred metres from the finish, and Rob shortly after that. It was so great to see them. My husband and son were watching on the other side, but unfortunately I did not see them. Still, it was nice that they came out to see me finish. I heard Steve King announce my name and my 4:32 finish time, and I was just so glad to be done. I wasn’t walking all that well afterwards and cried a bit at one point, but was able to get myself together and change into some dry clothes. The beer at lunch never tasted so good.

So there it was—my “comeback” marathon after a 3-year gap. I am still not sure what is next, but I plan to focus on a strong recovery this month. This wasn’t the strong race that I wanted, but I am truly happy that I was able to run another marathon. Running is a gift that I will never take for granted.

Thanks for reading.

Splits from my garmin: http://www.itsmyrun.com/laps.php?id=75401
Strava: http://www.strava.com/activities/145618985
Last edited by Jwolf on Mon May 26, 2014 1:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby Robinandamelia » Mon May 26, 2014 12:42 pm

Well congratulations for getting it done. You had a few bumps along the way but it sounds like you dealt with them in the right way and were able to finish. After a 3 year gap, a new training concept and some injuries I think you did great. It's tough when the plan doesn't come together exactly as you planned, but over time, you start to realize what you "did" accomplish vs. what you didn't.

Nice work out there. I was thinking of you. I couldn't find online tracking at all. I had you on a watch list but no results ever came up....

Congratulations again on #5!

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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby HCcD » Mon May 26, 2014 12:43 pm

Congratulations, on completing another marathon, Jen ... :P
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby marymac442 » Mon May 26, 2014 1:00 pm

Congratulations on #5, sorry it wasn't quite the marathon you wanted but still a great accomplishment.
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby Stampie » Mon May 26, 2014 1:05 pm

Like La said in your journal...
La wrote:Any day that you can run and finish a marathon is a good day! :)


I was tracking you as best I could from the Sportstat app, I saw your half time and I knew you were on pace. I was texting back 7 forth with Cheryl and realized you were having a difficult 2nd half since you had not finished or were not spotted yet. I was happy to see Cheryl’s text saying you were spotted!

It sounded like you had a tough go and I feel for you. Like your race, your training dealt you some curve balls as well and you handled them great. I know you’ll recover very well and will be chomping at the bit for your next event. I look forward to a coffee or a beer and hearing your story in more detail. Yes I was not the marathon you hope for, but it is till another marathon under your belt. Congrats 5x marathoner!
PB’s (official race results)
5K – 26:20; 8K – 41:28; 10K – 52:13; 15K - 1:22:43; 21.1K – 1:54:16; 30K – 2:51:34; 42.2K – 4:24:14

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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby Habs4ever » Mon May 26, 2014 1:15 pm

Congratulations on completing your comeback marathon. I know how difficult is was to finally make the decision to try a marathon. You did great with balancing your training, shorter races and keeping injuries at bay. Rest and recover well this month and take that training forward with you.
I'm proud of you my friend. :D
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby IronColl » Mon May 26, 2014 1:29 pm

I'm proud that you were able to finish on a tough day. Raise your glass of beer to that!
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby purdy65 » Mon May 26, 2014 1:50 pm

Fantastic report! That sight of a marathon finish line is the best! Congrats!
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby RobW » Mon May 26, 2014 3:08 pm

Sorry you had a rough finish on the course yesterday. Take the time to process this race and look forward to the next. All is not lost with what you've put into it in the past few months - it's only the beginning. You had to overcome some challenges that you were faced with during your training cycle but dealt with them and kept moving forward. You will continue to progress and become stronger.

I'll be knocking on your door asking for a run so rest and recover well. We're not even halfway through the year yet with still a full summer ahead of running fun!

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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby Spirit Unleashed » Mon May 26, 2014 3:44 pm

Good job. Be happy.
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby Ken B » Mon May 26, 2014 5:21 pm

Congratulations on finishing. Love the report!!! :)

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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby ngcaper » Mon May 26, 2014 5:24 pm

This report comes back to the sign I keep seeing...if it was easy everyone would be running these. I'm way more impressed when someone puts their head down and says to hell with quitting I'll will my way to the finish crawling on all fours vs those who have no trials/tribulations during a run. Great job, if it was easy you'd really have very little to talk about now wouldn't you :)
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby scrumhalfgirl » Mon May 26, 2014 6:24 pm

though it wasn't the race you'd hoped for, i'm really glad to see that you're back at the distance! great stuff.
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby alexk » Mon May 26, 2014 8:44 pm

What a great race, Jen! Reading your report brought tears to my eyes. I think we're all old enough, and wise enough, to know that running marathons again and again isn't really about the finishing time. Yes, it's motivating to have a goal and fun to dream. But I truly believe most of us toe the start line because we want to challenge ourselves, see what we're made of (good and bad) and celebrate how lucky we are to be healthy and running. And your race encompassed all that and so much more. It's a beautiful part of your running story which is a big part of your life story :).

Marathons are tough, no doubt. But you proved yesterday that you are tougher!!!

There are lots of great chapters left in your running story and I look forward to reading them all :).

Oh and I love your new pic - it's so bright & happy!
We train more joyfully and productively when we focus on the now, rather than on our future race day performance. It's a long road from here to there with many miles to go. We need to run each one. Accept where you are today and simply be thankful for the work you've accomplished. KA

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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby Ken B » Mon May 26, 2014 8:55 pm

alexk said it succinctly. I agree wholeheartedly!

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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby Hammie » Mon May 26, 2014 9:37 pm

Congrats. It sounds like a tough race, but you did a good job of gutting it out and keeping on going.
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby Jwolf » Mon May 26, 2014 11:45 pm

Thanks everyone.

I am already feeling better about it now than I did yesterday. As I said in Holly's thread-- I feel a bit like I ran my first marathon, since it's been so long since I did one before. I thought I remembered what it was like to run a marathon-- but I didn't.

I realize that I never actually said what my modified time goal was, but I didn't have a firm goal-- only to start at a 6:00/km pace and hold that as long as possible (which is about a 4:15 finish). Mostly I wanted to run a strong race without a huge slowdown, and I thought I picked a pace that would work. I was sort of expecting a bit of a slow down, but not as much as I did. Anyway, it is what it is.

I'm recovering pretty well already-- actually better than I did after the half-marathon three weeks ago. I'm not sure if that means I didn't run hard enough, or I just COULDN'T run hard enough.

In some ways I feel like all that hard training I did was for nothing, because the workouts didn't at all translate to the time they were intended for. But I did learn a lot from the training and I know I just need more time to adapt to it all. I'm not sure where I will go from here, but I love running and I'll keep doing as much as I can.

Here's the picture of Rob and me from before the race, and where I got my avatar picture:

Image
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby Habs4ever » Tue May 27, 2014 7:33 am

Nice picture. :D
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby Kelodie » Tue May 27, 2014 1:50 pm

It sounds like it was a tough one for you. Congratulations on completing marathon # 5! Very proud of you.
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby OLRunner » Tue May 27, 2014 5:33 pm

Congratulations on coming back from injury and finishing a marathon again after so much time away from a full.
I think you will feel better about your race in a few day's time.. :) Even with the cramps, you didn't slow down that much from your goal.
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby Avis » Wed May 28, 2014 9:22 pm

ngcaper wrote:This report comes back to the sign I keep seeing...if it was easy everyone would be running these. I'm way more impressed when someone puts their head down and says to hell with quitting I'll will my way to the finish crawling on all fours vs those who have no trials/tribulations during a run. Great job, if it was easy you'd really have very little to talk about now wouldn't you :)


What he said! I've been following your journal, so I know some of the ups and downs you've had during your training. I'm so impressed with how hard you work, how consistent your training is, how determined your attitude. You ran a wonderful marathon, regardless of the finishing time. Congratulations!
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby runJrun » Thu May 29, 2014 11:31 am

I have been a bit stalker like in reading your journal and FB updates and really want to say a big Congratulations!! Your training is very impressive and you are a fabulous runner! I am sorry the race was tough, but you are tough and the next one will be even better. Enjoy your recovery and I cannot wait to continue stalking you :)
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby AndyM » Fri May 30, 2014 2:55 pm

Congratulations on another marathon even if it didn't result in the time goal you were hoping for. Don't think it was for nothing. You ran another freakin' marathon!!!! And you are stronger today than you were at the start of your training. No one can take that from you. :)

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Jwolf
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby Jwolf » Fri May 30, 2014 5:56 pm

Thanks everyone. :)
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Re: Jwolf's "Run for Water" Marathon

Postby carm » Fri May 30, 2014 7:38 pm

Congrats Jen! I'm glad to hear that you're doing well and damn, you completed another marathon. Be proud! :)
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