Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jason Ross - We Both Won...

I had no plans to do a full marathon, ever. In fact, I am on record (repeatedly) as stating that "the only way I could get motivated to train for a marathon was if I won a lottery spot for Kona." I did, however, have designs on a 1:45 half-marathon at the WR this year. But it sold out before Thanksgiving, and before I even bothered to check on registration. Several buddies (outside ProSoap) had just completed the San Antonio marathon in 4:15, and encouraged me to slow my mile pace down and do the full with them at WR as far as I could. So I signed up for the full, but I still wasn't motivated about it. And there was only 4 weeks till race day to suddently try to train for twice the distance.

I am keenly aware of the maxim against increasing mileage by more than 10% per week, and decided after weighing the situation that I would do 20% per week increases to try to get as much in as I could without unreasonably risking injury. That lasted 2 weeks. 2 Sundays to race day, I did what ended up being my "longest" run--a 14.5 mile run. That was obviously no where close to any proper marathon training long run. And it sucked--I had to run before Church that day due to family events in the afternoon, so I went out by myself at 5:45 a.m. in the dark in 30-40 degree temps with 30-40 mph gusts. That was the worst experience of my life. Still is. The next day, I was sick (duh). And injured (duh).

The next week I spent loaded up on Levaquin and sinus meds. I couldn't run all week, too sick and hobbled. Not really the taper plan suggested in most training programs. Sunday before the race, I managed an 11 miler around WR at an 8:50/mile pace, then a 7 mile treadmill run at 9:30/mile pace on Wednesday. That would have to do. Race was 3 days away, and it was probably better to just rest up at this point.

Before I breakdown my WR experience, let me insert a primal side note. Along the way in my "training program" I discovered that my body didn't really like to carry around unnecessary weight if it was going to run more than an hour, so pretty much every run beyond an hour included an emergency pit stop for a colon clear-out somewhere around 70 minutes into the run. (Big shout out to the public restrooms at Presby Rockwall, Buffalo Creek Golf Course Hole 14, Buffalo Creek Golf Course Hole 10, random brush along Rabbit Ridge. I couldn't have done it without you!) So, in addition to being undertrained, injured, and coming off a raging sinus infection, I was worried that I'd be losing my running partners at WR after about an hour due to having to make a pit stop, then be faced to run the WR alone.

Race day: Good news. Awoke at 4:00 am with sensation of needing to get the morning paper and study the sports page (if you know what I mean). 5:00 am, paper hits the sidewalk. I studied the sports page, all is right in the world. 5:30 am, have 1 cup coffee and half-bagel with PB and honey while checking to see that humidity was 83% and temps would be in the 70s before noon, with 30+ winds. 6:00 am, studied sports page again, all is right in the world again. 6:30, pick up 2 running partners and head to AAC. 7:00 am, drink Amino Vital (elixir of the gods). 7:30, read inside cover of port-o-pot door, all is more right in the world. 8:05, cross the timing mat. Here goes nothing...

Miles 1-4, was it just me, or was it freaking hot? Hadn't sweated this much since summer. Mile 6, I see the turn-off for the Half course and flashback to last WR Half and how "far" 6 miles used to seem. Miles 7-12, solemnly smiling knowing I had already shed all unnecessary weight from my body, and there would be no need to pit stop. Mile 13, the top of WR lake, feeling great, still with my buddies and we clocked at 2:06, which is slightly ahead of our 4:15 pace group. Miles 13-18, why is my HR 5% higher? That would be the 30 mph gusts. Mile 18, holy crap, we're still on pace, but I'm toast. Mile 19 at 3:05. I'm cooked, but "mission accomplished." I'd held a 4:15 marathon pace for 40 minutes and 4 miles longer than my long training run. [Congrats to self here.] I'd just run the farthest I'd ever run in my life. My muscles and cardio felt fine, but the ligaments in my ankles were toast, due to inadequate time to ramp up for a full. Time to not further injure yourself, but I would still finish no doubt. I told 2 of my more conditioned buddies to keep going (they did, and broke 4:15). 1 wingman left. He was done too. He'd run the San Antonio marathon in 4:15 last month, and said the WR conditions were exponentially more difficult (he later learned he'd lost 13 pounds of fluid at WR, which doesn't sound good). We shuffled the last 7 miles in 1 hour, 37 minutes. 4:42 across the line for me. Does that have to get published? Okay, that's done, what's next. Where are some calories?

The cake-topper has to be my kids' reactions. My 7 year old son greeted me shortly after the finish by informing me that a 9 year old kid had finished before me, apparently by quite a while. Then last night, my 5 year old daugther informed me that she wrote the following in her journal at school: "This weekend, I watched my daddy run his race." [PAUSE, I'm feeling really good at this point]" She continues, "He did not win." [INSERT SOUND OF DEFLATION HERE.] I suspect she will figure out the truth someday. My 7 year old already has--he responded by informing little sister that anyone who finishes a marathon is a winner, because everyone gets a medal who finishes.

Perhaps even more so than I'd encountered thus far in triathlon, I was impressed by the array of body types and ages and disabilities of those who entered the marathon. There was Carolyn, in the wheelchair, who flew past me down hills, but stalled going up. I found myself wanting to push her up the hills, but couldn't decide if that would DQ me (or her). [Was Jack around? If not, we'd probably be okay.] I'll admit, at mile 24 when a female who weighed more than me had caught up to me and was passing me, I was troubled. Selfishly, I began to run again so I'd catch her, but that didn't seem right. I certaintly didn't feel like the triathlete who destroyed my peers at the US Open just 2 months ago, winning my group by 5 minutes. Didn't all these spectators realize I was a better athlete than those around me? Somewhere in that scene was a truth I figured out Sunday, as my 7 year old did--the marathon for 99.9% of people is not about being faster than everyone else, it is about finishing. So at mile 25.8, I backed off found someone who was walking and appeared less "fit" than me, and encouraged her to keep running. We both won.

1 comment:

Chase said...

I love this story Jason, especially the theme about everyone winning, thats exactly how it should be.