Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Das Kapital

No this post has nothing to do with Marx. I just wanted a clever title :-)

On Tuesday, I arrived in Berlin's Tegel Airport not knowing that the exit was just a few feet away after leaving the plane. The luggage carousel was right next to the gate. I happened to connect in Frankfurt and the passengers were mostly businessmen; they just had carry on luggage... and I made the mistake of following them. As it was, I had to wait until my bag was transferred to the lost-and-found to retrieve it. Aside from the inconvenience of waiting an extra 45 minutes, the minor mishap was not all that bad.

I had a full night of sleep. Awesome. Jetlag? What is jetlag?

On Wednesday I went to Postdam for a few hours. Nice little town. Ran 6 miles in the evening with two at ~7:30 pace. Still sleeping pretty well.

On Thursday I took a 2.5 hr train ride to Dresden... came back to Berlin at 9:20pm.

On Friday I ran four easy miles. Then I picked up my bib. The only thing worth mentioning is that the t-shirt was not included. If you wanted one, you had to buy it in advance. I have way too many t-shirts; I did not get one.

Saturday, I did very little walking and rested as much as humanly possible.


On Sunday morning I feel fresh and alert, ready to tackle my conservative goal of hitting sub-3:30.

I make it to the start with about 20 minutes to spare. I take one of four hammergels. I feel thirsty so I have about 10oz of water. The mass of runners is pretty amazing. European runners are faster than the average American runner. I am in the fifth corral(3:15-3:30) and it takes me close to three minutes to cross the start.

My breathing is easy; I am relaxed. I had figured that I needed just under 5 minute klips, but a "whole" five was much easier to keep track. I expected to make up the few seconds during the last 2.2 Ks. After all I was not really racing it this time and expected to have plenty of energy at 40K.

By the third K I was about 28 seconds behind and was rather close to the 3:30 pacers. Even though I would cut the deficit by a few seconds, the 3:30 group managed to inch further away from me. I just could not get into a rhythm that allowed me to stay closer; in fact, the two times I tried widening my stride, I felt the effort was too great and went back to the LR-effort.

The race was so crowded, it was difficult to get to the aid stations w/o slowing down significantly or stopping all together. I am used to getting the cups from the volunteers and keep going at the same speed as I approach the station. Not here. I was forced to grab a cup from the table. And the fact that the cups were made of plastic, made it impossible to squeezed them w/o breaking them.

By the 16th K, I knew that I was not feeling it on that day. I blame it on a rookie mistake. I blame it on poor pre-race day hydration. I should know better than that. Sure, the crowded aid stations probably took away a minute from the final time. Sure it was relatively warm. But what I feel made it tough was that my legs felt fatigued. A fatigue that I suspect was due to under-hydration.

At this point I had to make a decision. Do I keep on running or do I use a strategy that some purists may frown upon, and that is to take 60-second walking-breaks. I decide to salvage what could turn out to be a death march past 30K and opt for the breaks. They will start at 22K, and continue every three Ks.

I did stop at 22, 25 and 28. But I was feeling too tired so I cut the distance to two Ks. I was losing about 35 seconds from the original pace; acceptable to my tired body and mind. Breaks at 30, 32 and amazingly... after taking hot tea (yes, the Germans have hot tea at aid stations) I felt this boost of energy so I decided to go an extra klip to 35; it must have been the sugar in the tea. I think it was around this time that I saw this man with his legs bathed in blood (really bad chafing???); and the guy just kept on going; needless to say, I was inspired.

However, my feet were aching. And 35K is a long distance so the breaks became every two Ks once again. Even though I was still taking the same 60-sec breaks, I was running faster as my 2-K splits were very close to 10 minutes. I struggled whether to take a break at 41 or not. After all the finish was so darn close. I wussed out and took a walking break. Funny thing is that I still managed a 5:48 for the last 1.2 Ks (7:48 pace, including the 60 seconds walking).

I was so tired when I finished. But I was in one piece. No discernible injuries. Interestingly enough, the piriformis has not bothered me of late. Probably because of trigger-point therapy. I did get three separate bouts of PF flare-ups; fortunately, they did not lasts more than 10 seconds.

The following day my legs were in fairly good shape. Very little soreness, if any. Were the walking-breaks the reason? Probably so.


The numbers: 45th Marathon completed. Chip time=3:33:57 Splits=1:45:33/1:48:24 +2:51 split; Fourth Major (missing London)


Arcane said...

Still a fairly decent time and only a few minutes off your goal. Congrats on another one!

Mindi said...

Congrats on 345. And 3 minutes from your goal to boot. I still can't get the bathed in blood guy out of my head though - that is not right. :)

What is next?

Quinto Sol said...

Next is St. George where I may attempt to go sub-3:21... still up in the air if I want to put my legs through the pounding of the downhill course.

Anonymous said...

Alex, what's your BQ time? Have you BQed before? Interesting to hear that about the crowded aid stations (huge pet peeve of mine); and what you say about European amateur runners being faster in general than American runners--why would you say that?

Bummer about hydration, it is such a bugaboo and can happen in a second--one minute yu're fine, the next your tongue is white nad you have the chills.

I am running London in 2010 as a charity runner for Team Fox -- how are you going to get in? My goal too is to run all the majors! (So far I've only hit NYC though.)

Quinto Sol said...

My BQ is 3:20. I have the speed, I just haven't put the necessary training. Yes, I have qualified three times, with six trips to Beantown; one of them a DNF.

Let's take two very similar marathons, in race participation as well as in course profile. Last year, in Chicago, a 3:34 would get you 2300th place; in comparison, my 3:34 in Berlin got me 5973!! The smaller the European race, the bigger the competition. When I ran Florence back in 2000, I ran 3:29, landing me in the 50th percentile. Earlier that year I ran a 3:29 in SFO that placed me in the top 7%!!!!

I had entered the lottery, but did not get in. Maybe 2011???