What It’s Like Running a Goal Race (unsuccessfully)

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Grandma’s Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

When I train for a marathon, I train in two ways. I am either training to run a race that I am interested in or excited about or I am training for a goal race. I have trained and ran five races that I was just interested in running and two that were goal races for me. This year, in April was the first one and last month, Grandma’s Marathon was the second one. Total of over six months of training for these two goal races with Grandma’s being the one where I was hoping to run a sub 4-hour marathon.

20170705 - GM 1

I want to start off and talk about how iconic and special Grandma’s Marathon is. If you live in the Midwest and run marathons or have a “one day I will run a marathon” mentality, you probably have Grandma’s Marathon on your list. I have wanted to run this race for many years now. There is just a vibe that Grandma’s Marathon gives off that people fall in love with. It is remarkable how addicted people get to this race. Everything from the extremely fast course, to the views, to the partying, and of course the traditions. I was stoked to experience all of that.

I felt prepared going into marathon weekend. Almost too prepared because I was feeling a little too confident. Physically I was exactly where I wanted to be. Training went well, earlier marathon showed my potential, and I was able to make it through the Spring season without any major injuries. Mentally, well we’ll get to that. The night before I was running up and down the frontage road between my hotel and Highway 35. In my mind I was going through the list of things I need to bring with me to the starting line. Water, Nuun Hydration tablets, Bib (definitely can’t forget that), long sleeve because it is supposed to be chilly, a BibRave Buff® head band, and my shorts and jersey. I remember stretching after that and my mind was just kind of blank.

20170705 - GM 2

Fighting for a cup of coffee with the rest of the runners in the hotel, I grabbed a cup of coffee and a muffin. Walked over to the free school bus shuttle that was filling up with runners to be taken to the starting line. I sat next to a guy with his headphones on and thought that I would throw mine in as well. I don’t run with headphones so I use them as a pre-run mental clearance.

Running around brand new Chevy cars in the dealer parking lot next to the starting line corral in Two Harbors, MN, I wasn’t thinking about anything. I had my routine and I just followed it. There were no corral numbers so I figured I had plenty of time to jump in the bathroom line and do my pre-marathon ritual. Unfortunately, that was not the case. With about a minute before the starting of the race, I walked into the end of the race corral. Definitely not where I wanted to be. I look around and I see that I am next to Pacer 4:45 and boom the race starts.

20170705 - GM 3

This is where I was not prepared mentally. Instead of running my own race, I ran someone else’s. I am not the best at pacing myself consistently so I chose to try to catch the Pacer 4:00 with whom I planned to run with from the beginning. That was my mistake that I believed caused me to miss my mark completely. By the time I caught up to the 4:00 hour pacer, knew that this was not going to be the race where I break 4 hours. I had to make a decision: try to keep up with the pacer and risk injury or DNF, or slow down and enjoy the race.

By mile 14 the sun was beating down hard. The temperatures where close to 70 degrees and I knew that this was not going to happen. I decided to enjoy myself. I knew that the time is not going to be something that I would be proud of but I wanted to make the last half of the race as enjoyable and memorable as possible. I did just that. I enjoyed all the sprinklers that were set up. Gave HIGH FIVES to all the spectators, tried to look good for the WeRunMPLS crew that was out there supporting the runners, played catch with a football while I ran past the college guys, and even enjoyed a beer at mile 22. After the race, I enjoyed all the free food for all the runners but unfortunately that was cut short. Feeling dehydrated, I had to get back to the hotel and recover.

20170705 - GM 4

I ran my goal race at the best physical fitness that I have ever run a marathon, but I completely missed on the mental side of it. Without any mental prep days leading up to the race and before the race started, I made a crucial mistake and was unable to recover from it. Does it suck? Yeah totally. Marathon training take a ton of time and effort and it is no fun when you screw it up. Am I going to complain about it? Not one bit. By missing my mark, I have opened up the door for a 2018 redemption.

20170705 - GM 6

Grandma’s Marathon 2018, registration opens up October 1st, 2017

How did your races go in the first half of 2017?

Keep The Run On

Instagram
Twitter
Youtube

IL Marathon: The Redemption Story

When I signed up for the Illinois Marathon, I knew that it was going to be a redemption race and that I was going to be putting a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. After running a career worst 5:06:52 at the Madison Marathon in November of 2016, I was determined to shatter that and hopefully break a PR. I am very excited to say that I crushed my PR and ran an amazing Illinois Marathon on April 22nd. Breaking my PR by over 20 minutes felt awesome and running a 4:16:23 (Garmin time) 4:17:32 (Course time) was a great feel of relief and excitement. Here is what I did not kill my PR and have a great race.

IMG_5187

Step One: Training is the key to a successful marathon. Not a revelation, I know that. This was my 7th marathon and out of 7 marathons this was the only one where my training was above 80% successful. I measure success by the number of scheduled workouts that I completed. I have always taken training as an inconvenient chore that I did not want to do. This time was different. Everything from the training season to the type of training was changed. Mentally, I was ready and wanting to train hard. Physically, I followed the routine and avoided disruptive activity. Training plan was new and different. Shorter so that I wouldn’t get burnt out, but more intense causing my workouts to be more difficult. I also focused on the time I was running per day or week rather than the number of miles. This allowed me to continue to be interested in my training, avoiding injury, and ultimately feeling ready and great during the race. From a cardio stand point, I had some gas left in the tank, from leg feel/strength I was ready to be done. I hope that the 20% that was left on the table will allow for an even better performance.

20170328 - Greenway Run

Step Two: Nutrition is one of those tricky necessities that typically take the back of the priority list. I chose and worked hard on keeping that towards the front of my list. I reduced a lot of unhealthy habits and increased monitoring what I ate and drank so that it would positively impact my training. Healthy foods, smaller portions, smarter snacking and reduction of alcohol intake all played a role in a more successful marathon.

20170426 - IL Marathon

Step Three: Mental preparedness was a crucial factor in my training and racing. Very often, I would image different scenarios during the run. What would I do if I felt dehydrated, what to do if I have an injury, how do I substitute a workout if my muscles are hurting? I thought about these things before the race which ultimately helped during. I remember during mile 9-14 my knee was not feeling the best. I could assess whether I thought it was pain that was injury driven or if it was a temporary pain. I decided it was temporary and it paid off.

IMG_0247

Step Four: Knowing your course and race is extremely important. I used BibRave.com to read about reviews of the race and what others have thought about the course. Also, the Illinois Marathon had an amazing website, app and expo. I could get a ton of information from their website and app before the race. They communication was also on point. I got emails updating me on all things race weekend. Going into the race, I felt like I have already been on the course and knew where the turns were, the aid station locations and even when I needed to get on my toes for the “hills” (I run in Minnesota so the hills that the course had do not qualify as hills).

Capture

Step Five: Running smart will ultimately get you where you want to get to. Running smart means you run what you’ve trained for. Your pace stays at what you planned for. You eat, drink, carry and wear what you have already planned for. I did exactly that. I knew where I wanted to be with time. I knew what pace I needed to reach that time. I knew that this was a fast course and that I would want to take off but I didn’t. I stayed true to what I wanted to accomplish. And damn am I proud of that. For once in my running career I felt like I did exactly everything the way that I wanted to do it.

IMG_5215

It is unreal how something can come together if you follow what you have planned for yourself. I planned my training to run between 4:10:00 and 4:20:00, I planned to run at a weight of 195, I planned to lose the headphones and extra gear, and I planned to run a smart race. When I was able to accomplish all of those, I succeeded in accomplishing a huge PR and getting the redemption race that I wanted.

IMG_0332

Grandmas Marathon, you are on the clock. I am coming for you!

Keep The Run On

Instagram
Twitter
Youtube