My plan was reduced to shreds. I planned to finish in 6:45 but had to contend myself with a 7:33. I am grateful to have achieved even that. But there is much to be proud of, starting with this being my best marathon time ever; my only other marathon -- 2012 -- took me 7:50.
What I consider to be the experimental aspect of this race was my training plan. I have described it in detail in previous blog posts and will not repeat much here, except that the basic idea was to train like an Ironman triathlete, with a long run on Saturday and a long bike on Sunday, off-loading much of the aerobic endurance work to the bike in order to reduce the risk of injury. I consider this to have been a success, because I had no signifiant problems with injury despite a long-term issue with my left quadricep that has previously lead to iliotibial band syndrome. Had the conditions on race day not been so horrific I am sure I would have gotten closer to my goal time.
My original goal was to run the race at an average of 14:30 min/mile, for a time of 6:20. As December approached I realized I was not getting THAT much faster, so I set my goal for my simulation race on November 30 at 15:00 min/mile. After about twelve miles that day the wheels fell off, with my day ending at the top of Diamond Head puking and with both legs cramped up solid. Because of that I lowered my race goal pace to 15:30. I ended up with an overall average of 17:00.
- Do not worry about first two to three miles except to not go too fast. Wait for traffic to thin out, and for my body to warm up.
- Walk the aid stations to give legs a little rest and to let intake of water and gel settle. Avoid upset stomach.
- From Kapiolani Blvd. to Aloha gas station on return (most of the course), try to maintain a 15:30 pace where the road was flat, 14:30 where it went slightly downhill (for instance, by Kalani High School outbound). Slow down as needed to maintain HR on uphill sections. Keep HR in low zone 2 as much as possible, let it get up into low 3's on hills but pay attention to breathing and perceived effort -- do not go crazy.
- Walk the steep parts of Diamond Head, three places, by lighthouse and approaching 18th Ave. outboard, Triangle Park to top on return.
- Run carefully fast down 18th, don't get injured there.
- From Aloha gas station on through Kahala to Triangle Park, try for a 14:30 pace or better, whatever I could manage at that point. No holding back, let it fly. This is how I finished the Hapalua half marathon and the Honolulu Triathlon last year.
- Drink water at every aid station, about half a paper cup.
- Carry a Fuelbelt with two seven ounce flasks, each with three GU gels diluted 50/50 with water. Take a sip from flask every 20 minutes. (Set time alarm on Garmin to remind me.)
- Try to synchronize water and gel intake.
- Never gulp a lot of water no mater how I feel, as that will cause me to puke, based on experience.
- Same for gel, just a little sip, roll in mouth before swallowing, too much and stomach will rebel.
Heart Rate Too High
Had I been more experienced I might have known exactly how to handle this situation. As it was, I worried a lot about how much to slow down. I think I sped up and slowed down over and over because I could not make up my mind. As I was leaving Hawaii Kai I knew I was way behind plan, both time and energy, so the best thing to do was to just get through the day without trying to make any particular time. I really wanted to enjoy the day, but that was out of the question. You know the expression "Grin and bear it?" Well, I wasn't grinning.
I brought along three salt pills in a clip-on dispenser. The day was so cool I was not sure I needed any, but I reasoned that since I was drinking water at every aid station and not producing much urine, I had to be losing some water to sweat and to not take in salt would led to my stomach not accepting the water. Slosh slosh. Been there. So I had two pills, one in Hawaii Kai and the other after reaching Kahala. Nothing else to report there.
I had planned to walk the steep hills and the aid stations. I stuck to my plan all the way to the turn onto Hawaii Kai Drive, where I was surprised to discover I did not have the strength to run up that little bridge. I had been concerned about how much energy I was using on the way out; this was my first clue how tired I was. After my planned pit stop at the Oahu Club I had to walk over the bridge by the shopping center, and all along the return route I had to stop every now and then to walk. I was guided my the pre-cramp twitches in my hamstrings. I did not want to risk pushing any harder, least I end up like I had two weeks earlier, stranded on Diamond Head with both legs locked up solid. Of course this slowed me down, but when I did run I could run faster than on the way out, and I made it the the finish line in good shape.
I was able to run all the way down Diamond Head to the finish, except a time or two when people got in my way. Slow, to be sure, but I could still run and was happy for that. The only bright moment in an otherwise miserable day was when Pattie met me at the finish with a big bottle of spring water and a spam musubi. We walked back to the Hale Koa to give my legs some active recovery, and after a nice cool shower went out for beer and a bowl of udon. After a nap we had dinner at Eggs & Things. I ate too much omelet and had an upset stomach the rest of the night, but I didn't care because the marathon was behind me and, all things considered, it went rather well.
My marathon training plan was designed to split endurance training between the bike and the run. Here is a chart showing relative workout times for each type of activity over the last 90 days (courtesy of Training Peaks). Notice how the bike and run are about the same.
If I had it to do over again I would have made some of the Saturday long runs even longer. Of course this increases the risk of injury, but I think my legs would have had more endurance had I not held back quite this much. Still, I think this is a great way to approach long distance run training, especially for anyone with a history of hip, knee or foot problems. You cannot finish a marathon unless you arrive at the start line ready to run.