Sunday, January 15, 2012

Houston Marathon Race Report

In this morning's beautifully cool weather conditions I was a bit disappointed that I'd struck too ambitious a goal by seeking to re-Boston Qualify with a time of 3:35 or better. However, considering that my training was interrupted due to a minor injury during three pivotal weeks I'm generally okay with outcome, especially as I broke 4-hours via my 3:51:14.

Everything went according to plan for my nutrition and hydration, where I drank Gatorade to thirst. For nutrition, I consumed one tablespoon of chia seeds mixed pre-mixed with one Succeed S!Cap electrolyte capsule every five miles. Additionally, every four miles I had one Roctane.  I've taken Roctane for years, and experimented with chia this training cycle, and them both with absolutely no problems.  I'm thinking of tweaking this only slightly next marathon, potentially increasing the frequency of Roctane to about every 3.5 miles.

The big surprise for me was seeing the massive congestion associated with running with the 3:30 pacing group in the first ten miles. I've successfully run with pacing groups in the past, and I can only attribute today's problems as due to the comparative huge popularity of this particular pacing group, along with the full marathoners being merged with the half-marathoners through the tenth mile.  As such, we constantly passed slow full or half marathon runners who'd started excessively fast. As they slowed they were oblivious to faster runners such as ourselves attempting to pass, which forced us to constantly inefficiently weave back and forth.

After six miles of this frustration, Allison, a Kenyan Way friend, and I got in front of the pacing group. Unfortunately, I then made the mistake of allowing my ambition to over-ride my better judgement and experience, as I proceeded to run a minute too fast via a 1:44 half.

Inevitably, I then paid the price, as despite running the first 18.7 miles at an average 8:05 pace, the final 7.5 miles' slow-down killed my overall time goal, as I ran them at a comparatively glacial 10:25. Oh well! I'm consoling myself by at least having prevented the energy collapse from being total, and at least showing an ounce of wisdom by slowly running in the final miles. This is an improvement, from my prior recent marathons where I'd foolishly set an even more ambitious 3:10 goal, then compounded that mistake by not adjusting my goal pace until I had completely run out of energy, and was forced to walk it in. So, while pacing remains a puzzle that I obviously haven't cracked, I think I'm getting a bit better.


  1. I had a very similar experience. I had an "A" goal of 4 hours which I doubted I could achieve b/c of an achilles injury which forced me to run only 18 miles 2 weeks out and take the last week off completely. The first 10 miles were a nightmare (the merge w/ the half marathon was a disaster); however when I reviewed my splits, I was actually on a 4 hour pace (or better) until Mile 18. The sun really beamed down starting at that Mile (and my feet were in so much pain) and I dropped from the 9s to the 10s. I finished w/4:14. Like you, not my "A" goal but a 6 minute PR! Congrats to you.

  2. Cannot complain about a sub Four and letting wisdom (eventually) prevail. And it appears progress continues. Good run on a good weather day.

  3. Sounds like you enjoyed it more than the failed 3:10 attempt. I think Ryan Hall proved once and for all on Saturday that only the best of the elite can survive an overly ambitious first-half pace.