It's been more than a week now since I ran my third marathon (!) and I've had some time to chew on and digest the race and my performance. Now, I'm not obsessed with time. I'm proud of what I did in Huntington Beach regardless of my time, but I do think it's important for me to look back at the race to pick out what went well and what didn't go well so I don't repeat the same mistakes. And who knows? Maybe some of you awesome readers will pick up a thing or two.
The Wall: My wall was the 24th mile. The more I think about it, the more I know that was it. It seems kind of odd on one sense, that two-plus miles from finishing I'd be completely mentally wasted, but that's what happened. I was fried. I couldn't push past through it. I ran up to The Wall, leaped shoulder first and caromed backwards onto my butt. I think mentally I wasn't as strong as I could have been the last six miles, and that depleted mental state caught up to me at Mile 24.
The question remains then.... how do you push past The Wall? Unfortunately I think the answer to that is to figure it out during races. It's easy for me to say a possible solution now, when I'm resting at home, but when I've been on my feet running for close to four hours, that's a much different story.
Six-Mile Slide: I could have gotten underneath my goal of 4:20:00 had I run the last stretch in under an hour. Six miles in under an hour usually is not a problem for me, but this time it was. I divided the race into three "thirds" - the first 10 miles, the second 10 miles and the last 6.2. I was in a favorable position at the 20-mile mark but it was ultimately too much to ask.
How do I work on that? I need to run more during the week. Now that soccer season is over (hallelujah!) I won't have to save myself for anything and I can crank out some good, longer runs on weekdays. I think my legs just weren't strong enough to maintain the early pace I set. Also, I could stand to lose some pounds. I'm at the high end of my comfortable weight range, not good!
Good Start: The early pace I mentioned was this: at the 13-mile mark, I was at about 2 hours 3 minutes. Double that and you get 4 hours, 6 minutes. Even with a slight drop-off, a finish of around 4:10 or so is within reach.
Here's how my splits shaped up
3 miles - 28:17 = 9:26 pace
6 miles - 56:30 = 9:25 pace
12.2 miles - 1:56:49 = 9:35 pace
20.9 miles - 3:24:04 = 9:46 pace
26.2 miles - 4:23:38 = 10:04 pace
I know I pushed myself early, probably too much for the experience I have. But in some ways, that's what I wanted to do, to push myself, to see where I'm at and to go from there. I felt myself slowing down at about Mile 14 or 15. My Garmin kept splits and the first mile that was not under 10 minutes was Mile 17. The Garmin got a bit unreliable afterward so I couldn't really compare it to other miles early in the race but sub-10 minute miles were scarce in the last 10 miles. I think maybe Mile 26 may have been under 10 minutes but that's about it. Maybe Mile 21 since I ran through that one at a pretty good clip (it felt like it anyway).
I'm not disappointed in that I faded, really. As I said, I want to push myself to see where I'm at and where I can improve. Now I know what I've got and I can build from there.
I don't want to BQ or anything, I can't. That's for elite runners and I'm not there, but I do want to run a strong race the next time I head out there, so breaking down my time will help me get there. If that translates to a PR the next time out, cool. If not, that's fine too. Just gotta have something to build off of and I've given myself that.