Phoenix Marathon in chip time of 2:50:00.1 (and a watch time of 2:49:59.x). How annoying is that? Haha. Can't complain about a PR, but man that .1 hurts. :)
Leading up to the race, I got really sick on Wednesday leading up to the Saturday race (chills, bad body aches, headache, sore throat, sniffles, cough, but no fever). Felt terrible all day, slightly better on Thursday (but very sluggish when I ran 4.5 miles), and about the same on Friday (although running felt somewhat OK), with my throat hitting a new low and being almost completely incapable of speech. The night before the race I felt calm about the race, but it took me about an hour to go to sleep because I couldn't stop violently coughing.
Pre-race thoughts: Uneventful. Woke up at 4:25 AM. Ate 1000 calories worth of powerade, nature valley bars, and bananas between 4:30 and 5:30 for the 6:30 start (I think this was a great decision, as my energy was spot-on the whole race), but feeling pretty darn sick still. My throat was super jacked up and I had a hard time talking, but I was OK energy-wise.
Splits and thoughts (all Garmin splits, race splits were a little longer, total of 26.36 instead of 26.21, running all the tangents pretty much perfectly):
1 - 6:19, downhill,
2 - 6:18, downhill.
3 - 6:24 mostly downhill, with a little uphill.
4 - 6:18, downhill.
5 - 6:32, all uphill, should've run more like 6:40 to save energy, felt a little forced. Accel gel right before 5 mile mark so I could suck down water afterwards, a bit of a mistake, as it has almost no sodium.
6 - 6:40, all uphill, slightly steeper.
7 - 6:16, part of the best 2 miles of downhill of the race.
8 - 6:16, same.
9 - 6:27 No major climbs or drops from here that seemed to play a huge part.
10 - 6:22
11 - 6:25. Mentally noted on this mile that I wasn't sure how things would pan out. I felt reasonably relaxed, but wasn't confident that I wouldn't blow up, especially with those 6:16s in there. Powerbar gel with lots of sodium. Legs were slightly feeling it already, so this was good.
12 - 6:30. Decided this would be a good pace to settle at. I realized that I was about .07 miles ahead of the markers, split-wise, at this point, but just running 6:30s in to the end would get me a sub-2:50.
13 - 6:31, hit halfway in 1:24:0x on my watch, 1:24:30 officially.
14 - 6:30.
15 - 6:31. A little after 15 miles, I realized that I could hang on and not blow up. Another powerbar gel with lots of sodium. Keeping the legs in the same place they had been since 11. Starting to feel a little bit hot (training in sub-30 degrees is probably not ideal for a race that got into the 60s).
16 - 6:24. Little injection of pace. Caught back up to a guy who had recently passed me and he hung on my shoulder from here until 23. I thought it was mentally helpful to have someone right there for so long.
17 - 6:24. Another pretty decent one.
18 - 6:25. Same.
19 - 6:29, as 6:24-6:25 was getting hard. Another powerbar gel, calves and quads both starting to feel it a bit.
20 - 6:32. Took a little while for the gel to hit, wasn't so pleasant. Getting pretty darn hot.
21 - 6:24. Realizing that I was now .12 miles ahead of the flags, I had to push to hit a sub-2:50, even though my watch splits were perfectly fine. Frustrating.
22 - 6:26. Still pushing, perhaps should've hung onto 6:30s slightly longer, hurting.
23 - 6:31. One more powerbar gel, things were starting to hurt a lot. Dude on my shoulder dropped off.
24 - 6:42. Wasn't sure what happened, but I think it may have had to do with my fellow competitor dropping off here. I didn't sense that I had slowed down and thought my garmin was just a little off at the start of the mile (sometimes it yo-yos on current split pace for 30 seconds or so before it settles, once starting a new mile), but I was just hurting a lot. Starting to cramp, was frustrated that I hadn't taken a powerbar gel instead of an accel gel at mile 5, because just a little extra sodium would've helped. I was sweating profusely and very salty.
25 - 6:42. Just hanging on, cramping...
26 - 6:31. Realizing I had to push really hard to hit a sub-2:50, now that I was a frustrating .15 miles ahead of the flags, split-wise. Cramping, but not caring.
26.21 - 1:21 (6:28 pace). 26.21 garmin split of 2:49:10.
26.36 - :49 (5:26 pace), legs were annihilated, but I realized I had to sprint all out to get under 2:50. Final of 2:49:59:xx on watch, 2:50:00.1 on chip. UGH!!!
Legs were pretty toasted at the finish, so after waiting for Bill and Spencer to finish, I drank a couple chocolate milks and hopped in an ice bath for 10 minutes. It hurt like mad for the first minute everything went numb, but it was so worth it when everything got feeling back (much less pain from then until now, 5-6 hours later). Interestingly, my voice was completely destroyed and when talking to anyone, I'd have to repeat myself a few times for them to understand what I was saying. On top of that, my sinuses are trashed and I think I'm getting an ear infection, but it was worth it. It's hard to say, but I honestly don't think being sick slowed me down much. Maybe everything would've felt a little easier without being sick, but I really don't think it affected my time more than 2-3 minutes at the absolute max, based on how I felt on a number of runs in my last few weeks of training. My 2:53:07 TM marathon would've predicted a 2:49 low here and this felt harder, but my pace was perfectly controlled there and the weather was hotter here after mile 15 or so, so it's not a perfect comparison.
Overall, I ran pretty smart and within myself. One more shot of salt probably would've taken care of the cramping, which cost me some time from 23 to the finish, so in the future, I'll spend the $1.19 for another gel rather than using some freebie I have sitting around the kitchen. I think this is probably the most perfectly executed marathon+ distance run I have ever run given my ability on that particular day (off the top of my head, this was my 15th marathon finish and 35th finish of a race of marathon or longer, as I used to race way way way too much). I think a little more salt would've given me a finish time between 40 and 60 seconds faster, but we're talking hitting 99.5% of race-day potential, so that seems really good to me. I only think that one of my mile splits was too fast (5 on the steep uphill), but that probably didn't make much of a difference. The first half was easier, so a 60 second positive split seems like an even effort to me. This was honestly a pretty uneventful race for me, which is always a good thing in a marathon. I would argue that my 2:52:55 back in MN in 2009 is probably marginally stronger, given that this course was really easy and that one was really hard, but a PR is a PR no matter how you slice it.
Everyone I knew from Utah, and otherwise, rocked it. I loved that Jake won and the 2nd place finisher wore a singlet that said "Team Jake". Almost seems pre-destined as to how 1 and 2 played out. :) Riley took 3rd, Utah Valley guys did great, and it was nice to see Spencer hit a 3:05 debut off of injury-marred training. Bill, my old high school MN XC teammate who I stayed with down in Phoenix, barely trained for this, his marathon debut, (3 long runs of 16, 17, and a moronic 22 at 6:30, his ultimate best case MP goal pace, 9 days before the race). In addition, he was the last starter, as he apparently slashed the living daylights out of his legs on barbed wire off the side of the course while trying to go to the bathroom in the dark right before the start, and it took 10 minutes for his calves to stop bleeding. He took it out as I expected (sub-6 for the first 4 miles, despite having an absolute best case goal of 2:50) and had to fight massive blowups the entire time, but came in at 2:55 (gun time of 3:05... haha...), having to pass almost the entire field of runners to get up to 20th place based on chip. If he learns how to train and race, he'll be really really quick.
What's next for me? I'm going to take a week off and then get in a few speed workouts for the Running of the Leopards 5k in late March. While I'm happy to have run a PR, I know that I can train harder and run faster in the near future, especially if I show up healthy, so I'm about 99% ready to sign up for Utah Valley Marathon in early June (starts at 6000', which is annoying, but the elevation drop roughly makes up for the altitude). 3 months seems like a good amount of time to recover, screw around with short stuff for a few weeks, and then throw down 6-8 weeks of solid mileage and workouts. Since I didn't put in all that many miles for this one, I'm already feeling pretty ready to start training hard again, at least mentally. Legs are still another story, as are my sinuses, which are still completely thrashed 2 days later, so I'm going to take the time to recover 100% before I jump back in. No matter what, I'm going to make sure I hit 2:40s next time out!