The Bayshore Marathon, on May 26, 2007, has come and gone, and I have lived to talk about it.

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As it was my first marathon, I really didn’t have any idea what to expect. I’ve been writing about training for the marathon for some time now, so I won’t bore you with those details. But, I’ll briefly go over a few events of the past week or so that are relevant.

For the past 3 weeks I’ve been tapering for the marathon. Three weeks before the marathon I ran 20 miles, and each subsequent week I have been running fewer and fewer miles, the idea being that you want your body to be in great condition and not overly tired for the actual long run. The pains that I had previously been experiencing in my feet had pretty well gone away, and I was feeling quite good for the marathon. Since the 20 miler I have been doing intervals on all of my shorter (non Sunday) runs, and I was doing a sub 6 minute mile pace during the sprinting portion of my intervals. So, this past week’s running was: Last Sunday: 8 miles. Tuesday: 4 miles, and Friday: 2 miles, with the race being on Saturday. Each of these runs went well.

Another big component of getting ready for the marathon is eating. In the 24-36 hours before the race, I wanted to load up on as many complex carbs as I could. I had put on some weight during my time off due to the foot injury, so I tried to be careful what I ate over the past week (made more difficult by being on a vacation with family members that can cook some absolutely wonderful meals). Starting on Wednesday or so, I tried to really start drinking a lot of water to make sure that I was properly hydrated for the race. I started mixing in a gatorade or two each day, but, in retrospect, that was probably not needed. I would have been better off eating something salty. That would have given me the salt that my body could store, but not the sugar from the gatorade. Thursday for lunch I had lasagna prepared with whole wheat noodles. Thursday supper I had a main dish primary prepared with sweet potatoes. Friday lunch was leftover lasagna, and friday supper was a bunch of whole wheat spaghetti. Over this time period, the body will take the complex carbs and store them in the body to be used later. They say that, properly prepared, the body can exercise for 90-120 minutes on complex carbohydrate stores. Then, it will start burning fat, muscle, or whatever it can find. My plan was have the complex carbs that I could store, and I would give the body energy via Gu energy gel and Gatorade during the run itself to get me to the finish line.

Another important component of marathon prep is deciding on the clothing for the day. They say that the last thing you want to do for a marathon is to try something new. Most important is the shoes. For this marathon, I chose a pair of Brooks Adrenaline 6 running shoes that had about 67 miles on them before race day. 22205-951-004f.jpgI had been wearing Asic 2110’s, but I was concerned that one of them might have led to my peroneal tendonitis, so I had been using the Brooks for the longer runs. I had the Asics with me, but ended up using the Brooks. I had prepared for a rainy race day, which would have probably meant having a spectator near the halfway point to give me dry socks (and shoes?) for the final 13 mile push to the end. For shorts, I had bought a pair of running shorts at the local running store which were quite light. They only have one pocket, and it is considered nothing more than a key pocket, but I figured I could manage with that. For the shirt, I wore the same type of shirt that I had run both of my 20 mile runs in. For the 20 miles runs, things had gone pretty well, but I had noticed a small amount of nipple irritation after one of the runs. I’ve heard bad horror stories about guys who ended up with bleeding, so I wanted to prevent this. For the marathon, I applied liquid bandaid, which seemed to work pretty well. When I took the liquid bandaid off, a round hole had wore through in the middle, which tells me that the liquid bandaid did its job admirably.

‘Packet Pickup’ was the evening before the marathon from 5pm – 9pm. There was also a pasta dinner at around the same time, but I already had dinner plans and didn’t participate in the dinner. The Pickup was located at the Traverse City High School, and we got there about 6pm. They had tables set up according to bib number (I was number 924). I quickly found the table and didn’t have to wait at all. I got my packet (which contained the ChampionChip, some brochures, an energy bar, and various other minor things) and then went over to the shirt table, where I picked up my official marathon shirt. It is a very nice shirt. It is a Brooks technical shirt, which I can see myself wearing quite a bit. It’s nice that they don’t give out cheap cotton. Then, we asked a few questions about spectator buses, which were supposed to drop spectators off at various locations along the route, and looked around at a few of the booths. I had family members that were wanting sweatshirts, but they really didn’t have much to offer for the marathon. It was kind of disappointing, but I guess for smaller marathons, that’s the way it works out.

I had a map of the running route, and we drove the route after picking up the packet. This was useful, as it gave me some small idea of what to expect the next morning. It let me know approximately where the hills were, and things of that nature. The Bayshore Marathon is an “out ‘n back”, so you go 13.1 miles in one direction, and then you run back. The majority of marathons are loop marathons, so you don’t travel the same ground very much, but you end up at the same spot. Some marathons are ‘point to point’ where you are bussed to the starting point and run to the ending point, where your vehicle is located.

After driving the route, we headed back to the campground to sleep. I ended up getting to sleep around 9pm. I wanted to be in bed earlier than that, but it didn’t happen. They say that the night before the night before the marathon is actually the most important night of sleep. The theory is that you will be too excited to sleep much the night before anyway. I managed to sleep pretty well the night before, which probably means that I was sleep deprived, but that’s the way it goes.

I woke up to my alarm at 4:55am. The marathon started at 7am, but the parking lots were open at 5am, and we wanted to get a good parking spot. So, the idea was to do the minimal amount of work at the campsite and then drive over to the parking lot. So, we were at the parking lot by about 5:20 – 5:30 and ended up with a good spot. I had been drinking a bottle of water, and downed a Gatorade, and ate an energy bar a little bit before 6am. A bit after 6, I changed into my running clothes, applied the liquid bandaid, got the GPS watch ready to go, and went to the bathroom again (It seemed prudent to do what I could to prevent the need to relieve while on the run itself). I stored 4 Gu packets in the key pocket on my shorts, we had prayer, and I trotted off towards the starting area.

The starting area was crowded with people. Most of the spectators were there, runners were stretching, and things were pretty jolly. It was a wonderful morning. The overnight low had been around 37 degrees, and it had just started to warm up. The temperature was great, the rain that I had been worrying about had been delayed until later in the day, and everyone was in a pretty good mood. One of the local radio stations was on DJ duty, and they continually mentioned how long we had until everything started. At 6:45, I sucked down a Gu packet and washed it away with a few swigs of water from a bottle that I had taken with me. The event organizers were also storing bags for runners. You could take your clothing, put it in a bag with your name on it and stick it on the fence, and they would watch it for you until after the race. Quite nice of them, and very handy.

As 7am neared, people started lining up. For this marathon, they didn’t have any sort of organized lineup. For some (most?) marathons they put the people expecting the fastest times at the front, so that they can sprint on ahead and not have others get in their way. Starting Line of the MarathonFor this one, they didn’t bother. I guess the number of runners was small enough that they didn’t feel the need. The clock struck 7, and everyone was off! I crossed the starting mat about 7:00:08. Adrenaline really did play a role for the first little bit. I found that I was very easily running about a 6:30/mile pace, and I wanted to be doing 7:28 or so. 7:28 per mile was what I needed to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Based on my training, I knew that it would be a long shot, but that was my goal. So, I slowed down and managed to get into a routine. I was watching my watch a lot to see how fast I was going, and managed to keep my pace quite close to the pace that I was wanting to hit.

22205-025-002f.jpgWe made our way out of the starting area and soon found ourself on the road that goes alongside the bay. We crossed the 1 mile mark, and someone joked that they were now on the home stretch and that it was time to turn on the afterburners. Everyone was basically in a good mood. The road we were running on wasn’t officially closed to traffic, but we didn’t have any actual cars to worry about for most of the race. At the beginning of the race there were a few people with lawn chairs set up in their driveways, and this number increased as the race went on. Eventually, there were several people that had music playing (seldom nice, peppy music, like would have been great to hear for running) and that was nice of them. There were probably 4 or 5 unofficial aid stations that homeowners had set up, and that was very kind of them.

Official aid stations occurred every 1.5 miles or so. I got either water or Gatorade (or both) at every aid station. I didn’t want to find myself getting thirsty, and it worked. I didn’t have an apparent problem with hydration during the race.

22205-1133-009f.jpgThe marathon and the half-marathon both started at 7am. The half-marathon started at the 13.1 mile mark of the full marathon. So, while the marathoners were runnning out and then back, the half marathoners were just running back. When I hit mile 5.22 I met the leader of the half marathon. So, I had covered 5.22 miles, and he had covered about 8, give or take a couple of tenths. From the results, the #1 finisher in the half marathon took 1:09:33.35, so that would have been about right. I kept plodding along and was really feeling quite good. I sucked down a Gu packet at about the 8 mile mark. I had managed to make up a little bit of time on my running and at the 12 mile mark, I started seeing the first Gu packets become available at the aid stations. They were supposed to be at the 12 and 20 mile mark.

I hit the 13 mile mark near a little corner. I was feeling quite good at this point. I was still running at a Boston-qualifying pace. There was a mini aid station at the corner, and then you had to run half way up this little hill, around the corner, and you started back. It wasn’t much of a hill. Probably about 20 foot of elevation change. Things were going well as I headed around the corner and up the hill to the turnaround point.

The hill destroyed me.

As I ran up to the turnaround point, I started feeling fatigued. I looped around and was tired enough that I closed my eyes. I crossed over the mat at 13.1 miles and relished in the thought that I was about 40 seconds ahead of Boston qualifying time, and I was halfway done with my first marathon.

My GPS had performed wonderfully on the way out to the turnaround point. I have 13 miles of excellent data. For some reason, though, the thing got horribly confused on the way back. It never did actually find its satellites as it should have. I suspect that the software is messed up in it somehow. End result, I don’t have useful information on the way back with respect to my pace at any given point.

22205-1282-033f.jpgSo, the GPS wasn’t telling me my pace, but as the miles clicked away, I could tell that I was slowing down based on my mile-by-mile time. I was feeling more and more tired. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I was, for whatever reason, starting to give up on Boston. And, let me assure you, this has absolutely driven me crazy ever since Saturday morning. I’ve thought about this more than anything else.

At mile 14, I picked up a Gu packet. I had just eaten one before that, so I stored the packet in the shorts. I didn’t get the packet fully in the cloth of the shorts, and ended up irritating a section of my skin, though it didn’t start bleeding or anything. This is something I have to watch in the future, though.

Around mile 16 I allowed myself to walk for a few feet, and this was the beginning of the end. I told myself at that point that I could do 3:30, which would be very respectable. Not Boston-bound, but still quite good. However, I shouldn’t have 22205-308-034f.jpgever started walking. But, more on that later. So, I had 10 miles left. I ran and walked through the rest of the marathon. Ran more than walked, but walked more than I should have. I took another Gu packet around 20 miles and made my way towards the finish line. Around mile 23 I really found myself craving trail mix. Not sure exactly why, but I was really wanting some trail mix. There was a family who was handing out water somewhere around 22-24, and after I passed their house I saw a bunch of eaten orange peels on the ground, and I was wishing that I had been able to get one of them.

At probably mile 24 or so, I made it back into what I’m calling the residential area (more of a street layout), and I knew that the end was near. I made up up the final little hill and back into the finish area. Crossing the Finish LineThe crowd was starting to form up near the end, and as I entered the football field/track area, my cheering section was there to give me a little more of a boost and I found myself on the track. For some reason, in my mind, I was thinking that the finish line was on the first section of track. Instead, it was around the end and on the straight stretch coming back around the other side. When I didn’t see the finish line on the first section, my heart sank a little bit, but I knew that I had what I needed to finish at that point, and I ran around the end and across the finish line. Note to self: For the next race, smile a little bit more after finishing. 🙂

Right after crossing the finish line, I was directed to a group of people sitting along the track that were helping runners get rid of their ChampionChips. My MedalThis was nice. I just held my foot up on a little shoe shine stand and a guy untied my shoe laces, removed the Chip, and tied my shoe laces back up. Quite nice of him. Then, I got an official water bottle that said ‘Bayshore Marathon 2007’ on it, and I received my medal that said that I had finished the Marathon. Nice medal, that. It’s quite heavy and feels like quite an accomplishment to have it.

After this, I looked forward, and my family and Mariya had come up to where the Drinking a Gatoradefence was separating runners from the spectators, and I was able to walk over to them. All I could manage to say was, “Food”. Skyler produced a bottle of Gatorade, which I managed to drain without pause, and then he had a couple of bananas. I ate one of the bananas (I think Mariya commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone eat a banana that fast”), and I asked them if they had anything else. I was really in the mood for some sort of bread/nut-type food. I knew that they had a runners-only area, and I suspect that was where the food was at. So, I told them that I was going to go there and look for other food.

The runner area was pretty nice. They had bananas and oranges, three or four different flavors of low fat yogurt, water and Gatorade, pretzels, several kinds of bagels, Near the Runner’s Areaabout 30 different varieties of cookies that a local woman’s group had donated, and Coldstone Creamery ice cream. I didn’t actually get any Coldstone, though. The line for it was really long. So, I loaded up on cookies. I really shouldn’t have, and that’s one of my lessons for next time. I need to have healthier food ready for me after the race. I ate a bunch of cookies, though. They were all good. 🙂 The water and Gatorade wasn’t as accessible as I would have liked. They just had 5 gallon water buckets (2 and later 3 of them, total) and the line for getting a drink was longer than I would have liked. After filling up on some food I went back and found the groupies. My legs were feeling it at this point. I should probably have walked around more or something. Anyway, they needed massaged a little bit.

Resting Near the RVWe then went back to the RV and got some chocolate milk which I drank and enjoyed. I really did eat too many cookies. After leaving the marathon area we went back to the campsite and had lunch, and I really wasn’t in the mood to eat very much.

Before lunch I took a shower. I met a guy in the bathroom that had just finished running as well. He said that he had run 5 or 6 marathons, including 3 at Bayshore. His PR (Personal Record) was 3:55. I’ve learned that it is impossible to predict a runner’s time based on the way his body looks. I look at the guys running in the marathon and predict that most of them could easily beat my time, and that they probably were down around 3 hours. This guy was no exception. Then, I find out his time and am amazed. Go figure. Then, other guys look like they’ll be really slow, and then end up being very fast.

My legs were sore after the race. This might seem obvious, but they were quite sore. They would stiffen up if I didn’t move them regularly. After lunch, we packed up camp and went on a 7 or 8 hour drive in the RV. We stopped a couple of times, and I really noticed the stiffening at each stop. In the future, I should walk around more after the run. I did some stretching after the race finished, but maybe I didn’t do enough. Probably I didn’t. Sunday morning my legs weren’t doing too bad. Sunday afternoon they were stiff. Monday they were less stiff. Monday evening I ran 2.4 miles and played sand volleyball for a few hours. Here we are on Tuesday, and I can still feel my legs, but they aren’t doing too bad. I expect them to return to normal soon.

I’ve developed a slight pain in my right foot. From the location, it feels like the same thing I had a few weeks ago in the left foot. The pain just started yesterday, so I’m going to watch it carefully over the next few days and try to nurse it back to 100 percent.

22205-366-021f.jpgRunning really is mental, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’ve learned a lot from this first marathon. It was the first time that I’d actually tried to run at speed for such a long distance. After mile 16, I walked several times off and on. Looking back on it, I’m telling myself that I really should have pushed myself harder. For some reason I didn’t. I’m probably being too hard on myself, but I despise not feeling like I have done my absolute best, and I don’t feel like I did my best for this race. This was definitely a learning experience, and I’ll be doing things differently next time. I didn’t qualify for Boston. But I will, Lord willing.

My final time was 3:47:58.40. Just under three hours and 48 minutes. The first 13.1 miles took me 1:37:17 for a pace of 7:26 per mile. The second thirteen took me 2:10:40 for a pace of 9:58 per mile.

How did I do relative to everyone else? Out of the 1,294 people that completed the marathon, I came in 437th. 775 males completed the race. I came in 343rd. In the age 30-34 category, 100 men ran. I came in 47th. In the first half of the marathon, I ran in 135th place (very near the top ten percent). For the second half, I was 726th. I clearly pushed myself too hard for the first half. Or, maybe I just didn’t push myself hard enough for the second half. Anyway, I was in 135th place at 13.1 miles, and I ended up 437th place. So I literally let 300 people pass me in the final 13.1 miles. Pitiful.

My original plan was to drive up to Traverse City on Thursday. Spend Friday recovering from the drive and getting registered, and run on Saturday. Then, I was going to spend the next week on “vacation”. My family decided that they wanted to go to Michigan with me, and their schedule only allowed them to go the week before the marathon. While the effects were probably minimal, the additional stress of having been “on the go” for the week prior probably had an effect on me. For the next marathon, I’m going to try to keep the week before as normal as possible. Having said that, I want to thank Mom, Dad, Granny, Joe, Terisa, Maygen, Skyler, Tayler, Parker, and Mariya for providing me with the support that they did. It was much appreciated. From the meal planning and basic support, etc. it was obvious that they were trying to help me out as much as possible (treat temptations not withstanding) and I appreciate that.

As I understand it, the Bayshore Marathon is a pretty small one, as marathons go. This obviously is manifest in the number of runners, but it is also evident from the number of spectators that you see as you are running. I’ve never been in a race like this one before. As I came to each aid station or spectator “spot” I really did receive a little bit of an energy boost from the crowd. Nothing major, but it did make a difference. I received the biggest boost from the crowd at the end, but it is hard to say whether that was because of the crowd, or because it was the end. Along the route there were a few designated spectator spots. The Traverse City peninsula isn’t a very wide piece of land. There are two main roads that go out along the peninsula, and one of them was being used for the marathon itself. So, there was only one open for traffic. I had no idea how busy this one open road would be. I had told my entourage that, if I had to choose, I would prefer to have people at the finish line, instead of being stuck along the route. This ensured that I had people at the finish line, but I must admit that it was a small bummer to not have anyone I knew along the route. I carefully watched the crowd each time for someone I knew, but that never happened. Our race bibs had our name on them, and, at one point, a random lady yelled, “You’re doing great, Kirby!”. I definitely did a double take. I guess having my name on the bib is kind of a cool thing.

I have come up with several things that I’m going to do differently in my training for the next marathon. For this marathon, I basically used Hal Higdon’s training guide, and it worked adequately for getting me to the finish line. For the next marathon I plan to step up the intensity some. I’m going to investigate some of Hal’s more advanced guides, and I also plan to change some things on my own. First, I’m really going to work on speed. I’m planning to the majority of my short runs as interval training. I’d like to get my 5k time down below 20 minutes. I ran 13.1 miles of the marathon at a 7:26 pace, which would be a 22:30 5k, which is faster than I’ve ever run a 5k. So, I think I could easily trim a few minutes off of that. We’ll see what happens. I plan to work hard on this, though. I want to be doing all of my non-long runs at a pace quite a bit faster than marathon pace. My workout schedule, for now, is going to be 3 miles on Tuesday/Thursday, and 10 miles on Saturday. I want to see how well that works out for now.

Since I’m now out of my official training regime for the marathon, I’m going to have to be careful about what I eat. I’ve been eating pretty freely recently, because I’ve been burning enough calories that I can get away with it. But, now that my miles are going to be cut back, I have to be careful what I eat. This shouldn’t be a problem, but it is something I’m going to watch. I’m also going to work on getting the rest of my body (not just my legs) into better shape.

I’m also going to go into the next marathon more mentally prepared for the last half. I’m going to make a special effort on all of my training runs, from 3 miles to the max to really push myself. The training guide I was following max’d out at 20 miles. I think I’m going to throw in a run or two that will be closer to 26 miles. That extra 6 miles seemed to make quite a difference to me. If I train for it, the real race shouldn’t be as much of a shock to my system.

Wind and running is an interesting thing. It never ceases to amaze me. The body senses the tiniest of head winds. But a tail wind has to be pretty strong to notice 22205-951-006f.jpgany benefits from it. In the first half of the marathon, I was running into a head wind for at least part of the run, and I remember vividly saying to myself, “Well, at least I’ll have a tail wind on the way back”. Then, on the way back, I also remember running into a head wind. Probably not at the exact same spots, because I can’t remember exactly when I was feeling the wind. I find it interesting, though. As mentioned earlier, the overnight low before the marathon was 37. The temperatures were great for the first half. The sun came out some during the second half which made it warmer. I had problems with a runny nose for a good part of the marathon, though. This is something that I need to find a solution for before the next marathon. I’m not real crazy about carrying a handkerchief around, though. Investigation will be needed to see how other runners handle this problem.

I felt like I was pretty well hydrated before the marathon. During the marathon I took liquid at every stop. I took water for the first couple of aid stations, and then decided I’d switch between water and Gatorade for the subsequent stops. So, I had a fair amount of water intake. But, at the end of the race I was able to down a Gatorade as though it were nothing. At the campground after the race, my urine was rather yellow, so I apparently had managed to get rid of a lot of liquid. I’m not sure if that was really a problem, or if I was actually OK, but would have had problems if I had gone much longer. This concerns me a little bit, because conditions were really nice for running this past marathon. If it were much warmer (which would be easy) I might have hydration problems. This is something I’ll have to watch.

The start date for Boston 2009 qualifying is September 29th or so. Any marathons after that can be used to qualify for both Boston 2008 as well as Boston 2009. I’m currently looking at the Lake Front Marathon in Milwaukee in early October. There’s also a much smaller marathon in Louisville a couple of weeks later that might have promise. We’ll see what happens. If you’ve been following my journey, thanks for your support. I’m not done yet, though.

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