If you have ventured here in search of the perfect formula for achieving your goal marathon time, I invite you to click here, where my good friend and associate Mike can show you exactly how to set your training to your pace, and your pace to your finish. Simply put, Mr. Execution as I have now come to call him, made a plan and stuck to it, sparing himself the embarrassment of having to slog his way into the finish line like a banana slug across the Santa Cruz boardwalk.
If however, out of a morbid sense of curiosity, you wish to read about the dangers of poor pacing during a marathon and the deflated soufle feeling that goes along with it, than let me tell ya, you have come to the right place.
As I said in my last post about my pacing philosophy, I was pretty loosey goosey about what I would stick to as far as per mile pacing goes. I was really shooting for "comfortable and then throttle back a little" for the first half at least, and then pick things up about mile 17 for the ride in. What I failed to consider was the fact that I would feel abnormally strong given the time off over the previous week. What also didn't help was the fact that I didn't look at my watch for the first five miles.
Obviously in hindsight, the disaster was clearly unfolding from the get-go. Even if I wanted to run a 330, of which I am marginally capable of at best right now, this is way too frigging fast. At the time though I figured things were fine, and I didn't pay much attention to my overall time. Plus I'm too busy focused on the business of the bridge to be able to do that kind of head math. So I settled in for the bridge out-and-back.
Despite all this, there were however a few positives. First, this is a full 35 minute improvement over the Marine Corps Marathon in October during which I paced out at over 10 minutes a mile and finished in 4:29. Second, I felt flashes of brilliance in my legs and I absolutely know I can improve with a little more focus on execution. Third, this race didn't scare me as much as I thought it would and probably should have. That leaves me with a nice sense of confidence going into the 50-miler in December.
That being said, I do have some thoughts on things that might have helped me out.
- I should have worked out my quads a bit more. Leg presses, stairs and some cycling might have helped. In addition I would have made sure to run downhill more than I did. I'm thinking that may have done more damage than my pacing did.
- The official San Francisco Marathon elevation profile just doesn't do it justice. Miles 17 on look somewhat flat on paper and I assure you, they aren't. The hills are fairly relentless and that has to be taken into account. By the time I hit the real flat part of the course (around mile 23 or so) I didn't have the quads to pick it up. This is a much better representation of how it feels: