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Who Needs Training? St. George 2011

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Who Needs Training?  St. George 2011 Empty Who Needs Training? St. George 2011

Post  Matt W on Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:26 am


When I registered for St. George this spring, I had high hopes for a big PR, and possibly even breaking into the high 2:20s on a good day. However, it was not meant to be as I was sidetracked by mid-summer injuries and a general malaise towards running and life in general. My hamstring was bothering me to the point where I didn't want to run more than 5 or 6 miles at a time. Over the course of August and September, my "training" devolved into something like this:

M: Okay, I'll start getting my training back on track now. I'll get up early for a morning run. ... It won't hurt to hit the snoo.... zzzz. Oh well, I'll run this evening. Evening: Well, I'll walk the dog for my warm up. Man, it's hot. I'm kind of hungry. I'll just make dinner and run tomorrow morning.

T: Crap! Overslept. I guess I have time to run 2 or 3 miles. I'll run later too. Later: I'm tired, my hamstring hurts, and I don't think I've seen this episode of SVU before...

W: See Monday.

Th: Similar to Tuesday, only I got up in time to run 4 miles.

F: I'm getting up early to run today. I've got time to check Facebook.... Oh crap! Where did the time go? 2 miles. I'll do a long run to make up for it tomorrow.

Saturday: I should have set my alarm. It's how hot now? Ugh. Long run 6.5 miles.

Sunday: I'll run long today.... but you know, I feel like making pancakes before church so I guess I don't have time. 4 miles.

...and that was a good week. I don't know if I ever ran longer than 16 or 17 miles in the time since Boston. Even before the injury, I had struggled in almost all my runs, except for pulling out a good half marathon in Duluth in June.

======================================

So as you can see, I was not ready for a PR. A week before the race I forced myself to slog through 12 painful miles where I died at the end, but my hamstring felt better than it had in a while. I was pretty sure I couldn't make 26.2 miles even if my hamstring felt better. I did a few other runs and even got up early to run 10 miles on Wednesday. That went well enough to make me think I could finish the race if I ran really slow and just enjoyed the experience as much as I could. I got an invite from some friends who have a house in St. George so with free lodging, I felt it was a sign to go ahead and try to run a marathon on no training. It also helped that I happened to see the episode of How I Met Your Mother when Barney ran NYCM on no training. Really, if NPH can do it, so can I.

I drove up to St. George on Friday after work after hurriedly packing. Luckily, I didn't forget any running related things, but did forget a few other clothes I planned to pack. I managed without them though. I got to the expo in the last hour it was open and quickly got my packet, etc. I was a bit surprised that there were so many people still there at the late hour, but it wasn't all that crowded either. When I got to my friends' house, I found out there was a change of plans and that we would be driving to Pine Valley to stay in a cabin there. It would only be about 15 min from the start and we could sleep in more. I was okay with that.

Race morning came and I realized that I had set my alarm for PM and not AM. Whoops, but it didn't cost me anything other than eating closer to the start time than I would for a PR attempt. Speaking of food, I was a little worried about my fueling since the day before I had eaten a burrito for lunch and only had a bagel with peanut butter and a banana for dinner. Breakfast was more of the same (substituting a Power Bar for the burrito), and I stopped eating when I realized it was one hour to the gun. On the drive down the car's thermometer showed it was about 59 degrees 30 min before the start and the sun had yet to come up. Not ideal, but not the worst I've run in either. We walked up to the start, tossed our bags in the gear trucks and went right to the corrals. I then got in line for the port-o-pots and made it out with about 2 minutes to spare.

I still had no idea what to expect from myself. I had said that I would be happy with anything under 3:30 and had no idea if I could finish the race. I didn't wear a watch and carried a camera, so I was in full "tourist" mode for the race. In all my marathons, I think this is the only one where I lined up thinking that finishing wasn't a given. I had no idea how my legs would hold up with the lack of training and the injuries I had been dealing with. Honestly, I didn't know if I was really healthy enough to be trying this, but figured the worst that could happen would be a DNF. I worked my back in the corral until I was behind the 3:15 pace group. I would have gone back even further, but I knew the gun was about to start. In a few moments it did, and we were off.

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I started off real slow and was passed by a lot of people in the first mile. When I got to the mile marker the clock read 8:18, but I had no idea how long it took me to reach the start line. I guessed my first mile was somewhere around 7:50 pace and it felt really easy. My legs felt good, which is how they should at the beginning of a marathon. After a while my legs were telling me they would feel better at a slightly faster pace, so I started passing people and moving up through the pack.

I didn't really start making a dent in the number of people I passed until we hit Veyo. Just before entering the town, I saw someone cheering on the side of the road who looked familiar. It was Ed H. I knew he had been injured and couldn't run, so I didn't think he would be there at all. I gave him a hi 5 and exchanged quick pleasantries as I continued on my way. Going up the big hill, I left a lot of people behind who went out too fast and reached the top just as the sun was coming up over the mountains.

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At around 11 miles or so, I caught the 3:05 pace group and realized I was going much faster than planned. I felt good, but knew that with my limited training a crash could come at any moment. I told myself not to pass the group until halfway, but I did anyway after about a half mile. I had a good rhythm going so why mess with it? I'm not sure what I came through the half in, but I would guess it was around 1:32 or 1:33 since my clock time at 12 miles was in the mid 1:25s.

At around mile 14 there is a significant downhill and it was tempting to let it go and fly down the hill, but I remembered that I was just on a training run and that I didn't want to blow up in the last miles. Going past Snow Canyon was one of the more scenic parts of the course so it was nice to just enjoy it and let gravity help me out.

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Usually I can tell how a marathon is going to go when I get to mile 17. I was shocked to feel good at this point and started to figure out what it would take to go sub 3:00. I guessed I would need to run somewhere around 6:45/mile on the way in to get there. This was well within my capabilities, but I wasn't sure if my lack of training would prevent it. I had no idea how much gas I had in the tank. With the downhill finish I knew I would have some help, but it wasn't necessarily going to be easy. At around 21 miles, I caught my friend who was getting some pacing help from her husband. I offered a few words of encouragement and she said she was hitting the wall. I wished them well and kept going. About a mile later I caught up with Ben Z and his friend. We exchanged a few pleasantries and I moved ahead as his buddy was struggling a bit at that point.

It was just after this that I started having some difficulties. I could tell my energy level was dropping fast and my stomach was starting to feel upset. I took a pit stop at mile 23 because it really wasn't worth it for me to eek out a sub 3 training run if it meant I would have to crap myself. I lost 30-60 seconds here and my rhythm along with it. I noticed a definite lack of energy after this point and I struggled my way in. Perhaps I could have pulled together one last good mile if I'd really really REALLY needed to, but I didn't care at this point. I was happy to accept the popsicle and ice bags that were being handed out. By this point in the race, it was rather warm. I had also reached the point where I didn't feel like taking pictures anymore and just wanted to be done. Eventually I got to the finish line and made it to the athlete zone just in time for a big wave of post-long run nausea to hit me. Ben Z came up to me at this time and I'm sure I was awful conversation. I think the only coherent thing I said was "I wish I had trained for this."

My final time ended up being something like 3:00:54 which would be a lot more heartbreaking if I was trying to go sub 3. I didn't know if I would go sub 4 or even finish at the start. Despite the lack of training, I enjoyed the race. It is a potentially fast course, but it is also tricky in some of the same ways as Boston. I'm sure it would be different if I was trying to go top speed though. Hills don't feel so bad if you don't care what pace you are running. Even though I have sworn several times I am done with fall marathons, I am kind of tempted to give St. George another try to see what I could do there if I was fit. We'll see how that goes. Right now, I just need to stay healthy and start to enjoy running again.
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Post  Alex Kubacki on Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:32 am

Great job considering the lack of miles. As long as you had fun that's all that matters. Nice pictures.
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Post  Chris M on Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:52 am

This should get you fired up to get back to it for Boston. You did great, especially considering the complete lack of a training cycle. Rest up and then go for a major PR in April!
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Post  Nick Morris on Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:54 am

I wish I could run a 3 hour marathon without training Smile I was tempted to do St. George this year, but decided on Steamtown instead. I am glad that you had a good time and that this will get you back into wanting to run.
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Post  Jim Lentz on Tue Oct 04, 2011 9:17 am

Matt, great job on finishing so well when you weren't even sure you had done enough training to finish.
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Post  John Kilpatrick on Tue Oct 04, 2011 9:38 am

Beautiful pictures - no doubt previous training helped out on this one. Great job on a 3 hour marathon cheers ! I can only hope to join you some day. Hopefully you get to enjoy running again - you have a lot of talent!!!

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Post  jon c on Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:05 am

Thanks for the report Matt. Don't have much to add except that I agree that it would be awesome to run a three hour marathon without a lot of training. Understand that it's all relative and depends on the individuals abilities and previous history as to how you perceive it.

I have heard a lot about what a great course St. George is with regard to its downhill and scenic views.

I hope that you can find it in yourself to train again at some point as your potential is still there, no doubt. Congrats on a successful finish!
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Post  Glenn on Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:18 am

Awesome! Reading this reminded me of a quote by Tom Kite when he won the '92 US Open. He bogeyed a hole in the last round, that could have easily been a much bigger number. Later he said "Some bogeys are better than others, and that was great." Nice pics too!
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Post  Julie on Tue Oct 04, 2011 11:01 am

wow, nice job! I agree, I would love to run a 4:00 marathon with no training! (or with, that would be nice, too) Good to know you have the capacity to do even better when you do start training!

(we like pancakes, too, but usually just make a big batch and then freeze them then microwave them so it's not a big thing to mess up schedules when we eat them...)
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Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:06 pm

I, too, would love to run a 3 hr marathon without training, but I guess for me, that is like running a 4:20 marathon, so it is all relative. Thanks for the pictures as they brought back lots of memories of the course. I do remember passing lots of people on Vejo hill and the other hill around 19 or so, and realizing that the course is a bit tougher than I expected, but still fast IMHO. Nice job on the training run, Matt. Now get in shape for the PR in Boston - it is possible you know, many of us have run one there.
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Post  Jeff F on Tue Oct 04, 2011 1:14 pm

Matt, nice race report. There are not very many people who can go into a marathon undertrained and run a 3:00 marathon, nice job! St. George does sound like one I should consider running. Thanks for sharing.
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Post  Jerry on Tue Oct 04, 2011 1:39 pm

Hmmm, should've gone there to beat Matt. lol! Ha.
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Post  dot520 on Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:37 pm

Thanks for the late lunch race report! What a way to gut it out! Ugh! Congrats on finishing and I'm assuming you're recovering well or I might need to visit your blog to find out. Taking pictures....as slow as I am I have yet to do that!
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Post  Seth Harrison on Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:41 pm

Nice job with your "training run" Matt. I loved the description of your typical week of training. Good decision not risking crapping yourself by trying to go sub-3:00!
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Post  Mark B on Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:11 pm

There's nothing quite like starting a race without a clue how it's going to go - and end up pleasantly surprised. That less-is-more approach apparently suited you well this time. Very Happy Congrats!
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Post  Dave-O on Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:59 am

First, smart pacing. That had potential to get ugly but it sounds like you ran it just about perfectly.

Second, if nothing else, this is show you that despite a touch patch of training you're still in good shape. You still have a base to build on. Did I see you signed up for Boston? You seem to be in a good spot to maybe race some 5k/10k in the fall and then get back to marathon training. Its not like you're starting from scratch.
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Post  fostever on Wed Oct 05, 2011 1:41 pm

You're not fit? Could have fooled me! Nice training run time and result, Matt. hah
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Post  Peg Coover on Wed Oct 05, 2011 7:54 pm

As I say, speed is relative, but considering you were thinking 3:30 due to lack of training, you did awesome!!!!
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Post  amyjoann on Wed Oct 05, 2011 8:43 pm

wow! I too have had some weeks in training that went the same way ..............lets hope I can pull off a finish as well this gives me hope. I'd be fine adding 2 hours to your time Very Happy
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Post  Pete B on Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:26 pm

Hey, I had a crummy training cycle - maybe a three-hour marathon is in sight? In my dreams, even with serious training.

Congrats on a great race with an abbreviated training cycle. You'll crush the next one!
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Post  Matt W on Thu Oct 06, 2011 12:10 am

Marathonfoto is up from the race... Here's a few

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Who Needs Training?  St. George 2011 87571910

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Post  JohnP on Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:40 am

Matt, as always, whether you are going fast or taking it easy (for you), your reports are top notch especially with the embedded pictures. Your race reminds me of a couple I did where I brought a camera and ran slower than what I could, just to run them for fun. Sounds like you had a good time and the race was almost an afterthought! Good job having fun with the race!
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Post  Scott C on Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:48 pm

Nice report Matt. Really missed being in St. George (and seeing you, Angie and Ed H.) Your report gave me a twinge of regret for not being there. However, my summer of training was remarkably like yours (I could have sworn you copied one of my weekly logs). The difference is that you've got some serious talent and some nice base to fall back on; me, the former not so much and I've used up the latter, back to square one, not to mention my foot which is not responding as I would like it to. I hope to see you in Boston where you'll be running in the 2:20s and I'll just hope to be running, period. Great pictures, miles 14-17 are incredibly beautiful. Take care, recover well and train well in the next six months.
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Post  wheakory on Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:55 pm

I can't image what you could have run if you were in tip-top fitness. Probably in the 2:20's since you did this with no training. I've ran STG twice and enjoyed it. (2:39 and 2:44)
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Post  Ed on Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:17 pm

Hey Matt, nice job on no training and great pic's! It was fun seeing you on the course. I begged my doctor to let me run but I was given the red light on that idea. Shoot, I would have loved running with you.

It was fun being out on the course cheering for people. The runners were so nice at mile 7. They looked so happy and many were gratefull for the encouraging cheers. At mile 21 it sure was different. People looked grumpy, no smiles and no thank you's for coming out. It was also interesting to see how people look while running. Most of the faster people make it look so much easier. The people around my pace sure don't look as good as the people around your normal pace!

Maybe next year we can both be fit and healthy so we can take home some hardware. You could win the darn race, I could maybe place in the old man's division.

All the best,
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