The Marathonning 3: Quick Race Report

About four years ago, a tired out-of-shape 37 year old version of me, confronted with a wife that had decided to go do a half-marathon and looking at his out-of-shape fat-ass decided to get into shape.

At first it was about doing a 5k. Then it became about doing a 10k. And then I wanted to be like Mike (Kalogiannis not the other Mike)

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And then it became about finishing the Athens Marathon. And then it became about finishing the Athens Marathon in five hours, and finally it became just about beating my PR:

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And like previous years there was the trip to Greece with my wonderful, understanding and supportive wife and my awesome kid.

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And of course there was the Margarita Stathaki

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pasta party… Where some people ate:

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And I ate:

 

There were two such plates of pasta …

All leading up to my race day that began, once again at Evagelismos Hospital in a bus:

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That dropped us off at Marathon where I would wait for this race to start.

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Actually this is not quite where I waited. I waited off the main starting race way, to the right,  because the number of racers no longer fits on the main race way.

The wait took two hours because it does. Something about being unable to wait to get into a bus and stand around in Marathon for two hours… But the race did start, and I did make it past the starting line:

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And then there were no more pictures for several hours as I tried to break my PR and perhaps hit that mythical 5 hour cut-off.

The race itself can be summarized in three acts and a final flourish.

In the first act, I ran too conservatively because I was terrified that I would once again crash and burn on the way up or the way down. And instead of having a time of 2:24 in the first 13.1 miles, I had a time of 2:33 that was two minutes slower than last year.

The second act was about throwing caution to the wind and pushing as hard as I could up the hill. My goal was to keep my pace below 12:30 miles, and I did that.

The third act was about trying to finish on hamstrings that hurt so much that I couldn’t put any weight on them. Instead of finishing the last 11 km at an 11 minute pace, I finished them at 12:30 minute pace much to my frustration. The pain was so acute 5 km before the end that I almost had to withdraw. I literally could not stand at that point in time.

Fortunately the Athens Marathon organizing committee was handing out coolant spray that may have been nothing but a placebo, but at that time I needed anything to finish…

The final flourish was the entry into the stadium. My son was super excited about this Marathon. He was looking forward to run across the finish line with his Dad. Last year, we had a tired hungry child that finished the race. This year mom made sure that didn’t happen feeding him his energy bar  (Kit Kat) 15 minutes before I entered the stadium:

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And here he is waiting for me to enter the Stadium looking for a Daddy wearing a black shirt and a white hat – a hat daddy decided to remove to look cooler as he ran into the Stadium:

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And once I entered the Stadium, secure in the knowledge that I had beaten my PR, Nicholas and I ran across the finish line:

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Nicholas had the biggest grin on his face as we ran together in the stadium. Heck running the 5 hours 21 minutes was worth the pain and suffering just for that amazingly wonderful smile…

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And here we are crossing the finish line!

After the race we did our selfie that looks a lot like last years (right):

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And once we had eaten our food, and drank our juice we took a picture sitting on a bench with the look of victory on our faces:

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And with my parents who are my biggest fans:

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Here are the splits:

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Some notes:

  • Second half was much faster than last year.  A full minute faster pace per km.
  • There was no cratering of my pace. No horrible sections where I walked for ever
  • I was a lot slower in the first 15 km from last year (1h49 vs 1h45) because I was so nervous about another epic collapse on the hill.
  • My first 30km was 9 minutes faster even
  • My last 12km 1h37 vs 1h50 minutes last year

Final thoughts, I probably had the 5h PR in my legs but not in my head. And it turns out that getting a PR is about the head not the legs.

 

Week 90: And on the third and final try

The Greek Orthodox Church allows us to get married divorced two and remarried three times. The last marriage is really the last try…

And this too is my last bite at the 5h 41 minute apple.

The first time I did a Marathon, finishing was the goal.

The second time I did the Athens Marathon, I wanted to break 5 hours and finished 1 minute slower than the first time. Who can forget the 5 pictures I took to immortalize my failed attempt at breaking my PR.

And on this my third and final time, my goal is to just beat my PR.

 

 

 

Week 88 – Damn you to hell big data

 

I’ve been not losing weight recently. And I, as is tradition, invented many interesting theories about my weight loss. Many interesting theories that explained how the Laws of Thermodynamics and my weight problems were fundamentally unrelated.

Those guys who invent fanciful fusion machines were all people who had weight problems. The laws of physics don’t apply to how people gain or lose weight and therefore certainly don’t apply to how Fusion may work. If Cold Fusion is possible, then losing weight unconstrained by Thermodynamics should be possible…

Except. Except. Except – Fusion is not possible.

Here you can see how many steps I took as measured by my new iPhone 6+

 

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Here you can see my weight more or less track my activity.

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As my activity increases, my weight drops and as my activity decreases my weight increases.

Big Data once again bursts my delusional bubble.

What to do… What to do?

No more big data. Enough already. I want my delusions.

Week 86: The need for sleep

The last two weeks have been brutal. Back-to-back 2:30 hour runs. Mind you my coach was wondering if I could turn one of those into a 3:30 run. My personal life was like nooooo…

One of the big things I did this week was run on a trail. And man running on a trail in the middle of the blistering hot day is hard.

First of all your speed is noticeably slower when you are running on loose gravel than when running on cement.

Secondly, you’re going slower because of your of fear of slipping.

Thirdly, you have this feeling that if I die here, will anyone know or care and that makes you even more cautious..

I’ve stopped updating my weight. Nothing really nefarious going on. Just I haven’t been losing weight. And to be honest, not really trying anymore. With the Athens Marathon only a month away, the weight is what it is. Losing weight now would be a mistake. Need to make sure I don’t gain any.

Booze and Trainning

Last weekend I got drunk celebrating my tenth year wedding anniversary. And the next day the training was rough… Very rough. I once again had to remember that I am not 20…

 

Week 86 – 4:45 marathon (over two days)

Training for a marathon is brutal. Trying to set a new PR for a marathon reminds me of the following quotation from the Shepherd Boy by the Brother’s Grimm:

But nobody could, and the king said, “The third question is, How many seconds does eternity have?”

The little shepherd boy said, “The Diamond Mountain is in Lower Pomerania, and it takes an hour to climb it, an hour to go around it, and an hour to go down into it. Every hundred years a little bird comes and sharpens its beak on it, and when the entire mountain is chiseled away, the first second of eternity will have passed.”

 

The key to setting a new PR isn’t to go fast, it’s to go consistently faster over a long time. Your job is to chisel a tiny bit of time over every mile. And that is hard. Because in the beginning you need to go slower than you want and in the end you need to go faster than you want. Go too fast to start, and you have nothing left in the end, go too slow at the start and you can’t cover enough distance fast enough to end.

This balancing act is something I have yet to master. I look more like the amateur that sprints the first two miles, only to discover that there are 24 more to go. My closing times aren’t bad they are ghastly. And every time it’s because I came out way too strong in the beginning …

Part of it … I know this is heresy, may have been that I was simply not fit enough. A combination of extra body weight, and a lack of depth of training meant that I had enough strength to do a half marathon, but was finished around mile 15. All that was left between mile 15 and 26 was survival …

This is not for the faint of heart. This setting of new PR’s.

And therefore it is encouraging that over the last two days, I was able to finish a full marathon in 4:45 minutes. Obviously it’s much easier to take a 24 hour break between mile 14 and mile 15 than continue running, but this is a good indicator.

Another strong indicator is my best times for my long runs are all this year and are all a full minute faster than  last year.

Unlike last year, though, I refuse to believe anything is in the bag. I refuse to sign the rights to my memoirs “How I did the Athens Marathon in under 5h42 minutes” until after I do it.

Hubris, the gods like to punish. And I refuse to be proud…

Week 85 – Rest

Spend enough time reading about the key to training and you’ll read about Rest.

How rest is important.

How it’s all about rest.

Rest, rest I tell you.

The key to getting into peak fitness is recovery.

Rest.

When you start training the idea that you would need to be told to stop is … well absurd. After all my second post was about how thankful I was for a rest day.

This past week I have been supposed to be resting. Unfortunately because of a rather nasty data corruption bug, I have been unable to sleep. And by the end of the week I was exhausted. I could barely move. And I told my coach who said:

You need to rest. You are not going swimming today, tomorrow’s workout is being reduced you need to rest and be ready for the back-to-back long runs.

So I went to sleep for 9 hours, and was feeling great, and told my coach that I was feeling fine, and he said:

All the same, it’s important to be recovered after your “recovery week” and before heading into this next block of training. Erring on the side of some extra rest will allow you to come back strong for the end of this week’s long runs.

And then I realized I was reading one of those articles… and I was that athlete who didn’t want to rest, because well exercise is sooooooooo much more fun…

Two years into training … and I am a different person. And damn resting is booooooooooooooring.

My heart bleeds for Lake Tahoe, Residents and Triathletes

There was a wild fire in lake tahoe that resulted in the cancellation of the Half Ironman.

My heart bleeds for the trees that are probably getting destroyed because of a century of excessive fire fighting, and for people’s homes that are at risk and for the area that is getting hurt…

And as a triathlete, my heart bleeds for those who trained for this race and it was their first half. Working that hard for that long only to have it go up in smoke is painful.

For my scoffers

Four years ago, a doctor looked at me and scoffed when I suggested that I might be able to get my health under control

Two years ago, I scoffed at myself that I could get my weight below 200 and keep it there.

Kostadis 2 – Scoffers 0

Oh okay, the scoffers do get 1 point - I didn’t do the Athens Marathon in under 5 hours.