Friday, June 29, 2012

Two weeks, post marathon - physiological after effects

Jings and what a couple of weeks it has been. It was always going to be bedlam, what with deciding to get married on the Saturday after the race, but jings 'n' crivvens.

So here goes... Since running the marathon, my whole body has just been out of sorts. I had the obvious feet problems, blisters, hacks, etc, to be expected. What I didn't expect was the hacking horrible cough that started racking my body within a day of so. The Monday morning after the race I acquired a cold sore on my lip, that refused to disappear, no matter what stuff I put on it, and I felt it coming fast and none of the usual stuff worked. I had a headache that appeared on the afternoon of the race and hung around in greater or lesser degree for about four days. I have a small sore that appeared on the corner of my mouth that just plain hurts. My teeth ached for a couple of days.

Now you could say that this was a just a coincidence and that I'm just plain sick, you could say that it was all wedding stress induced, but I would say 'piffle', to both those suggestions. I don't really get sick very often and this thing is kicking my @rse and the wedding hasn't been particularly stressful and we had a low key shindig in the back yard.

It isn't all bad stuff though. While I didn't seem to lose on single pound after the race, which consumed approximately 4,000 calories, since then I dropped, six pounds. I don't attribute this to my being sick, as I haven't lost my appetite, I'm calling this as one of the physiological after effects of the race.

I went out for a short run on the Thursday after and haven't been out since, mostly because I don't feel like running in >90F temperatures...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ann Arbor Marathon; 17th June 2012


So this is it, the big one. I'm starting the blog posting a little early just so I can post quickly, post race. Right now I feel totally underprepared for this, my training has not gone well and I am hoping for the best on the day. As it will be the middle of June the weather could be anything from mildly pleasant, to hot, sticky and very nasty.

The course looks like it was created by the Ann Arbor/ University of Michigan (UoM) tourist board as it tries to pass everything of note in the city/ university campus. Now don't get me wrong, I would certainly like to see the sites as I drag myself around, but what I really don't like is the classic 'lollipop' run. I really don't like seeing the people ahead of me after they have just run what I am about to and this course is full of them, it even has lollipops inside of lollipops, one lollipop you do at the very start and you get to do again at the very end. I will admit it is nice to see people just starting the bit that you have finished, but, not worth it enough to be on the receiving end. I like variety in a course, I don't like bit straight bits (this has them), running around with nothing to see (for example a shopping mall carpark, yup, you got it, for 1.5 miles), nasty hills (yup, those too). Run details can be found at

Packet pickup was a joke, What genius decides to do packet pickup inside of a shopping mall, on a Saturday, needless to say it was damn busy. They also failed to say that packet pickup was actually inside of the mall, all in all, most frustrating. The bib was also kind of unusual, it had a detachable section at the bottom, that the timing tab was attached too, seems like a strange place to put it.

The race

I finished, I survived and it was a whole helluva lot harder than I thought it would be, way worse than running two half marathons. I've run three previous half mrathons and a couple of ~10mile races, I thought that there would be a gradual slowing down, I thought the wall was a phrase created by people that under fueled or were badly prepared, and jeez, was I wrong.

The 'Big House' - largest capacity stadium in the US,
third largest in the world at  109,901
So here goes, I woke up bright and early at 5:20am, grabbed a couple of bananas and some water and hit the road, I wasn't completely sure where I was going to park so I wanted to get there early. I managed to get parked right outside UoM stadium, very close to the starting line. I got my crap together, and decided to find the portajohns and, as usual, they were mobbed. Now I don't know what kind of esoteric calculations go into working out how many you should have at a given event, but let me just say that there is never enough, and today it was startlingly 'not enough'. Plus the portajohns, were right round the other side of the stadium, which was really quite annoying. I got in line quite early and I still on made it to the starting line, just in time to catch the national anthem, and then we were off.

I found the 3:55 pace team at the start and decided to see how far I could pace with them for, this was never part of the grand plan, the pace just felt right, so I went for it. I knew I would never stick with them, I just thought it would help me. The race started as a gradual downhill into downtown Ann Arbor, followed by a trip through the very picturesque main campus of the University of Michigan, closely followed by a long slow downhill, through some nice established neighborhoods towards Huron Parkway. Huron Parkway is along undulating four lane highway that was going to be the start of the lollipop phases of the race. I've said before my feelings on running a lollipop, so I'll not say anything more about them, apart from 'bloody hate them'. The lollipops did show off more of the UoM campus and quite a lot of impressive buildings and facilities and I was feeling pretty good, tired but managing.

Can anyone see how nasty it was?
OK, so where did it all start to fall apart, well that would be around mile 10, when the hills started to take a toll on my legs and I started the run/ walk. Another running blogger once said that walking during a long run isn't a weakness, it's a strategy, and now it was mine. The hills started coming thick and fast and the introduction of walking took my pace from ~8:40 up to about ~9:30, not great, but manageable. What really did it was the hill on mile 14, the route was taking us through the UoM Nichols Arboretum, which then meandered up the side of a fairly nasty hill, I shortened my stride, kept my pace and tried working my arms, but 2/3 of the way up, it got me and my race changed drastically.

This was followed by another fairly pleasant section through the campus, before an long (~1.75 mile) lollipop down Washtenaw Avenue. Washtenaw Avenue rolls along quite pleasantly when driving and kicks your arse when running. The little hills just kill you when you knows there is a turnaround, at some point, and constantly seeing people coming toward you, knowing that have already made the turn and you still don't know where the damn thing is, gnaws away at your very being.

The next part was a long slow drag down South State St, towards, what was going to be probably the most boring part of the race, running around the outside of the car park at Briarwood Mall, the location of the previous days packet pickup fiasco. It was whole approaching this that I hit the 20 mile mark and for reason realized that I still have about 10k still to go, ie typically I run 10k's and today, after having just run 20 bloody miles, I was just about to start a 10k, mentally, this wasn't a high point for me... The mall run, at about  ~1.75 miles around, was fairly demoralizing, more and more runners around me were starting to take longer periods of walking, I was long past running on empty, but just kept on going.

Sweaty, sore and done
Leaving the mall I saw the poor sods, still going in, but I had my own problems to deal with right now, more damn hills, but thinking that I still had a chance to break 4:30, I broke out another GU, tried to focus on form  and decided to try and up my pace a little.  I could see the Big House in the distance and stopped feeling quite as crappy as I had done. Passing the stadium people were shouting that we were almost done, we started on a little downhill and I knew that I could do it, until I realized we are heading back up Main and up another bloody hill, and another lollipop, I tried to keep my momentum going but I was toast, and beaten. I climbed the hill and anxiously looked for the turnaround and had hoped it would be right there, but knew, in my heart, that I wasn't going to be that lucky. Main St is a very pleasant little stretch, when out bar hopping and socializing, but I will forever remember watching people sitting outside at lunch, while I try and convince myself that I'm not going to die trying to finish a marathon. But still only half a mile to go, I turned a corner and someone shouted 'it is just around the next bend', which it wasn't quite - hmm I must try and track him down and punch him, really hard. Still one bend later, there was the finish line, there was quite a gap between myself and the next person in front or behind, but I wanted to finish strong, which I did, and survived marathon #1.

Lots of good snacks, crappy pizza and lots of water.

Post race reflections

I fell into step with another runner around mile 13, a veteran of 20 marathons, who had another 2 planned this year, she said that this was a very nasty marathon and one of the worst she had seen for hills/ route, etc.

Sunday afternoon was fun, but sore. I took a long bath with a nice sandwich and a cold beer. I went out with my eldest son for a short (~3.5 mile) bike ride, which I think was a good idea.

Between Endomondo measuring high at 26.95 miles & my Garmin measuring low at 26.15 miles and the course being USATF certified (MI 12029 SH), hopefully at 26.22 miles, who really knows how far it truely was, but I'm taking it as my first full marathon.


Overall 312/ 605; 22/ 42 in my age group; first half I was #274 with a split time of 2:00:38.7 (9:13 pace), whereas the second I was #338 with a split time of 2:32:13.8 (11:37 pace), total time 4:32:52.5 (10:24 pace). It does take Einstein to see I dropped 64 places in the second half, jings 'n' crivvens.

I suspect the field was nearer 800 but the results only go up to 6hrs. Full results at

How Endomondo saw it -

How Garmin saw it -