Mohawk Hudson Marathon RR

How often do you come home with a personal record or a perfectly executed race in your back pocket?  Probably not very often. Normal people might then ask, why then do you continue to train and race?  I have come to realize (finally) that, for me, it's because I love the training ritual as much as I  love the racing. 

It's was a blast of a weekend taking on the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon with 18 friends from GNRC and Kathy.  I've been wanting to try the Jack Daniel's VDot program for years and finally decided to purchase said VDot plan from the site: runsmart.com. On this site you simple enter a recent race result into their calculator viola you now have a plan based on your current abilities.  

The VDot plan uses a recent race result to calculate your paces to use during your quality sessions. Whether it be the long run, cruise intervals, tempo pace, or easy pace.  What's really different about Jack's training philosophy is that there is no more than ONE twenty miler.  There are two quality speed sessions per week that are aggressive.  The mileage, for me, did not exceed 48 miles per week, Ever.  Me likey.

I had my doubts along the way.  

I often worried that one twenty miler was not enough and wondered how this would all work out. Midstream I decided I had to believe in the plan, stop worrying, and go with it!   

With my 24 week training plan all said and done it was time to rest up and plan the strategy.  Almost everything I did to prepare for the marathon worked well.  Almost everything.  Here are the tactics I used that were within my control. 

  • I carb loaded two days prior rather than the day before. I find I get completely "backed -up" and cannot digest large quantities of food in a 12-24 hour period.  Finally doing what I feel is right for me, this approached worked extremely well. If you know what I mean.  Oh you don't? Well let me make it perfectly clear.  I hit the mega load race morning, I pooped big time! Carry on.
  • For the week leading up to the race I was diligent in eating well, resting, avoiding alcohol, visualizing a "steady Eddie, smooth operator" race, and making sure I had everything I needed. 
  • I had one gel 20 minutes before the race, I ate 5 gels on the course. I had pasta and shrimp for dinner.
  • I ate a half bagel with peanut butter for breakfast, one cup of coffee, Gatorade the day before and the morning of,  recovery drink twice during the week leading up to the race just to top things off.  I know - boring shit.

I did not take salt.

As I started to run I listened to how I was feeling.  My body said "today is a good day to run".  I felt fantastic. Strong. At ease.  I took the first mile out easy at  7:50. I was gunning and had trained hard for an average pace of 7:45.   During mile two  I found myself blocked by a huge pacing group and had to sprint 20 yards to get around them.  Risky but worth it.   For the next 10 miles or so I just cruised. Hitting my pace, enjoying the day.  I figured I might feel tire at the half way mark and braced for that feeling willing to dig in a little bit but at mile thirteen I was OK.  Not really tired yet.  So I kept it up. Cruising along.  I was sure I would make my goal of 3:25:00.

With 9 miles left I broke it down in my head to 3 miles, 3 miles, and 3 miles.

Mile 20 was an 8:02. This is when, of course, I started to feel fatigue.  Everyone knows the race begins at mile 20.  I was not deterred with an 8:02.  I figured this course is flat and if I can hang on for the last 6 miles to anything near an 8 I would still be within reach of my goal.  Still because I had a small cushion.   Unfortunately. miles 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26 went like this:

21  8:26
22  8:41
23 8:45
24 9:24
25 9:39
26 9:45

I'm OK with 21 - 23 being closer to 8:30s than 8:00 however I'm really pissed at miles 24,25, and 26.  
I'm pissed because I could not pick up my legs and I could not breath.  

I believe that my lack of salt (stupid error) played a role in my severe decline in the last 3 miles.  If you don't take the right steps to deal with the elements all that training and prepping you just did is not allowed to fully bloom.  I would have thought that BY NOW I would have learned. Memories of a certain CT marathon looked very similar during those last 6 miles in which I completely bonked due to lack of salt.  I will not make this mistake again.

That's what I think happened! 

Looking back now I do believe in the VDot plan and I want to try it again some day.  I haven't felt this good in a marathon in a long time.

I keep telling people I'm "OK" with 3;30 when they ask me but I was pretty disappointed. That was not what I set out to do.   I failed.  I like to set aggressive goals. But I also like to meet that goal.

This was a great learning experience!  I liked having a new kind of plan without the traditional three or more twenty milers.  And, despite not reaching the time I set for myself,  this race gave me confidence to race in my new "50" years young age group.  I know I could have done better with some adjustments. 

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