Sunday, November 6, 2011

Savannah Rock n' Roll Marathon Race Report

Final time 4:43:42

Let me just say that it is good to have the marathon monkey off my back. I've been meaning to enter a marathon for quite some time, but waited and waited for the right circumstances to give me adequate time to train. When I found out this race was coming to Savannah and there was an extreme discount that showed up in my email, I committed to the race. I went into the race with the idea that 4 hours flat was very achievable. I had completed long runs at a 8 min mile pace and felt like I could go further if I could keep carbs in my system. On race day, I was close to that goal until after mile 15, when I became intimately acquainted with cramps. It started on a short uphill stretch when magically, Zeus, as it were, shot lightning bolts down my calf. As time wore on cramping was up and down both of my legs-mostly my quads and calves. This forced me to walk until the cramps subsided and then "run" for however long I could until the cramps returned. I was drinking a lot, mostly Cytomax (2-3 cups at each aid station) and eating a gel every 40 minutes or so. I resorted to salt packets at an aid station and medical tent. These seemed to help briefly, but I couldn't seem to stay ahead of the cramping. The last 10 miles of the race were slow and painful.

During the race, I had little motivation to ever run a marathon again. However, as time has elapsed and painful memories repressed, I can't wait to get out and fix the things that I did wrong. So here's a list of things that have been going through my mind concerning the race:

Things that went well:

Prerace meal-stomach/bowel situation. Ate 2 hours prior to start time, emptied the bowels (this is a big deal for a long race. The last thing I wanted was a repeat of past mistakes here :) )

Running my own race-I didn't chase anybody and was in my own little world most of the race.
Hydration-In past races I have not drank enough. This time I put in too much and had to pee pretty bad at the finish. I still see this as a success because I at least go enough fluids.

Carb intake-I had energy the entire race. In the past I have "bonked" because of inadequate carb intake. This time I had 4 gels total and numerous cups of Cytomax. Only had a side ache briefly and a touch of nausea on several occasions.

Morale-Most past races have some serious mental moments where all I can think about is stopping running. While I had those thoughts and did in fact walk a significant portion of the race, I felt much more positive, even as my lofty goals were passing me by. It was just a fun day.

Things that went wrong:

Lack of endurance/sufficient training-With significant work/family/church commitments, a serious training regimen was just out of the picture for me. My longest run prior to the race was 15 miles (which I might add is right about the point things started to come unhinged in the race). I simply did not have the endurance to keep a steady pace. I could tell my body was not in a position to perform at the level I wanted it too. How to remedy this? I'll put in the time I can, but I've come to the realization that I'll never be on a full-time training regimen. My hope is to consistently run, improve, and keep balance with life's demands.

Cramping-This problem was unique to this race and led to significant improvisation. I had twinges of cramping at the Tybee Half marathon earlier this year, but this time around I had the genuine cramping experience. These were the cramps that make you jump out of bed screaming in the middle of the night x 2.5 hours. I can't help but think what the outcome would have been had cramping not forced me to walk sections of the race. Salt. I thought I was consuming enough salt in my gels, Cytomax, and salt packets. Apparently not. Time for some research, but I will probably tote some salt tablets on my next long race and up the pre-race salt consumption.

In general, the race itself was great. The Rock n' Roll Series is the real deal, with great organization (minus the expo/packet pick up). By far the largest race I've ever run, with what ended up as being close to 20,000 runners. Bands along the way were a good way to keep morale, spectators were plentiful (minus several boring stretches on the freeway). I would recommend the Rock n' Roll Series to anyone considering a half or full marathon.