St. Louis Marathon April 4th, 2004
Well it has been another year and another marathon done. The choice of this marathon came on the beginning of another rather “full” year. The year started off rough with a car accident that kept me from running for almost a month. After a gradual rehabilitation I was up and running again with rather little loss of steam. Then with August came a wedding proposal (and acceptance) and the planning began a delightful change in my perception of goals and priorities. With Sandra and my decision came a departure from a mentality of student to one of future family man, scary thought I know. But, with this also came (I would like to think) a more mature approach to life in general. This I soon learned could be applied to many aspects of my life, including my running. Last year following Boston, and watching St. Louis a few weeks before, two things occurred to me. First, with a wedding on the horizon I needed to find a marathon that wouldn’t be such a strain on the budget and two though St. Louis looked terribly difficult it would serve this purpose. The deciding factor however came when I found out the date of the marathon. I am a glutton for coincidence and love numbers and the fact that the marathon was 04-04-04 and this was going to be my 4th marathon I couldn’t resist.
Upon a closer examination of my training and that of my more successful friends, I began to put together a new line of attack for this marathon. On my previous three attempts I had stuck fairly strictly to Hal Higdon’s training and though it had served its purpose, I finally realized that it was more for completion of this distance and wouldn’t take me much further beyond where I was at. What had become increasingly obvious was that, though a lot of the best runners I know have a natural talent, hard work was the defining factor in individual performance. What I saw was that there was a direct correlation to miles run and race performance. Now you may say “well duh!” (I did), but seeing this and understanding the delicate balance that would have to be obtained between wear and tear and physiologic gain really hit home when I looked at the numbers. This being said I had it in my mind that with this new knowledge I was going to run a PR (personal record) and I had the added desire to finish 4th to complete the numbers game.
To begin with, I took my old training and “drastically” increased the mileage. Now I temper this with the understanding that though I was planning on running 33% more miles than my last marathon it was still going to be over 20% less than three years earlier for my senior year at Knox. So the stage was set, I knew that more had to be done and I knew I had a fairly large range to work in so that the tightrope I had to balance on was more like a two-foot wide plank. The added motivation was seeing the improvements of my friend Dennis over the last three years as he gradually increased his weekly mileage from 80 to 100.
Now I wasn’t planning on running 100 mpw I wasn’t even planning on 80 mpw, my goal was to reach 70 mpw again. In addition to this goal was that of increased intensity. To begin with I knew that the course was hilly so I had to expand that aspect of my training. Luckily with the new house came a new neighborhood and a great new series of elevation changes. Within a mile from my house was a hill that was just under a quarter mile long that made an excellent place for repeats. Additionally, I wanted to take some aspects of my friends training into considering. First, I had to focus on increasing endurance. In order to accomplish this I planned longer repeats for my track intervals. I added mile repeats up to 10 x mile (a suggestion from
Tyler’s training) and three 2 x mile repeats (a suggestion from Dennis and my old running club in Chicago). To round out the training I kept my most difficult weekend intact with a 13 mile run at goal pace (6:15) followed the next day by a 24 mile run at 7:15 pace three weeks before the marathon. With these tools in place I felt I had what I needed to accomplish my goals. The 18-weeks flew by with only two set backs, being a few missed runs around the holidays and one missed long run because of an ice storm. With a bit of adjusted mileage on my shorter runs by the end of the 18-weeks training I hit 70 miles for my longest week and was only 13 miles short of my overall goal of 858 miles.
The one thing that I did to myself this marathon that was not a good idea was allowing a place goal to slip into my mind. Now training you can regulate, you adjust mileage for weather, skip runs for an injury, or whatever else may need to be done. But with place you can not control who shows up to a race. Despite this the seed had been planted and like a weed it started to grow. The first plan was to find out the top 10 times during the previous years. What I soon saw was that predicting who would show up was as unpredictable as, let us say the weather. Luckily I have enough friends in the area who knew the running scene that I soon found out all the sub-3:00 local runners who would be competing and even with a PR time there were 3 who would finish before me. I therefore expanded my place goal from 4th to top 10 but took this with a huge spoonful of salt, telling myself to keep the main goal, that of all runners, to PR.
The training flew by and before I knew it I was smack dab in the middle of an intense bout of taper madness. I admire my coworkers for not hauling off and killing me. For those of you who don’t know, taper madness is what happens when you start cutting back on training 30% and finally 60% less miles per week than your body is used to. That combined with the time spent preparing mentally for the race assures that you are a jittery ball of energy that only has one thing on your mind, THE RACE! Sandra didn’t fare as well and there were at least 3 murder attempts : - ). This time around I think the toughest part of my training wasn’t the 18-wks of running leading up to the big day but the last 2-wks of mental preparation.
One thing that helped me through this mental barrier was the knowledge that I would be running relatively locally. My first two marathons were in my home town and having the support of family, my mom, Sandra, and Mike were great. During the second marathon I even had Dennis make the trip up. The third marathon was a lot tougher in this aspect for I only had Sandra and a new pair of friends Judy and John. These three really helped and I had a great experience. But, St. Louis gave me the option to contact classmates and friends. I don’t think people realize but support really does help. So I contacted anyone in my present or past who knew about my running and invited them to the race. I had a great response and thanks to those who showed up or even just sent an e-mail, I’ll specify more below. Especially kind was a pre-race pasta party at the Small’s house. Tyler and Trish had invited Sandra, Dennis, and I over for some spaghetti and race planning.
An added surprise was a visit by my mother. She was able to fly down after work on Friday, allowing her to spend the weekend. One added bonus for her was that I had not taken proper care of my garden so after an emergency trip to Home Depot she was able to work on that Saturday morning (a favorite pastime of hers). While she toiled away over my weeds, Sandra and I headed out to Forest Park to watch the top US women runners. Saturday was the US
Olympic marathon trials. Having this race to watch was a great way to prepare for my own race as well as put things into perspective.
Sandra and I woke up relatively early but it was worth it. We made it to the course and were able to watch the leaders at almost 10 points in the race including the finish. The race was run in excellent fashion with many different styles; an all out hard runner, a steady favorite, and a come from behind surprise. After seeing the excitement of that race unfold I was ready for my own. Sandra, my mom, and I relaxed around our house and then headed out for dinner. We found an excellent new gem on Watson, Bastante. My mother and I had pasta for the carbs and Sandra had a tasty fillet, lobster, and risotto. Now I mention the food because A, I like food and B, I took a different approach to my diet before this race. I’m normally not one concerned with diet. I really like to just make sure that I have a relatively balanced diet. One thing that I don’t over look however is the extreme strain on the system that a marathon inflicts. To combat it this time around I went for an extended carbo loading. For the entire week prior to the race I made sure to have the main ingredient in each meal as a carbohydrate.
The training was done, the mental preparation was in order, and the muscles were fueled. It was time for bed; I had an early rise with a time change to boot. I was up by 5am (formerly 4am) and was dropped off at the start line a little after 6am. I arrived to the start line to find Carl, he wished me well and I trekked off to find Dennis for a light warm-up. We ran around for a little with Jason and soon it was almost 7am. I made it to the line for a few stride outs and handed my warm-ups to Aldene who was gracious enough to take them for me. I looked at those around me and soon spotted Ron, last year’s winner. I wished him luck and toed the line, and then we were off.
I knew if I was going to do well in this race I had to “run smart.” For me that was not going out with the leaders. So I slowly watched a pack of about 8 or 10 runners get a lead on me. Luckily for me the weather was great for a marathon. It was cool with a slight breeze. Also, I soon heard two runners coming up from behind. Good, it is always easier to run with someone. However, one of these runners was running very heavy and already panting, we weren’t even at mile one so I thought, “Oh well.” I was right he fell off just after the first mile mark, 6:18. I was very happy with that split. My time goal for the PR I desired is 2:45 which comes out to 6:16 per mile. I had not gone out too fast and was off to a “smart race.” I also found out at this time that the other of the two runners was going to be a good partner. Jeremy was last years third place finisher and had run 15 marathons including numerous ones under 2:45. I told him my goal and he was interested in running with me through at least the half.
We quickly got into a rhythm and hit mile two in 6:14. The next mile we heard runners approaching, it was the half marathon leaders. As Dennis, Jason, and a few other runners I recognized passed we exchanged a brief hello talked about pace and then they were off. We hit mile three in 6:05. Now it doesn’t sound like much but 11 seconds per mile is too far off pace. It just shows how hard it is to have people pass you in a race. Jeremy and I however knew better and pulled back the reins. The next mile Sandra and my mom were waiting and I took my long-sleeved outer shirt off. The undressing slowed us down a little; mile four was in 6:30. I think hearing that split fazed us a little for our entry into the park and the slight downhill took mile 5 under the 6 minute mark to 5:58.
Now this split had me a little concerned. The goal is a smart race so Jeremy and I hit the next two miles directly on pace mile 6 and 7 averaged 6:16 a piece. Just after mile 7 Tyler and Trish were there to cheer me on. Tyler also had a Gu and water, both were needed. The hand off and eating brought the pace to a 6:28 for mile 8. With mile 9 came the biggest hill and two more runners from behind. These two distracted us and we ran the mile in 6:05. I felt that one but the cheering section at the top of the “mountain” made the fatigue go away. Lori and Lauren were waiting at the top and there enthusiastic cheering (once they recognized me) really picked up the spirits of both Jeremy and myself mile 10 was in 6:11. At this point the average pace was a little fast but the company was really helping. We dropped one of the two guys that were trying to catch us on the hill and the third hovered behind us. Slightly annoying to not contribute in sharing the burden of wind and leading but he soon dropped off as well. The next few miles through the half had a few rolling hills giving Jeremy and I time to introduce ourselves and we actually talked about work, don’t worry we did talk about running as well. It turned out that he also does research and was studying if I remember correctly soy’s affect on diabetes. We talked about real-time PCR among other things (but the conversation distracted us from our pace). The loss of pace probably wasn’t the best thing from my point of view but it was either that or let him go and run the second half on my own. Miles 11 and 12 were 6:08 and 6:13. What I had told Jeremy was if he would go near pace with me until the half I would see what I could manage after. Mile 13 was 6:01 but I still felt great and we were still talking.
With mile 14 came another sighting of Tyler and Trish and their cheers were well received. Also, Tyler handed off another Gu and water and ran with us for a block. We reentered the park and soon entered a mass of people. This was slightly frustrating to have to dodge around the half marathoners but at the same time after nearly 6 miles on our own it was nice to see some people again. It never bugged me but the difference in volume at this race was in stark contrast to my previous three marathons were I was always surrounded. The problem with dodging around people is it makes it very difficult to judge pace. The next two miles (14 and 15) we averaged 6:06. Then we managed to keep it under control for a 6:12 (mile 16). Standing just near the Science Center was my mom and Sandra. Their enthusiastic cheers really helped focus me on the race again. Sandra even ran behind us for about a block cheering all the way. This mile was especially good because Jan and Mary were waiting outside the library to cheer me on. They even managed to pick me out of all the half-marathoners (with a bit of waving to get their attention :’)). This help was especially beneficial because at this point both Jeremy and I mentioned that our legs were starting to feel it. Part of this feeling probably came from the fact that mile 17 was in 5:57. It always amazes me what the body and mind are capable of. Here I am having just run 16 miles starting to feel tired and the cheers of my family and friends help me to run the fastest mile of the race. However, at this point I started mentioning to Jeremy that my legs were cramping and that he should go. He said ok but I stayed with him a couple more miles.
During the next two miles I passed by Tim who was running the half marathon. With miles 18 and 19 came 6:19 and 6:18 splits (kind of cute, though backwards). A well necessary rest for me but a little too slow for Jeremy at that he left and I was on my own. I thanked him as he went off and pointed out that we were actually gaining on someone in the marathon and told him to catch him. Also, at this point I saw Dennis doing his cool down with a few other runners and tried my hardest to get my mind of the increasing pain in my legs. Letting Jeremy go carried
me for a little and mile 20 was in 6:12. However, this was probably the last mile that I felt on. Mile 21 was in 6:24. Right near that marker was a surprise appearance of Lori. I had not expected to see her again and her exuberant cheers standing on her chair really helped put a smile on my face and dull the pain for at least a little while. Luckily Dennis was there to join me for the last few miles. His encouragement was really needed at this point. Soon after he joined me Sandra came running up from behind and handed him my final Gu and water installment. Dennis opened them and handed it over completing my nutritional side of this run.
By mile 22 the half-marathoners were out of the way and Tyler had joined us to round out our Musketeer group. Their continuous words of encouragement and just having someone to run with when you are in that much pain really helped. Miles 22 and 23 averaged 6:37. That actually encouraged me some because by that point I felt like I was walking. Dennis and Tyler did their best to pull me up the hills of the brewery. I wish I could have looked around; what I saw of the neighborhood was great. I remember only two things about mile 24. One was a group of guys drinking and asking what pace we were running the other was someone passing me up the main hill in the brewery. This was a huge mental blow and the mile ended in 6:59. Talk about a yo-yo effect. The runner passing me was devastating but seeing that 6:59 really kicked me into high gear. One of my goals for all marathons is to never hit the wall worse than 7 minute miles and that mile was calling it close. I used the downhill and tried to pick it up as best I could. Mile 25 was in 6:46. The last mile was actually the hardest. In past marathons this had not been the case because it is normally the most stocked with fans. Dennis and Tyler both dropped off at that point and as I looked at my watch I saw 6:59, I had done it no miles slower than 7. Granted I wasn’t running the 6:16 I had trained for but I also wasn’t walking from the fatigue. The crowd was there again and after three tight turns in a row I could see the finish line I could also see the clock! It was past 2:45 but still under 2:46 and I wasn’t going to let the later happen. I gave it my all in a classic “high school” finish and crossed the line in 2:45:43.
Sandra was right there at the finish and so were my neighbors, Emily and Dave. It’s amazing how this happens but the euphoria hits as soon as that line is crossed. Don’t get me wrong I was exhausted but completely ecstatic at the same time. I gave Sandra and Emily a hug and when I was finally able to stand on my own two feet I moved on. My mom was soon to follow and she congratulated me and then Dennis Tyler and Trish were there too. Dennis and I went to scrounge a little nourishment and get massages. I can’t remember her name but my masseuse was very generous and I probably got a 20 minute massage. I then met back up with Sandra, my mom, Aldene, Lori, and Dennis. We went to eat and came back for the awards. I had not finished 4th I had not even won my age group but I had finished 9th! I made two of my goals, I had run 2:45 and finished in the top 10!
Now to assess the damage: my legs were sore but no worse than after any other marathon and to my surprise my calves never cramped up. One thing I had changed for this race was to run in flats. For you non-runners, flats are shoes specifically designed for racing they are usually at least half the weight of normal running shoes but with that comes half the padding. My concern with this is that they cause more running on your toes and more pounding on your knees. However, neither of these became a concern and I’m sure the lighter weight paid off in the long run. I did notice blood on the shoes and it had turned out that I had a significant blister that had bled threw my socks and shoe! Luckily that hadn’t affected the pace. All was said and done and
I had no major battle wounds. All and all a great race! My recovery was surprisingly quick. After I got home I had done the usual stretch and then stood in a garbage can full of ice water for two 15 minute sessions. Then I took two days completely off. By day three I had no pain and went for a short run with Sandra. The following day I did a harder run with Dennis and rounded out the week with a third run with Sandra. I took that Saturday off and then one week to the day after the race I went for a short run with Dennis and the legs finally rebelled. My calves told me enough was enough and now I’m resting. I took Monday off and did a 6 mile run with Dennis to see him off as he heads back to London to finish his schooling.
What did I learn from this marathon? First, marathons continue to surprise me. You would think with running everyday and running a marathon every year that it would get boring and repetitive but that is not the case. With each run and each challenge comes a new lesson.
The challenge of self, finding ones own limits, I think is the most important goal and probably the biggest accomplishment of all and with each new experience a whole new dimension is added to my world.
To my family and friends, know that your support is greatly appreciated. THANK YOU~!!!
Adam R Wende St. Louis Marathon 2004: Mile Splits5:165:315:466:016:166:316:467:011234567891011121314151617181920212223242526Avg. MissedMarkerAvg. MissedMarkerAvg. MissedMarker7:24-7:257:18-7:197:127:067:30-7:327:36-7:387:42-7:457:49-7:517:55-7:588:01-8:048:07-8:118:13-8:178:19-8:248:25-8:308:32-8:378:38-8:438:44-8:498:50-8:569:02-9:099:08-9:159:14-9:229:21-9:289:33-9:41I wanted to include this graph (come on now stop laughing, I am a scientist) and these two maps. I think the visual of the elevation changes with how my pace fluctuates really adds to being able to understand what this race really felt like. For those of you who haven’t seen this map yet the times are time of day for my goal pace.StartFinish8:56-9:029:27-9:35