Well here we are. It’s a Sunday night and I’m waiting up for this slow cooker chili that I started way too late to finish cooking down. I’ve let my Netflix account expire and I’ve read every book in my apartment, so I suppose this is as good a time as any to do some reflection. Let’s start from the beginning. I was a mediocre, undeveloped cross country back-of-the-pack-er on my junior high cross country team. I have a winner’s mentality, not wanting to bother with something I can’t be the best at, so I quit before running a step in high school. I didn’t run again until I was on the back half of college. I registered for my first marathon in September 2009. I registered for a half marathon in May 2010 and another marathon in October 2010. From the time I was in junior high (2001), I didn’t run another race until April 2012. Since then, I’ve been obsessed.
2 weeks from today, I’ll be toe-ing the line of my very first marathon in Houston. This is a big one for me. If you count all the races that I’ve put on the calendar but couldn’t race, I’ve been training for this for nearly 6 years. That’s longer than I’ve done anything (voluntarily) in my life. I have huge expectations for this race, and yet I understand the need to keep my head on straight. So let’s talk some facts and do our best to keep our collective head out of the clouds.
Today, I ran my last race prep/simulation workout of the training cycle. This was in the form of the Rogue Distance Festival 30k race in Cedar Park, TX. My plan was relatively simple on paper: go out in marathon pace for a few miles, relax for a mile, a few more at marathon pace, a few at half marathon pace, then kick with whatever I had left for the last bit. This was a great opportunity for me to test out my body for the marathon, as I had not run anything longer than a couple 10 mile races up until this point. When I left my apartment at just before 6am, the temperature was around 50 degrees, almost warm for this time of year. By the time the race started at 7am, it had dropped by nearly 20 degrees and the wind was gusting hard. I spent a lot of miles running by myself, some with a friend, and even threw in a wrong turn in there, but I’m happy with the results. I finished in 2:05:11 for 30k, 8th overall, and 1st in my age division. Given the hills, conditions, wrong turns, and solitude, I consider this a win leading into Houston. My only concern was some pretty significant side cramps that I developed around mile 13-14. I had a notion to step off the course and call it a day, but I fought these thoughts off and found my way to the finish. My coach has encouraged me to develop a mantra for moments like these, and it came in handy today.
How about gear for the race? I post a lot about different shoes and gear that I try out with the intention of finding the perfect match for myself and my training and also helping others find the ideal equipment for their needs. So with no further ado, here is my gear list for the Houston Marathon:
Hat (if needed): Asics beanie – this has a nice band that wraps around your forehead and ears to block the wind. My only issue is it also muffles a lot of sound, so it’s a pain for communicating with others around you.
Top: Team Rogue adidas singlet – representing my training group in Austin
Arms (if needed): Asics arm warmers – basic, effective, and cheap enough to drop if I get too warm
Hands: Craft mittens (colder weather) or Saucony Ultra Run gloves (warmer weather) – my hands are always cold, so I’ll be wearing gloves at the start no matter what
Shorts: 2XU compression shorts – these fit well, don’t ride up, and provide excellent support throughout a race
Socks: Swiftwick over-the-calf compression socks – I love OTC socks both for the compression and support benefits plus I like the look.
Shoes: (drum roll please!) Saucony Fastwitch 6 – I have a pretty big love affair with Saucony right now. I do most of my workouts in the Kinvara. I run most short races in the Type A5. I do some of my easy runs in one of my two pairs of Rides. I own a pair of the Virrata..so for the marathon, I wanted something similar to the light, responsive feel of the Type A5 matched with the extra cushioning of the Kinvara. This brought me to the Fastwitch 6. It maintains the 4mm heel-to-toe drop of many other shoes I wear, so my stride feels natural. The shoe is responsive, but I don’t feel like I’m crashing into the pavement with every footfall. I believe these are going to be an excellent shoe for the marathon.
Night before – (probably) Pizza
Breakfast – bagel w/ almond butter
During the race – GU Salted Carmel gel every hour (around miles 9, 16, 22), Succeed Electrolyte pills every hour (to ward off cramps like I had today)
After the race – Anything and everything
This will be my last post before the marathon. I’m going to be spending the next two weeks tightening the screws and focusing, while trying to relax and continue to enjoy the training. I’ll be looking to keep my mind occupied at work and do my best not to daydream about the race. This has been a really exciting training cycle, one where I’ve found myself accessing parts of my body and emotions which I didn’t know existed. I’ve met new friends that I’ll keep for a lifetime. I could not have made it this far without my teammates on Team Rogue. Thank you to all of you! Most importantly, I have learned that I’m capable of so much more than I could have ever imagined. At the end of the day, no matter what my finishing time or place is at the Houston Marathon, I’ll walk away a better man than the one who started this process.