Sunday, March 3, 2013

35th Annual Napa Valley Marathon Race Report - Napa, California

-172 days to Felix
March 3rd, 2013

43rd Overall 9th AG. 2:56:57 

What a day.  Haven't felt this good pre, during and post marathon in any of the 10 marathons I have now done.  Feel like I am starting to nail the training and glad Craig and I took a chance on this build to try something different and see how things would go.

The NVM marathon itself is incredible. One of the best I have run and when you combine a closed course, point to point route, cool weather, superb scenery with only one race - the marathon, you get a great recipe. Added bonus was a complete ban (enforced by DQ) for headphone wearers. I'm split on whether folks should be allowed to race with them, but it was just nice to have this one race where everyone was aware of each other and even able to interact more than usual. That being said it was kind of weird seeing a pack of 7 guys around the 3 mile mark doing a round of introductions when most of them could hardly breathe let alone speak.

Comments on race prep.

Hokas - First full marathon in the Hoka's(Tucson doesn't count :-) and other than some rubbing the cushioning was awesome the whole way and a big reason why I think I could handle the shorter long runs and the recovery afterward.

Stretching - Daily since October now and think this is having an incredible impact.  No tightness during the run (except quads late in the race from pounding) and post race feel more limber than usual.  Also has been really protective against injury.  I'm getting a long streak going now - woohoo!

Depletion Runs - Easy runs to work before breakfast seem to be making me less reliant on Carbs and only needed 3 gels and a bit of Gatorade late in the race.  Felt no hunger pangs at all and no bonking.

16 mile Long Run - this still blows me away.  Totally converted to thinking that higher weekly miles are more important than your longest run and doing that run faster is key to being able to hold pace during the late stages of the race.  Also the mental effect of knowing you can handle the pace when you reach 10 miles for another 16 is super motivating.  I just kept telling myself this is just another 16 mile run.  You do these every week. Could do a whole post on the Hanson Marathon Method. I was a HUGE skeptic but now a total believer and think it can really work for a lot of folks. .

Nutrition & water intake - After reading Waterlogged this past month, convinced I have my hydration nailed going forward.  Big believer in the Tim Noakes approach and only drinking to thirst.

Reduced taper - 1 week taper.  Ran 52mi week before and with an easy 16mi a week out.  Think I might lose too much fitness if I have a longer taper.

Sea Level - Felt like more oxygen than usual at sea level this trip. It always ends up faster but not as much of a benefit for me compared to Wendy. Does seem to help me more on the hills though.

Fast long runs - Not super quick but fast enough to get a really nice boost in fitness.  These have been over 1 min/mile faster than most of my previous long runs and about 20-30secs slower than marathon pace.

Attitude - Much more relaxed before the race.  Not stressed about how I was going to do.  Focussed on having a big smile through the whole race and enjoying the experience.  Finding I often perform better with that approach. Also left me with more energy through the race and recovery was better when I am often just crushed.  Choosing a good course also really helps.

Splits for the race

I think this was my best paced marathon yet as I normally fade a bit more than this.

Half Way in 1:26.55 6.38pace
2nd half in 1:30.02 6.52pace

1) 6.29
2) 6.34
3) 6.42
4) 6.25
5) 6.31
6) 6.45
7) 6.37
8) 6.37
9) 6.39
10) 6.43
11) 6.43
12) 6.47
13) 6.33
14) 6.49
15) 6.37
16) 6.59
17) 6.47
18) 6.36
19) 6.46
20) 6.56
21) 6.45
22) 6.56
23) 6.58
24) 7.11
25) 7.01
26) 6.50
0.2) 1.30

Only a couple of miles above 7mins/mile which I was really trying to keep under.

Post race felt good!


So happy with how things went.  Couldn't expect more than to get through without an injury and it went so much better than that.   Big props to Craig for always being willing to listen to my ideas and integrate them into training.  Knew that prior to having to pull out of California International Marathon that I was in PB shape so after being sick and injured and only with a solid 7 weeks to train couldn't expect much. It's incredible that if you set your expectations just right you can be thrilled with reaching your goal. Good lesson to remember here for me to avoid having a tinge of disappointment after every performance.

Very motivated for the rest of the season.  Know that recovery is really key now and don’t want to be that guy in a few months that says I should have taken a few extra days or gone easier after the marathon.  It's true what they say about being 90% and on the start line rested is so much better than being 1% over trained or worse...injured.

Things to think about for future marathon races

a) Don’t get whooping cough! It really messes with your marathon build.

b) Have a longer build.  This one was only 7 weeks long after dropping down from Tucson and getting sick.  Still had some base miles but having that average annual mpw bigger would be a big help.

c) Go up to 18 or 20 for the long run (occasionally) and for an 18mi do a 1mi warm up and cool down with 16mi faster in the middle.  Keep it maybe 2-3 weeks from race day and maybe one of those every 3 weeks with the rest at 16mi total

d) Some track work and one shorter race to get a sense of fitness but that’s about it.

e) Don’t stress about a down week and getting recovery in the middle of a big block.  It’s only going to help.

f)  Listen to any warning signs from the body and get them addressed quick.  Tightness etc.

g)  Keep being patient with the training.  It’s a multi-year process of progress - just relax about it. Don't expect results overnight.

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