Des Moines Marathon – End of 2014

Des Moines Marathon – End of 2014

This is incredibly overdue, as I fell away from posting anything new since HyVee. This was a big year for me, I raced more than I ever have with 8 total races and that took a much larger mental toll on me that I had expected. After HyVee, I was only 7 weeks away from the Des Moines Marathon and knew that I needed to get my running legs going and get some longer, fast workouts in. This was a struggle as all I wanted to do was sleep in, relax and not push my body anymore. But I knew that if my g0al of a PR and 2:45 were to become a reality, there was work to be done.

I really had no idea what this marathon was going to be like as it was only my second, stand-alone marathon (not part of an Ironman) and because the build into it was completely different than when I raced Fargo. Fargo took a complete 16-week training plan to give me any confidence that I would be able to run 26.2 miles. I knew that my fitness was better than it had ever been going into Des Moines from all the work that had been done since February, but the lack of long runs was cause for some angst. My focus for 2014 was on the half-Iron distance, and that didn’t necessitate runs over 8-10 miles. Talking with Alyssa post-HyVee, the plan was to get a couple 20-milers in but to focus on speed. She felt confident that the endurance was there from tri-training and now we needed to ensure that the leg speed was there, especially during the later miles. So there were lots of days on the track in those 7 weeks and two 20 mile run, one being a double run day, with race-pace or faster miles in the later portions of those runs. My biggest confidence booster was the final 20-miler that I did on the hilliest part of the course with a 6:09/mile average during the second half. Even with that, though, mental tiredness and some GI distress during race week had me nervous/curious to see how things were going to go.

DM-Marathon-8Race morning was fantastic! Temperatures were in the 40’s with light wind and plenty of sunshine. I found myself surprisingly calm and ready to see how much the body and mind were going to give me. I lined up very close to the front, hoping to avoid some of the starting mayhem and fall into pace with a group. Other than a mile or two before mile 4, I was by myselfDM-Marathon-4 the entire race. The hilliest part of the course happens between miles 3-8, and I was very happy to be able to be running better than my goal pace during these miles. But I was also nervous because I knew I was a little fast. I came through the halfway point in 1:20:4X incredibly pleased with how I was feeling while knowing that I still had 13 miles to go. Miles 16-22 were very rough mentally. I got passed for the first and only time at mile 16, and after putting down a couple sub-6:00 miles I decided to let the guy go, not thinking I would be able to hold that pace for 10 miles. That section is also very lonely. The only people I saw were a fiddler along the trail and a few people manning the aid stations. Other than that it was me, my thoughts and my now aching legs. One of my biggest fears heading into the race was the GI turmoil that I had dealt with during the week. Everything was feeling great until mile 22. I was focused on sticking to a strict gel schedule, but the somersaults that were starting in my stomach forced me to skip my nutrition at mile 23 and led to a quick pit stop. As much as I would have liked to have that extra energy and caffeine for the last 5k, I knew that it was going to be more of a mental battle regardless of nutrition. At just the right time, I caught site of one of the elite females and the guy that passed me at mile 16. This gave me some motivation to keep pushing and continue making up ground. I was never able to bridge the gap to the guy but crossed the line only a few seconds behind in 2:41:38 It ended up that he was in my age-group putting me in second. Regardless of the temptation to be upset that I was so close to an age-group win, 2nd place and 17th overall was much more than I was expecting going into the race.

So, what have I done since the marathon? Not a lot. I’ve made a point to stay semi-active, but I’ve only done things that I want to. I’ve been missing yoga and more strength-based workouts, so those have been more regular, but I’ve really been enjoying the mental and physical rest. I know that I have a big swim block coming up, so I’m planning on making the most of the time before that. I have a couple of fun events planned, but I plan on not wearing a watch and just enjoying the experience.

I know that I’ve said this before, but it truly can’t be said enough. As individual of a sport as triathlon and running is, it couldn’t be done without an immense support team. My wife and family have put up with a lot over the last eight months, from early nights so that I get up for a long ride to all of our summer trips revolving around races. I cannot thank them enough for their continual support and encouragement; it truly gives me motivation to keep pushing through the hard times! I also couldn’t have had such an incredible season without the support of Alyssa, Zoot Sports, Team Zoot and Team HPB. Quality gear, camaraderie and coaching have been such an incredible element of the year. And thank you for taking the time to keep up with my season!

Now it’s on to planning for 2015! There will be a lot of information coming soon regarding my schedule and sponsors.