Sunday, October 12, 2008

Some good news, lots of bad news

I ran the Staten Island half marathon today as planned. I started with couple of miles at 8:45 pace. Legs didn't feel as fresh as I had hoped despite a week long break. Also as incredible as it may sound, the road and the sun felt pretty hot. But otherwise the conditions were good to run a relatively fast half marathon barefoot. 

During the third mile, the race moved into a barren industrial waste land road. The road was battered with tiny glass and other sharp particles. I was fumbling with my fanny pack to put my vibram FFs in the belt and (ouch!) a splinter got into my left foot. I immediately stopped to inspect the damage and realized that splinter was deep enough to reach blood vessels. I considered taking it out with the medical kit I was carrying but it didn't look easy. I literally stood still deciding whether to turn back or keep running risking more damage. I even considered possibility of messing up the marathon coming up in three weeks. The whole deciding phase took over 4minutes! I decided to put my vibrams on and push for a mile and see how it feels. Loss of 4minutes blew any chance of breaking PRs but I didnt want to DNF unless I must. 

I started running pretty fast. Splinter hurts but I figured running slow or fast shouldn't make a difference. I was running pretty fast and it felt good so I thought why not finish the whole thing. After all, I had never DNFed a race before. I also thought I will run fast as long as I can and I can just walk later if necessary. Rest of the race was pretty uneventful. The splinter didn't hurt as long as I stepped on even surface. The final race time was 1:58:20 (1:54 after adjusting for 4min break).  At 1:54 I was still off couple of minutes from the PR but, despite splinter, I definitely finished very strong.  Average HR at 175 was good as well though I touched 202 at very end running sub 7min pace at finish line. 

One annoying issue came up was blister from the vibrams. Its been a while since I ran long distance in them and I developed a blister about 10mi into the race. I am not sure if it slowed me down but it was quite annoying. It just tells me that I cannot really rely on falling back on shoes or vibrams for the marathon if I cant run it barefoot. At least, I will have to rotate between barefoot, vibram and shoes or something.

But for better or for worse, my three weeks of tapering has now started. With just 20miles, last week was as good as tapering as well. I wish the half marathon had gone better than it did but it could also have been worse. Looking at today's race, here are few pointers for the marathon
* Getting a splinter in early race can ruin a race and FFs may work for long run. 
* 4hr marathon is very doable but much faster than that is not likely
* Good marathon racing strategy would be to run first half in 2hrs then run second half as fast as possible. Key HR threshold is 175bpm.

BF in NY for 687mi

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