Thursday, October 16, 2008

All Good People Have Bad Days


So mrp's marathon didn't go quite as planned.  It all goes back to the spring.  After we found out I was pregnant, mrp decided that this would be a good opportunity for him to make another crack at the marathon.  You see, when I met mrp he was a pretty serious runner.  He started running right after college and slowly and methodically improved from a 3:48 to a 2:48 marathoner over the years.  Mrp's a different runner than I am.  I am type A work hard get it now kind of person. I am much more intense about my running.  Mrp on the other hand is very intense in his every day life but uses running as his undisciplined time.  He's more disciplined than probably most people with his running but he's less disciplined about it than other areas of his life.  Also, he is not intensely competitive as some people we know (and love!) around these parts.  However, he still takes pride in his running and the improvements he has made, as he should.

Anyway, when we first met (well, it was the second time but that's a looooong story for another time), mrp was in the midst of his most intense training cycle ever.  He was running well over 100 miles per week.  However, he also worked two jobs and lived about 40 miles away from me.  After I entered the picture mrp suddenly had much less time on his hands.  Yet, he attempted to do everything. By the time his fall marathon came to pass, he was in the best shape of his life but pretty much suffering from overtraining syndrome.  He still ran a 2:48 on a hot day in New York, but it definitely did not reflect what he was capable of.  After New York, mrp was way burned out.  He needed a break.  I don't think he really raced for more than an entire year after that.  In the meantime, I started training myself.  I think it helped mrp to live vicariously through me as he tended to his own recovery.    I ran my first marathon and qualified for Boston.  I think this helped mrp catch the bug again.  We planned our trip for the following spring.  Mrp didn't train very hard.  He peaked around 80 miles per week with a tempo and a long run.  The winter that year was really brutal so we did what we could.  Even so, he pretty easily ran a 2:49 on a day when many others suffered at the hands of the Nor'Easter (me included!).  

After Boston, mrp was pretty much done for the year as he helped me focus on another fall marathon.  He continued to run moderate mileage including many a long run and tempo with me.  But with our wedding in the fall, our house and our jobs it was just a bit much for us both to dedicate an entire season to training.  So, he made the sacrifice.  After my fall marathon we figured mrp would train for a spring marathon.  Well, that didn't happen and at the end of February, mrp decided to register for Chicago.  A week later we discovered I was pregnant.  So, it was fitting that mrp train for 6 months to get in a solid marathon before the baby came and our lives probably wouldn't permit serious training.  

He started off well.  He was working on building up his mileage and we anticipated him going back to those 100+ mile weeks.  However, before that could happen. Wham! We were in a car accident.  Besides being hurt and worrying about the baby, we now had yet another thing sucking away our time: dealing with insurance companies and body shops and car rental agencies, etc.  That was it for mrp.  He just couldn't do it.  He gave up training for a couple of months.  He still ran, but did no workouts. No long runs.  He'd skip days at a time. Then at the end of July we ran one our favorite local races and mrp ran a 5 miler 3 minutes slower than his pr.  We crunched the numbers and figured with 2.5 months he could get in decent enough shape to salvage Chicago.  However, those 100+ weeks just weren't going to happen.  With peanut's arrival becoming more and more imminent, mrp just couldn't sacrifice the time to run twice a day our outside of his lunch hour on most days.  So we worked out a plan and we'd see what happened.  Mrp peaked at just 75 miles per week.  At first he was doing long 10k reps, a long tempo, and a long run. This worked well for mrp.  Within a month he ran a 10 mile race almost at the same pace as the 5 miler in July.  Then 3 weeks after that he ran a half-marathon at a slightly faster pace than the 5 miler.  Things were looking good.  After the half, we switched to two longer workouts a week:  one 14-16 miler and one 18+ miler.  The first including 6-8 miles at half-marathon pace and the latter including up to 12 at marathon pace.   We decided he shouldn't do much of a taper since he wasn't beat up and his mileage was never high.  The week before the marathon he ran about 60 and the week of he ran about 35 before the marathon and 60 with.  

If you can't tell mrp was conflicted about the whole thing.  He felt more devoted to baby preparations and stuff like that than running, but he wanted to train too. He was torn.  Even on our way to Chicago he said he didn't want to go.  But there he was driving us and worried about whether we had enough gatorade.  And when we were in Chicago I think he was less worried about getting himself ready for the race and more worried about whether I was ok.  It's hard to let an 8+ month pregnant woman self-sacrifice and tend to your needs! But we managed pretty well. We got him loaded up with food and liquids and to bed early. We talked about heat strategy--see how you feel we decided.  But even as prepared as we were, he still had doubts and he still expressed apprenhension about the whole thing as we waited for our cab to the starting area.  It was already warm.  We knew it wouldn't be the best day for a good time.  But maybe, he could still pull it out.  

After sitting around together for a while and pinning numbers on and lubing up with body glide and making fun of the way I felt not racing--it's like being the only sober person at the part--I finally left mrp to the crowd of runners to make my way to my spectator vantage point up north.  At a minute before 8:00 the gun sounded and mrp was off.  And he felt it.  He said from the gun he just didn't feel right.  And then his garmin crapped out under the tunnels during the first couple of miles.  He didn't know what pace he was running.  All the way at the half he didn't know.  He was surprised that he ran a 1:27 and change half.  He was hoping for a 1:24.  So by this time he was hot and conflicted and irritated and now disappointed.  And then he forgot the clocks were posting a time linked to the start of the elite race, so he thought the clock said he was running 5:00 slower than he actually was.  He said during the last few miles he thought he wasn't even going to break 3 hours!  And as the race wore on and it got hotter he didn't have the fight in him to go after the time he was capable of.  He could have run 3-5 minutes faster at that point, but why?

He finally made it the finish in 2:57:00.  His worst marathon in more than 5 years! I reminded him how lucky he's been to not have had a bad race in so long.  But it's not much consolation.  He knows he didn't really put in the work to feel entitled to a faster time, but at the same time it sucks. Right now he's wondering is this something to avenge or a sign to hang up the racing flats.  I so hope it's the first choice!

Despite the disappointing race, we did have a super fun time on our whirlwind trip to Chicago.  We stayed in the seedy Howard Johnson.  It was such a throwback and the bed wasn't nearly as uncomfortably as I originally feared.  I forgot to get pictures of the place.  Seriously. It's the essence of 60's motor hotels.  You have to stay there sometime! We had fun riding the school bus to the expo.  We had fun making fun of people at the expo.  We saw Ryan Hall and Brian Sell at the expo and hoarded yummy samples at the expo.  Although, would you believe the Chicago marathon expo did not have nip-guards? Very odd.   I ate Chicago style cheese in a bread bowl pizza while mrp ate spaghetti.  We ate breakfast at the Hojo diner before leaving the city  which was just more throwback awesomeness.  On our way home we stopped at the Indiana Dunes State Park which was lovely.  We even waded in the lake--in October! The sand felt so good on our feet and the cool water felt so good on our tired legs--my legs felt like they ran a marathon too from running around to 4 different spots along the course to see mrp and one loooooong walk from mile 25 to the finish line.  And then we stopped in some scary town and went to a scary Wendy's and laughed at the scariness and then we sang songs along the dark highway as peanut danced along in my belly and finally, finally! At midnight on Sunday we pulled in the driveway and headed straight for bed!  And that, my friends, was our trip to Chicago.

1 comment:

Uptown Girl said...

It was a tough day for most people. Myself included. What a bummer I didn't run into you there! It reached 85 as opposed to 87 last year. Yikes.