Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Analysis and Recovery

I can't run 39 miles then then miss out on analysing the whole thing, can I? Let's start with the result first, I came 23rd out of 90 finishers, 22nd male. Beating the leading lady was never an option, Helena Crossan finished in the absolutely astonishing time of 4:40, now that is class! Let's have a look at my mile splits, then:

1 7:49
2 8:03
3 7:59
4 8:08 (very good so far)
5 8:12 (slowing slightly, I ditched my “pacer” from the first 5 miles)
6 7:52
7 7:49
8 8:02
9 7:53
10 7:34 (no idea why that was so fast. It didn't feel any faster)
11 8:29 (headwind started. And my right leg started giving me troubles)
12 8:31
13 8:25
14 8:43
15 8:50
16 8:47 (the left leg is giving out too. I'm heading for trouble)
17 9:03
18 9:08
19 8:29
20 8:52 (uphill)
21 8:38
22 9:26
23 9:30 (downhill! I told you the downhills were more difficult)
24 9:08
25 9:10
26 9:15
27 9:37 (uphill. Pretty good, actually)
28 9:57 (steepest part of the course)
29 9:01
30 9:08
31 8:59 (not too bad. Can I hold on?)
32 10:01 (no. My quads are dead)
33 10:15
34 10:25
35 10:06
36 11:30 (potty break and Hell)
37 10:29 (Hell. Actually, this is really fast)
38 8:14 (downhill, and I can run again!)
39 7:29 (fastest mile of the course. Too late. Shame.)
change (no exact time, forgot to press the stop button.)

The times speak for itself. I started out at goal pace, and genuinely thought I would be able to hold on. Then came the wind and then my quads started giving up. I kind of managed to hold things together until mile 31, and then it felt like my body was shutting down. The miraculous recovery over the last 4 miles came too late, but left me wondering what might have been.

I can tell that I'm not very excited about the race by the fact that I hardly care that the race photos are still not online. After a good race I check every 10 minutes – this time I've checked about twice since the race.

My race might have been less than stellar, but my recovery since then has been nothing short of amazing. The day after the marathon I had no troubles walking up and down the stairs of our house while loading the suitcases and things into the car, and I had to do the trip almost a dozen times. I took my share while driving, and today cycled the 5 miles each way to work without problems, though I did take it easy. The quads are still slightly sore, and I get the odd twinge in my left hamstring, but considering what I put my legs through, the lack of pain is astounding. I had a sports massage yesterday evening (a first for me), and the physio was amazed how relaxed my muscles felt. Only the ITB was a bit tight, he said. He also said I had Haglund's Heel in my right foot, but since I don't have any problems in that area there is no need to do anything about it.

I haven't been running yet, today's cycling and a walk with the entire family were the only bits of exercise I've done since the race. Since I'm feeling so well I'll go out for 4 or 5 easy miles tomorrow morning, and I'll see how that goes. I have a half marathon in 3-and-a-half weeks, but there is nothing to gain from jumping back into training too quickly. I'll play things by ear.


  1. Thomas,

    Thanks for your honest opinion on my blog. They are always welcome.

    I read your race report on the ultra. That must have been a tough race.

    I am interested in the rice milk/slim fit combo that you have. You are giving me ideas for what to fuel up on future endurance race.

  2. Thomas, you're a trooper to the end. I'm sorry the race didn't go exactly to plan, but with all that's happened during the run-up, plus a sour stomach, the deck was stacked against you. Your initial recovery seems to show you're actually getting used to this kind of torture!

  3. Thomas,

    congratulation for the good race. Sometimes hitting the target is not possible, but anyway running 39 Miles is a target in itself.
    The race look very tough!!

    Honestly speaking, I think that you "lost" something in too many experiments in the last 2 weeks before the race:
    - tapering, with increased speedwork, maybe "cut" your legs
    - carbodepletion + carboloading
    - did you try the slim-fast during long runs before the race?

  4. Hi Thomas,

    Congratulations once again on the race! I know it didn�t go according to plan, but having completed five ultras myself, I�ve only had �one� that was close to my expectations.

    My one word of caution, take the time to recover particularly if you feel great. My experience has shown that (for me) it takes a lot longer to recover mentally, regardless of how the race went, than it does physically.

    For what it�s worth, my typical two-week recovery post-marathon is:
    Week #1: d/o, d/o, d/o, do, 20�, d/o, 30�
    Week #2: d/o, 40�, d/o, 50�, d/o, 60�, d/o

    I�m looking forward to the rest of your spring racing, all the best.