Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ojai Marathon Race Report - My Ambitions as Runner

This weekend marked the running of the Ojai Clif Bar Mountains-to-Beach Marathon, and to cut right to the chase - I finished in 3:03:41.  Ugh.  Fail. 
It read 3:03:08 on the big clock at the finish line when I crossed (see below) but 3:03:41 is the official finishing time - and I didn't start the race  30 seconds before the gun went off... so go figure.

Anyway... prior to this race I thought that after it was done whether I got under 3 hours or not I would need time to step back and reflect, and think of what I wanted to get into next...
- Swimming more?
- Doing some cross-fit type of stuff?
- Ultra Marathoning?
- Back to weightlifting and grunting?
- Competitive Euchre and/or Bridge?  Side note... I only learned a few years after college that Euchre is mostly only a Midwest card game.  Great college drinking & hanging out game - the rest of the country is missing out.

But reflection time took about 5 minutes after I finished... I am going under 3:00 hours in a full!  Period.  
My running as hard as I can days are not over.  As the insightful and motivational figure from my youth Sylvester Stallone astutely observed in relation to my quest to get under 3 hours:
Tell 'em Rocky,  err... I mean Rambo.  I have still got a score to settle!

I *must* run under 3 hours in a full marathon!!!
And while I may not be the smartest bulb in the pack, I am one of the hardest headed and delusionally determined people going.  So I am going to listen to Rambo's advice.  I mean, he seems like a perfectly reasonable guy at this point at the end of Rambo right? 

Ok... ...
As with most all of my race reports - I need a song to set the mood.  And since I was totally jamming to this right before the race started, and I suppose since I have already stated my Ambitions as a Ridah Runner, and finally since it it is the title of this blog entry, I gotta go with

If only Tupac could have been with me from up above as I was imploding from about mile 21 on... :-)

Before I start my marginally entertaining race-report, how about looking at me pictorially go through all five of the stages of Grief and Denial immediately after the race as captured by our oldest daughter a budding photographer;

1.  Denial and Isolation
How did this happen...?
 2.  Anger

 3.  Bargaining
  I just finished the full dammit!  Gimme a few more friggin Goldfish!

  4.  Depression

5.  Acceptance

So on to the race report itself...

First prior to the race I had got myself into great running shape thanks to my totally kick ass Running Coach.  He did a great job of structuring my motivated but frankly aimless'ish running ways, kicked me in the ass when I needed it, and gave me sound advice throughout.  I really should have been able to pull it off based on his coaching and plans...  If only my running was up to the same level of level as his coaching...

So after riding the bus from Ventura up to Ojai CA at 4:00am I predictably went to the bathroom about 5 times, listened to a bunch of hard rock music and rap such as the aforementioned Tupac song and got myself into a worked up troublesome mood before the start.  I love getting really angry before the start of races - it takes me back to my underdog Flint MI & MSU days.
So at the start I lined up right at the front - as it is a smallish race (1,500 people) and I didn't want to have to waste tons of energy trading elbows with fellow runners at the start of the race.
I had the words of my coach ringing in my ears "I don't want to hear about you going out too fast, if you go through the first 1/2 of the race in like low 1:27's I will wring your neck" (ok he didn't say the wringing my neck part but it was implied).
So I did generally ok with those instructions, I hooked up with the 3:00 hour Pacer at around mile 7 and after listening to him talk to people it sounded like he knew the course well and knew what he was doing, so I decided to stick with him and the 3:00 hour crew.
It was good rolling from mile 7 on.  Chit chatting with a number folks with different stories of goals, plans of redemption in this race, and a general good mood & vibe.
We went through the first 1/2 in 1:28 high and it was feeling oh so easy, my confidence was building by the mile.
The one thing he did do which I think was generally the right thing, but wonder if it was for *me*, - in that he was clicking off like 6:40'ish or 6:45'ish miles as we were heading slightly downhill - he said at around the 1/2 way mark he was going to click them off a little quicker as the course got flat around mile 20 or 21 and was slight downhill until there.  And that he was going to run the steady downhills a little faster as that was a "3:00 hour effort".  And it seemed to make sense, and in reflecting I think it probably was right, but even though I trained running downhills, I didn't train for it enough.  And around my 18 my quads started to say to me "Hey dude, you are just slamming us - We weren't prepared for this, time to start shutting things down."  And so around mile 20 the 3:00 hour pacer dude started to slip away into the distance.

I don't know why I let him slip away.  I talked/talk about manning up this and that, but it seems like somehow I don't _really_ have that killer instinct.  And then around mile 22 when I realized and gave in to the fact that I wasn't going to make it, I let the wheels really fall off more than I should have.
- Was it because I went out too fast?
- Was it because I wasn't truly prepared for the quad-thrashing?
- Was it because I talk a big game but when push comes to show I fold like a cheap suit?
 Who is to say.  But in any case the wheels fell off.

Oh wait...  I just thought of a non-sequential funny typical me dumb-a** story.
I had really bad cramps in my last full marathon and realized through trial and error it was due to sweating out so much salt and losing electrolytes (I am a big sweater).  So I taped an e-cap to one of my Gu's.
And I was going to swallow it with my first Gu planned for around mile 8 (I go through 3 Gu's in a full).  But when I pulled out the Gu it wasn't there, so I pulled them all frantically out while running from the back of my shorts pocket and felt all of them for that gel e-cap but it was not there!  What a pisser I thought.  So I rolled with it.  But then when I was taking my last one around mile 18 I realized it was taped to that Gu (How did I not find it earlier! what a jackass).  So I tried to pull/rip it off of the Gu but it was not happening - I couldn't rip the tape, so I figured I would do it with my teeth.  But I broke the cap and only got down like 1/4th of it, but as the capsule was broke it tasted way nasty salty which left a taste of a small spoonful of salt in my mouth - yuck.  Fortunately an aid station with water came up finally and I could wash the nasty taste down.  What a bonehead.

Anyway back to the implosion part of my story... I started to just fade and absolutely implode when I could no longer see the 3:00 hour pacer.  Why couldn't I motivate myself?  Why was I so lame?  Why did I let it slide so much from the 3:00 hour mark? All questions which I will stew about for some time.

Eventually my implosion and weak-willed-ness mercifully came to an end and our oldest snapped off the following as I hobbled to the finish line - if you look closely you can see my face in full grimace mode.

Also here is me finishing in 3:03:08 (look at the clock!  It is actually 06 at this point - and it didn't take me 45 seconds to get from there to across that blue mat - I was slowing down at this point in the race, but not that much!) - I was handed  33 extra seconds...
You can take those 33 seconds back thank you very much  :-)

Anyway, after finishing the above 5 stages of grief and denial ensued.

Joking aside though I am way happy.  It is an 8 minute PR, and I am knocking on the door of getting under 3:00 hours.
I finished 61st overall and 7th within my age group. 

Then after the race my better half, our oldest, and myself went to the beach at Santa Barbara - cool to watch the beach volleyballers get busy, to walk the pier, and for me to drink margaritas.  Then on Monday AM we went through Santa Monica on our way home to Phoenix. 

Anyway, that is all I got.  Happy end of day Memorial Day.  So many people have done so many great things for our awesome country.  Very thankful.

Running is Awesome!


  1. Mate - Give yourself a pat on the back. An 8 min PR and a marathon at 4.21/km pace is a seriously fine effort. Your coach has the goods my friend - stick with it. BTW what mileage/wk was he getting you to do at your peak?

    1. Hi Mark,
      I got into the mid 60's for a few weeks, so nothing crazy.
      Best of luck with that injury of yours (and I like that song).

  2. You are freakin amazing. I am proud to say I once beat you during a training run. Hey...that's all I've got at this point:-). Great job Ted. You have worked incredibly hard to improve race after race after race. Takes an immense amount of dedication and discipline. You will hit your goal I have no doubts. Incredibly proud of you!

    1. I always think down at the bottom of Kong there where you left me for dead. Real nice...!

  3. An 8-minute PR is nothing to sneeze at. You kicked some ass, buddy. You're not weak-minded at all.

    See you when I get back from Chicago.

  4. Way to go Rambo, I mean, Ted! It's an awesome effort and of course, the 3-hour barrier is going down!

    1. Jamie - waiting for you to come run the Arizona Phoenix (or Tucson) Marathon. Free room & board and beer afterwards. Lets hook it up! (seriously).

    2. Ted, I've 4 years left for my US Visa and I'm looking for one or two races there. I'll be sure to check out the dates of the 2 you mentioned.