November 29, 2011

Some final thoughts on Philadelphia

Everyone has been through this - you work towards something for a long time... you put your heart and soul into it... and when its over, there is a bit of a void left behind. After we hiked the John Muir Trail in 2010 (something we had been building up for the better part of the year), Andrea and I both had that "what do we do now?" feeling. You tend to want to start looking forward to the next big thing instead of looking back at what you've already done. Its hard to look back when things go GREAT... its nearly impossible to want to look back when they don't go as planned.

We keep talking about all these blog posts we are going to write about what we learned in Philadelphia - what went right, what went wrong, etc. - but it just doesn't seem to be happening. The lessons we learned will manifest themselves in the way we prepare next time around. And to be honest, we won't prepare much differently. We did most things right.

Even though what I really want to do is move forward, put Philadelphia behind me, and get on board the train towards 2012, I'm forcing myself to at least jot down some of my thoughts. I'll want to look at these things down the road. So here are some of my random bullet points...

  • Philadelphia's course is not extremely difficult, but its not a track race either. The hills from 7-10 were challenging as expected. The gentle inclines from 17-20 were a little more difficult than we anticipated. I think Philly is a PR course if there is no wind. I won't go here to try and qualify next time around, though. There are a lot of marathons that are flatter and faster.
  • I'm 99.9% certain that my blowup was caused by electrolyte problems. My whole body just shut down... and then bounced back afterwards very quickly. You can bet that I'm going to be experimenting with all different sorts of electrolyte products and make sure that never happens again.
  • Our training was rock solid. We did everything we could and didn't cut any corners. Andrea probably could have used another 4-6 week cycle of 85-90 mile weeks. But she did everything she could considering she only decided to give this a whirl two months before the race. It was a valiant effort on her part, and I firmly believe that she has what it takes to run ~2:40 for the marathon. Hopefully USATF doesn't lower the women's OTQ standard too much! :-)
  • I still don't think it was unrealistic for me to go into this thinking I could run 2:18. The workouts that I did weren't fake. The fitness was there, I was ready. The problem is that despite doing everything right, the marathon can still be a crapshoot.
  • One thing is for certain, the Saucony Fastwitch is a GREAT marathon flat. Neither one of us had any problems with blisters, foot pain, etc.
  • Emotionally, the last 10 days have been a bit of a roller coaster. Its been hard to accept that my season is over and I won't be racing at the trials. But on the other hand, we are both at an exponentially higher level than we were a year ago, and if we build on what we've already done, Andrea and I can light things up in 2012 to the point where this past year looks ho-hum ;-)
  • I really love running - hard training, easy training, racing, talking about it - I love it all. Even a disappointing finish to the year hasn't changed that - if anything, it has reinforced the feeling.
Andrea skinning - Early December 2010
I haven't been up to White Pine, but I can guarantee
that it doesn't look like this right now!
We've already been working on the 2012 "plan" and race calendar (and potential vacation destinations!... if I don't spend some time in the Tetons, Wind Rivers, and either San Juans or Sierra Nevadas, then something has gone horribly wrong!). First things first: 6-8 weeks of easy running. Drop the intensity, let the body re-charge. No need for a prolonged period of time off as long as we are smart about making sure to run slowly most of the time. 

Hopefully we'll get some real snow and get on skis soon... I can't believe its already December and not only have we not been skiing yet, but there doesn't appear to be much hope in the forecast. We're actually making plans to go dry-land hiking this weekend!

A few races are already on our radar, and they are the ones we'll schedule everything else around - Carlsbad, Bolder Boulder, and the USA Half Marathon Championships will be the "target" races for the first half of 2012. No spring marathon - and you can hold me to that! :-)


  1. I think Bam is rubbing off on you! Ho-hum? Haha!

  2. Congratulations on a great year of running to both of you! I know exactly what you're talking about with the post event doldrums. Usually only fuels the fire a little more when things don't go as planned...As for the electrolytes I've found Salt Stick to be the most agreeable for me, you should give them a try.
    Hope to see you guys in the backcountry this winter,
    Christian (currently praying for snow)

  3. Christian - you are the second or third person that has told me about salt stick now... I'm definitely going to give it a try.

    Once it FINALLY starts snowing for real we will definitely see you out there!

  4. For electrolytes, try S-caps. One each hour for your marathon would work wonders. They are the big thing for electrolytes in ultramarathons, and can keep you going forever. You could borrow a few from a FRB trail runner to try before you buy a whole bottle.

  5. Loved reading more thoughts about the race. You are so can do everything you need to reach that goal but then come race day and who knows what will happen. 2012 is you and andrea's year.