Wednesday, March 31, 2004

What's next?

Now that the marathon's over, I've got to figure out what's next. My original intention was to work on some 50k races (May 1 was to be the first one) and build up to longer distances. I still want to do that, but I realize the smarter strategy would be to work more on the marathon distance and become more confident and strong at that distance. Also, I like the roads better than trails, so I'm actually more excited to stay on the road and track than to move to the trail (racewalking is hard on trails).

This is what I did with the half marathon. After my first one I kept training for that distance--my typical long walk routine was 12 miles one weekend, then 14 the next, then repeat. As a result I was able to PR every half marathon except one (which was raced with four inches of snow and ice on the ground) and cut 23 minutes off my time. I think I can do the same thing with the marathon, so my plan is now to work on marathon training throughout the summer and early fall and then do some marathons in the late fall and winter.

For my long walks I'll try to do 20 miles one weekend and then about 27-30 the next weekend (a loop around White Rock Lake is between 9 and 10 miles depending on some optional small loops). I'm going to focus on longer races where possible (hopefully nothing below a 15k; there are some 15, 20 and 25k races in the summer and fall, plus some half marathons in the fall/winter). I'd like to race in the Philadelphia Marathon in November (we used to live there so it would be a great vacation for us) and I'd like to win the Mardi Gras Marathon in February 2005 (this year I won the Racewalk Half Marathon).

After I get some more marathons under my belt I'll go for longer races, but I may focus on longer road and track races (like 8, 24 and 48 hour loop races, or judged racewalks) rather than trails. There is a lot of room for improvement in my racewalking speed and technique, so that's where I'll focus for the next 9 to 12 months.

Monday, March 29, 2004


I did it! I finished the Texas Marathon and I broke the 5 hour mark by three minutes. Here is a report on the race:

Today was the inaugural running of the Big D Texas Marathon here in Dallas, Texas. It was also my first full marathon, so it was quite exciting for me.

This was a great race, especially because it was not too big. There were about 700 full marathon finishers (there were also two- and four-person relays). The weather was supposed to be a little warmer (70s), but it was overcast and sprinkled from time to time, and this kept the weather cooler.

Overall the race was great. The course had a few too many turns in it, but it wound through many nice neighborhoods and also skirted the "runner's lake," White Rock Lake. Course support was very good. There was an aid station contest, so all of the aid stations were very well staffed and everyone had full supplies. Every station had water and PowerAde, most had orange slices, most had Snickers Marathon bars, one had M & Ms (my personal favorite). There were stations every two miles more or less.

My goal was to complete the marathon in 5:00, an 11:27 pace. Of course I started out too fast, but the pace felt good and I had trouble slowing down. I'm used to half marathons where I can gut out a faster pace, but I should have slowed down. After the halfway point my pace came down but it was still respectable and pretty close to goal pace. I was able to beat my goal by three minutes with a 4:56:57.

However I have to admit that I would have never made my goal if it hadn't been for a runner named Amy. She was in the two person relay and was running the second half. She passed me but I was able to stay close and I realized that she was running close to my goal pace so I stuck with her. She unknowingly paced me for several miles and I almost passed her once or twice, before she asked me my name. When I told her she said, "You're the one everyone's cheering for!" Let me explain.

If you preregistered for the race they printed your name on your bib. She was a late registrant so her name wasn't printed. And she's right, when I passed crowds of people they would all cheer, but they would cheer, "Go Marshall," "Almost there Marshall," "Looking good Marshall!", etc. After I pointed out my bib we started talking. This was her first half marathon, and she had never run more than 10 miles (and that was a few days ago). She was running to help out a friend who couldn't find a partner. Anyway, she had a great smooth pace and she was just slightly slower than my target so I stuck with her all the way to the end. We talked off and on most of the way, which I don't normally do in training or racing. It was a great diversion. If it weren't for her I never would have been able to stay with the pace.

I'm sore today but not dying. I went to California Pizza Kitchen yesterday and had Hummus, Pasta with sundried tomatoes and broccolini, and some of my daughter's pizza. The perfect recovery meal!

This race has made me rethink my ultra strategy. When I have a chance I'll post my thoughts and some idea of my new strategy.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Last walk before The Texas Marathon

I did six more miles at the track today as my last walk before the marathon. It's been a light week (only walked Wednesday and Friday) and I'll take tomorrow off completely. Then Sunday morning at 7:30 am we'll hit the streets for the race.

Distance: 6.1 miles
Time: 1:09:00
Pace: 11:18

I'm feeling good and feel confident I can meet my goal time (5:00, 11:27 pace) if I just control my fatigue in the later miles and try to minimize the bonk. I've got supplies to keep me nourished and keep my electrolytes balanced, so I think I'm ready to go. I'll post the results on Sunday.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Easy taper walk with new gear

I did a relatively easy and short walk today since it is taper week. I don't think it is a good idea to stop walking altogether, so I took two days off, then I'm going to walk today and tomorrow, then two more days off, then Marathon!

Distance: 6.33 miles
Time: 1:11:23
Pace: 11:16

During the walk I used my newest piece of gear: Ultimate Direction Gemini Bottle Belt. I've been looking at new hydration systems for a long time and finally decided on this one. It's got two bottles (total 40 oz.), two large pockets in the rear and, best of all, a small pocket in front, almost exactly in the center of the belt. I really like this pocket because it is big enough for a gel flask, some electrolyte caps and a few other small things (candy, chapstick, etc.). I wanted something with an easily accessible pocket, but because of the racewalking form I can't have any hip pockets (my hands hit them with every stride). The Ultimate Direction pack is very well designed and feels very snug and comfortable. I don't know if I would like running with it, but walking generates very little bounce so it is very comfortable.

It is obviously too much for a daily walk but I wanted to try it out before the marathon. I want to use it Sunday but didn't want to use it for the first time during the marathon. Now I can carry plenty of fluids, gel, e-caps, several Clif Bars, a small BodyGlide, some peanut butter pretzels, etc., with no problem.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Sunday Roundup

I just finished my Sunday long run. It was not too long today (9.8 miles) because I'm tapering for the Texas Marathon one week from today. It was a great walk--I was easily below goal pace and didn't feel like I was pushing myself very hard. I think the 5k yesterday helped me get my fast legs back.

Here is a summary of some of my statistics:

Miles this week: 36.3
Ave. Pace: 11:11

Miles this year: 411.8
Ave. Pace: 11:18
Cumulative Time: 3 days, 5 hours, 31 minutes, 54 seconds

Total miles walked since I started racewalking (5/4/2003): 1,120.8

For more details, visit my training log here.

New PR at the Uptown Run

My daughter, wife and I went to the Uptown Run yesterday. I ran with my daughter in the Kids K and then I raced in the 5k (there was also a 5 mile, but I didn't want to race that far a week before my marathon). It was very warm for mid-March (it got into the 80s yesterday) so it was really my first warm weather workout in months.

I set a huge new PR for the mile. My first mile was 9:39; my previous mile PR was 10:00. However, I had to push hard to go that fast and I couldn't sustain it so I slowed down after that. I still set a PR for the distance of 31:30, 14 seconds better than my last 5k.

I have to say that I am getting tired of these big races. Too many people, too much confusion, fighting crowds and dodging people most of the race. There were too many events yesterday: Kids K, 5k run, 5 mile run, 5k Trolley Walk, Special Olympics Run, Elite 5 mile run. There were numerous finish lines and they actually changed the 5k finish line in the middle of the race. My wife and daughter didn't see me finish because they were sent to the 5 Mile finish line. It was pretty annoying.

I think my favorite race was the Lake Benbrook Half Marathon--only a few hundred racers, freezing weather, no chips, no medals, no bands or annoying TV personalities or loud music, just a nice race in a park and lake setting. That's one thing I'm looking forward to about ultras--smaller fields, low-key events, less focus on the carnival aspect of the race and more focs on the race itself.

The Texas Marathon is one week from tomorrow. Time to taper and rest!

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Off to SXSW

I did more track training today. I've gotten to really enjoy the track in the mornings; it's sort of "no fuss" training. It's easier on my body and I can walk any distance I want. I don't mind the monotony--it gives me time to think. I did a little over seven miles at a decent pace, below marathon goal pace.

Now we're off to SXSW to see one of our good friends perform. His band, The Bigger Lovers is really great and they just released their latest album, This Affair Never Happened... And Here are Eleven Songs About It (read a review here). You can listen to some sample tracks here. Check out the tunes and then BUY THEIR ALBUMS! They are really great.

I'm taking Friday off for a one day taper before the Uptown Run 5k Saturday morning. I normally wouldn't race this close to a longer race (the Texas Marathon is March 28) but I wanted to run in the Kids K with my daughter so I thought I would race as well.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Walking in an urban oasis?

I'm not sure urban oasis is the right term, but it was definitely an interesting walk. I mentioned yesterday that I was going to try to walk on the corporate campus of the client I am visiting. Well, I was successful and walked on their running/jogging trails for 10 miles (thanks Garmin Forerunner for helping me track my mileage! This is a great gadget!). During my walk I saw a skunk, two rabbits and at least fifteen deer. At one point I was about three feet from two grazing deer. It's definitely not the kind of thing you expect less than 100 feet from Interstate 10.

In any case, I got up very early and walked for almost two hours. I will need to do more training like this if I am going to increase my weekly mileage and acclimate my body to longer distances and more time on my feet.

I'm flying back to Dallas tonight, thank goodness. I've gotten so intolerant of business travel--it's such a drain and usually a bore. It will be great to be back home with my family tonight.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Track Training and Travel

I had a good training walk today at the track down the street. 0.57 miles there, a little over 5 miles on the track, then 0.57 back, so a little over 6 miles. I hit some nice paces on the track, they seemed almost effortless.

I'm traveling to San Antonio for work this morning. The customer I'll be visiting has a LARGE campus with an outdoor running trail around the campus, but technically it is only for employees (I'm a consultant/contractor, aka Serf). I'm going to try to get onto campus tomorrow and use the trail for my training, 8-9 miles. I hate using the hotel dreadmill but will use it if I have to.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Registered for Uptown Run

Since I just started this blog I've got a lot to catch up on. There will probably be a lot of posts in the beginning.

Today I registered my daughter for the Kids' K and me for the 5k at the Uptown Run this coming Saturday. We did the Jingle Bell Run back in December and had a great time. I want to encourage her to lead an active lifestyle since kids today have such a hard time staying active and fit. I was considering doing the 5 mile race but don't want to race too hard the weekend before the marathon.

Yesterday's Long Walk

I didn't walk today because I did 18 miles at White Rock Lake yesterday and I wanted to give my body a rest. My first marathon is less than two weeks from now and I don't want to overtrain (I have that tendency). My training at the lake yesterday was good. I was below my goal race pace (goal pace is 11:27 or 5 hours; my training was at 11:21) and I felt good almost the entire time. I saw the woman from RunOn that waits on my frequently and who I'd seen just the day before. I think she was surprised to see me, and I bet she didn't know I was a racewalker.

I also saw a guy who I've seen at almost every local race I've ever been in. He always looks great and has cool solid color shoes (yellow or orange). He passed me and told me I looked good and had a good pace. That made me feel great since many runners don't respect racewalkers.

Tomorrow I'll do six easy miles before flying to San Antonio for work. I may do them on a track down the street to minimize the impact of the pavement on my body and to stay focused on form. I've never done that many miles on a track so it will be interesting to see how that feels, mentally and physically.

First Post and Brief Introduction

This is my first post, hopefully not my last. I started racewalking on May 4, 2003. Before that I didn't engage in any physical activity. I'll post more information about me later. The purpose of this blog is to share my personal walking experiences with anyone who cares to read about them. My short and long term goals are to finish a 50k race, a 50 mile race, a 100k race, a 100 mile race, and a 24 hour race. When I say long term, I mean long term: my 100 mile goal race is in September or October 2005. So hang in there and see what happens.