Saturday, November 01, 2008

Glass Half Full -- A New P.R.

...of course, before today I'd never run a Half Marathon, so anything would have been a new PR!

I completed the race but I am so totally humbled. 324th. 1:50:35.

Running is a weird beast. I finally understand that training is predominantly about finding the region between stressing your physiology enough so that it can adapt and improve, while simultaneously avoiding injury. If you are physically robust and strong, then the in-between region is large, and you have room for trial-and-error. On the other hand, if you are a one-dimensional weakling like me (and dare I say, most bike racers) then the training region is treacherously narrow.

Contrast this with cycling, where the primary limiter in training is mental fortitude ...if your brain can take the pain, your body will adapt and get stronger.

So the Glass-Half-Empty view goes like this... I started today's SB Half Marathon with a strained calf/soleus muscle and it began to fail at about Mile 4. This despite easing in with a comfortable sub-8:00/mile pace. I gradually slowed over the next five miles while mixing up my stride, hoping other muscles could pick up the slack. Then at about Mile 9, they all rebelled in a full left-leg mutiny. Gut check time. I really wanted to RUN the entire 13.1 miles (other than when grabbing a Gatorade cup). Now I don't know what pace distinguishes slow running from fast walking, but certainly I was on the cusp. A steady stream of more-resilient runners passed me by. Some gave me funny looks, for example, the nice young lady in orange... caught by Ron on film ...or on flash memory as it were.

Passing Mile 12 gave me a big psychological boost, as it marked my longest run ever and I started to believe I could finish without walking. Unfortunately in the final straightaway I became That Guy, you know, the annoying one who speeds up to pass ten people so that he places 324th instead of 334th. Embarrassing.


Okay, enough woe-is-me whining... back to a glass half full. What a fun time! And beautiful fall weather ...finally... with clouds and raindrops and cool, fresh, ocean breezes.

A few impressions will linger with me...

* I was temporarily mesmerized by the lead runners as they were inbound while I ran outbound. Aaron Gillen (the winner in 1:10) flew by like a wisp of wind. Silky smooth. Todd Booth (pic at right) in 3rd looked like souped-up Pontiac GTO muscle car ripping up a drag strip. Pure power. The gnarly dude battled neck-and-neck over the final 3 miles with some out-of-towner half his age. Annie Toth (women's winner in 1:19) appears to run without touching the ground. She's just about the most graceful runner I've ever seen.

* All the competitors who achieve negative splits, or even hold their pace the entire distance, have my deepest admiration. Top o' that list is my sweetie, Gina, who locks in a pace like an airplane on auto-pilot. Today she flew to a 1:42 good enough for 7th-out-of-78 in her age group. I cannot comprehend that consistency.

* I remember once hearing a mid-pack runner complain about the cheering spectators. He ...and I'm sure it was a he... apparently got tired of getting the obligatory "Good job", "you can do it", "nice work". Maybe he interpreted it as pity, I don't know. What I do know is that, for me, those encouraging words helped A LOT to get through the final few miles.

* ...well, except for the one guy who said, "Don't give up!" Huh? I'm not thinking about giving up I really look that bad?!

* Bike racing could learn a thing or two from running races, particularly when it comes to starting on time and posting results. But that's all I'll say about that, having never promoted a race myself.

* A Full Marathon!?!?! In a month or two?? What was I thinking?! Man, was I ever naive!

OK, now it's time for a Full Glass.

Of Syrah.


Chester said...

buon lavoro Marco, siete il meglio!

anony-miss said...

*tsk*tsk*, you really brought the team Platinum average way down. Seriously, Good job! I'm suprised you did it injured.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on completing the half! Try a's a completely different beast altogether. Nothing I've ever done compares to the final 3 or 4 miles of a full, but it's very rewarding when you finish! :)

kraig said...

Nice work, Marco! It's always fun to hear about bike racers trying to "run"! ;-)

The Mrs can haul ass! er, is that allowed here on this family blog?? Nice work, there, Mrs. Fanelli! :-)

Greg Knowles said...

Good Job Marco, I admire anyone who can run more than about a mile. Your wife has my admiration as well. My wife did the L.A. marathon a few years back and I can tell you that is an incredible achievement. YOU CAN DO IT!

Marco Fanelli said...

Grazie. Siete gentile, premuroso e un corridore veloce della bici.

Miss A-
Thanks. Yes, Todd scolded me for being so slow! :)

Thank you. I will do a marathon some day, but I have a much greater appreciation now about the commitment it will take. Plus, it would have a huge impact on the early part of bike-racing season. The calendar looks great for Springtime and I want to be fit and ready.

Thanks. Fortunately, your running exploits are going better than mine. You're doing a FULL IRONMAN!?! Are you nutz?? BTW, I see Mr. Lance is going to the SD wind tunnel... are you involved with that? You probably are sworn to secrecy...

Greg- Thanks. You can do it too!!

anony-miss said...

Do you have a marathon picked out?

Marco Fanelli said...

> Do you have a marathon picked out?

Yeah, NY Marathon 2012. Hahaha...

But really, I'll think seriously about doing the first annual Santa Barbara International Marathon in December 09, assuming it all comes together. I have a more realistic view now about how much impact it would have on my bike-racing season.

lerker said...

I couldn't help but notice you were surrounded by GIRLS in the photo of you running :)

Marco Fanelli said...

lerker?? that just a bad spelling of "lurker"? Or is it short for the famous Laura Erker? Since it was a bratty comment... :) ...I'm gonna guess that latter.

If Ron had taken the pic a few minutes earlier, I'd have been surrounded by grandmas and grandpas. But they dropped me.

Hey, perhaps you already know this but Aaron and Kim moved back to SB. They couldn't take it in Asheville. It will happen to you too some day... don't fight the force.