Rolling to a better Rock and Roll

The morning ritual started, as usual, an early morning, got in my running clothes, had oatmeal, coffee, hold on to the banana until about an hour to start the race. I got the energy drink ready, and the the post shake ready in the cooler with some ice and gels. Counted and check the energy gels, energy blocks, check the IPod shuffle, sun glasses, running bib, running shoes everything is ok. Normally I do a final the bathroom stop before I leave the house, but today not feeling it, too early in the morning and not fully awake. I waited until later at the venue.

I got to parking area early and stayed in the car for a little while before walking to the corral area. Checking email, social media, and a few other things on my phone. I got out of the car, grabbed the banana, bottle of water and made my way towards the starting area. On the way, I came across one of the areas with the porta potties and to my surprise, there were no lines. So, I decided to take advantage and did a quick stop. When I got out, there was already a line and I went “whoa!”, lol. It was getting a little bit windy and since it was a little bit cold the wind was making it a little bit uncomfortable. I found a large column which I used for a while to block the wind were I waited until until about 45 minutes before the start of the 1st Elite Corral and ate my banana and drank most of the water. Since it was going to take at least 3 minutes per corral and I was assigned to corral 10. While I was waiting, I saw a few running familiar faces and a friend from work that I have not seen in a while. Since last year’s event was the one with the total

Since last year’s event was the one of a total disastrous performance, close to 6:30 to complete, I had a very conservative plan in mind. The target was to finish well under 5 hours. To accomplish this, the plan was to start just in front of the 4:30 hour pacer and maybe if feeling good work my way to the 4:15 pacer. That way I was ensuring to finish well on target and if similar issues from last year happened or conditions for the race got worse I would of have extra 30 min and still meet my goal. I got in the corral feeling great, fueled well, with sugars well within mid of running target ranger and legs feeling great, even with the somewhat fast 5k from the day before.

We started the event on time and I was feeling well. There were lots of turns as we went around the city portion of the race. At mile 2.5 near the medical tent, I saw couple porta-potties and I decided to do a quick stop. Even tho I was feeling great, it felt that I needed that stop. When I got out, I checked the CGMS display and sugars were still good within my running range, I was very happy. I started running and quickly caught up with the 4:30 pacer and proceeded to continue with a little bit faster steady pace to catch up with the 4:15 pacer later in the race. All was going well, many ups and downs, with small incline but the pace and form suffers a little bit since you are constantly adjusting due to the incline changes. As I was getting close to one of the more challenging hills in the first portion of the race, I realized how well I was feeling, strong legs, breathing deep but steady. Last year at this point I was even thinking about switching to the half because some problems with breathing and not feeling well at this early point in the race. Today was a different story already, I was better prepared and in better condition to be able to tackle the challenges ahead. The same happened at the split point of the full and the half. Although this time I had a smile and I was in cruising mode.

Few miles later while checking my pace I notice that I was going faster than the original plan, but since I was feeling well I kept the current at that pace. I did not know exactly at that time but about 3/4 miles toward  the 1st turn around point, I saw one friend zooming by in front or near of the 3:30 pacer. As I shouted some words of encouragement, I also realized that I should not be too far from the 4:15 pacer. So I kept looking for it and pressing on just a bit more. But with a large number of turns during this section of the race, there was not enough distance to look and search for it ahead much.

Mile 13 came fast, mid point and I was still feeling really good. I looked at my watch and the pace was still faster than I planned to be, but I continued. The new route took the marathoners through NC State beautiful campus. I was enjoying the buildings, the vegetation and how nice the campus was, very clean, neat and open. But still, lots of turns and no sign of the 4:15 pacer so I kept pressing on. I was slowly passing runners at a steady rate. As I mentioned before, there are many uphills and downhills, so the pace continues to vary, but I notice that I was going strong at the uphills, while still a bit weak during down hills. Similar to last year’s event during Thanksgiving.

Miles 15 to 16 went fast, having the different scenery help forget about running. Passing mile marker 17, an about 500 meters ahead I finally saw the pacer. I pressed on to caught up with the group and as I got close to the pacer I realized that it was not the 4:15 pacer but the 4:00 pacer group. I was like WHAT?!!!. Do not get me wrong, I was very happy and I was still feeling good but that was not the original plan. Starting two or three corrals after the 4:00 group went out, I knew then, that by itself gave me extra minutes to finish another marathon under 4:00. I kept with the 4:00 pacer for a while, but since I was feeling great I went ahead pressed the pace, passed the pacer and continue.

After mile 19 there were few other hills, I started doing some math and decided, based on the experience during the Tobacco Trail Marathon, to do a little bit of walking, to ensure a strong finish. I probably did about 1 minute of walking when I started once again running. Then I decided to do some walking at the remaining water stations. Although it was getting warm and the sun was out already it was not that bad. At mile 21 or so, they were handling out wet towels to the runners, I grabbed one, wipe my arms and face and it felt awesome. I put the cold wet towel over my head and continue to run like that for the next couple miles. It was dripping some of the water and it definitely cooled me down. That gave me more energy to continue, still with some walking after the water stations and I was sure to finish strong. I once again did some more pace math, this late in the race and I was feeling great.

As a was coming close to the 24-mile marker, I started to think about last year. At this time last year, I made the insulin adjustment to get the sugars down that was too much and paid the price. The next mile came as a reminder not to get cocky, that everything can come loose fast, the mile marker 25 and the small hill from last year awaits for me once again, but this time was much different, feeling great this time, I looked at the sidewalk and the corner that last year that served as a resting area for me while waiting for sugars to go up and the four EMTs proceeded to administer some glucogen to revive this runner about a year ago. I cracked a smile very wide because today, it was a different story. It was also a different Carlos, still with the respect that the Marathon deserves regardless of how many I have completed. The last 1.2 miles were completely uneventful and also fun to complete. I finish strong, with a smile and feeling that I could actually go for another few more miles. It was a happy day.

[vtftable cols=”{0}0-4:c9daf8;{/}”] {f1}Month/Year;;;{f1}Event;;;{f1}Location;;;{f1}Type;;;{f1}Time;nn;
Mar-15;;;Tobacco Road Marathon;;;NC;;;Full;;;3:55:23;nn;
[/vtftable] [vtftable cols=”{0}0:c9daf8;{/}”] Event Highlight & Learning Points;nn;Highlights:

Course: Great ample road right of the start, tons of people. Tons of turns and ups and downs. Both Half and Full start at the time, expect some weaving between runners for the first couple miles. Water stations were very well staffed.

Venue: Start/finish line with bag check. At the finish area the post event has lots good food, plenty to drink

Expo: Decent expo. Good goodies and great info on products and services.

Weather: Overcast skies, 50º with 76% humidity.

Fueling: Pre-Race: 1 serving Hot Cereal, banana and Latte.

Race: Water at the water station. Carried E-Fuel and E-Gels.

Post: Oranges quarters, banana and pizza.

Learning Points:

    • Repeating the course helps to create a better strategy, but could get boring at times.
    • Pre 5k the day before helped loosen the legs and kept the body from forgetting the speed.