1. A great experience. While I wish I did better, I am happy with my result. Really. I have pictures from my March race that motivated this fitness kick. Compare that to a picture from the marathon. Wow, what a difference seven months can make.
2. Injury report -- Four, count 'em, four dead toenails, and two nasty blood blisters under two of them. And a huge blister on the side of the big toe on my right foot. The second toe on my right foot is now only moderately disgusting; after the race it was unbelievably gross. Before the race, that toe already had toenail issues (it was purple and dead, with a new nail growing underneath). I trimmed the nail the night before, and thought this could turn out badly. Race day produced an enormous blister on the end of the toe, a blood blister under the new nail, and just all around grossness. But, remarkably, it didn't hurt too badly. And now it is just a black toe with a seriously messed up toenail that I suspect will fall off any day.
3. Mentally, it was a struggle. This last month was one of the longest work months for me in years. (Lawyers work in billable hours; I billed more hours last month than I have in almost ten years. And that is a lot.) In fact, I worked the the entire Saturday before the race on Sunday. I was supposed to fly out on Sunday night --marathon day -- for a trial that started Tuesday. I flew out at 6 a.m. on Monday (day after the race) instead. That is just hard to focus and be tough on race day. I also couldn't risk just crushing myself in the race -- I had a big work week in front of me. So, that inability to mentally focus on the race was a factor. As was...
4. Lack of Training -- I didn't train enough in September and October. Hey, that's life, work, etc. Hard to be too mad about that.
5. FIRST. The FIRST training program did not get a clear shot with me. As my life got busy in September and October, my workouts became fewer and fewer. In reality, I hardly ran 3 times a week, much less run 3 times a week and do the 2 cross training workouts FIRST called for. So, in reality, I kind of ended up doing the Runners World "busy man" workout. That schedule was three hard workouts a week, and other runs or workouts were gravy. That was the best I could do, so that became my plan by default.
6. Garmin Running with my Garmin was both a blessing and a curse. Watching the data, I knew my heart rate was too high early in the race and thus probably unsustainable over 26.2. And, as it turned out, I couldn't sustain it. But was that because mentally I knew my Garmy had me running too fast and hitting a wall? Or, did I simply hit that physical limitation as reflected by my Garmin? In other words, did I go out too fast? Or did the Garmin create a self-fulfilling prophecy? I am undecided. And the virtual race partner went crazy on mile 24 and really threw me out of sorts. Initially, it tracks your projected finish time versus a "virtual steady state training partner", and shows how far ahead or behind you are of that racer. Late in the race, the ahead/behind had huge swings. I had it set on 8:00 miles. Thus, if I ran an 8:30 mile, I thought I would be 30 seconds behind. But my pace guy was going crazy. On a walk break, it would show me like 20 minutes behind. I would say to myself "holy sh-t, I better get going!" And then when I was running I would be only 8 minutes behind. It should just track the gap, as I didn't have the distance programmed in. I am guessing that the algorithm goes a little crazy after 20ish miles. All in all, would I run with Garmy again? Yes. But with a huge grain of salt.
I haven't decided on a future running goal yet. My A-1 goal is not to lose fitness and gain a bunch of weight this holiday season. Maybe a late March or early April marathon. For now I have to work the NYRR 60K (that's right -- 36.6 miles) on Nov. 21, and run a 4 miler on Nov. 22. And then I am in NY marathon in 2010. And I will be there, faster, stronger, fitter.