Derby Festival Marathon Race Report

One week before the Kentucky Derby, a lesser known race with less bets (if any) is run.  This race attracts about 17,000 athletes between the mini and full marathon.  The mini is more popular than the full, but the full marathon still had about 3,000 athletes.  This was my first stand alone marathon since 2011.  My time for that race was about 2:56 2 years ago.  I knew that I could run faster than that and had a goal of getting below 2:40 for this race.  That being said, I had a hard training week leading up to saturday with only a two day taper.  I had a 4 hour bike ride on wednesday and a 1 hour swim as my last hard day of training, so that weighed on my mind on  race morning.  The other thing that weighed on my leading up to the race was the fact that Derby Marathon is a big local race.  Racing in my hometown is bittersweet.  I love it for the energy that I draw can draw upon from people on the race course or lining the streets that cheer specifically for me as I go by (I must say the Louisville Landsharks is a great club to be involved with) during the race.  I also get more nervous for local races because  I know lots of people will be there that I know.  When I go somewhere far away for a race, I can blend in and be just another athlete.  I tried not to let the nervous energy about racing at home get to me, and just focus on completing the race and hitting my goal.

Race day started with a 5:30 wake up call.  I threw on my race kit provided my TYR and Maverick Multisport, some Swiftwick socks, my Newton MV2’s provided by Ken Combs Running Store in Louisville, and some racing glasses to illuminate the cloudy day provided by Smith Optics.  I also made sure to grab the all important race day nutrition:  Inifinit‘s NAPALM and some salt tabs.  I grabbed a throw away bottle to use before the race to sip on some water to get hydrated after sleeping all night.  I couldn’t find an old water bottle or a bottled water in the house, so I found an empty peanut container and used that for my water bottle.

I wasn’t able to get into the elite start corral since I hadn’t run a marathon recently enough to qualify for that start corral, but I did find my way to the front of the next corral.  At the start of the race, I was about the 5th row back of people (if there is such thing as a row of people when lining up for a race), and quickly found myself in the mix at the front after the gun went off.

This was the first time I ran the new course since they changed it to a loop course in 2011.  Instead of starting out in Iroquois Park with a ton of hills, marathoners would tackle the hills in Iroquois miles 11.5 through 14.5.  During that 3 mile loop around the park, we had about 525 feet of climbing.  I purposely back off down the effort going through the section so I wouldn’t burn out my legs with still having over 10 miles to go once getting out.

I exited the park and hit the 16th mile marker still feeling really good, averaging about 5:50-ish per mile and decided to try to hold on to the pace or even pick it up a little bit since we had a gradual down hill as we headed back towards downtown for about another 5 miles.  I averaged 6 minute miles for the next 5 miles, took a right hand turn to hit some more hills before the last three miles that were mostly down hill or flat to the finish line.  Those hills really took a toll on me.  My pace dropped significantly to 7 minute’s per mile (ouch)!  However, I was able to hang on to that pace as my thighs started rejecting any more forward motion.  I crossed the finish line in 8th place with a 2:39.

I’m very pleased that I was able to hit my goals during this race.  However, I would have liked to been able to hold something closer to a 6:30 for the final 4 miles.  I knew I would slow down at the end of the race, but if I could have knocked off :30/mile for the last 4 miles, I could have ran a 2:37.  Two minutes wouldn’t have changed my overall place in the race, but in my mind is significantly more impressive.  Maybe next year!

After the race, one my local sponsors, Q’doba Mexican Grill, invited me to a soft opening of their new Fern Creek location.  It was a perfect post race treat.  I was able to bring my parents and my girlfriend (who ran the mini-marathon) there and enjoy some good mexican food before heading to the Louisville Science Museum for some entertainment in the afternoon.

Thanks to all my sponsors for making this possible.  And to my family and friends for all the encouragement. And of course I couldn’t do it without the health and ability graciously given to me by God.  Next up, Ironman Texas.

Cya at the starting line…


Marathon Nutrition

It’s Derby Festival in Louisville, KY now.  And that means all sorts of fun activities for the family and tourists that come to this great city over the next couple weeks.  It all starts off with Thunder Over Louisville, and before finishing with the infamous Kentucky Derby there are several of family friendly events such as parades, hot air balloon shows, concerts, the chow wagon (full of carnival food such as elephant ears and corn dogs), and several other activities.  The one that attracts one of the biggest crowds is the Derby Festival mini and full marathon.  About 17,000 athletes run in the mini and full marathon, and then add all the family and friends lined along the course and the number probably triples.  This coming weekend, I will be taking on the full marathon.  It will be my third stand-alone marathon that I’ve run.  I’m looking forward to running the streets of my hometown and feeding off the local support.  But, just with any race distance longer than 90 minutes, nutrition is key.  It can make or break the race.  The longer the race, the more important in-race nutrition become more important.  A marathon is no different.

So how does one fuel for a marathon race.  There are several schools of thought, but they all boil down to taking into consideration how much someone weighs, how fast they run, and their goal time.  Of course, one will never be able to completely replace the amount of calories they are burning at an equal rate.  The key is damage control with adequate caloric intake and pacing.  The formula that I’m going to present isn’t perfect because it can’t take into account a person’s running economy.  For example, two people weighing the same amount may not run with the same efficiency at their marathon race pace.  One of them may bound more (up and down movement) or possibly over stride causing the brakes to be put on slightly with every step.  That being said, it should give an athlete a rough idea of how many calories to consume during their marathon race.

Step 1: Determine running calorie expenditure per mile
0.63 x body weight (pounds)

Step 2: Determine goal race pace or how many miles per hour you’ll cover
Example: An eight-minute miler will cover 7.5 miles/hour

Step 3: Calculate hourly expenditure based on goal race pace
Example: An eight-minute miler would multiply 7.5 by the figure from step 1.

Step 4: Determine hourly calorie replacement needs
0.3 x the figure from step 3 (Note: Research shows runners can physically absorb about 30 percent of what they expend.)

Here’s an example:  A 175 pound athlete wants to run a 3.5 hour marathon.  To determine the amount of calories needed to complete the race this athlete would start calculating his caloric needs after 90 minutes into the run since he/she should have eaten an adquate enough breakfast to fuel his body for this portion of the race.  The athlete would take 0.63 x 175 to figure out how many calories per mile they will burn.  It comes out to about 110 cals/mile.  Since he’s wanting to run a 3:30 marathon, that comes out to an average pace of just under 7.5 miles/hour.  So multiply 110 calories by 7.5 to get your cal/hr burned.  That comes out to about 825 cal/hr.  Since we can only absorb about 30% of the calories we burn while exercising, multiply 825 by 0.3 and the hourly requirement for after 90 minutes til the end would be about 250 calories/hour.  So for the final two hours of racing, this athlete would need to consume about 500 calories in order to give their body the correct amount of calories to make it through this race.

After figuring out my goal time, weight, and pace, I will need to consume about 300 calories per hour for the final 1:10 of my race.  However, I’m planning on taking some calories in about 35 minutes in and again at the 1 hour mark.  I plan on using NAPALM by Infinit for my calorie intake during the race.  a 6 ounce flask will carry 300 calories.  So if I supplement with some one course nutrition to get some additional calories, I should be fine.

Be sure to supplement with water and electrolytes if needed if it’s going to be hot.


Galveston 70.3 Race Report

Galveston 70.3 was my first race state side of 2013.  After a disappointing experience in Panama, I was determined to do much better.  I changed coaches to Brian Grasky after Panama.  Training picked up and I felt faster and stronger… significantly faster and stronger considering it was only 2 months of training under his  guidance.  I went through some good race simulation on the computrainer and did my best to time the workouts to get off the bike during the warmest part of the day, which typically was scorching 45 degrees!

I had a great place to stay in Galveston about 7 miles from the race venue thanks to a very loose connection (about 4 or 5 degrees of separation .. I guess Facebook is good for something!) with two girls about my age.  They hooked me up with a room to myself and full access to the kitchen.  I always like having a place to cook food to save money and eat what I’m comfortable with before the race.

Anyways, we will fast forward to race morning.  I woke up at 5 and grabbed the last few things and hopped into the car and headed to the race venue.  I got caught in race traffic and pulled over into a parking lot that was the furthest away because I knew I could find a place to park there and then ride my bike and carry my stuff in a transition backpack to the transition area.  Due to this, I arrived significantly later than I was planning on the night before.  I typically like to have about 75 minutes to get myself ready before a race once getting to transition.  However, this time I only had 50 minutes and had to walk a half mile to the swim start AND get my wetsuit on before jumping into the unusually cold bay.  It was a bit chaotic for me in the morning, but I managed to get myself to the swim start in time and have time to warm up before the gun went off.

Swim 1.2-miles

Just before the swim started the race director went through all the pros that were racing.  He got to my name and paused for a second, “oh… we have a birthday boy today…” and then continued on with the list of the remaining pro men field.  The final seconds before the race started, I reminded myself of my goals for the race, to race my race, and have fun… after all, it was my birthday.  I shot up a quick prayer thanking God for allowing me to do what I love and ask for safety as I raced.  Bang, the gun sounded and the once calm water turned into a washing machine.  I did my best to stay on Chris McDonald’s feet to get a draft on the swim since he is just a touch faster than me.  I managed to stay with him for the first 500 meters or so and then he pulled away.  My goal for the swim was a 26 minute swim.  Thanks to some hard training and my new Tyr Cat. 5 Hurricane wetsuit, I managed to hit that goal.  I exited the water mid pack, which is a big improvement.  I typically came out of the water very near the back of the pro field.  I ran to transition, after taking advantage of the wetsuit strippers and got myself prepared for a windy bike ride along the Texas coast line for 56 miles.

Bike 56 miles

The bike course was about as simple as they come.  A few turns getting out of the race venue, make a right hand turn on Seawall Road and turn around at the 28-mile marker.  Once I got to the seawall, I put down an effort that felt like the watts I wanted to push for the ride.  I took a glance down and realized I forgot to do something very important during the set up process for the race.  I didn’t calibrate the power meter.  The numbers were way off… so I was force to go by feel.   I decided not to let this bother me and just focused on what I could control: my effort, my hydration/nutrition, and my attitude.

On the way out, there was a 9 mph headwind/crosswind combination.  I kept a close on the time on my computrainer to make sure I was drinking enough fluid and calories to get me through the race.  When the one hour mark was nearing, I glanced down now and then to make sure I could estimate my average mph for the first hour.  My garmin clicked to an hour at about 25.5 miles into the ride.  I was extremely happy with that since just a year ago, I couldn’t go that fast for a 40-kilometer ride on a course with no wind.  But, it did concern me… I thought maybe I over extended myself a little too much having to force to go off of effort rather than hard numbers from the computrainer.

I hit the half way point (28 miles) in 1:06.  I figured with the little push from the wind on the way back in, I would easily make my goal of 1:12 on the bike.  However, there was no tail wind, just a cross wind.  No help this time!  On the last 5 miles, I could tell my legs were running out of steam.  However, I typically get a fresh wind on once I get to the run, so I wasn’t too concerned.  I did a quick count of my calories in my head and it came to 900-950 for the bike.  Right where it needs to be for my effort and body weight.  I rolled into T2 ready to tackle the run.

Run 13.1 miles

I got off the bike feeling good.  I found my legs rather quickly and was rolling 5:40 miles out for the first two miles.  Then something started feeling a bit off.  Quick… drink some Napalm to get a boost of energy and caffiene.  However, I think my electrolytes were off this time.  It wasn’t a lack of calories… I just didn’t take any electrolyte pills during the bike to balance all the water I was drinking supplementing the Infinit I was taking in.  The first lap went good, the second lap alright, and the third lap was survival mode.  I had two or three pro men pass me in the last mile.  I just didn’t have any fight left.  I crossed the line in 22nd out of 35 pros.

Post race

After the race, I hung around the finish area for a little while talking to some other racers.  One of them, Ryan Rau, who I must have raced against in the past, came up to me after finishing a just a little behind me and complimented me on my swim and bike.  He told me that he noticed a huge improvement in those two events from my previous performances.  That was so encouraging to hear.  I guess it’s not just a figment of my imagination that I’m getting faster and stronger… other people are noticing too.

Thanks to all my sponsor that helped make this birthday a success, as well as a learning experience.  Next up Derby Festival Marathon.

Cya at the starting line…