Friday, April 23, 2010

I’m new to the Zoot Ultra Team this year but everyone has been awesome to work with so far. Jake made sure that I had everything I needed well before the race so I could try everything out. Dave and Aaron helped me figure out which shoes I should be running in and the TT 3.0 worked great for this race with just a little bit of extra cushioning to help with all the downhill running. Not to mention it has been great getting to know a few of the team members at camp.

Injury, Training, and the Plan

With about 8 weeks of actual training after 6 weeks of zero running I really didn’t know how the race was going to go but after 3 long runs and a half marathon I felt strong and confident. I continued to do all of my normal bike and swim workouts leading up to the Saturday prior to the race. As usual I decided to follow Coach Patrick McCrann’s pacing guidelines that he shares at Endurance Nation and now Marathon Nation as well to make sure I did not go out too fast. This time it was particularly important because I was concerned with the limited training I did, plus I had to remember this was just meant to be a fun race as my big race is later in the year.
My race plan was simply to run the first 6 miles very easy, settle into a decent pace for the next 12, and then run last 8 as hard as I possibly could to see what I could do.

The Race

Mile 1-6: Starting back a few corals worked well as it forced me to stay at an easier pace for me for the first 6 miles. Of course I noticed right away that the course was definitely straight downhill but I was shocked at how narrow the road was. Again this was not big deal as I wanted to start out slow and I had no choice as there were 4,000 people in front of me.

Mile 7 to 16: Here I just slowly picked up my pace as planned. The course was still mostly downhill and I felt awesome so I did end up running a little quicker than I should have, but I couldn’t help it.

Mile 17 the road started to go up, but I stayed steady (although I was now working to run not trying to hold back) as my plan was to start running hard at 18. I started to really pace people at this point as everyone else seemed to slow down pretty quickly.

Mile 18 came and I tried to run fast, but I didn’t have any kick. I guess the downhill running affected me more than I thought it would. I did a few fast pickups and recoveries to try and get things going but I really didn’t have much. I did try to run as hard as I could at the time and all I had was a 6:15ish pace. About a mile and a half later all I could think of is man I am so screwed when heartbreak hill comes and if I can’t hold this pace now what’s going to happen when I hit the real hills. Well, next thing I knew I was running downhill, my legs were burning and a guy on a megaphone was congratulating us for going over heartbreak hill. Two thoughts instantly came to mind 1) Awesome, it’s all downhill from here 2) oh shoot, I just crushed myself and ran hard all the way up the toughest hill of the course and didn’t have anything left.

Miles 22 to 26.2 - My legs were DONE and I now had zero kick left. Interestingly the rest of my body felt just fine. My breathing and heart rate were under control and I was well fueled thanks to the two GU Roctane gels. My quads pretty much felt like they were on fire and my legs just did not want to move. Either way I just kept pushing as hard as I could I knew the sooner I made it to the finish the sooner I could stop running.

Thanks to the downhill I was able somewhat hold on for the last 4.2 miles and still managed to negative split the race overall. (1:25:28/1:24:11)

I ended up finishing in 2:49:39 which I’ve very pleased with everything considered. I knew I could go around 3:00 but I was hoping to break 2:50 and I did. It was only good enough to get me 504th place overall. I’m really glad there were that many faster runners there as I always had other people close by to work with and try to pass which I prefer over local races where I can’t even see anyone else at times.

Post Race
After most marathons my legs actually feel ok but the rest of my body is done. This time was different, my body felt fine but my quads were still on fire and getting stiff quick thanks to all the downhill running that I’m not used to. After a quick shower, some ALCiS on my quads and putting on my Zoot Recovery Compression Tights my legs felt much better. So the next mission was to get some food.

Up next
I am planning one more open half marathon this year to and then I switch to full triathlon training and racing. Thanks for reading and good luck to all the Zoot Ultra Team members racing soon. If you would like to read the long detailed version of my race report visit

- Matt

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