An Ultrarunning Blog

Seattle Marathon 2011: CrossFail.

Returning to the Seattle Marathon this year was an end and a beginning. It was my last scheduled race for 2011, a year which took me to levels of endurance I had not yet known. I was fortunate enough to run the Cascade Crest and somehow get my legs across the finish line. The experience of that race is still teaching me about myself. After the race, I took some much needed and desired time off from running. Sure I still got out every now and then, was running to and from work everyday (a total of about 11-12 miles). But as far as hardcore training, nothing. I took time to go visit my friends Dave and Katie in Hawaii as a treat to myself for training non-stop from February until the race at the end of August. Lack of ‘marathon training’ aside, I still wanted to achieved my best time yet, breaking 3:30 and predicting that I would finish somewhere in the 3:20-3:25 range.

Since I knew my weakness in training was getting physically stronger, I wanted to pursue something during the ‘off-season’ to help get me ready for next summer’s races, whatever they may be. On recommendation from a friend in Seattle, I decided to check out CrossFit. I was introduced by a 1 hour one-on-one session. I was intimidated. I quickly saw what I already knew about myself: I am weak. I signed up for the one week introduction to CrossFit techniques class and realized how effective a training tool it was going to be. However, I neglected to realize that my first week of actual CrossFit classes would fall right before the Seattle marathon. From my training for a 100-miler, my body has become used to running sore. CrossFit pushed my body into new levels of soreness. Total body soreness.

I drove my incredibly sore body to Seattle still holding on to a dream of finishing quickly. I met up with Paul and Jeanne briefly before the race and then began what is my biggest bonk yet. I finished the first half of the marathon pretty on point and still feeling as good as I could after my first week of CrossFit. My core was tight; my upper body was tight; my legs were tight. Just before the half-way point I had to adjust the stupid timing chip the Seattle Marathon Association has yet to change because it was cutting in my ankle. A wound that is honestly still healing as I type this over a month later. At about the 17 mile marker I was ready to push myself and get the race over with. The pouring rain and bitter cold was getting to me and I just wanted to be inside sipping a warm drink. As I kicked in to high gear, my legs lit up in a pain I could only attribute to CrossFit. I had to stop, walk, and massage my ceasing hamstring as I realized my proposed finish time was not going happen. So I decided to finish as strongly as I could given all the circumstances. I ended up finishing in 3:47:41. That is 2 minutes slower than last year and slower than I have finished a marathon in a while. I was not happy with the finish but definitely happy to be finished.

Given my time off from training and sore body from CrossFit, I cannot be too upset with my time. And as is becoming my new tradition, I use the Seattle marathon to kick off my winter training. The initial body shock of CrossFit has worn off and I am able to go to it 3 times a week and run 3 days a week. I will begin increasing my mileage throughout January.

Thanks again, Seattle marathon. An end to 2011, a great year of running. A beginning to 2012, what I hope to be an even better year with more exiting challenges.



2 responses

  1. Dude, you are gonna be a trail running machine after cross-fit. And you proved to yourself you can run a marathon under less than ideal body conditions…awesome for your mental resilience bank when you run a crazy ultra like Western States or Hard Rock, which I definitely want to see in-person.

    January 3, 2012 at 9:47 am

  2. Hey Josh – I think this is good news. The marathon is hard in ways that trail races aren’t (a lot harder, I’m starting to think). I sent a couple of these links but wanted to get them here in case you find them useful.

    Greg McMillan has this online running calculator that takes performances at different levels and approximates fitness for other events for a similar effort and fitness level. Trail races have too many variables and don’t work for this kind of analysis, but I’ve found it pretty reliable (my 2 mile, 5k, 10k, and half times all mostly line up).

    There are other systems and I think this site is probably the best since it combines Purdy, VO2 (Daniels, I think) and others and gives you some options and averages:

    However the McMillan is roughly adequate and the thing I especially like about it are the guidelines for where you should aim your speed workouts.

    The other workout I specifically think can be helpful are Yasso 800’s. These are documented on a ton of sites and this workout was invented by Bart Yasso, but it’s 10×800 @ goal marathon pace with recovery equal to the interval. Happy running!

    January 3, 2012 at 11:47 am

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