Charleston Marathon 2015 Race Report

Matt O'NealWell, I finally did it. I struggled through about four months of training and ran my first marathon. First, I’ll recap the last couple of weeks since I’ve been lazy about posting on here lately.

I hit my peak week (for mileage) about three weeks ago. My peak was just over 50 miles which is okay as I’ve only been running for a little over six months and that was about as high as I could safely ramp up during the four month training plan. My goal was to taper for three weeks, with mileage of roughly 45, 35 and 25 the weeks leading to the marathon. That plan pretty much hit a snag after a particularly hard 8-mile Friday tempo run. I set a new pace threshold (about 8:20 per mile) but my right knee was aching the next day. So Saturday’s 6-miler got postponed altogether– which was the first time I could not make a scheduled run in the last four months. I thought that maybe with an extra day off, I could still do Sunday’s long run, my last 12-miler before the race. Come Sunday morning… not so. My knee pain was worse and I could barely limp through a couple of miles. Uh oh. Three weeks until the marathon and I could only log 28 miles for the entire week. I’m in trouble.

Long story short… I had to take another couple of days off. I managed a few easy 6-mile runs that week and an easy 10-miler on Sunday for a total of 30 miles for the week. All on the treadmill as it was cold and miserable outside. The week before the marathon and my knee pain was tolerable but I only logged 15 miles before Saturday’s race.

The trip to Charleston was nice. Hot wife and I took off work Thursday and Friday. We drove down Thursday, checked into the Historic Renaissance Hotel downtown and had dinner at Poogan’s Porch in the evening. We skipped breakfast Friday, went to pick up our race packets, stopped by The Citadel (my alma mater) and ate a lot of pasta at an Olive Garden for lunch. Dinner was a moderate meal at Leaf, another fancy restaurant downtown.

Saturday morning we ate some peanut butter bagles and got dressed for the 2-mile walk to the starting line. We dropped off our bags that were trucked to the finish line. It was a pretty smooth operation altogether.

Then at 8am, we gathered at the starting line with a couple thousand of our closest friends. I didn’t look at my watch when the gun went off but the race started within a minute or two of when it was supposed to. There were no corrals but it wasn’t too cluttered for the first couple hundred yards and it wasn’t too hard to get with your pace group.

Mile 1: I quickly settled in to my goal 9:00 pace and 160-165 heart rate. I saw the 3:45 pace guy and though to myself, I’d better slow a bit as I know I can’t hang with this group.

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Day 102 CMTP – 5 Miles Easy

I need to get back to logging my workouts daily, especially since I’m starting my taper this week. After last week’s peak of 51 miles, and yesterday’s difficult 16-miler, today was an easy 5 miles on the treadmill.

My feet and knees were aching a bit for a good part of the day but I lifted weights after supper and did my first stretching routine from Pfitzinger and Douglas’s “Advanced Marathoning.” And miraculously, my knees and feet felt better by the time I jumped on the treadmill. Of course, I waited until about 11pm before I ran (not the best idea).

Overall, it was a decent recovery run. Five easy miles, keeping my heart rate under 150 with an rTSS of 68.5. My knees were aching slightly by the time I finished but nothing major. I have a hard run tomorrow then a day off Wednesday. Hopefully, I’ll be completely over this cold/flu and with this week’s lower mileage, it’ll be a good recovery week.

Days 95-101 CMTP – Weekly Summary

Total miles: 50.9
Duration: 8 hours, 28 min
TSS: 698

December 22-28th was a tough week for running. Despite the fact that it covered the Christmas holiday, I was feeling under the weather all week. Since I put off last Sunday’s long run, this week needed to be a peak week for January’s marathon training plan. December 25th and 26th were probably my sickest days of cold and flu-like symptoms, but I pretty much took Nyquil at night and Dayquil and Sudafed every day all week. It wasn’t too cold all week (40-50s) but it was rainy and overcast which lasted pretty much through tonight. That being said, every day but Sunday’s long run was done inside on the treadmill. Running days for this past week were:

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Days 88-94 CMTP – Weekly Summary

Performance Management Chart - Running

Total miles: 45.2
Duration: 7 hours, 5 min
TSS: 647

My trend for the last few months has been to spend three consecutive weeks increasing total mileage and then dropping back a few miles in the fourth week. My last three weeks have been 42, 45 and 50 miles, and I’ve been feeling it this week (tired legs and slight pain in my right knee). I wasn’t sure how this week was going to play out so I started the week strong (heavier mileage than usual) with the plan to hit 55 or so miles if my legs felt up to it. If not, and I was dragging by the weekend, I would stop somewhere in the mid-40s. Alas, I was dragging by Sunday and decided to put off my last long run before the marathon until next weekend. I’m now glad I did as after only doing six miles today, my legs feel much better right now. If I had pushed through and done 12-14 miles today, I think I would have sabotaged my runs for the next few days.

You can see from my latest Performance Management Chart above that it has flattened out without a long run today, but it was climbing at a pretty solid slope the last couple of weeks. Running days for this past week were:

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Wounded Warrior Half Marathon 2014 Race Report


Okay, so I’m writing this several weeks after the race but I’ll recap here for historic purposes. Ie, in case I need to look back later and recall anything about it. First, this was just over half way through my Charleston Marathon Training Plan, so I went into this considering it just another long Sunday run. Well, I took it a little more serious than a typical long run, but my goal was simply to run it comfortably.

The race was put on by Bishop’s Events and was pretty well done for a small-time operation. It was in a beautiful location– Prince William Forest Park near Quantico, VA (maybe 45 minutes south of DC). I left the house about 6:00 am to make it there for a 7:30 start. It was 34 degrees at the start which was the coldest weather I’d ever run in. I brought some tights but opted not to wear them as I saw a lot of other runners walking around in shorts and I was thinking it would warm up a little over the next couple of hours. That was a fool decision as I froze my tail off the whole race. And the temperature when I finished was still 34 degrees. Oh well. Lesson learned.

We took off a couple minutes after 7:30 with about 165 runners. My rough goal was to run the first eight miles or so at a heart rate of 165 and pick it up to 170+ for the last five if I felt up to it.

Miles 1-2: about an 8:45 pace at 166 bpm and only a few rolling hills. I’m fine with this. Anything under a 9:10 pace would bring me in at under two hours.

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Day 71 CMTP – 6 Miles Easy

Easy run today. It was still pretty cold outside so I did an quick six miles on the treadmill. I used one of the pre-loaded iFit programs; this one called “Heartbreak Hill.” It turns out this was the last six miles of the Boston Marathon. Pretty cool. But a couple of miles into it the 4.5-5 percent uphill was a little too much so I backed it down and did most of the run at a 0-1 percent grade.

I just needed to get about nine miles in today and tomorrow to reach my weekly goal (counting the 13 miles for Sunday’s race). I was either going to split it 5-4 or 6-3. I ended up doing six today which is nice that I can do a very easy three miles tomorrow (Saturday) and should go into the Wounded Warrior Half Marathon fairly well rested. We’ll see.

Day 70 CMTP – 8 Mile Tempo (Fast Finish)


Nice run this afternoon. It’s Thanksgiving Day and I should have run this morning but I was holding out for the weather to warm up a bit. It hardly did and I took off about 3:30 pm with it still being about 39 degrees outside.

Since today was supposed to be a tempo run, I decided to run the first four miles at or near marathon/tempo pace and run the four miles back a bit faster. I did the four miles out at roughly a 9:10 pace and the four miles back at about an 8:15-8:20 pace. Total run was at an 8:44 pace with average heart rate of 162. I’m happy enough with this. I should be able to do a half marathon at a 162 HR and an 8:44 pace would be about a 1:52 half marathon time. That would be a full 10 minutes better than my first 13-miler. We’ll see if I can do it in a couple of days!

Overall it was a solid run. My rTSS was 122 and my pace/effort was about where my current level of fitness says it should be.


Day 68 CMTP – 6 x 1/4 Mile Hill Repeats


Tough run this afternoon. It was freezing cold, and as it was my Speedwork Tuesday, I needed to do some type of interval training. I decided on 1/4 mile hill repeats as I can do them close to the house and if I get too tired (or cold), I can quit and come home any time. I jogged a warm-up mile and took off from the bottom of the cul-de-sac in my neighborhood. My goal was to do 6-8 these between a 7:30-8:00 pace and of course I did the first one too hard. Splits for today’s run:

Pace, Max Heart Rate
1) 7:01, 183
2) 7:32, 180
3) 7:34, 184
4) 7:29, 182
5) 7:30, 182
6) 7:22, 185

Overall it was a pretty tough run. I was disappointed that my rTSS was only 86 as I felt for certain it would be over 100. The next time I do this run I’m going to make a conscious effort to run them at closer to an 8:00 pace and try my best to get through 8-10 repeats.

Day 60-66 CMTP – Running Week in Review

This is going to be a weekly recap since I’ve gotten so far behind in logging my runs. I might go back and try to fill in a few of them. I did do all my runs since my last post, just haven’t put them on the blog.

So this week was Days 60 through 66 of my Charleston Marathon Training Plan. I did 44 miles last week and this was a step-back week (goal of 38-40 miles). Basically, I’m gradually increasing my total mileage for three weeks in a row, then step back a week, and then repeat this four week cycle until I’m averaging between 45-50 miles a week. I think that’s probably going to be where I hit my max. Specifics for this week’s runs:

Monday, 6 miles easy
Tuesday, 4 x 1/2 and 4 x 1/4 repeats (6 miles total)
Wednesday, Standard day off, weightlifting only
Thursday, 5 miles tempo, 3 miles pyramid
Friday, 6 miles easy
Saturday, 4 miles easy
Sunday, 8.7 miles, LSD

Tuesday was a pretty decent run. I ran on the treadmill, starting with a mile warm-up. Then I did four 1/2 mile repeats (speed of 8) with a one minute slow recovery. I then did four 1/4 mile repeats (speed of 9), also with a one minute slow recovery. I didn’t do any cool-down. I was pretty worn out.

Wednesday morning was a 5-mile tempo run. I have no idea what my paces were but my heart rate was in the low 160′s. That’s why I need to write my running log entries every day. In the evening I did another three miles on the treadmill. I did half-mile splits at speeds of 6, 7, 8, 7, 6 and 6. Neither of these runs were too tough. And probably not as beneficial as they should have been… other than keeping up with my base mileage.

Sunday was the only other run of substance. I just needed to do 8-9 miles (remember this is a step-back week). I ran the Maxwell Hall loop in the neighborhood. It starts about 0.8 miles from my house and is almost a six-mile very hilly loop. Then the 0.8 miles back to the house makes this a roughly 7.5 mile loop. I did a down-and-back into one of the side roads to get the total run over eight miles. All told, it was 8.7 miles at a pace of 9:30 and average HR of 157. Note, my NGP, which is adjusted for the hills, was a 9:05. I’m happy enough with this.

Overall it was a decent week but my TSS was only 588 and my Performance Management Chart has gotten flat for the last 10 days or so. Yep, I need to pick up the effort after next week’s Wounded Warrior Half Marathon.