how to have a devon day

The SF Marathon- race report

photo credit Tony Medina

Heading into Sunday's Wipro San Francisco Marathon, I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to win. I have run this race twice before and neither time was the my primary objective. The first time I ran it, I paced my sister the whole way through as it was her first marathon. Last year, Nathan and I ran it together and I used it as a training run leading up to WC100k.

Despite really wanting to win, I also was not sure I could. After Comrades, I took the month of June easy and once I started back training in July, I was doing more base building and moderate mileage than peak training. I did one track workout and one tempo workout before SF Marathon, with the later happening Tuesday before the race (you know, since it is such a great idea to run sub 5 min pace before you run a marathon). Needlesstosay, I had no real basis for judging what kind of shape I was in. I felt like I was running well, but had no training indicators to buoy my fitness.

So I did what anyone would do in my postion: go for broke and see what happens.

 photo credit SFM

Before the race, I familiarized myself with some of the competition and looked at marathon PR's across the board to carefully consider the capabilities and speed of the field. Knowing SF is a much harder course than most, I knew the times would be slower but wanted to be mentally prepared if I was going to have to go out on PR pace practically. When I got to the starting line, I knew I had the fastest PR in the group by nearly 11 minutes. While I didn't necessarily think I was in PR shape, I knew that I would likely be looked to dictate the pace and lead the field.

photo credit SFM

Anna Bretan (sister of my fellow ninja Jonathan Bretan) is a two time winner of the Oakland marathon. She is tough on a tough course. Before the race she told me that Jonathan told her to keep an eye on me and stay with me. Standing on the start line, I decided on my strategy. If the field was going to look to me to dictate pace, then I was going to take the race out hard and splinter the field early, after which I could settle into the pace (2:45) that I thought it would take to win.

The gun went off and I just went for it. As I started running, I considered if it was a smart strategy. My legs didn't feel warmed up and I knew that taking the race out on 2:37 pace was risky for me as well. I could blow up hard later. I didn't want to be scared though. Part of learning to race marathons for me has been learning how to get in the pain cave and relish it. To hurt and keep pushing. I figured that this race was a perfect opportunity to practice racing and hone my skill.
photo credit SFM

I clicked along at around 6 minute pace and charged towards the Golden Gate bridge with a little pack of ladies and guys tucked in behind me. The first 6 miles only have one real kicker of a hill, so it felt good to get the legs turning over. I wasn't sure how many ladies were with me as we headed up the steep climb to the bridge. I was pretty sure that at least a handful had backed off from my kamikaze of a start. I felt really good though and knew that I was going to have a solid day. I just felt strong. Not necessarily as fast as I've felt, but just felt able to maintain the pace all day long.

photo credit SFM

I run back and forth and back and forth across the bridge for training all the time. I know its curve, I know how hard to push when. By the time I was headed back to the SF side, I knew that my strategy had paid off. A quick glance over my shoulder registered that I was gapping the field and pulling away. I fell in with a group of guys and worked my way towards the park. I rolled with the hills, not throttling back too much on the few challenging up and hit the park feeling good. I was excited to feel so good heading into the park because I knew that the second half was faster and if I was feeling good I might be able to even or negative split. I passed through the halfway point just around 1:22. 

To the beach and back is one of my bread and butter runs (speaking of Bread and Butter, have you checked out our Kickstarter campaign yet?!?!), so I locked in and got my legs moving fast as the course slopped downhill. I was running with a guy named Gavin who was doing his first marathon. It was nice to have the company and we caught another duo shortly thereafter, whom I helped coach through a bad patch, reassuring them their race wasn't falling apart because they felt crap. That instead they just each needed to take a gel. I spent a few miles with them and then decided to push on ahead. I got onto the Stow Lake loop that is next to the 1st half finish and was excited to see Nathan, Georgia and Larissa (with the whole Strava crew).

 photo credit Tony Medina
I was on my own then. Just pushing along, managing my time and my energy. I apparently had not been running tangents well because my mileage vs. the markers was off, so I just resolved to stay locked in on my 6:11min/mile pace and focus on that. Loping down the Haight the cheers for me changed from "yeah 1st woman" (in the park) to suddenly "you are second woman!". Wait, what? I was confused and told the leader bicycle pacer that people were saying I was second. There are two places on the course where it is possible to get confused and cut off significant mileage. I figured that someone had turned left going into the park and skipped the bottom section of the park (which friends later confirmed). The bike pacer took off after the woman and I decided to turn her into a rabbit instead of being frustrated by the situation. I knew I was winning, but I also wanted my moment. If I am going to win, I want to come tearing into the finish line and break the tape. 

I pushed the pace on a few downhills into the mission and turning on to 16th spotted the lost lady. Her pace was significantly slower and I ate up ground and passed her quickly. With less than 5 miles to the finish line, I was starting to smell the barn. I wasn't sure what my gap was on the field, but I knew that if anyone was going to catch me, I was going to make them earn it. I just locked in and went. 

 photo credit Tony Medina

I never felt bad. I felt like a machine. I did work through the Dogpatch and crossed the bridge to ATT park flying. I looked at my watch and saw that even with the extra .25 miles I had run that I was going to be able to run sub 2:45. I pushed myself towards the finish line. Hitting the mile 26 sign I looked at my watch (marathon split 2:42:44) and pressed forward. The finish line announcer was saying that they had word that I was at ATT park a few minutes out, but I was flying down the finishing straight. The announcer caught sight of me and the crowd started going wild. I soaked it in. This is what I came for, this is what I had earned. I came to represent for my home and I protected my home turf.


photo credit Tony Medina

Victory. I have to say that this is one of the more satisfying wins I've had. It wasn't just about the fact that I won. It was that I ran the race I wanted to, I took risks, I pushed myself. I came to win: mission accomplished.
Photo from SF Gate

Thanks to The San Francisco Marathon for inviting me as an elite (and putting me in bib #2 for motivation!), North Face and all of my other sponsors!

Nothing


It's been just over three weeks since ING NYC Marathon and I am back to training, gearing up for the Olympic Trials in Houston in just 49 days. The first week after NYC my hamstrings were tight but I ran almost 60 miles. I didn't push the pace, I just had fun and I came out of the week feeling very rested and ready to go.

Last week marked the beginning of my training. I hit 97 miles with some great quality sessions, ran lots of doubles, saw my massage therapist, stretched every day, did core work, saw my trainer twice, rolled on the foam roller, ate a healthful training diet. Simply put, I am living and running like it is my job. I am focusing on the details and making sure I am doing absolutely everything to arrive at the start line of the Trials ready for a huge breakthrough.

This week I have continued to hammer out the runs, hit my marks in specific workouts and pay attention to all those small details. I feel like I have good momentum heading towards the harder weeks of training.

I realized today that I have one big huge problem with the "living and running like it is my job" lifestyle: nothing. Specifically, doing nothing. I have a really hard time with the passive part of training and adaptation, it is hard for me to kick back for hours and let the training sink in. I have to fight the feeling that I should be doing something more, else, otherwise.

I have structured my work to ensure that I have ample time to complete my workouts and training as well as make it possible to have days where I have no client commitments or demands other than running, planning meals for my clients, researching recipes and keeping up on the food trends.  By design, I have put in blocks of "nothing" time on my schedule so that during that time I can do whatever I want. I can read a book, watch a movie, take a nap, tick things off my to do list, whatever my heart desires. And yet, I find myself struggling occupy that space without my mind objecting.

Now, more than ever the ability to relax and do nothing is vital to my training. I have to continue to work on kicking back and relaxing after pushing my body hard in training. I have to bask in the ability to have leisure time in my day and not be torn between a 1,000 things. I just think it is so easy to get wrapped up in the go, go, go of daily life that when things slow down, I don't know what to do with myself.

Nothing is my friend. Nothing is the space where I will become something. Just like I will continue to dig deep in training, I will continually try to embrace the little details and accept the nothing into my life, remembering as I curl up on the couch with my feet up, sipping a mug of tea; "this is part of my training".

What are your strategies for slowing down and enjoying your leisure time?

How To Have a "Devon Day" ebook

Introducing....





What you see above are the cover, table of contents and a sampling of the introduction, including the definition of a "Devon Day". I developed this guide after the LA marathon when I realized that my successes were coming as a direct result of the framework I was using in my training. The framework was not just specific to LA, in fact, part of the excitement of writing this book was doing in depth research into all of my own training and realizing that I have had four "Devon Days" or breakthrough performances in the space of less than 2 years. Though my training and goals were different for each of these races, the framework was the same and ultimately so was the result: successfully reaching my ideal goal.

In this guide, I walk you through the framework and talk about the aspects of my formula for success. This includes how we define our goals and the specific training aspects that make the most difference in reaching our goals. For me, the goal was qualifying for the Olympic Trials but this framework can work for anyone and any goal!

How to Have a Devon Day: A Runner's Guide to a Breakthrough Performance.

(Click on Add to cart to purchase for just $9.99)

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