Santa Rosa Marathon 2017

In Running, Race

Chip Time: 3:14:59 (7:27 min/mile)
Overall: 93/1046. Men: 81/572.
M25-29: 23/61. A/G: 63.06% (244/1046).
First Half: 1:30:44 (6:56 min/mile).
Bib #385.

Marathon #4. I PR’ed by about 2.5 minutes but failed to BQ by a long shot. I attempted to hang on with the 3:03 (6:58 min/mile) group, but fell apart around Mile 17 when my legs were suddenly bathed in lactic acid. No matter how much I tried, and despite 13 stretch and massage breaks, I couldn’t flush it out. The pain wouldn’t go away, and my legs wouldn’t move any faster.

In the end — I’m definitely bummed about not going to Boston next April, and also somewhat unhappy that I crashed at 17 miles. I thought I could hang on until Mile 20 before burning out! 🙂

Was this race worthwhile? Definitely. I was due for a hard race. This result falls in line with my current trajectory. I think I can be happy with that.


I’ve really only started running this year. But Boston has become a tantalizing goal. There were other “fun” races this weekend (e.g. the Talmapa 50K and the Giants Race). However, I knew I’d have zero chance to qualify for Boston 2018 if I didn’t at least try. I’ll have one less regret next April!


I was pretty stressed out during the week before this race, enough to disrupt my running schedule significantly. But at this point, that’s not unusual, and I got a needed rest break from running.

I felt like I got enough sleep, and despite waking up at 3:30am to get out the door by 4:30am, for a 6:30am start time, my head was pretty clear most of the race (unlike during the SF Marathon last month).

Training-wise… I was definitely undertrained for the goal I had in mind. Including the Skyline 50K early this month, I only ran 22 miles/week this month (before this marathon).



From the Start to Mile 17, I kept up with the 3:03 pace group. This was the fastest pace group available for this race (the fastest BQ time is 3:03 this year). There was just one pacer (whose name was also Victor), and we ran in a pack of about 12-15 runners.

From the onset, I knew that this group would be barely — just barely — within my ability. Statistical models predicted that, under completely ideal conditions, I would need close to a 100% effort.

Up until Mile 17, everything was great. My cardio felt great, my legs felt great, fueling felt great. Since I was running with a pace group, I didn’t have to think. So that was great. I was even able to take a few short walk breaks at aid stations, then catch up with the group.

### MILE 17 TO MILE 21

At Mile 17, trouble started. My legs started to burn. It wasn’t just one isolated muscle group, it was everything, from my calves to my quads to my hams to my glutes. This wasn’t unexpected, and I tried to run through it.

Slowly, I started to fall behind the group (which only had about 8-10 runners now). As I fell into an attempted 7:30 cruising speed, I finally lost sight of them between Miles 18 and 19.

As I continued, the discomfort got real… real fast. There was no cramping. There wasn’t even much soreness. The burning even subsided a bit. My legs just started to feel heavy. Very heavy. Finally, I decided that stretch breaks were in line.

### MILE 21 TO MILE 24

The breaks helped but not much. I dropped to a miserable 8-minute pace (miserable because it just required so much more effort to hold). My only consolation was that I was finally “passing” other runners again… haha. (The half-marathon route shares the marathon route after Mile 20.)

Somewhere around Mile 21 or 22, the 3:08 pacers passed me. There were two of them, and they had already lost their group. I made a brief attempt to stay with them, but my legs were killing me.

As I stopped to stretch, I wondered where this race ranked in suffering… I decided that, of my marathons so far:

1. I hurt the most during my first marathon, in Vienna this past April. Calf cramps.
2. I hurt the second most during the SF Marathon last month (July). Disorientation and cardio (?).
3. I hurt the least during the Seattle RnR Marathon in June. Upset stomach. Minor cramping.

Honors also went to my Oakland half-marathon this past April when I overheated, nearly DNF’ed, and spent close to an hour in the medical tent afterward.

Among those races, this race seemed to tie for second.


Just before Mile 24, my heart dropped. The 3:13 pace group had caught up to me. I thought about trying to keep up with them. But, they were moving fast! Either I had slowed significantly, or they were making time (it was the former).

I attempted again to push as the Last 1.2 Miles approached. But, the tree cover (which had been shielding me and other runners from the rapidly increasing temperature) gave way. The sudden heat was suffocating. Still, the end was in reach.

As I crossed the finish line, I wondered if I had at least broken 3:15. I looked down at my watch. 3:15:05. I saw Dave, a friend who was also racing with me, wave from the finisher area for a second, before burying my face in my arms.


Not all races should be “good”. If they are, the bar isn’t high enough. If I ran this race again with my current condition and under identical circumstances, would I have tried pacing again at 3:03? It was foolhardy, yes. But I would do it, every time. That was the whole point; if I hadn’t started out that fast, again, there would’ve been zero chance of a BQ.

But next time, I’ll actually try to peak before attempting it. And by next time, I mean at CIM this December.


Only one confirmed race so far, at the moment. CIM. December 3rd, 2017.

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