Monday, October 10, 2011

Back-to-Back Plan of Attack

First marathon in 2009
Only five days now ...  until my first back-to-back marathon challenge!!!  I feel kinda like I did when I ran my first marathon at Little Rock, Arkansas in 2009.  I'm pretty confident I can get through it, BUT there is still a lot of uncertainty.  I mean 26.2 miles in two consecutive days ... within 24 hours of each other ... well that just sounds crazy!  But hopefully my training was adequate and I'll be okay.  I know thousands of folks run back-to-backs without any trouble - but like everything else, when it's your first time, there's a little apprehension.

Hopefully even if I have to walk the last 10 miles, I'll finish.  But if you've read my blog for a while, you know I have to have a goal to push me.  For some reason it sharpens my focus - like I'm not just running aimlessly.  So like all other races I've ran, I have a couple of goals in mind ...

Goal Times
Saturday - Kansas City Marathon ... 3:45-3:50 finish ... 8:35 pace 
Sunday - Des Moines Marathon ... 3:29 finish ... 7:59 pace

If you've ever ran Kansas City, you know it's fairly hilly.  I know many of you are thinking, "Kansas City ... hilly???"  Yes, we actually have hills in Kansas and Missouri!  So honestly, I really don't care much about the 3:45 goal on Saturday.  I just plan on taking it smooth and slow.  When there's a hill, I'll just slow down and focus on a good finish.  Saturday is just not the "real" goal.

But Sunday at Des Moines, I would really like to finish under 3:30.  For me, that would be AWESOME!!!  If I could finish the second of two marathons in two days under 3:30 ... I would be very satisfied.  (And this is coming from someone who is never satisfied with his performance)

BUT ... understand the "real goal" is JUST TO FINISH!!! These paces are only something to keep me focused ... just something to shoot for. And based on my training runs, I think I can be in these "pace ballparks".  But, if I don't hit them ... I won't be disappointed at all!  I just want to make it through my first back-to-back challenge healthy and ready to PR by the end of the year in Alabama in December.

I've done quite a bit of training, not only with mileage obviously, but also with planning out my nutrition.  A special thank you to Jason of CookTrainEatRace, and Hannah of SeeHannahRun, who both gave me great advice on refueling.  Jason suggested smoothies ... which have done the trick and been a great idea.  And Hannah reminded me to refuel during the races, which honestly I had gotten away from a little.  For these races, I'll be using Stinger gels.  To me, they taste like pure honey - but seem to be the best gels I've found.  The toughest and most important element for me in back-to-back long runs has been getting enough fuel in my system for the second day.  This hasn't been as easy as it sounds.

Getting "enough fuel" sounds simple right?  I mean don't you just eat everything in site before the second race?  Not exactly ... I tried that!  I've found that it means putting the right formula back into your system so you have appropriate energy the second day, without feeling like a stuffed turkey on Thanksgiving.  Fortunately, I think I finally have the right combination.  It worked perfectly last weekend when I did 24 & 22 miles on Saturday & Sunday.  Hopefully it was an accurate dress rehearsal.

We've also had to do a little special planning to coordinate two races, in two cities that are about 3-1/2 hours apart, in 24 hours.  I live in Kansas City, so that one's easy.  Plus I've ran KC several times before, so I kinda know the drill and exactly where everything is.  Fortunately, I work in Des Moines all the time, so I don't think this will be a big deal either.  I'm really familiar with the city, and it should just be a matter of finish KC, zoom to DSM, pick up the packet for Sunday, and chill at the hotel or go watch a movie or something on Saturday night! Hopefully stress-free!

Michael and my kids have been great as well!  My son Gage, is planning on watching me finish in KC.  And my daughter Madison, and her FIANCE Nate (more on that later), are actually making the trip to Iowa to watch the old man limp across the finish line.  So it should be a great weekend!  Hopefully everything goes well.

Now all that's left are a few final logistics - which I won't bore you with - and rest.  I don't usually taper ... sometimes at all ... but this week I'm really taking it easy.  I had back-to-back 12 milers this weekend, and will probably only run about 15-20 more miles before the gun at Kansas City.  Thank you for all of  your support and hopefully I won't let you down ... ha!  Have a great week!
... be great today!


  1. Jim, good luck! I know you will be great this weekend! Can't wait to hear all about it!

  2. "thousands of people do this" pshhhht! Who are you kidding? You know you are awesome and most people would not even attempt backt to back marathons. I know you will do great. You have the aerobic ability but more than that you have the drive and the passion.

    Best of luck!!! I will be thinking about you all weekend.

  3. You will be awesome this weekend! I can't believe that you are doing 2 marathons back-to-back, but it is definitely inspirational. Good luck - look forward to reading all about it!!

  4. Yours will be my most-anticipated race report of the coming weekend. What an adventure! Best of luck, Jim. I think you make those goals.

  5. I agree with Terzah...I can't wait to read about your success!

  6. Good luck to you this weekend, Jim!

  7. You are going to nail them both, I just know it!! I think it's going ot be a mental challenge more than anything and you are so mentally strong!!

    Say hi to Des Moines for me (I'm from Iowa originally :)).

  8. I love this! All the best and enjoy the challenge. Back in the day...1990's to be exact I often did back to back marathons and ultras. We have a competition here in SA to see who can run the most kilometers in races in a year. We used to chase that and I did 5000+ (3107miles) two years in a row and 3000+(1864 miles) 3 times. Crazy but fun. Now it is to expensive. We usually ran 3 or 4 races every week. The record is 8000km (4971miles) in races in one year...unbelievable! Good luck this weekend! Will think of you.

  9. What? "Let us down"?? Never. You're our running hero!

  10. I can't wait to see how the weekend goes! I am sure it will be awesome!

    Go get 'em!

  11. I'm with Rachelle, thousands of people do not do this every year, I'd go with maybe hundreds, haha

    I know that you have time goals, but above all I would just try to think of both races like long training runs. And just run what your body feels like instead of chasing a time. I don't want you to get injured pushing yourself too hard out there...

    And congrats on KC Chiefs getting back on it with 2 straight victories! They are looking a little better now. The Dolphins, Colts, and Rams look horrible though. I think the Dolphins will end up getting Andrew Luck, they look horrendous right now

  12. You will do awesome! I honestly can't wait to hear how it goes. You've worked and trained for it, and you're ready. Have fun!

  13. I had commented on this in an earlier post - I thought that the most challenging part of all of this was traveling and getting to the Expo. I think that you have this - you are trained and psyched to go (now at mile 20 on Sunday - keep telling yourself this)

    It sounds like you are flying, the nurse in me wants you to do everything to prevent a DVT (a blood clot in your leg). Hydrate very well before your flight, drink a bottle of water and do leg exercises on the flight. You can find the exercises in the back of the airplane magazine.

    Can't wait to read the blog - should be fun.

  14. Good Luck Jim. It'll be interesting to hear about your experience and especially how you feel on Monday.

    In answer to your question about the hooters. We have a very strange tradition at some of the major marathons where a very busty young woman stands on a cherry picker. When it's time for the race to start she sings the national anthem and lifts up her top - the hooters go off! You can imagine the mayhem at the start line. But it's all in the name of fun.

    And for the real answer - the hooter is a klaxon horn.

  15. Jim - good luck on this incredible challenge. Here I am worrying about one marathon and you're doing two both at a faster pace. Haha! I can't wait to hear all about it. It will be fantastic.

  16. Good Luck Jim, Can't wait to hear about it!!

  17. A. You're nuts.
    2. Good luck!
    d. Can't wait to hear about it! :)

  18. Good Luck! Heck of a challenge for an old guy.

  19. Congrats on Madi getting engaged! I'm assuming that there will be a post about it, I bet people will like to hear about the story.

    Yea, Stanford has had a very weak schedule so far - but it gets harder the rest of the way, with USC, Washington, Oregon, Notre Dame and CAL coming up. So we will see what the team is made of soon.

  20. Good luck to you Jim. Also I did note that you said your daughter's fiance. Tell Maddie I say congrats to her.


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