Below is WAY too much detail for anyone that is not a full on running geek (like me). But, here goes anyway. It's my therapy to write all this down....
Thursday and Friday off work
This is my first big race (more than 1,000 people), my first marathon, and my first race in DC. The DC thing is important, as all my previous races have been in the 'burbs where I can park near the start line, and wander over a few minutes before the start. I live about an hour out of DC on a good traffic day, and I had to drive to DC for packet pick up, and I was getting completely OCD / anxious about the race....so I just took the two days off. Thursday was packet pick up and Friday was spent "trying" to lounge around and rest up, since I had a 4:00 alarm for Saturday morning.
My wife, my planned ride to the race - has the full on flu. Luckily my son (18 yo) and his friend Gabe agreed to get up at 4:00 on a Saturday and drive me down there. Pretty awesome for two teenagers - shout out to Hunter and Gabe! Thank you very much!
Got to the race easy peasy, found the "drop off" zone, and walked over to the race start arriving around 5:45, plenty of time for the 7:00 start. Met some really nice people while waiting around for the race. Runners are all pretty cool, supportive people!
I've hit all my MP work in the low 6:40's - on stand alone workouts, and at the end of long runs. My plan is to run all the flat miles around 6:45, and let the pace go up on any uphill sections - the goal is to finish around 3:00. In addition to my workouts, my last HM was 1:25:30 and I've run Yasso 800's in 2:55 (x10) - all pointing to a 3:00 goal.
It was a cold and windy morning. 24 degrees at the start with 15 mph winds. 29 degrees at 10:00. I decided on two layers up top (one thicker), tights, gloves, and hat. this was about right, except my gloves were two thin...my hands went numb, and the ends of right hand fingers are still "tingly" - (might have some "real" damage?).
The course is quite hilly around DC. Two big hills at mile 6 and 23 - each about 200 ft. Garmin says the climbing for the whole race is a little over 1,000 ft.
About 6:30 I drank a bottle of UCAN; 6:50 I walked up to Corral 1, did my usual warm-up exercises of leg swings and lunge matrix, took off my extra (throw away) clothes, and off we went!
First 5 miles: Based on my Strava splits, I was able to control my pace the first 5 miles. I was in a pretty large group of guys, and settled in pretty good, got a little fast on mile 3 -
- Splits: 6:45 / 6:45 / 6:37 / 6:41 / 6:43 - (about right, maybe a little too fast).
- Splits: 6:54 / 7:04 / 6:44 / 6:36 / 6:39 - (pretty good considering the up's and down's)
- Splits: 6:47 / 6:59 / 6:49 / 6:41 / 6:48 - (still feeling good, but starting to feel the effort)
- Splits: 6:54 / 6:54 / 6:59 / 6:53 / 7:03
Mile 21-22: Starting to slow a little more now. Really trying to focus on the present, keep my form, and get some motivation going.....it's kinda' working. I was supposed to take a gel at mile 21 - I didn't. By mile 22 I'm struggling mightily....
- Splits: 7:02 / 7:32 - losing it....
Mile 23-26.3: Mile 23 is the second big hill of the race, about 200 feet. As soon as I started the climb my right hamstring locked up. I mean....STOPPED working and seized. I panicked some and tried to run thru it, then my left hamstring locked up. I started walking. Never had this before. Someone ran by and said "Want a gel?" I realized I hadn't taken my gel, so I took it while walking / jogging up the hill. Mile 24 was downhill, and I managed to run down it. Mile 25 was flat - and my calves cramped up and locked, and I wasn't even able to walk for a few minutes. I started getting cold and got the shakes. I tried to keep moving forward - walking / jogging / standing. Mile 26 was just about all walking. I couldn't even take two steps running. It really sucked, it felt like I was getting hypothermia. Around the mile 26 mark Kyle showed up again and walked along side me. He said something like "If you finish within 2 minutes you get a BQ" - this got me moving again. (Side note: I'll be 50 in a few months, so my Boston BQ is 3:25). I was able to sort of hobble to the finish....I was totally out of it at this point. Shaking from the cold, and I couldn't see or think straight.
- Splits: 10:27 / 8:31 / 11:26 / 15:37 / 4:11 (last bit)
I was completely out of it after the race. I was shaking uncontrollably and disoriented. Luckily, my son found me and walked me back to the car with my arm over his shoulder. I couldn't walk on my own. I put on dry clothes in the back of the car, threw up the little bit of post race Gatorade I could get down, and continued to shake terribly for an hour in the car - with my hips and calves continuing to cramp. It's been 24 hours post race now and I can walk - sort of - but stairs are very difficult.
- The marathon is the real deal. I can't "finish" on guts like races up to HM.
- I must have "hit the wall" around mile 21-22. I need to re-think my fueling...I think I need more calories / glycogen.
- Cramps - are what really stopped me in my tracks. I think I could have saved a 3:10 marathon if not for the cramping. I've already started researching how to stop the cramping....
- I've found some ideas on strength training
- Changes to my long runs (?)
- I've now run a marathon and know what everyone's talking about. I now GET IT.
- So...experience is the best lesson? Maybe....
- I will run another one some day...but I will also study what happened in this race and do my best to adjust and improve. I will get up again....I see the Myrtle Beach SC marathon is flat....that's one year away.
Sorry for the long post....thanks for reading. Any comments? Got your own marathon war stories?