--Barry Magee, marathon bronze in Rome, 1960
Yesterday I had the experience of running my first marathon, which all things considered is a victory. I didn't get the time I wanted, but I did finish. I must thank my wife Patti and my 2 boys for the sacrifices made this past summer so that I could do my long runs and selfishly take the time I needed to support this goal, even on vacations. As I blogged about last week, it's a marathon of training just to get to the start line.
My finishing time was a pathetic 4:51 (official chip time 4:50:19) but more on that later. My half-marathon time was 2:15 (2:13-ish chip time), which at that point it looked like my goal time was in the bag.
|Mile 7.6 - Feeling Good|
|Mile 16.8, Thankful for the Support|
At 16.8 I was a little tired and getting sore and was thankful for the emotional support. In retrospect I shouldn't have expended any precious energy with hugs and gestures of appreciation.
Pre-Race and Prep
|Warming up calves for the hell that awaits!|
|1/4 mile from the Start Line - All Thumbs Up!|
I was watching my Heart Rate while waiting in the start-line queue. It was holding about 94, until things got close to starting. Then without moving a muscle it jumped to 128. With a canon blast at 8:02 the race was started and my HR was over 150 (and I hadn't even done anything yet!).
|Steamtown Elevation Drop|
The elevation drop for the first 8 miles completely fools the novice, and I was taken in big-time. I was pulling 10 minute splits and not even breaking a sweat, blowing past water stops and eating up the road.
My shinsplints and ankle that I KT-Taped earlier were doing just fine, and all those aches and pains I had during the last 2 taper weeks seemed to have gone away. I was off to a good start. The only concern I had was my heart rate was much higher than my training HR, and I knew in the back of head this could be trouble later on. I trained between 148 and 158, and I couldn't get it below 160 even while coasting.
My goal was a 4:30 with a 4:20 possibility. My first hint of trouble came at mile 12, when the energy and elevation drop were starting to wear off. I started to feel a bit tired but I shifted mentally and found an auto-pilot gear that kept me going on pace. At 13.1 I hit my half-marathon target. I was GU-ing every 3 miles (in training I did every 4) and it was working well.
|Pleasant Rail-Trail Section of the course|
Then it was onto the Rail Trail which was shady and nice - like the many miles I'd trained on. It was a good mental break and I was able to find some of that nature-peacefulness I'd come to enjoy on my runs.
I saw the family at 16.8 and shortly after I started to get into trouble. I came off the 2nd part of the trail just before mile 18 and my left quadracep announced its displeasure with me. Walking was impossible, so I shifted back into a light jog until it subsided. I continued on at a 12 minute pace for about 2 miles and then I was back on a trail - this one kinda soft and very uneven. I had to be mentally focused on foot placement--I didn't want to roll and ankle at this point.
When I got to mile 20 the joke was over and I started having serious issues. Every little downhill caused my quad to scream, and I was doing a part jog/part hobble motion. At one of the aid stations I grabbed some Icy-Hot rub and slathered it all over my quads and knees. Really, I don't think it helped much. When I got to the uphills I could make some time with my well-rested hamstrings. This worked until about mile 25, when my calves announced their unhappiness. They were trembling and spasming on the uphills now - I just couldn't catch a break.
Finally halfway into mile 25 I could jog a block, walk a block. Except for that "little hill" just before the final descent into downtown Scranton. I walked that and was scarfing up food from whomever was offering. I just couldn't process the GU's anymore, they were making me want to vomit. It was HOT! People were spraying runners down with hoses, and I took advantage of them all.
|Finish line in sight, with Kid Escorts!|
The temperature reading on the bank near the finish line said 87 degrees. Wow! I was glad to be done.
Where to From Here
In the days and weeks ahead I'll be dissecting the event and figuring out how to run a better marathon. I read no less than 3 books on running a marathon, but until you actually run one you have no idea what's coming. You train alone, but you run with many. You train your routes but you race the unfamiliar. You plan your long runs as a routine and almost boringly mundane event, but your marathon is nothing of the sort. You plan and time your training runs based on weather conditions, but on race day it is what it is.
|Pizza, perogies, bagel and a medal|