Granted, I was unprepared. But I was fueled by the intrinsic motivation to be able to say both figuratively and literally "Screw you" if I crossed the finish line.
- 5:00 am Marathon Morning. I awoke to the alarm, a distant buzz on the other side of the bedroom which would ensure the actual movement from my bed to silence the noise.
- 5:10 am Breakfast of champions. Bananas and peanut butter. I don't like either, together OR apart. Having to wash it down with a Power Gel? Priceless.
- 6:00 am Time for a hot shower and Motrin. Anything to loosen up the muscles before they get raked over the proverbial coals.
- 6:15 am I headed out the door, leaving a silent and sleeping house behind me. In fact, not even Riley, our dog, wanted to wake up when I slipped out the door.
I arrived downtown around 6:45 and spent the next 1.5 hours contemplating dropping out and just going to hang out and watch the runners.
8:30 am - Race Start. After the gun went off I looked around and realized I actually started at the very back of the 5000+ pack. The entire back. Like where the special needs people start... that means my starting picture is with the Special Olympics of this marathon. Great!
Nowhere to go but up!
From this point onwards, time was not a relative measure. I would experience my day in a measurement of distance....distance ran to be precise.
- 10k Did the first 10k in 58 minutes...which was my goal so far.
- 14k I started to think my training motto of "Hills and Pavement are for race day" may have been misguided. Pavement is HARD and hills are STEEP!
- 16k I thought back to my chiropractors advice on "If your neck siezes up before 15k, then drop out. If not, then you'll maybe be ok". I recall her stressing the 'maybe', which was I am now sure for "like a 5% chance it won't" sort of 'maybe'.
- 16.5k Yep. My neck seized up. Good thing I made it to 15k and no backing down now!
- 20k I arrived with little fanfare, just under the 2 hour even mark. Slow and steady....
- 24k You know they say not to try new food out on race day? Well, I went against that. PowerGel has a new product out that tastes and looks like a Gummy Bear, but with a gel filling. Mmmmm...
- 26k I start to realize I have done about 150k of running in the past month in preparation for this race. That means my race accounts for 25% of my total running in the past 5 weeks. Usually over a 15 week program you ramp up and do about 600km. Whoops.
- 27k I am officially on my longest run since the Marathon last year. I feel it too....
- 28k I could feel the PowerGel Gummy Bear rolling around in my stomach....yes, perhaps it IS true not to try new things on race day...
- 30k At a 3:05 timing I have officially dropped behind any sort of target to set a PR, in particular since I have given up running and have walked the past 2k.
- From about 30-40k I slipped into the cycle of walk 1k and massage out the kinks in my neck, then put up with the pain and run for 2k more. If I could describe the pain, I would have to say it felt like an ice-pick being shoved in between my shoulder blades, then about 1000 acupuncture needles simultaneously piercing my skin from the tops of my shoulders to the tips of my fingers. Fortunately my thumbs were not feeling anything by now, so they were good blunt massaging tools for my neck.
- 36k I arrived at the Harrier Hash Aid Station - which serves up shots of beer for passing
runners. I fought my previous encounter with drinking beer while running and went for it, dulling the pain as I walked. It was perhaps the best aid station of the day.
- 40k By this time all I could think was "fuck it. I'm sore. Let's just get this done and over with"
- 42.2k Finished!
My chip time was 4:32. A full 30 minutes slower than last year, but with a considerable decrease in training. When I was running I was doing about 5:30minute/km easy pace, and had a few km which were in the 4:30m/km mark. My legs felt great, which was nice, I just couldn't move my neck around to enjoy the scenery of both nature and runners (the latter seemingly improved the faster I moved up the pack of racers).
Things I learned about myself on this race:
1) 150k over 5 weeks in training is too little. Next time I should set the minimum around 200k for sure, or at least 6 weeks.
2) Allocate a little more budget to massage + chiropractor if I don't follow point #2.
3) I shouldn't move my bedroom upstairs the day before I race. Having to navigate stairs so soon after was a little challenging, and resulted in much mockery by my wife.
4) Flying to Europe on a 14 hour flight only 2 days after the race is not a good idea. (On a positive note the free liquor on the long haul fights seemed to dull the pain!)
5) Pain is temporary. Quitting is forever: Never. Say. "Can't". To. Me.
See you next year...just hopefully a little faster and a lot less sore.