I certainly never thought I'd run a marathon in Harrisburg. But things happen in life and you go with the flow. Leading up to the race, I felt mostly good, although I was bothered by lower leg muscle tightness. This is a long-term problem I've had. Naturally, I skipped massage or even the stick and kinda wished it away. Bad move. Saturday morning, I woke up with a severe leg cramp. My left leg was sore the rest of the day.
I went to Harrisburg with a few goals in mind. At the very least, I wanted to run under 3:15. A "good" race would be under 3:10. The miracle would be under 3, which I knew as far-fetched. I'm not a very good race strategist. I don't like to hold back early in races. So when we started out in Harrisburg, I ran pretty hard. Through mile 7, I was on 2:58 pace. It was here that I knew it wouldn't happen. The pace felt fine but I began to slow just a bit. If that's happening early in the race, it's a bad sign. This was my 15th marathon. There are enough marathons under my belt not to get too concerned about going out to fast. My theory is you need to test your limits, assess them realistically, then adjust. So I adjusted. By the halfway point, I was at 1:30 with full knowledge I'd slow down in the second half, which of course I did. My main goal during the last half was to feel pretty good. I made some terrible mistakes. First, I forgot to use Vaseline on my nipples. I didn't want to be one of these guys. That meant a pit stop at mile 16 to take care of that. The biggest error was in eating. Harrisburg only had water stations every 2.5 miles. I took a gel at mile 10.5, then missed one at 17.5. That meant my second gel came at mile 20 after a series of pretty brutal hills from 18-20. I felt spent by then. Finally, I needed to stop to pee. That's the first time I've had to do that during a marathon in many years. It seemed more a decision of comfort than anything else . The last six I ran really cautiously out of fear of cramping. It was probably the right decision because I started to have problems at the end, and felt absolutely terrible at the end.
The final result: 3:09:17. 36th place out of 909. The splits tell the tale of two races:
Mile 1: 7:00
22: 7: 38
Friday, November 6, 2009
It's time. There's about 40 hours until I start my 15th marathon. I've gotten nervous before each one. This is no different. There's always the phantom injuries, the sluggishness, irritability, then the doubts. My guess is it's always the fear of failure, not so much of running slowly but not reacting well if/when things go bad.
There's no prediction for this one. I'm relatively healthy. My Achilles isn't perfect but it's probably as good as it's been in over a year. My fitness is pretty good. I'm a bit wary of my endurance because I haven't been able to run as much during this training cycle. But in the end, it's whatever the day brings. I'll see how I feel at the start, and go from there. It might be a 7:30 pace feels good, could be 7:15. We'll see. I'm tempted to play it conservatively because of the weather forecast: sunny and high of 65. It shouldn't be that warm during the morning, but warmer than I'd like. Considering I've been carted off to the hospital twice from dehydration, I'm going to be careful, even though the local hospital is the title sponsor. Time to face the pigdog again.