Well to say the least, the experience wasn't what I expected. I went into the race having some real solid runs under my belt. Due to a complete lack of time in my schedule to actually do a good quantity of miles, I focused more on quality - doing three days (four here and there) days a week of good hard runs. My long runs were coming together nicely too! Through August and early September I was able to comfortably breeze through a 20 mile run under seven minute mile pace. I was on track for a sub three hour run and my training partners were all predicting a 2:50-2:55 outcome for me. So how did I end up running a 3:41?
Not doing a qualifying half marathon to get into the A corral, I was stuck back in open. Many people run fine races coming out of the back of a marathon group but I misjudged my pace somewhat. I spent a lot of time weaving in and out of people while still trying to maintain my average mile pace which most likely hurt the overall result of the run. Looking back I shouldn't have been as concerned about passing the "slower" people. I still felt strong though, even crossing the midpoint of the race. I'm sure all the weaving in and out on a four-lane road played a role in what happened around mile 22.
A little after the halfway point, maybe around mile 15, I felt myself shutting down. Not your normal race getting tired - a very rapid loss of steam. I thought it was just a little rut I could ultimately run out of but around 18 I knew things weren't going any better, that I needed to kiss Boston goodbye and just survive. Not trying to be a hero and knowing I still had a long way to go, I took in everything offered to me at stops (bananas, oranges, gatorades, more gels) just to at least finish on two legs.
Then it happened. Around mile 22-22.5ish I felt the muscles in my upper thigh twitch. Since I had completely thrown time out the window at this point, I stopped to stretch for a brief 5-10 seconds...until the cramps came. My legs completely locked up, fortunately for me right in front of a medical tent. I was carried into the tent to be stretched and massaged out by a therapist while pumped with even more Gatorade. I stood up and immediately began to cramp up again, except in a different muscle, and proceeded to fall right back down on the cot.
At this point I wondered if I was going to actually finish the race. Twice I had tried moving again to only cramp up. The medical staff told me it was from a lack of electrolytes. I had been taking every Gatorade and food item offered from about mile 14 on, what else was I supposed to do? Turns out the temperature had shot up to 86 degrees and it was just the heat - my kryptonite. After convincing the medical staff that I didn't need to drop out and ride in an ambulance, I stood up, stretched out the new set of cramps and began to crawl toward the finish line.
Continued on the next post