Or maybe I should have gone with my gut and DNS. I've been feeling under the weather, but not at death's door. I think it is better that I did the event rather than bag it and wonder how I would have done. Now there is nothing to guess about.
Needless to say, it was not the result that I was looking for. I had a feeling when I ran on Friday and really did not feel loose or fluid or strong that the result would be something like it turned out. I, however, still wanted to see what I was capable of so I did it anyway.
The start was very crowded. We got up as far as we could but there was still a ton of people in front of us. The gun went off and it was a minute and a half before we crossed the start line. It was so thick with people, you just had to go with the pace of the pack until it opened up. The first mile was done in 10 minutes. I did not want to waste any energy so I did not aggessively try to find the holes and run through them - just eased my through as the holes opened up - it did thin out quite a bit after the first mile when the half split off.
My average pace was slowly starting to come down to where I wanted it. Due to how I was feeling I dropped the idea of beating 4 hours; however, I felt right around four was still doable. I got my average pace down to :9:09 at one point - probably around 7 miles, then it started to gradually go up. I never got to that point that I love in a long run. The point where you just feel fluid and that you can run forever. I felt it during a couple of my training runs, but it never happened in this marathon.
I got to the halfway point at 2:05. My thinking was that there was a lot of flat from this point to the finish - most of the hills were on the front end. Maybe my legs would find that rhythm and at least get me an even split - it would still be my best marathon. It never happened. I was cognizant of my hydration, fuel and salt intake. I never felt drained.
Mile 18 is where it all came crashing down. My right calf cramped. It was not terribly bad so I tried to stretch it out. I figured stretch it out good and then run some more. As I was stretching it it cramped again, bad! You know how it feels when your calf rolls up into a ball - yeah, that kind of bad. At this point I decided that walking was a better idea then stretching so I walked until it did not feel like I was going to cramp any more. I started running and the left calf cramped up - what the 4%#@!!
From here on out it was walk/run. There were a couple of good stretched where I did not have to walk too much, but I could not go hard at all. I kept looking at my HR - more for curiousity than any thing else - I could not get it over 130 - I mean I could have, but then the cramps came on.
I was very frustrated. I had energy. I was not bonked. Some of the people around me looked like the walking dead - they obviously hit the wall and hard. I asked one guy if he was cramping and he said no, he was just hurting. I'm thinking, man, I wish I was you because I can run through most pain - just not a balled up calf muscle. I saw one woman who kept stopping to stretch. Then she would get going again. I remember her because we ran most of the marathon at the same relative pace (plus she was cute). She was hurting bad - she was in real physical pain plus I could tell she ran out of gas, but she kept on going. Man, I was impressed! I eventually passed her for good (it was cat and mouse for a while), but she had guts!
The thought of whether I picked the wrong shoes crept into my head. Then I remembered Hyannis. That was run in my other shoes and I got into trouble earlier there and the pain was even worse - both sides of my legs cramped, at least this time only the backs were cramping.
I still think I have a good marathon in me so I won't give up on the distance yet, but I am not going to chase it forever.
Time to recover, take some time off, and decide what next season is going to look like.
Take care - I may not be posting for a while.