This past weekend was the 34th Annual Marine Corp Marathon.
I was ready, trained meticulously for it, and awoke in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to run fast.
Based on my 1:04:14 finish at the Army 10 Miler 3 weeks prior, I decided to go out with the 3:10 pace group. I had my mind set on a Boston Qualifer, and was looking forward to achieving it.
I arrived at the start early enough to get a good spot in the 3:00-3:19 corral along side others who were going for that coveted 3:10 Boston qualifying time. I did some light jogging and stretching to prepare myself for the long journey ahead.
Felt great, I was right next to the 3:10 pacer, and we were spot on pace. Didn’t take long for me to settle in and I felt pretty comfortable.
Things stayed constant. Still feeling good, I was thinking ahead of crossing that finish line with a sub 3:10. Knowing it was still early, I held back from taking off from the pace group.
Crossed the half way mark in 1:34:39, which is actually a half marathon PR for me! I was still feeling good, but had a feeling things were starting to fall apart, but still confident in my chance of achieving that sub 3:10. At this point, I was already thinking about mile 20, and how it’s a 10k race from there to the finish.
Things took a turn for the worse around here. My pace slowed all of a sudden. I still remained optimistic in thinking if I slow down now, I can conserve some energy to chase down the 3:10 group when the time comes. However, with each passing step, I felt worse. My legs were feeling heavy. I downed another packet of Gu and a cup of water, and kept treading along. Another half mile went by, and my legs started to cramp. Oh man…
I was forced to a slow jog. I even had to walk. I stopped for a few seconds to stretch out, but thought I must keep moving forward to that finish line! At this time, I exhausted my last Gu packet, and was taking anything handed out on the course. Spectators were awesome lighting up my dampened spirit and giving me hope that I would make it to the finish line.
As I crossed the 20 mile marker, I did a quick calculation. In order to catch the 3:10 group, I would have to run a 40 minute 10k. I would be quite capable of that if that with fresh legs, but 20 miles with cramping have already taken their toll. There was no way I would be able to keep up anywhere near a 6:30 pace. As I passed some spectators were handing out bananas, oranges, and licorice. I was desperate and was hoping one of these things would help me salvage this race. No luck, my legs were shot. I started feeling a bit discouraged from all the walking, and even more so when the 3:20 pace group passed me, then the 3:30 pace group zoomed by. I was hanging in there…
2 of the longest miles of my life!!!
As soon as I saw the mile 26 marker, I remembered reading about the brutal uphill finish. I saw the finish line ahead, and hobbled to it where I was greeted with relief and accomplishment. My time: 3:38:28. No PR today and definitely not the negative split I was hoping for. Nevertheless, I still felt relieved to have finished, and thankful for the opportunity to run such a well organized and scenic race course through our Nation’s capital.
Spirit was crushed, legs were shot, and I was mentally drained. I walked around the finish festival but soon decided to head home and rest. The Rossyln Metro was packed with everyone trying to catch the next train.
I have been having a string of good races recently. For this race, those last 9 miles were a good learning experience. I love the marathon, but man… it can be a long ways to go when things aren’t going well. I have never hit the wall before or have been forced to walk in a race. I learned about nutritional techniques I can try to keep sodium and electrolytes in balance to prevent the cramping.
After resting for the last 2 days, my legs feel a lot better and am already looking forward to running again. I’m looking forward to getting back into training, increasing my long runs, and someday having a breakthrough marathon.