No day off from work here. I am only in the office today and tomorrow. My dad gets his knee replaced tomorrow so I am off to VA on Wednesday to help my mom with him when he comes home.
Steamtown Marathon! I DNFed this marathon at mile 16 in 2004. I have always wanted to avenge that DNF and this seemed like a good time to do it. The course is a good one: most of the first half of the course is downhill, then it flattens out and has 1-2 hills toward the end. I was using it as a long training run (goal race is Kiawah in December). My coach gave me a solid plan going into the race. Start off SLOW, 10-min miles for the first 3-4 miles, assess how I felt, then speed up 15sec/mile if I felt good. Rinse and repeat for the rest of the race. It was upper 60s and humid at the start of the race, but there was a breeze that made it feel much cooler. I told myself to drink water at every aid station because it was going to be deceptively hot as the day wore on. The start cannon went off (it was a literal cannon, and it was LOUD!), and I went out slowly. Mile 1 was 9:34 which was WAY too fast, so I pulled it back for the next few miles: 9:56, 9:51, 10:04, 9:41. I felt really good, and it was REALLY hard to hold back those first few miles since it was downhill. I sped up, aiming for 9:45s and came away with 9:45, 9:38, 9:33, 9:50, 10:09? I reassessed, and still felt good, so I cranked it down to aim for 9:30s: 9:31, 9:34, 9:31, 9:11 (first mile on the rail trail, I guess I liked the scenery?), 9:44. I struggled a bit here, probably due to the 9:11 mile, so I decided just to run the rest of the race at 9:30 pace. At that point it felt sustainable. I was in a good place mentally and I physically felt good, I was drinking water and taking my gels as planned. My next few miles were 9:38, 10:26?, 10:03, and then it all went downhill. All of a sudden the pace felt super difficult and I don't know why. My Garmin also freaked out at this point and was way out of sync with the mile markers and somehow collected 28 splits for the race. And then at mile 21 the cramps started.
They started in the right foot. I tried to stretch the right foot and the right calf cramped. I kept walking and then started running again, and the right foot cramped again, but I found that I could run on it and it went away. The left calf got in on the action as well. At one point, some kids were throwing a football around and it landed in the street in front of me, and I picked it up and threw it back to them, and both of my calves cramped at the same time!
I was a mess. It was run-cramp-walk-run to the finish line. At the 26 mile mark, my right hamstring cramped as well. I ran the last 0.2 like Frankenstein with both calves, my hamstring, and my foot all cramping at different times. They called my name at the line and I threw my arms up, but that was a VERY bad idea because then everything cramped at once.
They wanted to take me to medical but I told them I was fine. I was stupid and sat down on a low retaining wall by a statue, and my left calf cramped immediately and it wouldn't let go. It finally released, only to cramp again. I almost asked a stranger to help me up because I didn't think I could get up on my own. It finally subsided about 5 minutes later and I was able to walk back to my car and drive home without any more incidents. My left calf is super sore today though.
Final time: 4:33:50. Overall I am pleased with my first 16 miles of the race. I showed myself that I can run in a controlled manner. It was REALLY hard since I felt so good and it was downhill and I just wanted to let it fly. I hit my paces for the most part, and I don't think I did anything stupid. I just have to figure out this freaking cramping. Maybe I need extra electrolytes aside from my gels? Maybe it's undertraining?
The coolest part of the race was around mile 18-ish when this chick kept turning around and looking at me. I thought she was trying not to let me pass her like those idiots last week
but then she finally turned and asked if I had run Big Sur earlier this year.
I told her yes, and we ended up chatting for a bit. I guess there aren't many tall redheads with two pigtails on top of their heads wearing Semper Fi Fund shirts in marathons.
We chatted for a bit, she she was dying in the heat and humidity. She thought this race was harder than Big Sur but she was wrong. The conditions were worse, but the course was definitely easier.
Now to focus on my December goal race!