According to my mom, my horoscope for the day of the marathon read: …
“Aries: Your chances of achieving one of your ambitions before the month is over are quite good. Much depends on the work you do today and your ability to repeat this work.”
Things that went well:
I finished. I am extremely proud of the 26.2 decal on my car. (Yeah, I am THAT guy.) I felt great and completely enjoyed the first 20 miles. Absolutely no injuries. No IT band pain, no patellar tendonitis, no strained hip flexors…all issues I have previously experienced when pushing the distance. The Kinvara 2s rocked. I didn’t even have a blister! I was stiff the day after and only a little sore the next but I ran three miles after work – no problem. I’m ready to sign up for another marathon. Soon.
Things that didn’t go so well:
I’m happy that I finished but I’m kind of bummed about the 4:54:30 time. I was on track to break 4.5 hours at mile marker 22 but things really fell apart after that. It took over an hour to “run” the last four miles.
I severely underestimated the difficulty of the last 6 miles. Pretty much everything I had read about marathon training said “Don’t worry about the last 6 miles. The excitement of the race and the crowd of runners will encourage you.” Maybe so in Chicago or New York. There were 216 registered for this marathon and I finished behind 41 of them. Except for one water stop and a mobile medical crew, I saw two people the last 4 miles. There was NOBODY to rely on for motivation.
Looking back, I made some big but correctable mistakes. The biggest, I let myself get dehydrated. I’m very cautious of hyponatremia so I was taking endurolytes and drinking a little conservatively. Starting about mile 22, I had all the symptoms of dehydration…or hyponatremia…I wasn’t sure which so I erred on the side of not dying and tried to drink even less. I chose poorly. I weighed about 4 pounds less after the race and that was after rehydrating with 24 oz of water and even post-race pizza. That’s less than 2.5 percent of bodyweight. Not dangerously dehydrated, but enough to cause performance problems. It got up to the high 80s almost as soon as the sun came up but since it was so cool at the start, it didn’t really register with me that I should treat it as a summer run. I ditched my shirt at mile 13 but that was because I didn’t want pictures of bloody nips all over the Internet. Besides, I have abs like Jersey Shore’s “The Situation”.
Another mistake I won’t make again is using caffeinated gels. I know from past experience I can’t tolerate them on long runs but I was SURE I would need the boost so I brought three caffeinated and three regular. I finished the race badly needing carbs but I couldn’t stand the thought of taking the last caffeinated gel so it went unopened. As I think about it now, the severe nausea was probably from dehydration and not so much from caffeine but I know that at the time I could have taken a regular gel if I had one but wouldn’t touch the caffeinated one still in my belt.
No doubt about it, finishing a marathon is a major accomplishment. It is way tougher than I imagined. I can empathize with the people that give up with less than two miles to go…it crossed my mind. I have great respect for anyone that has gone the distance no matter how long it took.
Still, I can’t help thinking how much better I will do if I can figure out how to actually run the last six miles.