After a week of panic as the weather toggled between cloudy and cool and humid and hot (and eventually landed somewhere right in between), race day was upon us. The promise of clouds never came to fruition and even by 8 am, it was pretty warm on course. Race morning was not particularly exciting; besides a porto-potty line that never moved (I peed in the woods) and being in the preferred corral made all the difference in the world as I never had to struggle to get a good starting position.
We started out in a reasonable manner and I was lucky to have Katie along for the half to remind me to be patient. It felt like we were jogging for the first miles but the heat was already noticeable and I started dumping water over my head early. We caught up with Christine on the Beltline and chatted away through the first third of the race. My legs felt a little leadlike going out on the Beltline, but subsided once we made the turn and headed back to town. As I took my first shot block, it turned my stomach leaving me without a fuel plan for the rest of the race. Luckily the yellow Gatorade stayed down so I didn’t suffer any real ill effects.
We had an extremely fast Church Street mile (6:30) but peeled it back for Pine Street and South Cove neighborhoods. We were sad to see Katie go at the half, but happy to be half done. As we crossed through Oakledge, I felt the best I’d felt all day, while Christine felt the worst. We separated for the next few miles, which was sad for both of us.
I tried to stay calm up Battery and kept pulling back on the pace so as to not wreck my legs and felt good enough at the top to fist pump for being done with the harder part of the course (so I thought.) Rolling on into the North End, I felt great and strong through miles 16 and 17. And then everything fell apart.
The second half of VCM has very little shade and also coincides with the hottest part of the day, so the sun really started to bother me in the neighborhoods. I was trying everything to stay cool; running through sprinklers, dumping water, eating Flavo-Ice. Despite that, I felt like I was carrying legs made of concrete and had my first real encounter with the Wall. I rallied a bit going into Leddy but by mile 20 was hurt and tired. My lungs felt fresh, but my legs were crampy and heavy. At mile 21, Christine caught up and muttered, “I’m never fucking doing this again.” I think I grunted back, “Me neither.”
Miles 21 through the finish are sort of blurry. I felt horrible, but was lucky enough to run into a friend who was suffering from cramping. Despite feeling awful himself, he dragged me through the last few miles with a constant barrage of encouragement. Because I felt like I was one step from a cramp that would freeze me up entirely, there was no kick to speak of, but I finished and didn’t collapse, although I’d been promising myself that I was allowed to since about mile 22.
After the race, I was in a world of hurt, but because of the ridiculous “one-way” traffic rule near the finish area, couldn’t get to the nearest access to the lake to cool my legs. Instead, I had to limp all the way through the finish area to the other side to access the Coast Guard ramp. This limp consisted of me walking ten yards, bending over, then hobbling another ten yards. One of the guys with whom I coach finished near me and remarked that I was moving at “.2 miles per hour.” I think he might have been giving me too much credit. After icing down, I felt much better, although the Frankenstein walk had already set in.
Recovery was painful (and my first steps on Monday are on video if you really want them), but shortlived. I limped for a few days but am happily back to running, albeit slowly. I don’t seem to have suffered any permanent injury, but am looking forward to a few weeks of unstructured “run if you feel like it” training.
Splits are below. Error analysis to follow…
|Total Gun||3:05:36 (7:05)|