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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Reflections Part II

Day 672 - November 3, 2010

The excitement and anticipation that built waiting for the gun to finally go off was incredible. It started with a pair of F-18s that flew over the start, the signing of the national anthem, and then the announcer doing his best Ryan Seacrest impersonation. I seriously thought he was going to say, "Charge the District...Beat the Bridge...Take the Iwo...Right after the break". The gun (howitzer) finally went off and we headed north along Route 100. I started conservatively and tried not to pass anyone in the first mile. I just went with the flow of people and tried to hold back the adrenaline. Running up into Rosslyn, I completely missed the first mile marker and never even looked at my watch until I was 9 minutes into the run. At this point, the course turned uphill and I found myself fighting the urge to surge. I was amazed that even with a 15 minute head start, we were starting to catch the wheelchair racers as they struggled to climb that first hill. It was amazing to see their determination as they inched forward one turn at a time to the top.

The two mile mark was at the the top of the hill and I checked my split - a solid 13:50. I was hoping for 7:05s for the first two miles, thinking the hills would be tougher. Mile three was all down hill and despite feeling slow, I clocked a 6:30 and came back in 6:21 for Mile 4. This was way faster than the 6:50's I needed to break three hours, but I don't know that I could have run any slower. I felt like I was crawling as it was. It is weird how that can happen in a race, as it never happens to me in training. I usually struggle to break 7's on a normal run. Miles 5 and 6 were very flat along the river as we looped out of Rosslyn and toward Gerogetown. I actually got a little bored through here as it was incredibly flat and straight as an arrow, but I still turned in faster than expected splits of 6:40 and 6:31. The course then turned back toward Georgetown and we were faced with the only long hill in the race. Mile 7 was almost completely uphill and it definitely slowed me down, but not too bad (7:03). Miles 8 and 9 were back downhill and the crowds in Georgetown were amazing. Thousands of people lined the streets and cheered for everyone. It was a great boost to the moral and helped me pick the pace back up for splits of 6:31 and 6:41.

From Georgetown, it was on to the National Mall and around the Tidal Basin. I cruised through the next mile and finished the first 10 in 66:45, which would be in my top 10 for fastest 10 miler times (maybe top 5). Miles 11, 12, and 13 were pretty uneventful and I managed some even splits of 6:49, 6:45, and 6:48, right on perfect pace. I was really pleased at the half to see 1:27:46 on the clock. A full 2 minutes in the bank for breaking 3 hours. Miles 14-16 were equally good, just missing my needed times (6:41, 6:54, 6:54), but with all that time in the bank, I didn't think much about it. I was starting to feel some fatigue, but I was at mile 16 which is to be expected.

Running back around the Lincoln Memorial and onto the National Mall, the crowds were large and a bit distracting. Everyone was trying to find their runner and if that meant they had to step in front of you, well, you should just go around them. I was bit frustrated by this, but what are you going to do. Just before mile 17, I felt my first twinge in my hamstring, but I immediately sucked down 8 oz of Gatorade and a GU pack and I thought I was going to be ok. Everything seemed to loosen back up as I rounded the Capitol and reversed direction on the Mall. I was admittedly a little scared at this point that I was going to bonk and slowed my pace to 7:07 for miles 17 and 18.

Unfortunately, this is where the good news ends. Just before mile 19, my right hamstring completely locked up on me. I had to stop and stretch it out as I couldn't even walk. It eventually let go and I made it to the water stop and pounded a couple of cups of Powerade and eventually got back to running. I lost some time here and the next mile was the first to crack 8 minutes per mile (8:03). I came back with a pair of 7:44 for miles 20 and 21, but I had to intersperse some short walk/stretching breaks to keep my hamstrings from cramping.

I finally made it across the bridge and back into Crystal City, but the cramps came more often and with more intensity. I spent a lot of time walking and looking for water stations. At this point I knew 3 hours was out of the question as I went 8:44, 9:03, 8:54 for miles 22, 23, and 24. I was starting to really feel sorry for myself when off to my right, I noticed row after row of white headstones. I was back to Arlington National Cemetery. This was a major SUICB (Suck It Up CryBaby) moment for me. How could I be whining about the pain in my legs when these men and women had given so much for me to even have the opportunity to run this race.

So, I changed my attitude, but not my speed and continued to struggle the last two miles in just under 9 minute pace (8:57, 8:54). At 26 miles you enter the the final climb up to the Iwo Jima Memorial. I gave it my best effort and pushed through to the finish - proud that I had qualified for Boston with a 3:11:32, but disappointed that I had failed to break 3:10 or the ultimate 3 hour barrier.

When I finished I found my wife and kids and swore again that I would never run another marathon. I love the 10 mile and half distances. I can get through them and finish without feeling like I am going to die.

But I have to admit, today, I actually Goggled spring marathons - I'm such a dummy.

Anyone running Vermont in May?

1 comment:

Ace said...

Awesome race report! Talk about some inspiring surroundings, it sounds like a great race. Congrats.