I ran the Honolulu Marathon this morning! And while I am not hurt, per say, I'm am certainly hurting... which should come as no surprise at all given what I put my body through this morning. Yep, before noon I ran 26.2 miles and then drank 3 glasses of champagne, 2 beers, a shot, and then another beer. I was in rare form, to say the least. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
First off, I have to say that The Magic Man is indeed some sort of miracle worker. I limped around for 4 days this past week, unable to put pressure on my forefoot at all because of that rolled ankle. I went to see him late yesterday afternoon... 5 little needles followed by some manipulation and pop, something went right back into place and I was able to walk again. Yep. I believe in magic. He told me that my ankle would be fine to run today. He was right. It didn't bug me even a tiny bit.
Last night I was at a company dinner (Scott's company) when Rachel came and plopped down a margarita in front of me. She told me that marathon PR's are made of patron margaritas the night prior. Given that Rachel ran 3:03 last week in Vegas, I was eager to believe her so I drank that margarita no questions asked. Then we got to talking and Rachel pretty much had me convinced that race day magic does indeed exist. OK. My head was on straight. I was going for it this morning. What 'it' was, I wasn't quite sure... but I figured I'd know it if/when I got it.
On to this morning... It was pretty uneventful pre-race, save for the fact that I left my race number at home. Whoops! Nalani's husband was awesome and offered to drive back and get it for me... I ran sans-number for 21 miles this morning but he got it to me eventually. So cool of him.
The morning started off in the dark... with a massive display of fireworks at 5AM. This part was really cool. I was all amped up and mentally ready to go and believing in race day magic. We started somewhere near the start line but it took us a bit to actually get across it. I was figuring about a minute or so but didn't really know because my watch looked like this.
Anyway, I felt like I was floating though the first 13 miles. Solid but quite cruisy. There were pace clocks at some of the mile markers on the course, so even though I didn't start my watch, I had a general idea of where I was at. Of course, the clocks were set to race time, not the time I actually crossed the start line, so I figured they were off by a minute or so, though I wasn't exactly sure. The clock said 1:52:xx at the 1/2, so I guessed 1:51ish for me, which was 8:30 pace avg, which felt about right effort-wise. I did the simple math in my head and reset my goals for 3:45 for the finish. I was still feeling quite decent but knew I wasn't strong enough to even or negative split today so I gave myself a couple minutes cushion with this new 3:45 goal.
I had to work harder for the next few miles. I felt like I was slowing down... I was not bogged down by this b/c I did not have a watch flashing the meltdown before my eyes (Can I tell you what an incredible blessing this was??). Looking at the splits I got on my watch it appears that I actually hung on to this 8:30ish avg for about 20 miles.
Then it all came unraveled.
Somewhere after mile 21 I felt my calf whispering to me... it was on the verge of seizing up. What to do? What to do? I had been telling myself that I was going to run every damn step of this marathon, but somehow that thought now just seemed ridiculous there out on that highway after 21+ miles of running when my calf was telling me it was nearly done. I knew if it seized up I'd be walking the last 5 miles to the finish... so I opted to stop and stretch it on the curb. Oh. My. Gosh. This felt so good I can't even tell you. Every little muscle in both my legs just wanted to be completely done by that point. Unfortunately I still had like 6 more miles to run. Excellent. Except, not.
The next 4 miles were hands down the worst of the whole race. Well, ok, the last 2 miles were pretty bad as well... My watch says 42:37 for those 4 miles from 20-24 so you can do the math on that. I stopped several times during that section to stretch and walk... it was bad. The thing was, I did not beat myself up at all for this. I stayed pretty mentally positive even through this physical meltdown, which I think is a big win. Because let's be honest here- I just ran 20 miles at 8:30 pace. That was some race day magic at work there because with a long run of only 13 miles leading up to this marathon, well, 20 solid miles is pretty cool in my book. I mean, there were so many times in the last 7 weeks that I did not think I would be out there running at all... shoot, even yesterday I was unsure. So the fact that I was out there, doing this, was a huge win. That I ran a solid 20 miles was another win. Of course I wish I could have done it for the full 26.2 but hey, you reap what you sow and I just flat out did not earn a great marathon with the training I did this fall.
The last 2 miles included going back up and over Diamond Head which also was quite ugly, so I was surprised to see 9:35 avg for the last 2.2 miles. It felt more like 12:35. Seriously. It was more than painful. It was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and trying not to think about how much it hurt.
But I threw my arms up in the air and smiled when I crossed that finish line!! The clock said 3:58:xx but official chip time was 3:56:56, which, while it was not the 3:45 I decided I could do half way through, is still fine with me given the amount of training (or lack thereof) I put in for this event. And you know what? I am not injured. So, YAY for that!
So back to this idea of race day magic... I concede that it does exist, but only to a certain degree. I'm still a believer that you cannot fake a marathon (ahem). The longer the event, the less you can fake it. My breakdown today was muscular. My muscles simply were not prepared to run 26 miles. I did not force them to adapt to this distance this fall. It is what it is. I did the best I could today, and honestly feel rather satisfied given the circumstances. Do I think I can run a better marathon in the future? Absolutely. Am I going to try again soon? Um, nope.