Monday, October 6, 2008

Ouch: TC Marathon finished

Please excuse the lack of timeliness for this post.

It was the hardest thing I have ever done. It ranks up there with first-year law school exams and the LSAT.

My pace was fine through about 11 miles. I was running a pretty consistent 7:15. My first and second 5K times were even. I ran the fastest 10 mile and half marathon of my life; I was on pace to do about a 3:12 at the half. And then it went downhill. My pace started floating upward and I soon I ran a string at about 7:30. Two more miles boosted my pace to 8:30 at mile 18 and I ran four more miles at that pace. The next two were around 9:00 and then the last two were around 9:20.

The pain started at mile 16. My hamstrings started to give out. My quads went at mile 21 and all I could focus on were two simple things: get to Summit Avenue, the last road and a long 4.5 mile stretch of road; and get to my parents, who were camped just before Mile 23 at Snelling Avenue. Those thoughts kept me pushing as my paced slowed and the pain increased.

I crossed the finish line in 980th place at 3:28:35 chip time, all out of 7966 eventual finishers. That's top 12.5 percent of the crowd. Not bad for myself. My buddy ran a 3:01 chip time and finished in the top 300 runners.

The weather was brutal. Air temp at the start was in the low 40s and I decided to forgo a shirt and instead ran in my usual marathon shorts, hat and sunglasses. While standing in the corral, a Star Tribune photographer took shots of my cold, bare stomach and asked me if I was concerned about hypothermia. I said no, because I knew I would be sweating profusely. The sunglasses never moved from the top of my hat. A few miles in the rain came, first a mist with driving wind from the south, then an all-out down pour that soaked my shoes and put extra strain on my legs. It also didn't help my body temperature. I repeatedly lost and re-gained dexterity in my hands, especially my thumb. It made grabbing cups full of water and Powerade difficult - I needed two hands to take it from the volunteers.

My clothes choice ended up being a good one. Although my finger dexterity was questionable and was slightly chilled on the tops of my things in the high teens miles, I was fine. It was better than dealing with chaffed nipples or band-aids preventing the same, and it was better than carrying a heavy shirt that would stick to my body and chaff other parts.

When I was done, the world collapsed around me. I crossed the finish line and attempted to raise my arms to catch my breath. I couldn't. My hands touched at the base of my skull and dropped. I wobbled and almost fell. A medic who saw my plight asked me if I was OK. I said yes, and kept walking. I wanted my finisher shirt and my medallion, something I missed out on last y ear. I was quickly wrapped in a mylar heat blanket, which I quickly (and surprisingly at that time) sweated out. At the line, there was water, Powerade, potato chips, hot soup broth, bananas and small kaiser rolls. I grabbed water and chips, and attempted to eat both at once. The chips fell out of the bag to the ground and kept walking. I couldn't be bothered by such trivialities.

I needed to get my sweats bag. In it was a thin fleece jacket and hat, and my cell phone. I wandered on the Capitol grounds toward the check. Armed Forces volunteers (Army or National Guard) from Ft. Snelling were in the fenced enclosure and got my bag. I ripped it open (I previously duct taped the bag shut) and put on my clothes and hobbled on toward the Capitol steps. To get there, I had to walk down and up a curb over a sidewalk. It was a standard curb, about a five inch drop and rise, but I couldn't manage it without help. My legs were inflexible rods, my knees bending only to shuffle my feet forward. Volunteers assisted me down the step and up the next one, and I meandered toward the family meeting ground. By now, I had my sweats on and the mylar blanket wrapped like a skirt. My family soon came - we took the obligatory photographs and went to the cars.

At home, it was shower time. I couldn't get the water hot enough. My body was ravaged. I was dehydrated and low on blood sugar. All that had kept my body temp up was my running. Normally I would have been eating constantly to keep my core temp up, and since I had been running, I had spent all of that energy just moving forward.

But it was now time to replenish that calorie loss - Pizza Luce (lu-che) was next. I ordered a "Bear," which basically is a meat-lovers paradise. It looks like the farmer went around the barnyard and took an axe to one of every type of meat-producing animal he raised. I ate about half of a 16" and was hungry later.

For the next 48 hours, I remained hobbling like an old man (mind you, I'm in my early 20s). I sucked in water constantly to help flush out all of the lactic acid that had accumulated. On Wednesday morning, I was fine.

I went running for the first time since the marathon on Oct. 20, 2008. I had taken just over two weeks off, and I felt fine. My body is currently showing no ill effects from the race, and it is my full intention to continue running and begin serious training for January's snowshoe trek.

No comments: