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.