Today I feel like I ran two different races. A 10 miler tied to a 5K, that was actually 3.3 miles… According to every GPS watch wearer I met, we all logged some version of 13.3 miles. It was hot – 60 degrees at the start at 7:00 AM and the sun was shining bright. Not a cloud in the sky. It would be a perfect weekend day if I wasn’t running a half marathon. Only a runner would love 50 degrees and cloud cover. The course had a few changes from last year that included a monster hill – at the end of mile 10.
The first 10 miles were not bad despite the heat. I kept a good pace ranging from 10:15 minutes per mile to 11:44 at mile 10. My average pace for the first 10 miles was 11:15 – I was on target to set my best time for this race. Last year I ran 2:30 and the year before 2:31. A 2:27 and change would be grand. Then I reached the top of the hill during mile 10. Considering how steep the hill was, 11:44 for that mile was not bad. Of course to get to the bottom of the hill I ran down an equally nice hill and picked up good speed. I emerged from the hill, turned the corner, passed the 10 mile marker, and that is when I felt it…
My right calf started cramping. Usually in the summer I take electrolyte capsules to prevent such a thing. May and 60 degrees, I didn’t even give it a thought to take them. I should have had a thought. My left ankle held up well and I do not think I favored my right leg at all. Proof came when my left calf started cramping too. Equal punishment. The last three miles were walk – run style. I would run as long as the pain was tolerable. I would walk a minute or less until the cramp went away. The last 3.1 to 3.38 miles I averaged 12:31 pace. Ouch.
At the finish I crossed at 2:34, average pace 11:44 pace. Being a numbers person I thought at least I kept it in order 2 – 3 – 4. I would much have preferred descending order of 2 – 1 – 0 for a 2:10 PR, but today was not the day. Several people I know running the marathon did not finish. Heat exhaustion was prevalent. I always feel so bad for people who train for so long to run a marathon and end up riding the DNF wagon back to the start. I commend them though, it takes guts and wisdom to admit it is not going to happen. Far better to have a Do Not Finish than a big hospital bill.
My mantra “Believe” came in handy, especially the last 3.1 ish miles. Today was tough, but it was a turning point, a marker, a milestone if you will. I am back – injuries are subsided and triathlon season is here. Just like climbing that hill and enduring the last 3 miles today, I have been through the valley, climbed out, road out the pain and now I am ready to grow.