Race DayPosted by Portland Chiropractor on Jan 18, 2012 in Dr Phil's Marathon Blog, Portland Chiropractic | 1 comment
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Sunday October 9th, 2011 is a day I will always remember. 2 of the 24 hours in that day were, physically, and in some ways emotionally, the worst thing I have ever been through in my life. There are plenty of running and marathon topics I didn’t get to in the blog. Things like tapering, pre-race preparations, hydration, calorie intake during the race. Maybe I’ll get to them in the future, but for now let’s talk race day.
5:00am Sunday morning my alarm goes off, playing the local pop-music station. It’s pitch black in the room and I turn it off as quickly as possible. Soon I’ve got some coffee brewing while I look for my race packet, singlet, racing flats, shorts, sweat pants, and jells. I assemble everything in a pile then go put some bread in the toaster. Breakfast consists of toast with peanut butter and my mom’s blackberry jam as well as a glass of Odwalla super food and a small cup of coffee. Race bib is pinned on my old UW singlet, timing chip is strapped to the racing flats, backpack is packed with jells, a change of socks and a water bottle. I head out the door at 6am. I live about 2 miles from the start of the race, so I take an easy jog there as my warm up. Downtown Portland is an interesting place at 6am. Odd people are out and about. I’m sure they were thinking the same thing about me. The next 40 minutes consist of waiting in line for the porta-potty, looking for a place to stash my backpack because I cannot stand waiting in line for the bag check, and then milling about with a few thousand other nervous and cold runners of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities. It’s great. My goal time was to break 3 hours, which put me near the front of the group. I ran into a few guys I know in the running community and we make nervous small talk. One of them is my good friend Ian Nurse, who would win the whole thing.
As 7 o’clock approaches the energy mounts. The national anthem is sung while I slowly shift my weight from left to right, shaking out the leg I’m not standing on. This has been my pre-race routine since I was about 12 years old. There are about 5 wheelchair racers they send off first. Everyone claps and cheers then the mob shuffles forward 4 steps in unison to toe the line together. The announcer counts down from 10 and we are off. The first mile is the best mile. Hundreds of people line the sides of the streets, drums are beating, and you are just swept along like salmon in a stream of nylon shorts and racing flats. It is a great feeling. For me the first 10k went by really easily. I grouped up with the 3 hour pacing group. We chatted, joked, and clicked off miles at about 6:40 pace. Things were going great until mile 11. At this point the course starts to snake though northwest Portland. I begin notice a little fatigue in my hamstrings, not a good sign with 15 miles to go. At 13 miles one of the pacers asked me how I was feeling. My response, “I’m not sure…”
By 14 miles I had to make a decision. Slow down or don’t finish the race. I slipped to the back of the group I was with and watched as they disappeared into the distance over the next mile. Then the wheels started to fall off. I had gone though 13.1 miles at 6:48 pace, from 13-17 my pace slowed to about 7:42 minute miles. It gets worse. As I slogged up the hill to the St. Johns Bridge I promised myself I would not stop, I would not walk. I made it up and over the bridge and onto the rolling streets that leads to U of P. Somewhere around 17.5 miles I walked for the first time. Broken. After about 50 meters of walking I started into a jog again, my IT bands didn’t like that idea. For the next 4-5 miles it was a process of running about 3/4 of a mile, then being forced by a body that wanted to quite into a pained walk. It was terrible. I have never been through anything so difficult in my life. I have been physically pushed before. In high school I was given the nickname “Sloppy Joe” by one track coach because about once a week I would run until I vomited after the workout. I am not a stranger to pushing myself very hard while running. This was different. This race broke me. At 22 miles you come to a long downhill. I had to walk part of the way down. Gravity couldn’t even save me. I was able to hobble my way along for the last 2 miles without stopping to walk. My right calf almost cramped up at mile 25 right in front of a group of high school girl volunteers. I cursed and probably would have cried if it had fully cramped.
Aided by the cheers of the people lining the last few blocks to the finish I shuffled across the finish line. Mixed in with a bunch of half marathon walkers. One volunteer takes one look at me and points me to the medic tent. I must not have looked too hot. I skipped the medic tent and hobbled over to the food and drink tables, looking for whatever had the most calories. From there on it was a slow and painful process of finding my girlfriend and stashed bag then hobbling home.
I think my years of running has given me a short memory. A few hours later I met some friends, including the 1st and 2nd place finishers, for food and beers. 2-3 beers did wonders for my mood. By that afternoon I was laughing about it all. I was under-trained and over-confident, so I might as well be able to laugh.
I’m going to take 1 week totally off, but I still think I can break 3 hours…