Monday, September 19, 2005

Race Report: Part 2

So I made it to the 21K marker at about 1:53:00, a pace of 5:23/K (8:40/M). I had been debating all week whether to play it safe and run at a 6:00/K (9:39/M) pace, the same as I had been training at, or to go for it and try to maintain around a 5:30/K (8:51/M) pace. Obviously I elected to do the latter, and was even surpassing this.

So past the 21K point along a bike path, past the 22K, then a water service area, the 23K point. Between the 23-24K point we went over or under a serious of overpasses and underpasses navigating our way through a maze of highways and railroad tracks. It was here that I started to feel the fast pace that I had been maintaining. My legs had already been protesting against the hard road surfaces that I had been running. This happened during my training too so I ignored it. I did try to slow down a little bit as I was getting kind of worried about burning out. But as the 25K point arrived, I was still running at least a 5:30/K (8:51/M) pace. My total time for the first 25K (15.5M) was about 2:15:00, an average pace of 5:26/K (8:45/M)

As the service point arrived shortly after the 25K marker I grabbed a sports drink and a banana and walked through so I could consume these. Not a good thing, my legs started to tighten just from this short 45 second walk. This time when I started to run again I had to fight to pick up the pace again, I could feel that my energy level was getting dangerously low, my feet hurt too. The trail took a turn and headed north through a park, past the 26K marker, then popped out in an industry zone. Here again was a series of highways and train tracks to cross, then the 27K marker and a water point. I again walked through the point trying to get two cups of water down. As I started out again I felt tired – it was way too early for this.

The route went through a residential section, past the 28K, the 29K and the 30K. I was fighting to keep the pace going - my time at the 30K point about 2:50:00, an average pace of 5:40/K (9:07/M) – I was losing ground rapidly. The next service point arrived shortly after this, I again grabbed a sports drink and a banana and walked through. I think I must have walked a little further this time because when I started running again I was quite stiff and my legs were really killing me.

The race route headed out past the old American air field, against a stiff wind that chilled the bone (despite the sunny weather, the temperature did not rise much during the race). I passed the 31K and headed into the city again, past the 32K, then a water break at the 32 1/2K. I was really beat by this time and had to walk again. I remember feeling like I had absolutely no energy left at all, and my legs hurt sooo bad from the hard road surfaces. Was this the "wall"?

I stumbled on and ran maybe a ½ kilometer, than had to take another walk break, I was having a hard time to keep running. I ran several hundred meters more, past the 33K point, then slowed to a walk again. I couldn’t understand why I was so tired, what was going on with me? I managed to get the feet moving again, ran several hundred meters, walked a couple, ran again.

By the 34K my legs hurt so bad that I walked. By this time the route was winding its way around the palace gardens, I was in the back, almost no one around and I felt like crap. So I walked, maybe for a ½ kilometer or a kilometer, I don't know, just trying to get my head together. Finally I shuffled forward again – ouch my legs were cramped up. I had walked too long. I shuffled forward a hundred meters, walked, shuffled forward and so on, eventually passing the 35K marker and the service station. I grabbed a sport drink, ate a banana, drank a second sports drink all the while looking for a red cross volunteer or anyone that might be able to message my legs a little. No one, so I stopped and tried to stretch out a little. This seemed to help a little.

With seven kilometers to go I was in a world of hurt, the 4 hour pace group ran by, as did seemingly all the other runners. By now I was reduced to a whining shadow of myself, shuffling forward a couple hundred meters, walking 20-30 paces, shuffling a couple hundred meters and so on. I passed the 36K marker just as the course headed into the main market area of Karlsruhe. The streets went from hard to harder as I started running over cobblestones. I must have been in a daze as I don’t remember passing the 37K marker.

The 38K marker I remember because someone was yelling “4 more K” to every runner (or dazed shuffler) that went by. I glanced at my watch somewhere around the marker and recall around 4:02:00, still an average pace of 6:22/K (10:15/M), despite all the walking.

I would love to say that I reached deep inside and gathered the strength and sprinted to the finish, but this just didn’t happen. I crept forward walking, running, walking running – on and on for what seemed like an eternity. I remember seeing the 39K marker right before we turned and ran by the zoo. Then it was more streets to the 40K. At the 40K marker there was another service area, I grabbed a sports drink and a sports bar, munching a bit but throwing most of it away, my stomach was a mess.

I ran and walked the next kilometer, determined to finish. I passed the 41K marker - almost there. I did my best to run the last 1.2K, I know I had to stop once, but somehow I managed to run over the finish line. I even remembered to smile, or it felt like a smile...

At 46 years old, having been running regularly for only about 2½ years, finishing a marathon at all is a victory! However this victory was somewhat bittersweet as I know that I could have done better. Somehow I had become greedy for a fast finish and didn’t pay close enough attention to the warning signs. On the other side I decided to gamble with a faster pace, it worked for awhile, but it didn’t work out.

Today I feel old, worn out, sore, happy that I finished, sad that I couldn’t keep running like I wanted too, but overall satisfied that I finished my second marathon and cut 35 minutes off my time (PR)!

Will there be another ‘M’ in my future? Don’t ask me today I might say no. But despite the pain, the hardship, the “hitting the wall” I still wonder: “if I slowed down to a 6:00/K pace maybe I would be okay”. That of course would have to be proven...but not this year.

Jack, well done!! You worked hard to leave that 35 minutes behind - congrats on the PR! And, as tired as you are right now, I can hear your wheels turning from here :) The siren of the marathon will call to you again soon.

Cograts on slashing a WHOPPING 35 minutes off that old PR, Jack! That's a serious chunk of time, especially given how bad you felt near the end. It takes a serious amount of mental training to push through pain and discomfort like that. You did great!

I'll be thinking about this report when I'm running in my marathon in 5 weeks. Thoughts and feelings you had during this will be part of what will guide me when it gets tough. Knowing you were able to push through it is really important, because I know I will want to just stop if it gets rough.

Great report, Jack and a great race too!
Yay! Awesome favorite part was when you said you smiled across the finish line... "or it felt like a smile". I would love to see that picture!

You are amazing. Without rationalizing your training, your age, your experience ~ it was completely awe-inspiring and amazing what you did.

Thanks Jack!
thanks for an awesome report ... both parts. congrats on a 35 minute PR! I have taken in everything you said and will be thinking about it and putting it into practice (hopefully) during my first M.
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