My legs started feeling better today, but I'm wondering why they haven't bounced back quicker. It's probably not a good idea to compare myself with others, but I was amazed that Gordon said his "Legs feel great!!!" the very next day. The thought of going for a 20-mile bike ride on Sunday was inconceivable. Did he do something different? Is it genetics? Training? Diet?
Yesterday I finished reading Again to Carthage, John L. Parker, Jr.'s follow up to Once a Runner. There's a part in the story where the protagonist, Quentin Cassidy, recognizes a competitor's pain and cramping during the later miles of a marathon. This paragraph caused me question my theory of hydration being responsible for cramping at mile 19.
They ran in silence, Cassidy empathizing, unable to help. He remembered Denton's lecture: "In the marathon you can get cramps almost anytime. They're not like the ones we used to get toward the end of hot-weather workouts, not based on electrolyte depletion. I got them halfway through my 2:15 when I picked up the pace suddenly. They're usually in the hamstrings, sometimes the calves or quads. You're over your anaerobic threshold, but just barely. You start generating ketones from burning fat without enough oxygen, the ketones start circulating, confusing your synapses, causing them to misfire. You cramp. Joe Vigil laid it out for me. The thing is not to panic. They feel pretty bad for a while, and you may think you're done for, but they'll go away if you back off a bit and run them out."
I didn't pick up the pace suddenly and I know I didn't take in enough fluids, so I'm still pretty certain my problem was dehydration. However, I'm going to see if I can learn more about the ketones and if there's anything that can be proactively done to manage their generation.
Lastly, I recalled some of the mental aspects of the race. I remember how confident I felt miles 13-18. I'd completed over half the course at that point and was feeling really good about my chances of meeting my goal. I felt strong and in control. And then I remember the spirit draining out of me at mile 19 when I had to stop. Looking at my Garmin and knowing it wasn't a training run. Knowing I couldn't just stop it for a couple of minutes while I dealt with my injury. It sounds melodramatic when I type it, but running into the unknown and having all you've worked for for 18 weeks taken away is a humbling experience. No, it's not the end of the world. It no longer consumed me after I crossed the finish line, but in that instant it was crushing.