Saturday, March 5, 2011

Snickers Marathon Recap

"This circumstance is simply a fact and must
be accepted or dealt with as it exists."

                                                          -- Unknown

Today I tackled my second marathon. Like the first, the intent was to qualify for Boston. And like the first, I didn't.

The days leading up to the race I felt physically ok. I tapered as I was supposed to and was feeling rested. I drove to Albany, GA, and after hitting the expo and checking into my hotel I found a nearby neighborhood for an easy 2-miler to wake things up. Instead it was like a bad dream. The pain in my adductor, which has been with me for months now in one form or another, was pronounced. It screamed at me the first mile and groaned the second. I tried not to get too concerned about it.

Mentally I was about 50/50. Personal issues throughout the week weighed on my mind. I had a difficult time concentrating no matter the task, up to and including the race. Aside from that though, I was confident I'd trained as best I could and confident in my plan. After going out a little too fast and experiencing servere cramps at my first marathon I decided to scale back my 3:15 goal and stick with the 3:20 pacer, Chris from Sara's Pacers.

I got maybe 3-4 hours sleep the night before the race and arrived about an hour before the start. I ran into Duane, and we did a very short jog to loosen up. The cannon blast was fast approaching, so I met up with Chris the pacer and then used the few minutes remaining to wish Duane and Kym well. I was also able to meet Sarita and talk to her very briefly before we got started.

The race itself? Well, it went pretty much according to plan at first. I was determined not to get dehydrated this time, so I made extra certain to hit every water stop. I drank water at most and sometimes took a chance on the Gatorade. I was not going to experience the same cramps that forced me to walk six miles at Chickamauga. The predictable side effect of this was feeling bloated and having to push through occasional stomach cramps. If that's the price, I figured, I can deal with that.

The first half went very well. The adductor was even behaving itself. Our first two miles were a little faster than the 7:45/mi. pace Chris committed us to before the race, but not enough to bother me. By mile 3 we settled into the 7:38/mi. groove and everyone was chatty. I ran a lot of the miles with Catie from Nashville and Duncan from Albany, and things were looking pretty good. As a group we hit the 13.1 mark in exact 1:40:01, which was about as perfect as you could hope for.

At the 14-mile mark I noticed that running all of a sudden felt like work. Still, I stayed with the group and continued to hydrate and suck down PowerBar Gels. At mile 16, however, I felt the familiar twinge of an oncoming cramp in my foot. I was still feeling hydrated (no cotton mouth) so I decided to pull back temporarily in hopes it would pass. It did, and I hung on about 100m behind the pack for another couple miles. By mile 18 the twinges were coming back, this time in my hamstrings. They were my downfall at Chickamauga and I cursed under my breath. I slowed more, finished off my gel and drank as much as I could at the aide stations. How could this be happening again? I'm hydrated and have been replenishing electrolytes!

The rest of the race I focused on not stopping to walk. That's all I wanted to do. I knew 3:20 was gone, and decided to make the best of it. I slowed when I felt a twinge and picked it back up again when it subsided. I had to stop for 5-10 seconds a couple of times to stretch some, but managed to run the rest of the way in.

Duane was waiting for me at the finish and kindly guided me towards water and food. I downed a bottle of water, a banana and a Snickers Marathon bar. I was hurting much more than I did at Chick, and couldn't wait to leave. It took a few tries to get into my car because of cramping, but finally I was on my way. About halfway back to my hotel though I had to pull over, get out and stand. Everything was locking up on me. Even worse, I started shivering uncontrollably, a sign of dehydration. WTF? I guzzled another bottle of water and a liter of Gatorade. It took about 15 minutes for the rigor to let up.

What to say about this race? Well, the average temp was 59° and humidity 94%. Maybe that was my demise? I really don't know at this point. I'll reflect on it over the next few days and see if I can come up with something more helpful to learn from.

Friends have told me to revel in my marathon and be proud of my race. I guess I'm happy with a 13-minute PR, but honestly I don't care right now one way or the other. It just wasn't much fun. And the BQ? Don't care about that either. Maybe one day I'll make another go of it, but it's moved way down on my list of priorities. Right now I'm looking forward to running for me for me instead of following a training plan. Structure be damned. I just want to have some fun again.


  1. Let's have some fun in May and run across Georgia!

  2. "Structure be damned", I like that attitude.

    For what its worth, all my PR's have come when I wasn't trying for them, and just doing the running events for fun. I could really care less if I PR'd, again. Running for fun is the best plan yet.

  3. Nice report. Me DNF at 16. Sounds like you were dehydrated. Succeed caps work well for me.

  4. Thanks the comments, guys.

    @Andy: I'm really looking forward to the Run Across Georgia. It should be a lot of fun.

    @OM&MPR: Thanks for the tip. I'd already been thinking of looking for something besides or in addition to the PowerBar Gels.

  5. Drew,
    Simultaneously proud of you for your major gain in the PR and sorry that the race didn't meet your expectation - still a strong performance, nice job hanging on when things got tough. Don't know what to say about the cramping issues you experience, certainly the 94% humidity can play a role. Take some down time, recalibrate, and find your joy in running again before deciding what else to do. I have a feeling the answer will come to you on the streets.

  6. Appreciate the comment, Greg. I'll let it just sit there for a while and then figure it out later. I know there's no shame in this performance; it's just difficult to stomach when you know you're capable of more.