Crap. Pretty certain this 3rd shot at the distance will be my last, too. The marathon is about 10 miles beyond what my body apparently can tolerate in a race.
Woke this AM about a half hour before my alarm was set to go off (@ 4:15) and decided to go with it. I prefer a leisurely race morning to rushing around trying to get us out the door into the cold, dark "night," anyhow.
We arrived well over an hour before race start and hung out in the warmth of the Grand Rapids YMCA (along with one of the many Jeffs from RA (JWU42), until 10 minutes or so before race start. Prior to this I had tried to make one last potty stop indoors before heading to the starting line, but lines were long. So I figured I could get in and out of a port-a-john in time. Wrong. Those lines were just as long. Darn.
I pride myself on never having stopped to use a portable toilet mid-race. But I knew before the gun went off that today wouldn't be my day. In hindsight I wish I would have sucked it up and found a dumpster or bush to squat behind, but there weren't as many as I would have expected during the early miles. By just before the 7 mile mark I decided to get in line for a toilet behind a couple of other women. This cost me 2.5 minutes or so...the price of a PR. I didn't realize this until the drive home. Damn!
I planned to stick with the "John Bingham" 4:44:44 pace group for the entire first half and to pick up the pace for the last half. The first 13 miles were wonderful...well under my HM PR pace, relaxed, comfortable. I could have maintained that even split for the entire race...or so I thought. At the 16 mile mark my right calf started it's usual song-and-dance...the tightening that signals cramping to come. Crap.
My training for this race has been far better than for my prior 2 marathons. More miles and some actual speedwork in the form of tempo runs around 10 minute pace or faster. A couple of months ago I had an amazing 18 miler at 10:30 pace, too. One of those runs where I felt like I could have maintained that pace forever. No discomfort, a smile on my face the rest of the night.
An easy PR today seemed like a foregone conclusion. I had already decided that this 3rd marathon would likely be my last (I don't enjoy the distance enough to keep at it--not at the expense of shorter distances that I much prefer and perform better at--finishing strongly in the first half of my AG, instead of plodding through a miserable death march for a couple of hours...then taking weeks to recover), so I was looking forward to going out on a relatively good note. 4:49:30 (70/80 AG) wasn't that great a way to go out.
On the bright side, I was able to hold the cramps off until just before the 25 mile mark (I think they struck around 22 at my last race) and this time only one calf was affected and not nearly as severely as in the past. I was approaching the final aid station when it hit and as my foot twanged off at a weird angle and I grimaced I saw one of the kids holding out a cup of Gatorade look at me in horror...like "holy crap, that chubby broad is gonna fall on me!" I think a course photographer might have captured the moment, too. That one should be a real keeper.
Adding insult to injury...once again I missed seeing our own Jeff Scovill place in a race...this time FIRST! I found out via my hubby at around 17.5 miles. Eryn/backroadrunner had called him on his cell to let him know and to relay the info. to me. Had I run the half I would have seen him finish, which would have been beyond awesome!
But post-race was awesome. We (Eryn, Jeff, Jeff's GF, DH, DS, and I) stood around having a few New Holland Brewery beers, then shuffled about a mile to the Hop Cat beer bar (well, I shuffled...everyone else actually walked) for drinks and "crack fries." (MTA: I called Cory/Corland on the way to Hop Cat and he was already there waiting for us--last time I had seen him was on an out-and-back section of the course) We made it back to our cars a couple of hours later, said our goodbyes, and I vowed that the next race I run "with" jscovill will have me registering for the shorter distance, so I can see him finish, for a change.
This race closes out my target races for '09. And now I am eagerly looking forward to concentrating on the distances/events I love--primarily the HM, trail races/relays...and taking a crack at a couple of sprint duathlons. It's going to be a nice change to put some miles in via bicycle with the hubby. I can't wait to cover 20 miles via my own leg-power and not have it take over 3.5 hours.
Here are the laps...including the last one when I forgot to stop my Garmin: