Failure after 18 miles

Well, I did my best but it wasn’t good enough. I started my marathon at 8 AM sharp this morning. I wanted to try to maintain the pace that my friend Travis had, for as long as I could and then slow down to a trot/walk for the rest of the time. I KNEW I could finish 26.2 miles in under 7 hours (which is what I had boasted).

Travis trained for several months and ran 26.2 miles in exactly 4 hours. His wife, Betsy, finished the distance after 6 hours 18 minutes.

I was going strong for the first 12 miles. Then I started to have some thigh and calf cramping. Walking for a minute or two relieved it and then I could jog some more. I covered 13.1 miles (half a marathon) in just under 2 hours and then things started to deteriorate quickly. By mile 14 as soon as I would try to go back into a trot, my legs would immediately lock up in cramps. So, I contented myself to walk (albeit painfully). I had so much time built up on the clock that I wasn’t worried about beating the 6 hour 18 minute mark.

As I walked to mile 18, all of a sudden the chariot wheels fell off, so to speak. The cramping hit me hard all of sudden and I couldn’t shake it. I tried stretching out against a telephone pole. I tried laying down in the grass for a minute (that made it much worse). I got up and tried walking backwards (that was a tip that had been given to me by Betsy). It helped a little but I was getting nauseated from the pain by then and feeling rather poorly.

I called it quits at mile 18 after 3 hours and 20 minutes. I had 3 hours left on the clock for the remaining 8 miles but the cramping overpowered me. I’ve had an occasional leg cramp before, but this was full strength and it wouldn’t stop. It was a shame too because I had plenty of energy left. I was doing great cardiovascularly. The cramping alone defeated me.

All in all, I am pleased with my effort. I suppose if I had walked the first 10 miles, then I could have kicked up the pace and probably still beaten the target time. But, I wanted to see if there was any chance I could keep up with my friend’s 4-hour pace, so I ran from the beginning. My pride got me into this situation and it caused me to fail, too.

After my wife drove me home, I took an ice bath for 30 min. and it helped a lot (cold water + 5 lbs of ice added). I know it sounds crazy, but it actually felt pretty decent today.

Knowing that usually I am most sore after hard exertion on the 1st and 2nd day afterward, I figure Sat & Sun should be full of self-induced misery.

Will I try a marathon again later? In the words of a preaching friend, today’s effort was kind of like the virgin birth–it only happens one time! 🙂 Thanks for reading!