In short, the race was a great experience and a lot was learned, but I have to admit that I ran quite a bit slower than my goal. I was aiming for a finish of 3:30 and ended up at 4:08. I based my goal time on my 24 mile run that I completed in 3:08. Ultimately, I think I have something to learn about hydration levels and salt balances.
We gathered with the other runners just before sunrise for the 7:00AM start of the Marathon, Half-Marathon, and Marathon Relay. The weather couldn’t have been more cooperative starting out at about 50 degrees. I finally crossed the start line about 2 minutes after the official start of the race.
I started out very conservatively at around 9:30 mile pace. Over the next couple of miles I moved up to my 8:00 mile pace. All was well in my world for the next several miles, but I think this is where my troubles began. I don’t pay much attention while I’m running, and I breezed past a few of the early hydration stations. But feeling great, I didn’t let it bother me.
I took my first Clif Shot at about 45 minutes and from then on tried to drink at each hydration station. I felt great up to mile 13. Miles 13 and 14 were a gradual uphill, so I slowed a bit. Miles 15 and 16 were flat or down hill, a welcomed relief. At the end of mile 16 urination was necessary, and it was an awfully dark color (for my urine at least). At that point I realized I was in trouble.
I drank a cup of gatorade and a cup of water at each station from that point, but I think I was already in too deep of a hole. The cool temperatures of the morning were giving way to a warm, sunny 70 degrees. The gradual stiffness in my legs had turned to cramping at mile 18, and I had to stop and walk at each water stop.
Miles 22 – 25 were rough. Walking had become marginally more comfortable than walking. I think I managed 10:00 minute miles with a combination of runing and walking. The last mile was grueling. My stride had turned to a short choppy waddling effort, but there’s something about that final mile that makes it tollerable.
Four hours and eight minutes after I crossed the starting line, I finished. Legs cramping and feet aching, all I wanted to do was sit down and eat.
After a bit of reading (thanks Internets) I’m pretty sure I wasn’ t managing my water and electrolyte/salt intake well. I think I’m going to start experimenting with salt tablets on my long runs.
Here’s a good post on marathon cramps.
Short list of upcomming races: