Thursday, April 21, 2011

Marathon Monday

The gal in green won

Kara Goucher

Men's winners

Ryan Hall

I finally have some time to recap Marathon Monday. Here goes ...

It started out bright and early, donning multiple layers for the wait for the bus on Boston Garden ...

and the long wait out in Hopkinton in the wind. Shorts, pants, shirt, sweatshirt, jacket and eventually hat, gloves, mittens and a plastic trash bag. I could have used a blanket too, and some more layers between myself and the ground. There were lots of air mattresses, lawn chairs, tarps, flattened cardboard boxes to be seen out there. And LOTS of bodies. LOTS and LOTS of bodies.

A view from the ground (of a tent)
It's akin to a refugee camp of 27,000, trying to keep warm with whatever they can find ... waiting in line for crude bathroom facilities with no running water ... eating food out of our bags ... no privacy ... cold ... Very much what I'd imagine a refugee camp to be.

After a few trips to the porta potties, it wasn't too long until we needed to make our way to the start corrals. I'd packed 5 Vanilla Bean GUs, my electrolyte capsules and 3 Werthers Butter Toffee hard candies (only 20 calories, but a nice distraction) in my waist pack. I was in wave 2, about in the middle (corral #5). There were people as far as I could see, both forward and back. Approximately 9,000 in each wave. The street that we start on in Hopkinton is very narrow so the line is quite long. The early miles are downhill, in general. All was going fine for the first 6. My left foot wasn't bothering me. Hamstrings were OK. At 6 miles, I felt a twinge of a cramp in my right hamstring. Uh oh. Not good. WAY to early. Took a GU. Just past mile 7, I stopped for a porta potty and had to wait. That cost me at least a minute. I felt another twinge in my hamstring at 9 so I eased up just a little. Yikes. PLEASE don't this turn ugly ... Not yet. Took another GU at 11 and 16. Splits up through mile 17: 8:12, 7:57, 8:03, 8:00, 8:17, 8:17, 8:20, 9:28 (had to wait for the porta potty), 8:14, 8:23, 8:27, 8:35, 8:42, 8:25, 8:37, 8:35, 9:04 (wheels are coming loose). I think I was at 13.1 miles at 1:50:25. 20 miles at 2:50 and change. At 17, the cramps started in earnest. I ran through them as best I could. I can tolerate calf cramps, even hamstring. I have quite a high pain tolerance. I had half my pancreas removed, back surgery, and never shed a tear. But when these cramps affect the muscles on the medial side of my upper legs, about 6" up from my knees, (adductors?) it's just more than I can handle. I had to stop often and rub the cramp trying to get it to release. So very painful. And all this stopping did a number on my pace, of course. Splits from 18 on: 9:41, 9:23, 9:52, 10:23 (imploding now), 11:45 (ouch ... maybe another bathroom stop. don't remember.), 11:21, 10:25, 9:57, 10:40, 9:21 (pace for the last .48 as I had 26.48 on my GPS). I was on target for a sub-4:00 finish for quite a while. It was so hard to see it slipping away. But there was just nothing more I could do. I'd take 4 electrolyte capsules in the last half. Whether they helped or not, I don't know.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that my leg cramps are an old, tired story. If I had a couple wishes that could be fulfilled (I couldn't choose this as my only wish if I had just one), I would love to run just ONE marathon without leg cramps. I want the limiting factors in my performance to be fatigue and my mind. I've run 20 if them now, and have never been able to complete one without cramping. A few times it's been manageable, but most of the time it's been very challenging for me. And that's why I get so psyched out before the actual event. I KNOW it's going to happen. The only unknowns are: how early, and how bad. But it's just not to be.

5k 10k 15k 20k Half 25k 30k 35k 40k

0:25:12 0:50:56 1:17:52 1:44:40 1:50:25 2:11:24 2:40:34 3:13:33 3:46:50

But the good news is that I finished. And here it is ...

No stopping?  I wish ...
I felt kind of woozy at the finish. It was a sea of humanity at the finish line. Just like riding the T at times, we were packed in like sardines. The first thing offered ... bottles of water an more lemon-lime Gatorade (blech ... the last thing I wanted). Eventually, heat blankets, medals and a bag of food. I ate a little bag of chips and that was it. I was craving salt. It was a very long walk to the bus to pick up my drop bag and then back up to the Sheraton to pick up my bag from Kristin's room. I'm guessing close to 1.5 miles total. I wanted nothing more than to get off my feet and into a shower. Shower didn't happen until almost 9:00 PM when I got to Maine. I was still having pretty bag leg cramps on the Amtrak Downeaster. But by Tuesday, they were gone.

Well, marathon number 20 is in the books. And I'm back up to 50% on BQs (10 of them). Marathon number 21 is in 3 weeks (Lake Wobegon Trail). Again, I'm not expecting great things. But I would like to have a "10-minute under my BQ time" finish. I almost had one in Outer Banks (9 minutes 10 seconds).

There was an article in USA Today last week about the Boston Marathon qualifying times. It said: "Men 50-54 got into this year's race with a 3:35, a serious but not particularly fast time for a dedicated runner. Women 50-54 could get in with a 4:05, respectable but certainly not what one would consider fast." I kind of take offense to that. I know that in absolute terms, a 4:05 marathon is not "fast". But he (the author) has no idea what it's like to try to train for a fast marathon as a 50+ year old woman. Trying to get in hard workouts, long miles, yet not get injuired. It's a lot of work and not easy, just as it is for all age groups. But you can't expect the same results from say a 52-year old woman that you can from say a 38-year old male. For the general population (Joan Samuelson being a HUGE exception), it's like comparing apples and oranges.

Well, that's enough about Monday. I'll cover Portland, ME tomorrow.

This morning: 4 mile run (legs feel good except where the muscles cramped...those muscles are still sore), lifted, swam 1/2 an hour. Tomorrow morning: 7:30 to 8:00 AM running next to Jim Parry for his 16-hour endurance challenge at the Y. Way to go, Jim!! Not sure what else I'll do. Maybe a bike ride.

Well, it's time to put this to bed. And me too. I want to finish Moloka'i.

Good night.

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