So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

My photo
Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Live To Fight Another Day

Up this morning to make my way to the swimming pool...the hammies were oinking, the quads were multiplying their pain response somewhere closer to octaves, and the calves were definitely mooing. The cacaphony of catastrophic proportions - muscle and joint pain at all-time highs - encouraged me to turn back to the (relative) warmth of my bed. Humor notwithstanding, both the missus and I were in a world of pain two days after our marathon experience. I felt guilty for not doing anything today, but if you follow the rule of thumb; no activity for the number of days equal to the number of hours you race, no hard training for the number of days equal of miles you race, well...I still owe myself a day...or two...
The marathon is a humbling experience. I've said this before. Fortunately, I still can smile about what happened on Sunday.
We had conditions on the warm and humid side; not good for marathoning, but nice for Florida in mid-December. My athletes and myself, not to mention 2,000 friends, blew off the line at a couple of minutes after seven to run the full and the half marathon.
I had both my heart rate monitor and my running watch to keep track of my mile splits and my effort. Well, I also wanted to keep track of Suzanne's performance (she had the goal of beating Katie Holmes' NYC marathon time of 5:30) for her own record-keeping. Ah, but enough about her. This is all about me.
The first half-marathon was good for the first eleven miles with splits of 7:30, 7:16, 7:14, 7:24, 7:06, 7:15, 7:12, 7:20, 7:24, 7:26, and 7:29. At that point, I hit a section of the course I had not seen and didn't take the time to look at on Google Earth; I'm usually anal about studying courses because I need to know exactly where I'm going and what to expect on the trip back. The splits went to 7:44 and 7:35.
I hit the half-marathon point with eight minutes to play with on the return trip. The calf cramps began at 14 and stayed to mile 20. I never had them bilaterally, but they would swap off; one would tighten up and cause me to walk for about 30 seconds, after which I could run for a couple of time for the other calf to join in the fun. My splits went from 7:30-ish in the front 13 to 7:51, 8:41, 10:25, 9:23, 8:46, and 9:36. I then tried to adjust my stride to keep the calves from firing too much, and had taken in all of my fluid and gels to get glucose to the muscles. After a 12:25 mile at mile 20, I did the math and knew the eight minutes I had at 13.1 had been spent. My right achilles' tendon was swollen and sore from the change in stride mechanics.
At that point I had three choices:
1 - drop out of the race.
2 - push the pace and try to get back on the good side of 3:30.
3 - walk the last 6.2 miles.
None of the three are emotionally or psychologically satisfying, and one of them could have led to some serious long-term consequences. So, in order to pay respect to the course and the other participants who were slogging it out in various stages of ecstasy and pain, I decided to walk it in. I wasn't going to get my Boston qualifier, but it was still a nice day for a walk.
I did learn some lessons from the weekend:
Regardless of how well you think you have trained, 26.2 will beat you senseless if one little thing goes wrong. In my case, I was racing on borrowed training; a base shortened by six weeks because of a fractured humerus, a peak performance months too soon, and a few too many bad training days near the end. I toed the starting line gimpy and fragile, and paid the piper.
However, I was smart enough to quit trying to race when I felt the first danger signs. I'm hurting today, I got lit up by the marathon. I may not do another marathon, but I get to live to fight another day.
You be cocky and arrogant, even when you're getting beat. That's the secret. You gotta play this game with fear and arrogance. -- Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), in "Bull Durham" (1988)

No comments: