Sunday, December 02, 2001

RR Tampa Marathon

Race Report
Hops Marathon
Tampa, FL

First, I must thank everyone for their prayers, cants and voodoo verses. They worked because my right leg held up (except for some minor pain and stiffness between miles 16 to 20) and most importantly my team of pretty young lasses qualified for Boston!The weather, as expected, did not cooperate as the temperature was already 65 degrees at the 6am start. Fortunately a cloud cover kept it from getting too brutal until about mile 16 when the clouds burned off and it heated up quickly to the mid 70s.We lost a few critical minutes at the start because of the narrow congested streets and large crowd in front of us - 10 minutes for the first mile! But we quickly settled into a smooth and easy 8:30 pace by mile 3 and cruised through the first half in 1:53 - even with a pit stop and a few walks through some water stops to digest some GU (carbo gel). Everyone was feeling great at that point and I even had silly thoughts about maybe running a negative split on the second half to finish under 3:45.But at mile 16 the heat and a small twinge/stiffness in Linda's left hamstring started to slow us down. Amy and I took turns massaging and beating on Linda's hamstring while we continued running and Linda courageously forged on. I also was starting to experience minor pain and stiffness in my right hamstring but fortunately it never went beyond the 'minor discomfort' level.As we approached the 20-mile mark I asked for a 'gut check' from the team. Twenty miles is the moment of truth and decision for a marathoner.I once read an article by a renowned sports doctor who stated, "the human body was not built to run further than 20 miles". After 187 marathons I truly believe that statement/finding! If a runner is well trained the first 20 miles are usually easy. But no matter how well trained a runner is, how he/she will feel on the last 10K will depend on conditioning, how one feels that day, the weather - and if the moon is aligned with Jupiter and Mars? And a runner will always reach one of the following stages in the last 10K: Stage 1 - "this hurts!"; Stage 2 - "this really hurts!!"; Stage 3 -"this really fucking hurts!!!" (an inside joke/saying in the BBR but ALL runners and endurance athletes will fully understand the meaning).Stage 1 WILL be reached by all marathoners who run the last 10K. Stage 2 is also normally reached unless all of the above conditions (the Moon and Jupiter, etc) are in place. Stage 3 is usually only reached when a marathoner is trying to obtain a goal such as winning an age group (or the race) or trying to beat a time goal.Because all three stages can be avoided at any time by simply stopping! The reason for this brief side note/dissertation was to explain why I requested a 'gut check' from the team at 20 miles. Based on my 187 marathons of experience I have determined that a runner can normally tell what stage(s) he/she is about to encounter during the last 10K based on how he/she feels at 20 miles. I was hoping that I could tell from their responses and watching their strides what might lie ahead and then I could prepare a strategy to get them through the expected stages. I didn't know if Amy or Linda had ever experienced Stage 3 in a marathon and I had to be prepared to psyche or trick them through it.My concern started to increase when we passed mile 21 in 9:22 - we needed a 9 - minute pace and no slower over the last 10K to reach our goal which meant I had to to motivate, beat or beg the team to pick up the pace. I tried motivation/bribery first. "Think how proud you will be and how you can brag about qualifying for Boston". Then I resorted to embarrassment and ridicule (subtlety trying to get them angry and forget their pain/hurt). "How pissed off are you going to be at yourself if you miss qualifying by only 30 seconds?" "You going to waste 6 months of training just because you hurt for a few minutes?" I wanted to tell them they were wusses but that won't work with a girl - I should have thought that one out beforehand?The next tactic was trickery (it's not mean - I use this shit on myself in most races)."It's only one mile to the next marker - you only have to hurt for another 9 minutes". Finally we crossed the 24-mile mark in 3:30:30 - I started screaming/begging "we only have 19 1/2 minutes to reach our goal. I am not letting you give up at this point if I have to carry you across the damn finish line!" At that point I figured Linda had clearly crossed into Stage 3 and Amy was knocking at the door. But I am so very proud of my team! They did not give up! They rose to the challenge - dug deep - ignored the pain and struggled on with every last once of energy they didn't have left.By now I was throwing everything at them; motivation, ridicule, trickery - anything to take their mind off the pain. I tried to get them pissed off at me in hopes that anger would help them forget the pain.MILE 25 - 3:39 Eleven minutes to reach our goal and both Linda and Amy are in Stage 3! I know they are hurting (really fucking hurting!). Lots of motivation, trickery, threats and lies are needed as I tell them "we have it made, we're home - only 9 more minutes of pain -any runner can stand pain for that short time to brag about qualifying for Boston!"Again/still they rose to the challenge and we crossed the finish line in 3:50:11.I was actually a bit concerned because they needed a 3:50 to qualify but we got confirmation that 3:50 + any change up to 59 seconds is considered qualifying. So we cut it very close but that don't mean a damn thing now.The TEAM QUALIFIED and I am very, very proud of them.And I think that they achieved something just as important and significant as qualifying for Boston. They both reached Stage 3 and didn't give up! Because once you realize that you can do that, you can do it again -and again - and again - just like a Maddog!So again I thank you for your help as I was able to finish the race with only a little pain/discomfort in the hamstring and because I was running a smooth, easy pace (for me) I barely reached Stage 1. Thus I am much more confident that I can run the marathon in Jamaica next Saturday without hurting the leg further. But believe me, after that race I am resting the leg for a few weeks. I may try some cross training - I said cross TRAINING - not cross DRESSING which is something many of you do!

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