Fort Myers Beach Marathon
Fort Myers, FL
Marathon # 366
5:44:39 – 6 AG
This will be another short report. After running a 5:05 marathon 3 weeks earlier I had high hopes that I could break 5 hours in this race. Alas, it was not to be.
I drove down to Fort Myers the afternoon before the race to pick up my race packet and meet with a fb friend, Sandy McCallum and her husband Jim. Sandy holds the WR for running the most Ultras in desert/sand races and is training for another Ultra in Oman in Jan where she will pass 4,000K of racing on sand. Jim is also running the Ultra in Oman. As part of their training they both planned to wake at 1 am on Sun and run 4 hours on Fort Myers Beach. Then Sandy would change to run the marathon while Jim continued to run another 4 hours on the beach. And you thought Maddog was crazy?
Later I joined my sister Mary Lou and husband Tim for a pasta dinner. They are vacationing for one month in Fort Myers.
Sun was ‘M’ day. The race started at 7am with 1500 runners in the inaugural marathon and Half. Unfortunately the weather had warmed up above norms in the past week so temps were in the low 70s at the start. The race started and finished at ‘Nervous Nellies’, a bar on Fort Myers Beach. After a few hundred meters we were running up a short steep bridge over the ICW (Inter Coastal Waterway) to the mainland. I passed Mile 3 in 30:14. The skies were overcast for the first 2 hours which helped keep the temps from soaring. As I reached mile 5 in 52:36 and a split of 10:55 I could feel both legs starting to tighten. When I passed mile 9 in 1:39:03 and a split of 11:52 to the cheers of Mary Lou & Tim both legs and hips were so tight and sore that I felt like I was running on 2X4s? I stopped to stretch my hamstrings & quads which provided short-term relief but for the next 4 miles I had to stop almost every mile to stretch. Just before I reached the Half my legs were so tight and sore that I had to stop and do a thorough series of stretches. That took over 5 minutes and I passed the Half in 2:38:23 and a split of 17:47 but my legs and hips had finally relaxed and loosened up. At that point the course got really confusing and I thought I had missed a turn? That messed up my mind and the sun broke through the clouds and the temps started to soar and my mental toughness and willpower to ignore pain vanished. When I passed Mile 16 in 3:18:46 and a split of 15:59 the race was essentially over for me. I didn’t care anymore! I knew there was no hope for a sub -5 hr finish and I wasn’t willing to ignore or accept a lot of pain to push my old bod beyond its limit so I started to walk and run. Believe me it is a lonnnnggggggggg way to run/walk/struggle when you have 10 miles to go – and you are hurting like HELL! I did play a few mind games telling myself that if I could make it to 20 miles then I could walk the final 10K. I knew once I reached 20 miles – in 4:14:43 and a split of 14:20 – that I would not quit and I would continue to run and walk as much as possible to get to the finish line. That final 10K was HOT, ugly and painful but there were a few other runners suffering the same fate and we kept each other going. I tried to run back up the bridge at 25 ½ miles but just didn’t have the energy or mental toughness to keep the old legs churning. I did manage to run down the bridge and cross the finish line in 5:44:39.
I was very disappointed in my time and performance and am now very worried about my next race in 3 weeks. The weather will be much hotter and more humid! If that race is as bad (or worse) than this one I will have a difficult decision to make about my running career/life. Actually I have already made the decision but I am not ready to announce it yet.