Sunday, February 26, 2012

RR - Gainesville

Race Report

Sun, Feb 19/12
Five Points of Life Marathon
Gainesville, FL
4:58:51 – 2 AG
Marathon # 354

I need to get this report finished before I leave for my next international race. It has been delayed due to a nasty flu bug I have been fighting for the past week. In hindsight the fact that I was sick for almost one week after the last race has changed my opinion and feelings about the race. I will try to write the race report describing my actual feelings before/during/after the race without the knowledge that I was probably sick and did not know it at the time?

Having finished the Jacksonville marathon the previous week and finally running an entire marathon w/o walking for the first time in over a year I decided to run the Five Points Marathon faster. I ran the inaugural race six years ago so I reviewed my report from that race. Umm! I ran way over my head in spite of it being a tough course with lots of hills and set the course record- 3:29:31 - for my AG (60 to 64) that has yet to be broken! Well, that record was not in jeopardy. I would be happy to finish 1 hr slower?
The weather was forecast to be much warmer than the freezing temps I suffered the week before in Jacksonville. Temps were forecast to be in the low 60s.

I drove up to Gainesville on Sat, checked into a luxurious Super 8 Motel, picked up my race packet and enjoyed an early pasta dinner. The first shock the next morning was the weather. It was a balmy 72 F and windy at the 7am start. Fortunately it stayed overcast so the temps only rose to the high 70s. There were about 400 runners in the marathon and 1,000 in the Half. I remembered the first 6 miles were hilly with 3 BAHs (Bad Ass Hills) so I tried not to go out too fast through those hills and into a brisk head wind. I was pleasantly surprised when I passed Mile 6 in 58:29 and a split of 10:04. The course flattened out and I continued to push the pace to reach Mile 10 in 1:39:47 and a split of 9:42. However I noticed that my legs were starting to tire already and that was not a good sign? At Mile 11 we ran through the UF campus and Gator Stadium. As we approached Mile 13 the Half and Marathon split off and I now only had a few runners in front of me? As I passed the Half in 2:11:41 and a split of 10:31 I realized that I was slowing down and I knew the 2nd Half would be much slower. I hoped to continue to push the pace to at least 20 miles and then worry about walking? However as I was pushing the old bod up a BAH at 15 miles it suddenly became too difficult/impossible to keep the old legs churning and they stopped! I knew right then the race was over for me! I had ‘hit the wall’ – there was nothing left! It was going to be a long, tough slog for the final 11 miles.

I walked/jogged and struggled past 16 miles in 2:46:44 and a split of 12:31. I had hoped that if I walked/jogged a few miles my legs might recover enough to start running again but when I reached Mile 20 in 3:37:11 my split had slowed to 13:30 and I was walking more than jogging! And I felt like SHIT!
I was really discouraged that I had ‘hit the wall’ so early in the race? I didn’t believe I was in that bad of shape but yet I couldn’t seem to recover no matter how much I walked. It was ugly – and it was painful – but I was determined that I would gut it out to the finish line and finish # 354!
When I passed Mile 24 in 4:30:19 and a painfully slow split of 13:52 I knew that I would finish but I wasn’t sure if I could break 5 hrs? I figured I needed to lower my splits to 13:00/mile and allow a few minutes for the final 200 m.

I was running on energy fumes because there was absolutely no energy left in my body. Mile 25 – 4:43:51 and a split of 13:32. Not good enough! I sucked it up – refused to walk and passed Mile 26 in 4:56:27 and a split of 12:35. I held that blazing pace for the final 200 m to cross the finish line in 4:48:51 and salvage some pride for Maddog! I kept telling myself during the final 11 miles that this pain – this agony- this total feeling of fatigue was a great opportunity to teach the old bod how to cope with fatigue and pain! I hope I never have to suffer through another lesson like that for a long, long time!

My late checkout time at the hotel expired while I was crossing the finish line so I had to drag my sorry, tired ass into the car w/o even washing and drive 2 hrs to pick up the Sports Manager at the Tampa Airport. She was returning home from babysitting duties in TX. By the time we arrived home at 4 pm I was feeling so badly that it was all I could do to take a much-needed shower and go to bed w/o any dinner. I suffered all night with a high fever and hot and cold sweats. I thought I was sick because I had pushed the old bod beyond its limits. Only after the sickness and flu-like symptoms continued for another 3 days did I finally realize I didn’t get sick because of the race. I had probably been sick before and during the race but hadn’t realized it? No wonder the old bod gave up at 15 miles.

When I tried to walk on Mon morning my right calf was so stiff and swollen that pain was shooting down the leg into the plantar fascia and I couldn’t put any weight on the right foot? I thought I had a serious injury but I dragged my still-sick ass out of bed on Wed for a 1-hr torture session (massage) with Attila the Hunness and she managed to correct the problem(s). I think I just stressed too many muscles with that dumb effort to finish the race. Had I known I was that sick with the flu I think I would have dropped out and saved myself a lot of pain? But then I couldn’t have counted # 354 and a 2nd AG (there were only 2 runners in my AG).

But that is past history. The leg is feeling OK now. The flu seems be gone? Although I was unable to run/train all week I did manage to run 11 miles on Sun and my energy level seems to be back to normal.

So I am off to Saipan on Mon for my next international marathon. I will definitely run that race much smarter and slower in the tropical heat.

Stay tuned!

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