I’m not sure when I felt the first sign of trouble, when the spasming in my calves and quads began and the fight to qualify for Boston ended. All I knew then, and now: That was the worst I’ve ever felt in a marathon. Ever.
The last nine miles were pretty much a death march, and I spent those two plus hours (yep, that’s how long it took me to walk/run the last 9 plus miles) going through a range of emotions, though mostly my mind went from anger to feeling sorry for myself from mile to mile.
And so, needless to say, 4:14 at the Chicago Marathon is nothing to write home about. Not when I thought I could possibly run 3:14, and no worse than 3:20. I won’t drag on here with too much play by play. You can look at my 5k splits above provided by the Chicago Marathon people and figure out just how slow I ran. But I will say this: I ate the same way that I’ve eaten before long runs. I took my GU and salt tablets at the same point in the run as I did during my long runs; I ran the first half in about 1:42, which was two minutes slower than goal pace, leaving me in good position to run a nice hard negative split. (My half marathon PR was a 1:31…So its not like I ran the first half of the marathon too fast.)
I actually started cramping around Mile 14 and gave up on trying to BQ, but when I ran Mile 17 in 7:30 giving me a total time of 2:11, I thought I was on my way to at least a PR. But little did I know that it would take me twice as long to finish each of the last five miles. Yep. I was doing 15 minute miles from 22 on. Every few minutes or so, a pace group would pass me. First, the 3:30 pacer. Then the 3:40s. Then 3:50s. It was real pitiful when the 4:00 pace group passed me.
And it wasn’t like I could just run through the cramps. Men, take your worst bedtime Charlie Horse … Women, take your worst menstrual cramping …. Then go run. That’s how I felt the last two hours. (OK, I admit, I’ve never had menstrual cramping – but u get the picture).
Yeah, it was hot. 65 at the start and 85 at the finish. But it was disheartening nevertheless because hundreds, no thousands, of people must have passed me over the last four or five miles. Why weren’t they being affected as much as I was? Am I the only one walking?
Yeah, I saw a lot of carnage, a lot of medics on the court, a lot of people sprawled on the ground, lots of people throwing up. But of the people moving, I was moving the slowest. Seriously. The only difference between me and a dead man was the fact I wasn’t wearing a toe tag.
Right after the race was over, I told somebody that I was done with running marathons. I always cramp at these things. Always. I actually thought I was past the kind of cramping that happened at the Chicago Marathon, but the pain in my legs was as bad as it was when I ran my first marathon in 2005. That means in nearly five years, I’ve learned nothing about how to make my body go 26.2.
I don’t now. I’m just tired of embarrassing myself at these races. I’ve since backed off the “never again” stance, but I wont run another marathon until I make a trip to an allergist or a nutritionist. I wanna know whats wrong with me? Why do I cramp up all the time? How is it that I can run a 6:00 min/mile pace for a 5k, but struggle to hold a 9:00 min/mile pace for a marathon?
Until I get these answers, I am done running marathons. Done embarrassing myself. Done. Done. Done.