Hello everyone! I hope you’ve had great weekends in whatever you’re doing. If you’ve been reading these, you might know that this weekend was the Richmond Marathon, which I trained hard for 16 weeks to prepare for with the hopes of a Boston Marathon Qualifier. Unfortunately, things just didn’t work out the way that I’d hoped or planned for. That’s the tough thing about marathons, really. You can do it all right up until race day and just not have it. I didn’t have it.
I was supposed to run with MC, but we never met up at the start. I ended up spotting her about 50 yards ahead of me, pacing like a metronome. When I spotted her, I decided that I needed to run my own race and didn’t want to expend the effort of chasing her down until later in the race. That time never came. She ended up running the goal time and doing an amazing job. I’m happy for her and proud of her.
As you can see above, I started out right on pace (a little fast, actually) and things seemed to be moving right along. The weather was just right (uncomfortably cold to start out). My watch wouldn’t get a GPS signal. Several of us had that problem. It could be because thousands of us were trying all at the same time. That led me to try to run my first few miles by feel. They were fast, and that led to a 10k time that was more aggressive than I wanted to be. Even with that, I felt fairly relaxed.
I don’t think I had quite the lung capacity that I normally have, which could have been the cold weather but it also was a bit of residual effect from being sick all week. Up until race day, I was popping Vitamin C like a crazy person while chugging tea and taking those little dissolving zinc cold therapy pills all in a last ditch effort to get well.
Around mile 11 is when I started to notice something bad. My left achilles tendon. It wasn’t a deal breaker, but it was noticeably unlike my right achilles tendon. Here’s the worst part…there were signs. For weeks, I’d been complaining about a tight left side from my calf down. It was nagging, but I ran through it. Basketball made it worse, but I kept playing anyway. I stretched it out every once in a while, but not enough. My wife even did her best to suggest that I do more to take care of it, but I just assumed everything would be fine just like it always is. I’ll bet I can look back at my training posts and I mentioned the issue at least once.
As I crossed the half-marathon marker, the discomfort became a stabbing pain. It was the kind of stabbing pain that a normal person can’t (and shouldn’t) run through. I had to stop. I rubbed it and stretched it. I got going again. The pain subsided for a bit and I was cautiously optimistic that maybe things would be ok. As I got back up to speed, I realized that I was going to have trouble getting any sort of push. I tried to change up my stride to more of a shuffle with less need for pushing off. I got that going for a bit, but I knew that eventually that wasn’t going to cut it.
For the first time in all of my running, I considered a DNF (Did Not Finish). The thoughts came before mile 18 where my brother in law and lovely wife were waiting for me. At that point, they knew something was wrong based on the time I came in. I tried not to cry when I told them that something had gone wrong with my achilles. I wanted a hug. I grabbed a drink and went on my way. I had decided to go ahead and finish.
I spent the next 8 miles shuffling when I could with lots of walking in between. I stopped caring. I had some beer at around mile 20. It was the WORST beer I’ve ever consumed. Some abomination called Sprint Light. It made me smile though. After that, I spent the next 6 miles feeling pain and shame. I tried to tell myself that this stuff happens, but that didn’t make it any easier to swallow it. Lots of people tried to encourage me onward and I appreciated it, but I hated it too.
As I came closer to the finish, I was talked into jogging it in to finish strong. As I jogged in and heard the crowd, I stopped being sad. I even managed to smile when running buddy and fellow Hill City Harrier Robbie took a pic of me coming in.
I wish I had a good story to tell about Richmond. They took some good pictures and if things had gone well, I’d buy them. Here are a couple that really show the optimism of the early race and the pain of the 2nd half. It’s all in the eyebrows.
This isn’t much of a race report, but I also want to say how much I love Richmond and the race. It truly is the friendliest marathon. I can’t blame anything about the race at all. They do an amazing job. Check out the awesome SWAG we got. I only wish I didn’t have to associate it with failure.
I want to say thank you to every single one of you that have read, or commented, or anything. So many of you have shared encouragement, or wisdom, or just a laugh. It’s all been appreciated, believe me. I tried to think of all of you as I struggled through. It makes me smile. It brings me inspiration and motivation.
I also want to say congrats to others who got their BQs, or their PRs, or whatever goals they had in mind. It takes courage to set goals (and tell people about them) and strength and determination to meet them. I’m proud of all of you.
Now if you’ll excuse me, Rehoboth is in 3 weeks. I need to get ready…