Marathons Break Bodies and Break Hearts – EOD Warrior Dash Recap

Hi there, loyal readers! I finished up marathon #11 (I think) yesterday and after so many of them, I still don’t get them. 26.2 miles is a distance worthy of our respect. It’s not to be taken lightly, that’s for sure.

I trained hard for 16 weeks. I ate better (not perfect, but better than the usual). I tried to sleep a little more (maybe still not as much as I could have, but you do what you can). I was fairly disciplined with hydrating, especially the last 2 weeks. I tapered well. Long story short, I put myself in a good position to be successful. The thing about marathons is….NONE OF THAT GUARANTEES YOU ANYTHING ON RACE DAY.

My marathon was a Sunday marathon up in Georgetown, DC. I got myself an Air BnB which was basically a little hotel. It was in the perfect spot (by luck), about a half mile from the race start. PERFECT. I left after Ben’s birthday party (my little guy is 6 now!) and had a smooth 3.5 hour drive with an 8pm arrival time.

This is where things started to go awry. The “hotel” had a self check-in kiosk that confirmed my registration and printed out the codes to get in the building and into my room. One problem. The printer decided not to print the paper. No problem. I’ll just try again. Oh, I only get one chance at it, evidently. Oh well, I’ll just call the number on the kiosk. No answer. Oh well, I’ll just message the host. No response.

Luckily, a nice guy (he sounded French, or French Canadian) saw I was having trouble and let me in the building (I saw him later when he was running the half). I sat around eating my Sheetz sandwich and waited for a response from the host. I waited for 3 hours. Three. Hours. Finally, a little after 11pm the host called and apologetically offered me the room code. I was exhausted and unhappy. Not a good end to the night or a good start for my race prep.

I woke up at 6am and started eating immediately. I had a couple of Lara Bars and a Mantra Labs Rise. I wish I’d have eaten more, but I did not. I headed out to get my race packet (bib and hoodie) and check out the start area. I headed back to my room to get dressed and relax a little before heading back. That was nice cause it allowed me to wear what I wanted to race in (shorts and t-shirt) and not have to freeze waiting around.

The course was an out and back x2. That’s right. Out and back and out and back. I know this sounds AWFUL to some of you, but I didn’t mind that part. The course was also “pancake flat”. Not a single hill in the entire course any bigger than the one to get out of my neighborhood at home. That’s a confidence boost!

Off we went right at 8am. I felt great. I was perfectly cold. I planned to go out just a little slower for my first mile or so (maybe 10-20 seconds off pace), to give me time to warm up. Mile 1: 7:06, so much for a little slower.

I really did feel great. The dirt trail felt great too. I love this part of the race. You’re starting a journey. You have so many miles left, but in a good way!

Mile 2: 7:03

Mile 3: 7:01

Mile 4: 7:10

This is where the story takes a turn, cause I took a turn. Off the course.

I was all zoned in, running behind a couple of runners that were going at just the right pace. I was determined to stick to them like glue. So I did, even when they went the wrong way. THEY WENT THE WRONG WAY.

This course wasn’t too complicated. There was one spot where the trail forked. In hindsight, it was obvious which was the right way, but in that moment I mindlessly followed these two people. I quickly realized that it was not the way and panic ensued. I said out loud, “This isn’t right. We’re off course.” I kept running while looking for a way back onto the main trail. I ended up figuring it out (with the help of a stranger) and got back on the right path.

My first thought was, “I WENT OFF COURSE. MY BQ ISN’T GONNA COUNT EVEN IF I HIT THE TIME.” My second thought was, “HOW MUCH DID I ADD ON???”

I was so sad and angry. How could I do this??? How could those runners do this??? I blamed them at first, but I really only had myself to blame. In the wise words of Jimmy Buffett, “It’s my own damn fault.”

Mile 5: 8:00….BLEH.

I got back on pace and ran angrily for a while. I knew I needed to get back on track mentally, so I decided that even if it didn’t count, I wanted it.

Mile 6: 7:07 Mile 7: 7:08 Mile 8:7:09 Mile 9:7:07 Mile 10: 7:04 Mile 11: 7:05 Mile 12: 7:10 Mile 13: 7:12 Mile 14: 7:22 Mile 15: 7:15 Mile 16: 7:23

Me at the turn. Halfway there is what they said. That’s a lie haha.

By my splits above, you can see a little bit where I started to struggle some. I was at the crossroads. Time to “go to the well” as a wise running sage might say. I was wearing a bracelet with the splits on it for my goal of 3:10. When I looked down at it and saw that I had more than 2 minutes to make up with 9 miles to go, I just lost it.

Suddenly, my body felt every pain that it had felt for the duration of this training cycle. It all hit at once. It’s truly amazing how once the brain starts to falter, the body does it zero favors. Mile 17: 7:58

Time to regroup. You can still PR, Randy. Even with that extra quarter mile that you through in, YOU CAN STILL PR. Mile 18: 7:44 Mile 19: 8:09 Mile 20: 8:33 Mile 21: 8:31

Time to hang in there. Your PR is slipping away too. Do something. Do anything. Take another GU. Take some salt pills. DRINK. Find some inspiration worth suffering for! The well was dry.

I won’t embarrass myself with the remaining splits. It just gets uglier. Lots of shuffling and lots of walking. Lots of strangers trying to push me onward. Lots of resistance to it. I was done. I wasn’t going to dare DNF, but I had quit that race.

Smiling at the encouragement. Crying on the inside.

I finished with a time of 3:33 and yes I know that’s not awful and I know some will tell me that anyone would be happy with that, but it just isn’t what I set out to do. It isn’t what I sacrificed my time (and other people’s time too), my sweat and my sleep for. It hurts to fail.

I had a beer flight and a flatbread pizza to cheer me up and I thought about what I can learn from this. Marathons aren’t to be taken lightly. They will crush you. Now it’s time to figure out which marathon is going to try and crush me next.

16 Replies to “Marathons Break Bodies and Break Hearts – EOD Warrior Dash Recap”

  1. There is no failure! Only new beginnings! You done what you could on this given day and there will be more. Hang in there friend! You WILL get that BQ!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hate it when you don’t get the result you trained for! Marathons are good at that. You’re right about one thing though — a double out and back DOES sound awful ha.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for posting. Those days happen, but I’m sorry it was on race day. So, so much is mental, for better or worse. You’ll kill the next one.
    P.s. I’m on Team “out and back x2 sucks”! 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great recap. Sorry you got a bit turned around during the marathon. Did the other two runners follow you to the correct path?

    Here’s a marathon to crush you – the Inca Trail Marathon with a $3400 registration fee and a ~5000-ft climb. (https://trailrunner.com/event/original-inca-trail-marathon-to-machu-picchu-september/).

    Something similar happened to me with an Airbnb in Philly, and it was extremely frustrating even without having an early morning marathon the next day.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How frustrating! Sorry it didn’t go as well as you wanted but remember still finishing is always an accomplishment when running that many miles!

    Double out and back? Ew. I don’t run more than a half marathon as out and back.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So glad to see you are back to blogging!! I know I’m behind on this post tho. You and Kwame are really the only regular guy bloggers I follow these days. I hope 2022 is a great one for you. Take care, happy running to you and stay healthy.

    Liked by 1 person

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