After deciding a few weeks ago I would run the Outer Banks Marathon, race day had finally arrived. It would be my second marathon in three weeks. My body felt strong, rested, and ready-to-go. I woke up around 0400 hrs, to have breakfast. I had a protein shake and went back to bed until 0530 hrs. I woke up meandered around the hotel room and finally got dressed for the race.
When I stepped outside I was immediately hit by a constant forceful wind. I walked down to the beach and the waves had to be 6-7 feet high and rolling in! The wind would be at my back most of the race so I actually welcomed it, the temperature was in the upper 50’s. The weather wasn’t as good for running as it was in Baltimore a few weeks ago, but it was much better than it had been the day before.
I drove to the parking lot where the shuttle would pick me up and take me to the start, as I walked towards the bus I saw Jim and his wife Suzanne. We rode to the start line together, chatted a bit when we arrived, and then made our way to our starting corrals; Jim and I were both in Corral A. Jim started further up in the corral and I started towards the back, I wanted to make sure I followed my plan of starting out slowly. The race started right on time at 0720 hrs., the first mile I think my Garmin had a hard time picking up satellites. It was telling me I was running a 10:30 pace but I knew I was much faster than that, when I reached the mile marker it beeped and displayed a 9 minute mile. I was right where I wanted to be, now I just needed to hold that pace and wait to speed up later in the race.
My calf was tight and bothering me a bit, the tightness had gone away in previous runs but it was sticking with me now. It wasn’t enough to worry me yet, but knew I needed to listen to my body. Through mile 4 I was keeping my pace at 9 mins, I wanted to speed up and it took a lot for me to hold back. Somewhere in mile 5 my back spasmed, it caused me to jump up and threw my stride off. It only lasted a second or two, that had never happened to me before while running. The pain didn’t last and I kept going making sure to refueled with a blok.
The course support was excellent at almost every mile marker there was a water station, bathrooms, and a med tent. The course support was some of the best I had seen. Along the first seven miles there were lots of spectators as we ran through the neighborhoods, my only complaint would be the winding course. It was hard to figure out the tangents, but a little extra never hurt anyone right? Halfway through mile 7 my stomach was starting to feel uneasy. I was wondering if I could make it the whole race without stopping, nope, I made it to mile 10 and stopped to use the bathroom. I wasn’t to concerned about losing time.
After my bathroom break it was into the woods. Miles 10-13 were on the trail, any of you who know me, know I do not enjoy trail running. I didn’t realize there was a trail portion when I looked at the course map. The trail was uneven and hilly, like any trail usually is. My stride changed and I slowed down to around an 11 min pace. I could feel my IT band getting tight as I was using different muscles in my stride to stabilize. It seemed like I was on that trail for much longer than I was; I was very happy to see pavement again at mile 13.
As I hit the asphalt, I tried to get my stride and strike back. Normally I am a toe to mid-foot striker, but through the trail I was running on my heels more. I tried getting back to mid-foot striking but my calves were tired and I couldn’t stay ‘up’. I knew I was going to have to adjust my stride for the rest of the race. The rest of the race I was striking heel first, which made it feel like the shock of hitting the pavement was reverberating through my body. My pace fell off a bit but I was still around 9 mins.
I was making sure to take bloks more frequently than I have in past races to hopefully keep some glycogen in my body for later in the race. I had to make another bathroom stop at mile 16, my stomach didn’t want to cooperate with me today. After the second unexpected pit stop, I noticed I was starting to chaff under my arms and it was starting to bother me. I decided at the next med tent I would get some vaseline. Mile 17 nor 18 had a med tent, finally at mile 19 there was a med tent and it felt so good to put the vaseline under my arms. Then it happened…
In the middle of mile 19, my body said enough. The constant heel strikes for the last 8 miles, the run streak, the marathon 3-weeks before hit me. My legs didn’t want to go anymore. The pain in my quads and claves was almost intolerable. It felt like my muscles were ready to jump through my skin and out of my body. I started stretching on the side of the road and while I was stretching I was looking at my watch, I could still break 4 hours I just needed to push through this and get going. I popped another block and started running again. The run didn’t last long before I was walking again.
My body has never felt like it did those last 6 miles; during a race or in training before. During those miles I though that maybe running marathons 3-weeks apart after a year of running wasn’t the best idea. After a year of constant running, tendonitis, and 3 more weeks of training my body decided it was time to rest. The last 7.2 miles took me around 90 mins to complete. I knew by mile 21 I wasn’t going to break 4 hours, I just wanted to finish the race. I ran, walked, and shuffled my way to the finish line. I somehow found the tolerance to run the last half mile and crossed the finish line at 4:40:52. I added 29 mins to my time from just 3 weeks ago. I didn’t really care, I was just happy I didn’t give up.
I made my way through the finisher’s area and sat down. I wasn’t sure I was every going to get up again. I had never felt so bad after a marathon before. I sat there for about 20 mins, planning how to get up and make it back to the bus that would take me to my car. I finally got up and hobbled to the bus. It was about a 40 min drive back to the parking lot. I replayed the marathon in my mind and wondered if I could have done anything differently; the only thing I could have done differently is not run. Although my body felt good going into the race, I think it was still recovering and wasn’t ready for another 26.2 miles.
It is now time to rest, recoup, and start thinking about next race season. This one is over and though it ended on a bad note, it was a great race season. I had two PRs (half and full marathon) and came close to a PR at 10 miles. I’m looking forward to trying for some more PRs after allowing my body to heal!
-Veggie Fueled Runner