Thursday, May 22, 2008
Cleveland Marathon: Part II
Time for the wrap up.
Passing the 1/2 way point we picked up a new pacer. Her name was Liz and she was super skinny and on "fresh legs" which made me extremely green with envy. She was given some balloons to carry for a mile or so to identify the 3:40 group, which would help me keep them in sight a little bit longer than I would have later in the race. I saw e-speed and solar one last time yelling at me that I looked great. Thanks ladies.
As soon as we hit Chester the weather broke and the sun came out. I wiped my wet sunglasses and slid them on. I once read squinting causes tension in the shoulders and wastes energy and I have been trying to break that bad habit of staring at the ground when I run as that leads to poor form. My feet were a tad soaked but manageable as some guy had run through a puddle and splashed the back of my legs in the first half. I was a little mad, but he probably was feeling worse than me. Mile 14 went by at 8:30, mile 15 8:32, hmmm we were gaining a few seconds every mile and this part is downhill. I was getting a little tight in my hip flexors at this point and I could feel the nagging cramps in my cavs had become a dull ache. Now, I was worried. If this had been a 30k I would have said to hell with it and hammered it all the way in as hard as I could, but this was a marathon and I knew I would be in trouble before it was over.
Now, the best thing to do when your legs are getting cramped due to lack of oxygen in them is run faster right? WRONG. Pacer pulls us through mile 16 in 7:47!! WTF!!! I am gonna be in trouble really soon here. I made an executive decision to slow down right there and let the pace group move ahead without me. I knew some of my friends were up ahead, so I just focused on getting to them at the water stop, hoping that would keep me motivated. My cramps had now spread to my toes, but thankfully my racing flats do not allow for sloppy feet and I maintained my foot strike on my forefoot where I am supposed to. I had been eating shot bloks, but took a power gel with caffeine and lots of sodium in hopes my cramps were relatd to dehydration and electrolyte loss, but I knew deep in my heart it wasn't. Mile 17 with the slow down 8:22. Still 2 seconds too fast but way better. I passed a guy I knew who had been shooting for 3:30. He was walking with a limp. I told him not to give up. He said he would keep going and thanked me and yelled back some words of encouragement to me.
Finally hit my favorite water station as TZ and MN were yelling and cheering for me while also handing out water and gatorade to runners. I was so happy to see them. I wanted to hug them, but knew I would need every second, so I thanked them and pushed ahead. However, as soon as I passed them it was like the wind had left my sails. I began cramping in my quads and my hamstrings. My feet felt like someone was smacking them with a 2 x 4 every step as my racing flats are super light weight, but have NO cushioning. I knew that was the risk with racing in them, but after a strategical discussion with the Walrus we had decided bruised feet would be worth it to maintain good running form and with the downpour earlier they would accumulate less water. Mile 18 8:44...Boston had begun to slip away.
I thought about saying to hell with it right then and there, but I knew so many of my friends and family had come down to cheer for me. I told myself I would push until my body quit. I wasn't going down without a fight. My back tightened and cramped at that point and I took a gel and stopped for 5-10 seconds to bend over and stretch my lower back and hamstrings. Mile 19 9:11 first one of the day :(
I continued to make my way down MLK trying to keep the pacer in sight and get to the Walrus at mile 20. I kept telling myself "hold on, he will be there to pace you in, you can do this." Mile 20 8:47 I was back in the game. He was there just as he promised ready to run me through the headwind down Marginal. The headmaster and his fiancee were also there as a surprise to cheer for me...thanks!!! Renewed with motivation we hit the toughest part of the course and YEP there was a headwind. I had trouble tucking in at first because the walrus was too fast. I had to tell him to slow down a few times, which I knew he was not happy about. He kept reminding me the pace group was up ahead...like I didn't know that. Mile 21 8:52...the wind was blowing.
I tried to just focus on the backs of his cavs and trudge through like a zombie, but no dice. I started wishing I wasn't 5 miles away. I had about 41:00 to get in and on any other day it would have been easy. I would have been stoked, but today I wished I had 51:00 as there was nothing easy about it. Mile 22 9:41. I had lost my focus. My cramps were everywhere. The walrus gave me a gel at the next aid station and grabbed water and gatorade. He refused to let me give up. Mile 23 9:26 a little better.
I had one more mile to get the hell out of this headwind, but I had to again stop and stretch...aaaarrrrggghhhh!!! This was my worst mile. I stretched for a good 20 seconds. I was almost to the Rock Hall when I heard people screaming my name. It was Twizzle and Bambi!! YAY! I was ecstatic to see them, but the damage had been done mile 24 10:49.
I was on countdown...2.2 miles to go and I will have made it. I knew Boston would have to wait until next time. I ran up the big hill for the 2nd time that day and asked the walrus if he thought my family would love me any less for missing. He laughed and said I was being ridiculous and of course not. Ridiculous, isn't running 26+ miles through, rain and a headwind for fun seen as ridiculous by most people or just a marathon in general? We actually started talking a lot more at this point as I was having a harder and harder time moving. He was super proud of me. Last year he had pretty much laughed in my face when I said I wanted to run Boston some day. Now, he just expects it. We ran into one of our friends who races for Spin who had done the 10k and totally kicked ass finishing 19th OA and winning his AG...Way to Go BS! He told me to get moving and haul it in. I frowned I was hauling it...at mile 25 10:23.
One more mile to glory. I was still thinking how happy I was the finish was just around the corner. I had given it everything I had. I had pushed my body farther than it had wanted to go and it hadn't quit on me. Just before rounding the corner the 3:50 pacer passed by. Oh no, I didn't want that to happen and apparently neither did the walrus. He frantically started looking at his watch and me. It was okay. I had made up time on the clock. I knew I could make it, but he didn't. He looked like he was going to run over and steal the pacers balloons and race back the other way. I told him I would just give him my shoe and he could run it in. He started laughing and aksing me if I was gonna pick up the pace anytime soon. "Nah," I lied. "I just wanted to finish." We rounded the last corner onto St. Clair and there was my family one last time screaming for me like a bunch of lunatics. I waved and smiled shouting I missed, but doing my Tiger Woods fist anyway. My mom, dad and sister-in-law were all crying and waving. We hit E.13th and I said to the walrus..."Let's Go!!" I picked it up for the last stretch smiling from ear to ear as I had done it. I had finished my 2nd marathon. I crossed the finish in 3:49:31. My last mile was 9:54 and .2 was 1:42.
I was elated. I never thought I would ever break the 8 minute barrier in a 5k, let alone run a sub-4hr marathon or be able to chase Boston, but I did and I have. I was lovin' life. It had entered my mind that I might not qualify, but it had NEVER that I wouldn't finish or break 4 hours. I had improved my time by 59 minutes and some change. I had unofficially PR'd in the 10K, 1/2 marathon & 30K. The walrus hugged me, sweaty, stinky, nasty me at the finsih. He even gave me a big smooch. I can't wait to see what I get from him when I break 3:40!