This past weekend I ran the Oklahoma Memorial Marathon in Oklahoma City. I was living in Oklahoma when the bombing happen so this marathon and the meaning behind it had a special place for me. It was also going to be nice to run around my old neighborhoods and in front of my old friends. My long runs have been going well and I could tell from my track workouts that my speed was still good. I made sure the week leading up that my nutrition was right, I was hydrating, backing off a few workouts and trying to get some rest leading up to the race. I bring this up because by all accounts I should have had a good race, maybe even a PR.
My body did not care that it was a memorial race; It did not care that I was running in my old neighborhoods; It did not care that I wanted to do well. My body just decided, that on this day, to breakdown and not perform the way it should. Maybe it was the heat, the humidity, the stress building up from work, life and training, but whatever it was, it decided at mile 8 that it has had enough. I had no energy, my legs left heavy, and my body started cramping. By the time I hit the halfway point I was walking. Thirteen miles from the finish I knew my race was over and the thought of struggling and limping in was not a pleasant picture. I continued to struggle mentally and physically, but I kept telling myself that I was okay and I wasn't doing that bad. It’s hard to believe that when your running as fast as you can and you see the pace groups pass you by. First it was the 3:20 group, than the 3:30, 3:40 and eventually you see the 4:15 group run pass you like you were standing still. By the time the 4:15 group passed me I may have been standing still, I could barely walk by mile 20. My calf would tighten up ever time I picked my pace up, walking was all I could do.
I stopped at a med tent around mile 21 to see if they could help me. I got a banana and a Gatorade while the medical personal tried to massage my legs. The longer I stayed there the colder I got and the more my legs cramped. One of the other runners was waiting for the sag wagon to take him to the finish and they asked me if I wanted to quit. The thought crossed my mind and at that moment I wanted to quit. I have often said that you can’t control the weather, the other runners, the course, or even your own body, the one thing you can control is quitting. I knew at that moment my words had come to slap me in the face and now it was my time to make that choice, I could continue or quit, so I continued. I started walking again and tried to run when I could, but I walked about 6 of the last 7 miles to the finish. On a day where everything should have been great, it turned out to be a personal worst in a marathon.
People have asked what happened and I really don’t know. I have a lot of theories but that is all they are. What I do know is that no matter how bad I felt or how bad I wanted to quit, I did not, and that is something I can take from this race and feel pretty good about it.Coach C.