It was a rocky road leading up to the rocky trail but, with Heather’s support and patience, I lived – and finished in the middle of the pack.
Since my last update I didn’t keep track of my miles as religiously but I know that in week 5 I topped out at 20 miles and then started to go down hill. With 3 weeks to go I went out for my standard 5 mile morning run and, while crossing between a park and sidewalk, banged my knee on a guardrail. It swelled up pretty good and kept me from running for a few days but could have been much worse. One week later, on the same morning loop and very near where I hit my knee, my ankle started clicking with every step. Then it started hurting and I ended up limping the last mile home. Lots of ice and massage to the calf loosened things up but I’m still not sure what causes the strange clicking. I know it’s worse when I sit with my feet crossed over and the heel of my opposite foot resting on a particular tendon on the top of ankle. I’ll sometimes sleep in this position so I think it’s ironic that I might be injuring myself while napping!
I barely ran the final two weeks. I got out for 6 miles for the annual 9/11 memorial run and a easy 4 miler a few days before the race just to keep things lubricated. I focused on getting lots of sleep that week and prepped everything I would need including securing a hotel a few miles from the starting line. The night before the run Heather & I drove out to Philly and just crashed. I woke up before the alarm and took a walk around the motel. It was HOT already! I picked a Fall run because the heat really kills me. So, what do I get? A near record breaking heat wave. I wanted an Indian Summer, not a summer in India! Adding to my angst, I failed to enter the location of the race start in the GPS and, though I had studied the route, a road turned out to be named something different so we got lost. The final straw was when I tried to grab an extra bottle of water from the cooler. The whole thing turned over somehow and dumped water and half melted ice into my dry clothing bag. Arrrgh!
The race director was on top of things though and assuaged my biggest fears by adding two more water-stops along the course which allowed me the freedom to not carry a bottle. Just in case though Heather agreed to drive down to the half-way point and cheer me on/hydrate me as necessary. She was carrying the special bottle of home-made sports drink (Equal measures fruit juice, Pedialyte & seltzer) and was met there by our friend Amy who lives in the Philly area and was cool enough to swing by and help keep Heather sane while waiting for me. It turned out that the half way point was one of the water stops so Heather & Amy volunteered to help distribute H2O & “G”. I reached them just over an hour into the race. I was doing great at that point, and had even been conversational, but I had done a lot of 6 mile training runs so that’s to be expected. The back half would be the real test. While the first 6 miles were almost entirely trails, the next 3 miles were on a paved bike path. I’m no fan of blacktop running so I plodded along on the grass just to the side of the trail and used the opportunity to run backwards for a bit to give my legs a taste of something different. Yeah, I’m a very odd runner apparently. =]
The final water break was at mile 8.4. It took my dehydrated and oxygen deprived brain a few minutes but I figured that gave me less than two miles to go. Cake walk! Alas, that’s the point I hit the really hilly part of course. I fought cramps & fatigue the last mile but ran every step of every hill – unlike the group in front of me which walked the hills and was passed/passed by me at least a half dozen times. When I rounded a turn and saw the finish line I dumped what I had left into my legs and kicked for the finish completing my run in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Awesome! That’s a 10.36 minute mile pace throughout.
I collected my prize – a cuckoo whistle imported from Germany – and walked around sipping water for a while before Heather & Amy returned. My legs felt like rubber – both the overly quivery rubber and the hard dry-rotted kind – and I had half a headache. After re-hydrating and yummying down on a sausage sandwich I started to feel almost human again. After some stretching work I was ready to go again!
So, that’s my tale. I survived! Thanks to the race coordinators for the extra water stops, GU-CHOMPS for providing me some electrolytes along the way & Heather & Amy for being my support crew. I’ll also apologize to my friends that I blew off the past few weekends because I had to get in some long training runs. To make up for lost time I’m taking a long weekend and going biking in Central Park on Friday and camping in Voorhees State Park on Saturday & Sunday. I believe I’ve earned some R&R!
Before I even completed the half I was asked if I would continue on to run a full marathon. I doubt it. The time investment is way outside of what I’m willing to give to something that basically just hurts. I won’t say that wont ever try one… but it would take an early retirement (and probably the collapse of the GPS system) to give me that motivation. No matter what though… 13.1 is off my bucket list!