TITLE: Not a Great Race by Me
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: October 02, 2005 9:48 PM
DESC: A couple of weeks ill can kill a taper. So can bad choices eating and drinking. So can an unrealistically aggressive race pace that doesn't reflect the state of the world. I wish that I could have these lessons less painfully, but that is the nature of the marathon.
week that came before,
Twin Cities Marathon
did not go as planned.
For a while, it went as well as I could have hoped.
I ran with then 3:30 pace team from the beginning,
and I felt rested and strong. At about 8 miles,
things felt tougher, but I stayed on pace. We were
running slightly sub-8:00 miles in anticipation of
several uphill miles in the last eight. And our
pace was incredibly even. We had banked about
80 seconds by the 4-mile split, and we then ran
mile after mile at an 8:00 pace. At the 15-mile
marker, I felt good.
But I don't think I was. I was struggling. By
18 miles, I was thinking positively about the rest
of the race, but I think my body was near its end.
Still, at the 20-mile marker, I was nearly on target
-- 2:40 and few seconds. But that marker effectively
ended my race and began my attempt to survive the
remaining distance. I was out of gas.
I'll save you the full story and leave you with
this: I needed to walk 2, 3, or (at least once)
4 minutes at a time. I consumed a lot of fluid.
My thighs cramped -- the first time I've ever
cramped in a race. When running, I slowed to a
Finally, at about 24.2 miles, I finished my last
stint walking. I really wanted to finish on the
move so I jogged, ever so slowly to the 26-mile
marker, at which point I enough to accelerate to
a 9:10 pace for the last .2 miles.
My official time was around 3:57, though my chip
time will be closer to 3:55. (I haven't seen
race results on-line
Within a few minutes of crossing the finish line,
I was ill. I don't often seek out medical attention,
but I knew I needed to this time. After an exam
on the green, the EMT crew sent me to the medical
tent for some real treatment. I spent nearly an
hour there, because I wasn't getting any better.
They finally discharged me, but even then I wasn't
much better. So much so that I decided not to risk
the drive back to Cedar Falls tonight. I went back
to my hotel for plenty of fluids, some rest, a big
meal, and more rest. Tomorrow, I'll give it a go.
The diagnosis: dehydration. I thought I drank
more than enough during the race, but I probably
hadn't drunk or eaten enough during my week ill
leading up to the race. I've never been dehydrated
before or felt that bad after any physical activity
in my life. And I don't want to ever again.
Marathoners often say "Respect the distance."
Before this race, a marathoner friend told me,
"Anything can happen in the last six miles."
This race reminded me that anything can
happen in the last six miles of a marathon and
that I must respect the distance.
Given my situation heading into this race, I
should have set out more conservatively, even
though I felt good early. Respect the distance.
I can say this. The Twin Cities Marathon is a
great race. The course is as beautiful as
advertised. The organizing team creates a
great environment for the runners. The crowds
offered great support from the first mile to the
last. And the people in the trenches, the race
volunteers, more than live up to the reputation
most have of folks from the Midwest: friendly
and out-of-their-way helpful.
I may have to run this marathon again some day,
so that I can enjoy the route and people more
from beginning to end. But I don't want to
think about another marathon yet for a while.