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. ----- BODY: Like the week that came before, my 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 crawl. 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 yet.) 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. -----