Monday, October 8, 2012

Long Beach Survival

Well, I survived. That's the best thing to come out of Sunday's Long Beach Marathon. That, and the medal.

I was hoping to run a strong race, to feel good at the end and to enjoy the day. Instead, I made quite a few mistakes and paid the price.

My finish time: 5:10:34. It's easily the slowest of my marathons. Everything seemed to fall apart after the halfway mark. I ran much too fast in the early going, as I was at the halfway point in 2:02:19. Simple math tells you that it took me more than three hours to finish the second half.

I'm not quite ready to re-visit the whole race so I'm not quite ready to write the race recap, but I will give some of the lowlights highlights of the race:

- I suffered. The biggest problem wasn't necessarily physically... well, muscular I guess you could say. It wasn't that I wasn't pushing myself or that I wasn't running hard because it was too hard. My head felt off. I felt woozy, lightheaded. And I felt that way around Mile 15. I just felt off.

- Like I said, I started too fast. I was on pace for a 4:04 finish, and even by allowing for some slowdown in the second half, I was on pace to threaten my PR. Given that I was under-trained for the race, that was a mistake. I should have gone out conservatively but I met up with a friend before the race and we went with it, ran hard and fast and were pretty happy with ourselves early on. It wasn't meant to be.

- Between Miles 15-20, I walked a lot. Felt like I had to or else my head would get worse. I also talked to Mrs. LB and my brother Danny, who was at Mile 20 set to pace me the last six miles.

- Once I saw Danny, right before the Mile 20 marker, I laid down. Had to. He was ready to run but the first thing I said to him was "I need to lay down." He helped me down onto a patch of grass and I laid there for about two minutes. It was such a relief to do that and when I got up I felt... better isn't the right word... not as bad. I don't know how I was able to do it but I ran most of the rest of the way. I suppose "running" doesn't properly describe it but I was moving forward at a slow rate of speed. I guess I was making up some ground since Danny said that, around Mile 24 or 25, that I was catching up some of the people who he'd seen go by when he was waiting for me. I walked between 20 and the finish of course, but I did so at Mile 21, 22, 24, 25 and 25.5 (when my calf started to protest). Not bad considering I couldn't get through one mile between 15-20 without walking multiple times.

- I felt bad afterward, not the normal I-just-ran-a-marathon-so-my-body-feels-bad bad but a wow-I'm-kinda-embarrassed-with-myself bad. It's taken some time to shake it off, well, haven't shaken it off yet, but I'm going to use this as a learning experience. I have to take pride in the medal, have to take pride in how I did the last six miles, and have to take pride in the fact that I know I will be out there again, conquering the 26.2. That's the great thing about running, there is always a chance for redemption. Always. Maybe I won't redeem myself at Long Beach (part of the problem with this whole race was training for it in the summer heat) but I will redeem myself at the distance. I know that. I guarantee that. This experience ruined the day for me but it won't ruin more days (well, maybe Monday and Tuesday of this week but hopefully not much more beyond that). I can and will learn from this and will come back a stronger person because of it.

- Props to my brother Danny. I can tell you with near certainty that I would not have made it without him. I convinced him to pace me down the stretch, partly because I thought I'd need it (didn't think I'd need it as bad as I did) and partly because I wanted him to experience the final of a marathon. He's the athlete of the family but not a runner. I think it would be fun for him to run a marathon one day. He's busy swimming these days, he took classes and now swims like a fish apparently, so perhaps he'll tackle a triathlon. I'd definitely go out and support him during a triathlon, whether it's to act as his support crew or just to cheer him on. I think that would be exciting.

- I guess the one thing that will stand out for me is that I persevered. I made a lot of mistakes before the race and during the race itself but I made it to the finish. I was cautious when I needed to be, focused on my well-being instead of my time and finished not strong but in better shape than when I was halfway in.


Coy Martinez said...

Way to stick it out and finish. There are so many things, good and bad that can happen over the course of 26.2 miles but you seemed to have really made it through. I think it's cool you had someone to help you at the end and I'm pretty sure that if I would have laid down it would have been for more like 5 minutes :)

giraffy said...

Dude, yesterday was tough for you runners - it was a warm day, we were warm just handing out the otter pops!! And the summer training was brutal. Congratulations on finishing!!

Whitney said...

Yuck. I've had a "similar" experience in a summer trained half marathon (half marathons and full marathons are not even close to the same thing). Walked too much, felt horrible and then didn't even want to talk about it afterward. It's hard to shake. But you'll get back out there and you'll murder your next 26.2.
And I'll be here via Google Reader to read about it every step of the way.