If I were to sum it up in one word...Disappointing! Two words...Very Disappointing! The mind was willing but the body failed me...I knew I could do it, I wanted to do it...but the body said...No.
Drove up to Frederick, MD Saturday afternoon in sporadic rain and lots of traffic...especially near DC. Checked into the motel...which was across the street from the stadium where the event was being staged...and then drove over to the stadium to get my packet...could have walked but I wanted to drive around town and check it out. Got my bib and was surprised to see Jon...a buddy I had run my first marathon in Richmond and also my second, Shamrock...we were going to run this one together but he had developed an injury from Shamrock and wasn't running. He was there volunteering for Kale Running. Picked up the rest of the goodies including a nice hat, tech shirt, gloves and other little things. Walked around the expo but there wasn't much to see...only one vender...which was odd. I left and drove around town...rolling hills everywhere. Now Chesapeake and most of the Hampton Roads area is about as flat as a pancake...the only hills are Mount Trashmore...yes it's a hill built from trash and is now a park...and then there is Ft Story with some. So these "Rolling Hills" was quite intimidating. I got something to eat and then walked back to the stadium to check out the twilight 5K race and then some fireworks.
Walked back to the motel to get some sleep...Sleep!...What is That? First, when I booked my room, I know I asked for a no smoking room...but I get a smoker's room...and asking at the front desk...they swear I booked a smoking room. They have no other rooms available...so I go back to my room. The room reeked of smoke...I thought it might be coming from the room next door and stuffed pillows under the crack of the door that adjoins two rooms...the room just stank of smoke. I get everything ready for the morning, set the alarm for 5:00 a.m. and go to bed...it's now about 10:30. All through the night I hear doors banging, dogs barking and vehicles coming and going...and of course the room AC is constantly coming on and off...I wasn't going to turn that off because it was providing me with much needed oxygen. I don't remember sleeping...I kept looking at the clock and I swear I saw every hour go by until 5:00...good thing I had plenty of sleep the night before.
I get up at 5:00, shower and have my breakfast...cereal, banana, bagel and coffee and relax a bit and get ready for the race. I pack my race shorts with three Gels and four capsules of Endurolyte...somthing new that they say helps prevent muscle cramps...and some money...in case I need to buy something...for some reason I always take some money. Checkout is at noon, so I go to the desk and ask for a late check out around 1:00 so I can take a shower after...I'm glad I did...and others did also because the clerk said she would add my name to the list.
I leave the motel around 7:00...the race starts at 7:30 and the motel is only about 1000 meters from the start line. I join the long line to the bathrooms and by 7:15, I'm at the starting area looking for the 3:30 pace group...but the closest pace group I see is 3:40...3:40 will not do! I look for the 3:20 pace group...but nadda. I ask the 3:40 pace leader and he says there might not be one because nobody may have signed up. And I think...Oh great!...I was depending on a pace group to keep me at an even pace...now what am I going to do. All the time up to the start, I'm looking around for the pace group. The temp is in the high 40's...expected to reach 60 with wind...they say we will have 15-17 mph winds with gusts of 25 mph! They tell us that due to the high winds some of the mile markers won't be up...but will be on the side laying down or marked on the street, and there will be no electronic timers along the course.
The starting gun goes off at 7:30 on the dot...Kale Running seems to always start on time...and we are off. I start my clock as we cross the starting mats and I follow the crowd in front of me. As we circle the outside of the stadium and about 1/2 mile into the run, we see people that are just getting off the bus shuttles and running to the start line...apparently they didn't have enough buses and a lot were late. Around the seven-minute mark, I'm looking for the first mile marker and never see it...I ask the runners around me and they haven't seen it either. Mile 2 is there and I check my watch and its 13:52...way too fast. I try to slow my pace and at Mile 3 it is 20:56...still too fast and I slow it some more. Miles 4 and 5 come in at 28:17 and 35:37...it seems to be a good pace and I even feel like it's way to slow but I try to slow it even more. Mile 6 is 43:04 and 7 at 50:37 and I take it down some more...it sure is hard pacing yourself! Miles 8 and 9 are just where I want to be pace wise at 58:33 and 1:06:29...a 7:55 pace. I take a pit stop between mile 9 and 10 in some trees and mile 10 comes in at 1:15:11...lost some time...but still good on time, pace and feeling great! As I'm running I try to chat with the other racers...trying to figure out who is running what pace and their goal time...so I can run with someone...I hate running alone! I finally meet up with a girl from Jersey...Tara, who is on a 3:20 goal and...she has a Garmin! This is her 11th marathon...her best is 3:20 but she just had a baby four months ago and still wants to PR. My respect for women runners is way up there! She was still running into her 8th month of pregnancy and here she is running a marathon after giving birth four months later...amazing. I shared my goals and she wants to help pace me...so...With her pacing with her Garmin...the next three miles are even 8 minute miles so we reach 13 miles in 1:39:01...the half around 1:40...which was still kind of fast so the next three miles we took it down some more, so at 16 we were at 2:04:37. About mile 17...we go through the cemetery just above the start line and the stadium...and the finish line. It is soo cruel to have to pass the finish line as you're heading away for miles 18-21. Around the 18 mile mark I feel Tara start slowing down but she reassures me that we are still on pace for 3:30...so I place my trust in her. Around mile 20 we meet up with her husband...who is meeting her about every 5 miles along the course...and she tells him her knee isn't feeling good...which concerns me...but I try to encourage her telling her there's only 10K left. We go through 20 miles at 2:40:12...which means we are right around 8 minute mile pace and we can't drop anymore...10K to go and it seems doable in 50 minutes...piece of cake...I'm elated at this point...but Tara is laboring and really falling off the pace...I keep waiting for her and encouraging her...but she keeps falling back and wishes me luck. I slowly lose her from 20-21...when I start having my problems between miles 21-22. My right leg starts cramping up...bad...the kind that stops you in your tracks...I hobble to the side of the road and try to stretch and massage...I'm working at it desperate for the muscles to relax. I take a few steps...it cramps up again, I massage and stretch. Finally I get to the point where I can run...but at a very diminished pace. This keeps on for the next three miles...at mile 23, my time is 3:15:14...with healthy legs I could easily churn out a 5K in 21 minutes...but not now. What a turn of emotions...from elation to knowing I can do the last 10K in 50 minutes to knowing that I can't get the last 5K in the require goal time of even 3:35. The last three hills are brutal...at least for me in my state...but I am able to run up all three...although it is real slow going. I reach the last downhill and see the stadium lights in the distance and finally make the last turn into the stadium...we run the warning track entering in from the first base line and running the track along the back around to the third base line and make the turn coming home...to the finish! One more cruel hill awaits though...although not much...just a practice pitchers mound in the middle of the track just before the finish mat. I go through the finish with the time showing 3:58 something...chip time was 3:57:55...not even a PR! Really disappointing! I waited around for Tara...but never saw her finish...perhaps she didn't...I can't find her in the results...I hope she did finish.
What did me in?
1. Going out too fast?...Likely...I do tend to go out fast...a pace group would have been nice.
2. Dehydration/not enough electrolytes?...Not likely...I hydrate and eat well a few days before races and I hydrated at every water stop from four miles on. I took gels at mile 8, 14 and 22. I took the Enduralytes one capsule 10 minutes before the race with a banana and one capsule every hour.
3. Weather?...Cold and windy...didn't really seem a problem except later in the day it was gusting pretty good and it was in our face all the way from mile 22 till entering in the stadium.
4. Hills?...Most likely...even though they were "rolling" hills, I think they took a toll on my legs...especially since my legs are not use to them. The hills although not steep seemed to be endless...we were constantly going up and down from miles 1-19, then it was mostly flat until miles 23-26, when they seemed worse. The only leg that really cramped up was my right upper leg...in the hams. There were no problem with my calves and I can't remember my left leg giving me any problems.
Conclusion: I need to work on my miles...longer miles on my long days to build up my legs and more miles per week...or maybe...just maybe...I just need to finish a marathon in less than 3 hours...before the cramping starts!
There were 60 finishers in the Male 50 to 54 age group and 721 total finishers.
Overall finish place was 294
Age group finish place was 20
Gender finish place was 253
Time: 3:57:55.80 for a pace of 9:05 per mile
6.4M split was 47:09.40 for a pace of 7:21 per mile...3rd in Age Group
13.1M split was 52:53.30 for a pace of 7:54 per mile...4th in Age Group
17.4M split was 36:14.20 for a pace of 8:26 per mile...6th in Age Group
Finish split was 1:41:44:50 for a pace of 11:34 per mile...20th in Age Group
Did I mention...After the race, I went back to the motel room and soaked in the bathtub for 20 minutes and then drove the four hours back home and mowed the lawn...Well...I had to. I didn't mow it Friday or Saturday because I didn't want my sinuses all stuffed up for the race. I had to do it when I got back because with all the rain there was no way I was going to leave it another week till I got back from my company travel this week to DC.
This morning the legs and feet feel good...a little tightness in the upper legs...If I could just solve this leg cramping problem three hours into a race.