Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From the Husband

If you read my last post, you'll know that my husband just ran a marathon. 26.2 miles! I still can't imagine myself running one. For all you runners out there who might be able to empathize, and for those of you non-runners who might take an interest - here's Bill's take on the whole experience:

Well, it's done. I just ran my first official marathon a couple days ago. I must say it was the most trying thing I have ever done in my life. It tested me mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have seen pictures of people finishing marathons in tears and can remember thinking to myself, "Why are they crying?" My question was answered this past weekend. It was quite an experience.

The day before the marathon (Saturday), I woke up feeling great. Around 10AM, I started noticing my lower back tightening up. The tightening soon turned to pain. The pain became more and more excruciating. I had a hard time sitting, walking, and laying down. The two hour drive to the OBX did not help matters either. Once we got to the OBX, I began the day long process of icing and heating my back - which did very little. On top of this, I was mentally a mess. I was frustrated at the thought of training for something for 16 weeks, and then not being able to do it because of back pain that just seemed to come out of nowhere. I went to bed that night and hardly slept due to a poor little sick daughter, an aching back, and my mind refusing to shut down. I woke up at 4:45AM in order to catch a shuttle at 5:45AM. My back felt better. The pain was gone, but the tightness was still there. I slapped on an icy hot patch, put on my gear, had a bowl of oatmeal, and decided to run it and see what would happen.

We arrived at the starting line about 6:20AM - an hour before the start. My back seemed to be loosening up a bit. The weather was great - nice and cool. Runners started to gather. Excitment began to grow. Adrenaline started to flow. Before I knew it, it was time to go. This was the biggest race I have been in so far. There were over 2,000 runners for the full and over 3,000 runners for the half. It was awesome to see the mass of people. We were in the second wave right behind the elite runners. The horn blew the elites went out. We stepped up to the line and waited for the horn. By this time I am not sure how my back felt. I was so pumped, excited, nervous, scared...I was ready to get started. The horn sounded and off we went.

The first mile went by so quick. Had some great conversation, great supporters along the road...before I knew it we were passing mile marker #1 with a 7:17 pace. A little slower than I had planned but still in the ballpark. For the next 9 miles, I left the guys I started out with and began to pick up the pace. Through this stretch we were running through neighboorhoods mostly. We ran by the water for a bit, went by the Wright Brothers Memorial, and then had a couple sections out on the long, straight, flat highway. Overall I was pleased with this section. I finished mile 10 averaging 6:59 which is exactly where I wanted to be.

Miles 11-13 on the other hand were a totally different story. The course is described as being flat and somewhat fast - but these three miles are anything but that. At mile 11 the course goes off road onto a dirt/gravel road. For the next 2 1/2 miles I was running up and down unanticipated hills. The road had been recently packed and the surface was pretty easy to run on but the hills were the killer. At mile 12 1/2, I saw a sign that said 1/2 mile to pavement. At the sign, we took a left off of the the dirt/gravel road and onto a single track trail in the woods. The trail went straight up a hill for about 50 yards. What was so bad was that the trail was covered in mulch. For the next 1/2 mile I was running up and down hills in soft mulch. The only worse surface to run in that I can think of is sand. Needless to say when I finally got to the pavement I could tell the last three miles took a lot out of me. I averaged about 7:15. Miles 13-21 were pretty tough. I was able to pick the pace back up again. By mile 20, I was averaging 7:04. These miles were much like miles 1-10 - neighborhoods, main highway, neighborhoods, main highway...By mile 21 I was still feeling okay. I ran that mile at about 7:15-7:20. I figured that all I had to do was maintain at least and 8:00 average for that last five miles to meet my goal of qualifying for Boston. That's when it hit me - not the wall but the bridge.

At about mile 22 you begin to cross a bridge that is 1.05 mi long, 82' high, with a 650' climb to the top at a 4% grade. Halfway up this thing, my groin muscles felt as if they were going to explode. I started to slow way down. By the time I got to the top of this man-made Everest, I was toast. I went past mile 23 and looked at my watch and was saddened by the 9:30 that I saw. The last three miles were horrible. I picked up the pace a little and got it into the 8 minute range, but my groin muscles were shot and were now in charge of how fast I would go. I crossed the line with a time of 3:14:25, just a few minutes off my goal pace. My wife ran to meet me and I am very sad to say that tears began to well up within me. I am a pretty big guy (6'2" and about 195lb), but I was totally overcome with emotion.

It was a great experience. I am very pleased with my time even though I didn't meet my goal. The course was a lot harder than anticipated. I look forward to running one again next year. As for right now, I look forward to getting back to walking normal again!

1 comment:

Naimah said...

thanks for sharing Bill...Congratulations!