To those that think that they don't need to train to run a marathon: Keep thinking that, because you WILL hurt and the course WILL give you an ass-whuppin' you'll never forget!
After my back-to-back marathon weekend in November, I really didn't have a maintenance training plan setup afterwards, which caused me to barely run for December. I've ran about 32 miles for the entire month before today's marathon (12 miles one day, 4 miles another, a half-marathon race, and 2 miles to break in a pair of new running shoes). See why it's so important to think about what happens the days/weeks/months after your race and make some sort of structured plan?
So why would I be insane enough to do a marathon on such low mileage? Well...
1.) I like the people who participate (GO MARATHON MANIACS!)
2.) The price was right (2 jars of peanut butter for the Whatcom Humane Society and Food Bank)
3.) It was the last chance to get a long race in, so why not!
4.) The course was gorgeous (almost all gravel & dirt trails that didn't require trail running shoes due to the trail surface being almost as even as paved trails) and was worth running, no matter how much it would hurt later.
5.) It was a birthday present to myself since I turn the big 3-0 when Baby New Year does his little dance.
The first half went great! Totally rocked the downhills and completed the first half in 1:52:45. Then about mile 15-16, the temperatures dropped over 5 degrees to near freezing temperatures. If anyone has ever run in the cold wearing running shorts, you know that your muscles can seize up on you to attempt to keep warmth, just like a giant goosebump. My calves decided they had enough of the cold temps and both cramped up, causing an agony that I hadn't felt in ages. I sucked down my last GU early and popped an S-Cap! to see if having extra electrolytes would reverse some of the effects, but nada. Stretched my calf muscles, zip. Massaged my legs quickly and even resorted to compressing my disposable hand warmers against my legs to warm them up to help things, no dice.
I was down to resorting to running the way that most will run in an ultra when their body won't cooperate: Run and walk in smaller sections. Run from tree-to-tree and rock-to-rock, walk when necessary. In my case, necessary was the moment the cramping feeling came back. Each cramp felt like someone hitting my legs with a stun gun.
Eventually, 9 miles became 6. 6 miles became 3. 3 miles became 0.2 miles with the finish line and clock in sight.
Finish time: 4:40:28, ten minutes past my slowest projected time.
But, it's all good. I hobbled into the post-race log cabin that was nice and warm, ate some pizza and minestrone, then ate some birthday cake (two other Maniacs had their birthdays in the same week - so it was a multi-celebration)
Best memory would have to be as I was spotted coming towards the finish, everyone there was singing Happy Birthday as I cross the finish line. Best gift ever, even with the leg cramps.
So now that's over, bring on 2008!!!