The short: What started as a 50k, ended up turning into a half-marathon with about 7 miles extra credit.
The long: It was a morning of high hopes, but should have had lowered expectations. The idea of me pulling out a 50k or marathon distance after getting back into the running game in 3 weeks is something that only movies are made of (think Run FatBoy Run).
I got up at a fairly decent time and headed to Seward Park to get there for the early start at 7am. This was my third time at this race and it was my first attempt three years ago as my first jump to doing a 50k. Seems that after three years, you'd think I would have eventually hit that number. 2006 - I dropped after passing the half-marathon point. 2007 - I finished the marathon distance and opted not to do the 50k since it was my first double marathon weekend (2 marathons in 48 hours). For 2008 - I would try and get those 31 miles in as best as I could.
So, after the usual talk about the course by one of the best RD's around (Scott Krell), a group of us took off at 7am. I ran for a bit with my buddy Stan Nakashima, but he was running at a clip that my weenie legs couldn't keep up with. I let him go ahead and made a pitstop (for a race that is considered a fat-ass/low-frills event, the number of bathrooms along the course is quite remarkable.) The pitstop was a blessing, since that mild "rest" actually got my running mojo going and I was feeling very good and very comfortable running through the course for the first half. Running on the soft-surface trail next to the waters of Lake Washington felt very liberating. I saw my Marathon Maniac cohorts, always a pleasure to see them in passing, feeding off their positive vibes. I was right on pace, hitting about sub-12 minute miles. Then something odd happened after passing the half-marathon point, my left quad was starting to seriously bug out.
I thought that maybe I could walk it off. I proceeded to walk the entire Seward Park loop, about a 4 mile lollypop loop before returning to the aid station/start/finish point. I was moving at 15 minute miles at this point and thought that I could continue for the rest of the course. I had moved for about 17 miles and figured I could go for the remaining 9 miles to do atleast the marathon distance or if I could run again, finish the 50k.
After another mile of walking, my quad was screaming. There was no shutting it up without stopping. I had to take a hard look at myself and re-evaluate my objectives. Do I suck it up and keep going, even though I could mess myself up more? Do I wave the white flag and live to fight another day? In my head, I thought, "I was able to finish a killer course like White River with little training, why can't I keep going now?" Then I realized that I was better conditioned to handle a course like White River back in July. I've been deconditioned for several months and actually convinced myself that I could pull myself through a flat paved 50k. I cut my losses and opted to have my results down as finishing a half-marathon (actually closer to 14 miles since I did the longer out-n-back) plus close to 7 miles of extra credit. So I went for about 19-20 miles today. But hey, this marks the longest distance I've done now since my original stress fracture injury. That counts for something.
So, a nice freezing soak in the waters of Lake Washington to aid in the recovery (others followed my lead soon after) and some excellent aid station & post-race food that whups the Seattle Marathon's stuff, hands down. Chicken Soup, Vegan Chili, Vegitarian HotDogs, Boiled Potatoes with Salt Dips, Candy, Coca-Cola, Water, Gatorade, etc. Always kick-ass!
The amusing things that came from this event:
- Maniac Ray "McGyver" Shaw snagging the hotdog that I made up for myself (yeah, we all cracked up once I realized what just happened)
- Shawn thinking that she was done, then finding out she had another Seward Park loop left to complete a 50k. She was ready to start boxing someone, yo! :-)
- Watching people get use to the chilly Lake Washington waters. It's always funny to see people do that shiver-shake the moment they get in.
- Scott Krell's Scotty Dog trying to eat three sugar packets without anyone being the wiser. Good thing my "no-no, bad dog!" senses were tingling at that moment.
A kudos for those that ran this course to completion and an extra kudos for those that are doing their best with trying to handle the Northwest Triple. Good luck at the Seattle Marathon guys! And to Maniac Monte: Hope you get through your 100th Marathon tomorrow!