Monday, October 24, 2011

Rock and Roll St Louis

     Finally after training for what seemed like forever and lasting through the heat wave of 2010 my first full Marathon weekend was upon me.    We put the dogs in the kennel and packed the car for the 4 hour trip to St Louis.  As we drive I have many thoughts in my head.  Did the epic heat destroy my training?  Would I even make it 26.2?  Should I have ever signed up for this? 

I have some butterflies as we get our room and head to the Expo.  Once I hit the sign in desk and get my number they all go away and I go into game mode.  I pick up my swag bag, which for the price you would expect a lot more.  We then go throughout the expo.  I visit my sponsor Team Marathon as the family shops the expo. 
We then find some compression socks and good deals on Mizunos to replace the ones I will wear during the race.  We take advantage of the expo pricing for the upcoming Country Music 1/2 and sign up for it.  At least there is always good news in life. We then meet one of the contestants from the Biggest Loser and she was awesome she has run in a ton of 1/2 marathons over the last couple years and is inspirational. 

I then go back to the Drury Inn to relax as the girls check out St Louis.

As they are out I prepare my clothes for the AM and continue to hydrate and carb load. 

     It is off to sleep as the last hour before the race count down.  I get up and go through my usual pre race ritual.   I shave, shower and get my drinks ready before we head down to the starting area.  It is about a mile to the start line from the Hotel.  Of course it is still dark and a little chilly so the crowds are moving a bit faster than normal.  As we get close to the staging area the mood is electric and I am getting excited.  I use my other ritual the porta potty and head towards the corral.  I am in number 9 since I did not know what kind of time to predict having never run 26.2 miles before.  I put down 4:20 as a guess.  I had dreams of a low 3 -3:45.  Having spoken to more experienced marathoners they kept saying to remain consistent and beware for pitfalls.  Like the mile 18, or 22 wall.  I took all this free education in and went about my training program.  Honestly I missed a lot of long runs due to work comittments or the intense Heat, but still felt I could do this thing.  
     I mean c'mon if I do not have a positive attitude quiting becomes the best option.  That was not going to happen.  I head toward my actual corral and say my last see ya laters to my girls. 
Of course now thoughts are racing through my head again.  Of course I can hear everyone else voicing those same thoughts all around me so I start to feel much better.  At about 0730 the first gun goes off and the lead corrals are sent a racing.  

It is then every 90 secinds or so before the rest of us are let go onto the streets of a very enthusiastic city.  They are happy the Cards are in the series and had won on Saturday night.  Finally it was time to get this thing going.  We were ushered up close to the start line to await our time to get this thing started. 

     We were off and into the streets.  The first 5K  flew by.  With people still pretty deep cheering us on through this distance it was pretty impressive.  The next 10K I tried to get into my groove settling in between 8:40 and 9:10 per mile.  I took my first drink stop at mile 10, I think I waited too long to hit a drink stop.  I also ate some chomps at this time.  It seemed as though I was doing great until I ate some energy chomps.  Really weird.  Then it was into a hilly section of the course which took us through mile 17 and through a real nice park.  the crowds in this section were awesome as we were digging deeper to stay on course.  I start talking to more and more runners in this section,  I met a fellow Soldier and a man who has run a ton of Marathons.  Yes the marathoner led to more advice and lessons.  He told me the last 6 miles I will be very fragile.  That did not help me much , now I had 1 more thing to think about, great.  I then hit the infamous mile 18 where I believe I was told it was a wall.  That is where my wall began to build, I can feel my legs start to twitch with each step. 

    This took me back to my 22 mile training run where as I ran further I felt like my left leg would get weaker and try to give out on me. 

     I decided as usual I would power through this wall and get to the most famous wall of them all mile 22.  This of course was at a hill and my legs were starting to do things I have never felt before.  Good lord will I make it.  Again I had to strategize in order to ensure success. 

How do we measure success though?  Is it in meeting a self imposed goal or in finishing what we start? 

     I started to feel like I could not move my legs by mile 24 where I met a 2nd time marathoner from Missouri.  We talked each other through about a half mile to the next water stop.  I then met a guy who was running with his older brother but he was cramping worse than me.  We spoke as we barely jogged until the last water stop at about 25.2.  I got going and made it up to exactly mile 26 where my cramps went from my toes up through my chest .  I hunched over and tried to massage it out.  I lost 10 minutes right here.  The best part was I was less than 1000 meters from the finish.  I ran for a bit walked for a bit and then pushed to the final curve.  I could see the finish and the crowds yelling and screaming.  I knew I did not make my goal time, but I made it.  I looked to my right and saw my girls.  I ran over and kissed each of them then ran through the finish having accomplished one of the top things on my list.

      I grabbed a water and tried to walk but the cramps just got worse.  It was hard to walk, I went over to my daughter and she gave me a pickle in a bag.  I drank the juice and instantly the cramps went away.  It was amazing. 

I did it.  even though I did not make my goal I did it in 4:30:09  not bad for my first time .

On to Savannah now for a family Half-Marathon

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