Four days after the marathon and the soreness has faded away. As glad as I am to be able to walk down the stairs without any pain, I miss the soreness because it was a reminder of what I had accomplished. Now that the pain is gone, it's just a memory, but it's one that also is beginning to dissipate. Right now I'm in a post-marathon funk, elated by the experience but a little out of place wondering what to do next. It's like an addiction, really. There's the anguish, then the high, followed by a craving for more. I can't think of a better thing to be addicted to.
As for a race report there really isn't much to report. While I thought, regardless of the final time, Nike was an easier run for me, fewer things happened to my body in this marathon than the previous two. Mostly that has to do with the fact that I've been running for over a year now. Also, I don't think I pushed myself enough early on. I held back a little bit. My goal was to finish the first half in under two hours and try to at least maintain the pace for the second half. I wound up running the first half in 2:04, the fastest first half I've done, but it meant that I had to run a 1:55 second half to finish under four hours. While that wasn't beyond the realm of possibility--my half marathon PR is 1:49--there was the fact that I had already run a half marathon that day. Still, I felt good after the first half and was ready to speed it up a bit. Again, I think I was too cautious because while I did speed up, I did it ever so slightly. In the back of my mind I worried that if I use too much energy at that point I was going to cramp up by mile 18 or, worse, hit the wall. I have to get over that fear of hitting the wall. While no one wants to hit the wall, part of running a marathon is hitting that wall yet finding a way to get around it. I didn't hit a wall on Sunday. All I felt was good old-fashioned fatigue and nothing more.
The fact that I allowed my training to lapse in the last few weeks hurt me on Sunday. My last run longer than 10 miles was over a month and a half before the race. By mile 15 I was beginning to feel tired, which should be normal, but it was a fatigue that didn't set in until mile 19 in San Francisco. What saved me was being smart about taking in fuel throughout the race. The oranges at the sideline were incredibly scrumptious. I'm sure they weren't, but when you're in the middle of the race, anything tastes great.
I didn't start badly cramping until mile 25 and the finish. My legs just started feeling like lead by mile 19 and I had to practically drag them for the last five miles. It may have been psychological but I just couldn't get myself to move faster. Thanks to Kate running with me from miles 22 to 25, I probably would have slowed down even more. Thanks to her she kept me at a sub 10 minute pace. When she left me at mile 25 I was in good shape. I had a cramp on my right quad, but I was still moving well. At about the 25.5 mile point, my calves cramped up. I can't understand why my calves cramp up together. One at a time, I can understand, but both inevitably cramp up within seconds of each other. It must be because once one cramps I wind up overcompensating on the other. It's ridiculous. I'd love to run a marathon without cramps in my calves. I doubt it will happen, but it's something to shoot for.
So, at 4:15, I have fifteen minutes or so to shave off to get to four hours. Looking back on Sunday, I don't think it was meant to be. I wasn't in the best shape, but I think I could have shaved a few more minutes by pushing myself a little harder. Well, when I put it that way, if I just pushed myself I could be sitting at four hours. I'm happy with my time and wasn't too disappointed that I missed the goal. I still set a personal best and erased the horrible memory of my first LA Marathon. Besides, this is not the end. There are more marathons to run, maybe a couple more this year alone, and I'm sure by this year, if I put in the work, I can break through that four hour mark. I'm not that far, really, I can see it. Fifteen minutes! Fifteen minutes!
This week I'm taking it easy. I haven't done any exercises and I'm getting very antsy. I did walk a lot last night in Hollywood prior to the Josh Ritter/Band of Horses/Earlimart show. I actually didn't make it through the Earlimart set because 1) I didn't care for their music; b) A 7+ foot giant (I'm not kidding) planted himself near the front of the stage and blocked my view along with many others, and c) My legs were aching after standing around for 2.5 hours.
So, what's next? San Diego is a possibility, and I'm trying to figure out which marathon to run in October. Portland, Chicago, and NYC are possibilities. Any suggestions?