This is a somewhat difficult blog to write because I did not accomplish any of the goals I set out for myself pre race. I will be brief in the recap of what happened to me on Sunday but I do not want to dwell on it publicly too much. The real story of the weekend was Tyler and Esther winning their first national titles and spots on the 2015 World Championship Marathon team. They ran to the best of their abilities and should be applauded for being bold and fearless racers. They were both rewarded with victories by being confident and gutsy performers. Kudos to them.
My race was slightly different. I prepared very well and did over 80% of my build up in lock step with Tyler. Pete did a great job of having me work really hard but also in control of myself so that I was fresh on race day ready to tackle the 26.2 mile distance. However, my body did not cooperate. It was a cool 37 degree morning and after about 10k I could feel my right calf getting slightly tight but thought nothing of it. I assumed it was probably just warming itself up to due the weather and a purposefully abbreviated warmup that the marathon requires. But as I progressed through the race it was still lingering and becoming more noticeable as the miles passed.
From a racing perspective, I found myself in the chase pack with two BAA runners (and friends) Brian Harvey and Eric Ashe. They were running 5:15 pace on the nose and it felt really good even though Pete had suggested 5:12 as an ideal opening half pace. I decided after a few miles that it was vital to remain controlled at least through mile 13 or 14 and then begin the cutdown towards 5:10 and beyond. After halfway, I really began noticing my calf even more and decided to take some advice from Pete and the great Dick Beardsley. Dick got a leg cramp during his amazing runner up performance in Boston in 1982 and backed off slightly, stepped in a pothole, and it went away! So I backed off my pace to 5:20 per mile hoping the tightness and cramping would go away but it only got worse. Just past mile 17 I had already dropped off of Brian and Eric and was moving backwards because I was finding it hard to put any real weight on my right side. I stopped to stretch at 18 and again at 19 but by mile 20 I was running well over 6 minutes per mile pace. and it was painful as hell. At 20.5 I stopped and got a ride back to the finish line, ashamed and frustrated. (NOTE: Brian ran a great 2nd half finishing in 2:17:05 for 8th place and Eric ran 2:17:57 for 10th place, both earning their 2016 Olympic Trials qualifying marks.)
It has been 2 days since the race and my calf is still making it difficult to walk around. I’m realizing I probably strained my calf badly most likely because what started as mild tightness got worse as I tried to work through the tightness for almost 10 miles. I do not know what’s next racing wise but assuming my calf heals quickly I will try to find a race very soon because I don’t want the build up to be in vain. There is is always another opportunity if you’re ready to embrace it.
Thanks to everyone who has followed my build up; your support has meant a lot. Thanks also to Twin Cities in Motion and the Twin Cities Marathon for being such amazing hosts for the marathon weekend. And of course, thanks to ZAP Fitness, Reebok, and Soleus watches for everything you do for American distance running.