Oh such high hopes and grand visions I had for my first race of the year, but perhaps I was being an unqualified narcissist, spewing words of promise and self-promotion and not following through. Today, I feel like Alex Ovechkin, but am clinging to the chance that I'm not quite as much of a jackass.
I could blame various injury worries or unforeseen circumstances, but all in all, I could have done better, and that's on me.
This was my second ever marathon event, the first being the same race from last year, so there was a lot of reflection even going into it. In 2009 I had also been plagued with training woes at this time, but not in relation to any injuries, so I largely had overcome them in time for race day. My personal life was quite different and I had lots of support during the run from Maggie, Sarah, Dane and Ernie and the trip wasn't a solo journey in any regard. I ran with Ferkett until mile 20, I had a send off and a welcoming, and everything was as smooth as it could be.
This year I traveled alone, with makeshift plans, and very little excitement about the race. Even on the drive out to Pittsburgh, I fought off depressing memories of singing along to Elton John's greatest hits with four people with whom my relationships have nearly been incinerated since.
Yikes. How quickly things have changed in just a year.
When I finally arrived in Pittsburgh, I sat within view of the convention center (where I needed to pick up my race bag and check in) for literally an hour in traffic. I cursed my decision to not bring my bike, because I could have parked away from the mess, and rode in. Thank God for The Swell Season, because they kept me entertained while I waited.
The convention was nothing special, my only complaint was not being able to find any Brooks compression shorts at the vendors so I could wear my ID shorts without being worried about my junk falling out. Oh well, I managed... and I must say, the race shirts and goody bags this year were an improvement for sure.
I just realized my race report is a bit lengthy considering I haven't talked about the race itself yet, but I like writing, so deal with it.
What can I say about my host, birthday cake maker, shuttle driver and personal athletic trainer for the weekend other than that she was amazing? Erin's presence and help seriously made up for a lot of the things that didn't go so well this past weekend, and I am extremely grateful for her in that regard.
Race-eve... high-carb dinner, pounding of water, terrible sleep (what's new about that?).
Morning of, was actually really good. I was prepared, had everything set, enough GU and Nuun, ID uniform on. Body Glide on my inner thigh... except that I forgot to tape my nipples which I would later regret, and actually still do.
Start of the race was great, it was probably in the high 60's or low 70's... nice breeze coming, with an overcast sky. Last year it was pretty chilly to start out if I recall correctly, so this was a nice change. Erin had dropped me off a few blocks away so I warmed up with some intervals down to the start line, and I felt really confident that I could perform well.
I started out at a nice pace, despite the expected human traffic jam. I was rolling out at just under 8:00/mile probably a few steps ahead of the 3:30 pace team (which was my goal). At about mile 4 it began to rain, and at times could have been defined as pouring. This wasn't all that bad at first, but it was off and on for the rest of the way. It didn't slow me down, and helped keep my water consumption down, so no worries. The few negative things that it did were these: my wet singlet clinging to my body making it rub my left nipple into a bloody mess that I am currently looking at the remaining scab of and making my feet look like Jason Vorhees's face.
I stuck with my plan and pace until about mile 14. Then disaster struck. That pain in my balls I had been ignoring, for the last two weeks, was because of a tight groin, which I at this time pulled.
I had narrowed it down to either a hernia, a tweaked groin, or ball cancer before the race... so I suppose this confirms the least of the three concerns is the one with truth behind it. So despite the joy of knowing it's not something more serious, I was a bit pissed that it happened mid-race as I was doing pretty well. I instantly fell off pace and changed my stride to compensate the stabbing pain in my crotch. Changing my stride caused a couple more issues, and my improper form led to muscle cramps. Four miles later I decided if I had any chance of finishing under four hours (throws up in mouth) that I had to stop, stretch, and pop some pain killers.
I watched in disgust after slower and slower pace groups passed me. I saddled back up and tried to think of how easily I can normally run 8 miles. Not all the Aleve and BioFreeze in the world could save me now. Two miles later, six to go... I was told to stop running and the race was being shut down. A suspicious package on the course... was I in Iraq? Seriously? A bomb?
I stopped for a minute until I realized I didn't really care about a bomb, and I continued on (the race was rerouted anyways a few minutes later, so it didn't even matter that much).
Mile 23... a bar along the course was handing out cups of Yuengling to the runners. This was fucking awesome. I drank a delicious, cold, refreshing cup of beer during the marathon. This made for a really interesting smell combo after all was said and done.
End result... I finished in 4:08:16... a 9:29/mile pace compared to 3:42:24 last year at an 8:29/mile pace.
So I guess it's not the end of the world, I am disappointed, but I have a bigger fish to fry in 4 weeks! My goal now is to heal my groin up and make sure I can roll into DC.