This was to be my race to go sub 4. My second marathon, Grandmas again, it would be payback time. I had just missed out in my first marathon so I knew this would be the race.
My plan was to take my lessons learned -- start out slower, train harder, more speed work, watch my weight, race my race -- apply these lessons and race to my potential.
My race training started with the Winter Carnival 1/2 Marathon in January. It was a bit slow (1:56:00 - projected Marathon time - 4:04:00) but hey it was January, cold, and I was not in 1/2 Marathon shape. So I decided to map out a series of speed races finishing with 3 long runs - 20, 22 and 24 miles with the last one 3 weeks before my marathon.
My next race was the St. Patricks day 8K, the day went well and I finished with a PR (ok so it was just my second 8K, it still was a PR). My time was a 35:55 (projected Marathon time - 3:32:00 - yes this is it). Next race Rochester 20k, my time slipped a bit but the day was tough, very windy and cold (projected Marathon time - 4:01:07 - full fledged cold the next day, maybe that was part of my problem, keep up the faith). Next race - Healthy Start 5k. My time was a 21:10 (projected Marathon time - 3:26:21 - oh yea, back on track). Next race - Get in Gear 10k. My time was a 44:38 (projected Marathon time - 3:29:28 - still on track).
Ok just three long runs to go, everything was aligning for the race of my life. Maybe I could go for a 3:30, no back off you don't want to be greedy, target a 3:45.
The first of the final 3 long runs, I ran with Scott and Michael around Nokomis and over to the river roads, no problem, I felt like we took our time and could have gone faster - 20 miles in 2:54:00 (projected Marathon time - 3:29:28 - still on track).
The second of the final 3 long runs, I went for a long run with Scott. He is faster than I am so I knew it would be a good work out. Everything was going well until around 11 miles in, something got real tight in my right calf. I had to stop. I tried to run on it and I was able to get through three more miles and then I had to stop. I tried to walk it hurt. Now what, ok don't panic, walk it in, ice it give it a day or two.
The third and final long run, I decided to go back to Nokomis again. I felt good mentally the calf had held during my shorter mid week runs and I had gotten in 11 with just a bit of tightness. I took off and said to myself let's do it, keep the pace slow, nothing stupid. The calf tightened around mile 9, I made it to 10, hobbled through 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 and was done. It hurt, I stopped and held back tears of disappointment as I walked it in.
Decision time - do I run or not? I want a sub 4, everything was so good what went wrong? I decided to bike all week. I would just go out and do a final mid level run, no more than 12 the weekend before and then make my decision. I felt ok at the start and by mile 9 it was tight by 10 I was done.
What to do, the money is paid, we have a good hotel this year. My daughter Kristin was born the fall before, she is our miracle daughter (I wanted to run this one for her) as our previous pregnancy ended in a still birth. I knew that all I had to think about was all the pain my wife endured during the pregnancy and I would make it through the tough miles. I was motivated. Katie said it was fun the year before. Karyn said it was up to me.
Ok, decision made, We would go, I would run as long as I could and somehow get to the finish line. In the back of my head I kept thinking maybe the calf will hold. Start slow - finish strong?
Marathon Morning - It was a beautiful day, I went as long as I could which was about 10 miles. I then went into a modified walk/run. I would walk, the calf would loosen, run, it would tighten, repeat......... As I went along, I felt great physically and mentally the leg just wasn't working right. I talked with runners, bantered with fans, talked to volunteers and spent a few extra moments with my family along the way. I remember stopping at one point and just staring at Lake Superior, what a gorgeous and yet frightening looking lake.
I had a blast, yes it was a disappointment to not to achieve a sub 4 but I learned that there was more to running than just running. I learned to enjoy the event and that my family and friends didn't care about my time only I did. Enjoy the journey, it's why I run, how about you?
Follow-up - It took a while but I eventually went to the Doctor for the calf. It turned out the calf injury was the result of a winter running mishap where I slipped on the ice and probably tore it a bit. Since I just ran through it, I ended with a lump at the junction of the calf and Achilles. After a few physical therapy sessions, the scar tissue got removed and I was back to normal. Moral for runners - when you are injured you might want to seek medical assistance.