Dead toenail count: 3
Oh, were to begin with the excuses…
Well, the start time is 9am in early October, which normally would be fine. At 9, the weather was great, low 60s. But this is a marathon, and the last 6 miles were in open beating-down sun with temperatures in the mid 80’s. That slowed down everyone this day. At the finish line, everyone I talked to was disappointed with their slow times. That’s excuse #1. A few states over at the same time, the Chicago marathon was shut down due to hot weather.
Excuse #2 (the big one): On Friday morning, a mere 51 hours before I was to start my race I woke up with the initial signs of bad sinus infection. The last time this happened to me before a race (my 50 miler attempt in Nov 2006 in Chicago) I self medicated, not wanting to see a doctor and get told not to run. That was dumb last time, so I was smarter this time. I was at my doctor’s office right at 8 am when they opened up and begged to see him. He was full that morning, but they got me in, and sure enough, sinus infection. We decide to treat it ‘aggressively’ and he asks if I want t shot of antibiotic to kick start the drugs. I say yes, of course. They give me the shot in the meaty part of my upper left thigh. I have had this done before and quickly remembered how unbelievably sore it gets after such a shot. There were times when I could not stand it was so painful. Imagine someone placing a large board on your leg and then pounding board as hard as they can with a sledgehammer. It was worse than that. I worked out the muscle most of Friday, such that I didn’t feel the soreness on Saturday morning. Good. I take the drugs and they help, but I am not completely over it when I wake up (after not sleeping well) at 3:45 Sunday morning. Ok, so race morning and I pound down my antibiotic, some Zycam, and some Dayquil. A little nasal spray for good measure and I head out to the start. I know my congestion is going to slow me a bit, but I try very hard to stay motivated.
At about mile 8, my entire left leg begins to feel ‘sore’ as if I did a hard run on it recently, which of course, I had not. What was weird was that A) it was my entire leg, not just one or two muscles, and B) it was only my left leg. After about a half mile of pain, I realized it was the shot. My leg had not fully recovered from the ‘soreness’ brought on from the shot, and so I had to suffer through it for the last 18 miles of the race. I was on a sub-2:55 pace (about 6:39/mi) until that point, but I had to slow up and in fact walk a few sections near the end.
So, the drugs were needed to fight the infection which slowed me down a little, for sure, but the shot slowed me down more. I blame the sinus infection, either way
Excuse #3: Ok, so yes, I was shooting for a PR is this race. Even after Friday morning’s fiasco I thought I still might be able to do it. I have stopped following a training schedule (per se) a lot time ago because I didn’t like how it tied my hands and made my running feel like work. So why did I think I could run a PR? Well, I have been training with my Cross Country team since August, doing some hard workouts, or so I thought.
I sort of have made the decision to run marathons for fun, not racing every one of them. The reason is two-fold. 1) I can’t ‘race’ a marathon every 3 weeks, I’ll die. 2) Following a set training schedule just sort of bums me out these days. So what I have decided to do this winter season is just work on getting my base mileage up to 65-70 miles per week. I have been sitting at 45-50 for a while now. Get my base up with only a little bit of ‘fast’ work, not paying any attention to any sort of training schedule and running Harpeth Hills, Vegas, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale as training runs. Get my finishers medal and say thank you. I know I can survive, and someday I will get back to focusing on a race and even following a training schedule for it, but not for a little while.