Last Sunday, I ran White Rock. I ran the initial 10k in 52 minutes and the first half in 1 hr 54 mins. Felt great. Ahead of pace. I will finish in 3 hours, 45 minutes. Way head. Feeling very, very good.
Mile 17--both calves simultaneously cramp. No warning. Utter pain.
Could barely move.
Limped to the next aid station and rub icy-hot into them.
Trudged along. Pace continued to slow.
Every aid station, I stop, rub icy-hot into my legs, chug Powerade. Every time, the medical staff asks if I am drinking enough water, getting enough potassium. Do I want a med-ride to the finish line?
No. Screw that. I'll be damned if I take a DNF.
Can hardly walk, let alone run.
My calf muscles have completely shut down. I begin over compensating with my quads.
Then my quads revolt. Spasms of pain. I try to kick my legs, causing my hamstrings to tighten.
I refuse to walk.
I check my pace band. For awhile, I was four minutes ahead. Then three. Then two. Then I am behind. I will not finish in 3 hours, 45 minutes. I will not finish in 4 hours. I may not finish at all.
At mile 20, I rip the pace band off my wrist and throw it down in anger. I am around White Rock Lake and back in the neighborhoods.
I stumble at mile 22 trying to get a cup of Powerade.
At mile 24, I see my sister and my dad. I have slowed from an 8:49 per mile pace to about 15 minutes per mile. I only barely register them, but they see what is happening.
I do not stop.
I cross under a highway exchange and make my way back into downtown.
My running consists of picking my feet an inch off the ground and shuffling forward. But I will not walk.
I come into downtown and it suddenly registers that I am nearing the finish line. I have no idea what my pace was. I do not know what time it is. In my mind, I have been running for hours, days.
Down the hill. Past the Aquarium downtown. Past the West End. Toward the new W Hotel construction.
Left turn. Don't fall. Pick up your feet.
I round the final turn toward the finish line (maybe .1-.2 mile left). Nell is there.
I start trying to run. Both legs completely shut down. I start to fall, grab the back of my left leg, hold myself up, keep pushing forward.
Cramp in my right hamstring.
Trip. Catch myself. Pump my arms.
Stumble. Don't fall. Keep moving forward.
Nell is running with me. She says something. I respond, but don't register what is said. A race official tells her she has to get off the course. Keep running.
In the back of my consciousness, I hear the crowd. Erupting. Cheering.
I try to run.
Pumping my arms.
Crying. Tears roll down my cheeks.
I can hear cheering but I am focused only on the finish line.
The last tenth of a mile. I see the finish line.
As I cross, I start to fall, and two race workers grab me. I try to tell them I am fine, but they refuse to let me go. They walk/carry me. Someone puts a medal around my neck. They congratulate me and move to the medical tent.
I am still crying.
They put me on a table. A doctor gives me more Powerade and some pills.
This was my 6th marathon. I finished in 4 hours, 30 minutes, 54 seconds. It was my 3rd fastest time.
But it was not sub-4 hours.
It's now Tuesday--two days since the race--and I am still having trouble walking.
Cowtown is in 73 days. Never give in.