The next evening...
Okay, I think the pains, emotional and physical, have faded enough for me to blog this run now. I'm polishing off the last of my Mike's Hard Lemonade, a six-pack of which I've taken more than two months to work through because it's vile, but I refuse to throw out alcohol I paid for.
Later that evening...
Hanging out with my running pal neighbor Mark and his friends was great. He threw a barbecue in honor of his 25th birthday. He ruminated a bit on having reached the quarter-century mark. I allowed as how I could barely remember being 25, though I'm sure I must have been 25 once, doing something vaguely beneficial and mankind, because I vaguely remember giving a fuck back then. Geezus, when the hell happened to me? When did I stop caring? Snakes on a plane...I'm going to bed.
The following takes place between noon and 1:30 p.m.
For once, I finish not gasping or wheezing or coughing; because I just didn't push that hard in the race. But I'm in a lot of pain and I stop by the med tent in search of Tylenol. To my surprise, Maharam is there and while he doesn't have Tylenol (WTF?), he does look at my stance and foot alignment and tells me to make sure I get an appointment in on Wednesday, when McNeerny (who built the orthotics) will be there and we can all work together. Maharam is as concerned as I am about getting to the marathon starting line in good condition. After this chat, I spend the next hour and forty-five minutes gathering my stuff and trying to get out of the park. The goodie bags for this race were amazing, well worth the entry fee by themselves. The shirts aren't too garish, either. Way to go, Fitness magazine!
I stumble my way back over to the finish line and wait for the ladies to come around on the loop. At 23 minutes, they still haven't appeared, and I can see a good ways down, to about half a mile before the finish. They're slow today, but I'm not surprised; I think the humidity and relatively late start has affected everybody's performance. It sure as hell affected mine.
I start cheering lustily - uh, no...bad association, how about gustily - as the front running women appear. Like pronghorn antelope or gazelles, they go leaping and bounding through the park, appearing effort-free, light, and graceful. Amazing. Even more amazing is that among the first dozen is a little girl of extraordinary ability. (I looked it up - one Elizabeth Briasco, 14, of Forest Hills.) She keeps up running like that, and she'll mature into a world-class runner and every young girl's heroine.
Fifteen minutes later, as I'm shouting at the runners coming in that they have only 200 yards to go and the finish line is the next thing they'll see, I get a cheery wave of recognition from someone I don't recognize. Weird, huh? But I don't see, or don't recognize, the blogger I came out to cheer on. A little later, the first one comes trotting back down the hill from the finish and introduces herself as Debbie, from Terrier Tracks. It was pretty neat meeting her. I was looking for MBee of Incessant Ramblings, but no joy. As I chatted with Debbie, I brushed salt from my arms, quite a bit of it, and some of it wouldn't come off.
Later, I move up the slope toward the finish line and chat with another runner there, a very toned, handsome black guy who is in training for his first marathon, too. As we finished cheering the last of the runners/walkers on, I was hit with the mother of all calf and back part of my thigh. I ended up on the ground with my foot jammed against the curbe straining to hold in a string of curses. I haven't had calf cramps like that since high school and I've never had the back of my thighs cramp up like that. This was like Charley Horse x 2. SUCKED!
As I headed out of the park at last, I was greeted by the runner who'd finished the last mile with me before - he'd just finished up a park loop, to total ten for the day. Did I inspire him, or was that his plan today? Either way, I congratulated him and limped off for the long, long eight block walk to Columbus Circle. I haven't been in so much pain since Nashville, and even that pain was not the same - that was just ill-trained muscles pushed to the limit, but as I hobbled home, my muscles hurt, my joints hurt, my belly hurt, and I'm surprised I didn't pass out. I was in pretty poor shape. I stopped and got a Gatorade and could not believe how salty the first taste was - almost like it was mixed wrong. But it was probably just my body telling me how much I needed salt. And the dark yellow color of my urine tells another part of the story, too.
I wrap up my second loop-of-four and trot over to the baggage area, intending to grab a shot of gel and drink part of my Recoverite; I figure I need it at this point. I am still in a great deal of gastro pain, but having had no luck in the port-a-johns earlier, I knew it would be a waste of time trying to move something out. Though it was 8:29, I figured I had ten minutes to find my stuff and get some gel and fluid in me, so I turn to the mountainous pile of segregated baggage and *BLAAAAAAANH!* the horn for the race goes off. I forget the fuel and fluid and dash off to the start line, late for a race for only the second time ever. I hit the start running, but not fast or well. I'm already in bad shape and the next four miles teaches me a hard, hard lesson. I ended up walking cat hill again and, indeed, most of the hills - I just didn't have the energy. I dump two cups of water in my water bottle at the first tables and continue on. I'm not real thirsty, but know i need water. On the other hand, it isn't HEED or gatorade. :( The next three miles begin to seem very large. By the halfway point at the 102nd street crossover, I have decided it would be futile and foolish to do a full 16 miles today, but the knowledge I now only have two more miles to survive brings no relief. The one thing I'm thankful for is that my lungs themselves are doing OK.
I jog and walk the third mile and it is early in the fourth mile that I overhear some guy asking where the finish is - a valid question as the course wasn't exactly published well. I had found it previously in an unexpected spot NOT on the 72nd street crossover, but rather uphill towards about 68th street on the west side of the park loop. I wait for the guy and tell him where it's at and we run the last half mile together. He spurs me on to my fastest and most consistent half mile of the entire day and I cross the finish line a ittle ahead of him, but just barely under 44 minutes. (Actually, I didn't even look at the clock, I looked up this info later in the day.) All I can think about is the bottle of Recoverite in my baggie.
Episode IV: A New Hope
I come awake before the alarm goes off and try to get out of bed. My stomach hurts and I can tell this might be a problem. But I have an hour before I have to leave the house and maybe I'll have a good BM by then. The gout is gone, banished by two days of Indomethicin. Good stuff. I'm hoping that Thursday's run was a temporary bump, not a harbinger of things to come. (Hah!)
The hour passes as I gather my running stuff and do my morning routine. I go to make a large bottle of HEED for my planned 16 miles and discover I have only enough left to make maybe a half-pint, much to my dismay. I mix it up and fill the bottle full anyhow, having no choice. But now I'll be dealing with mostly water on today's run, instead of sports drink of any kind. *sigh* I leave the house, get to the gas station and grab a coffee, and remember that I'd forgotten my little flask of powersnot. Back to the house.
On the subway to Central park, I look out the windows as the train crosses the Manhattan Bridge and imagine this conversation:
"So, how early didja get up to go run?"
"O-dark-fifteen? Man you are hardcore."
I get to the park just as the NYRR crews are setting up. I chat with the baggage area superintendent and he tells me to just put my bag whereever and he'd put it with my number when the numbers got set up. I've chatted with him before, so I trust that. good volunteer, thanks man.
I get going on the first of four planned four-mile loops. It isn't long before I begin having troubles. I'm having trouble adjusting to the re-vamped orthotics - the don't pinch or anything, but the consistent odd footfall is rapidly adding up to some pain. And - more troubling - my gut is killing me. I tough it through the first four miles and notice I'm perspiring heavily, despite the cool temperature - about 67 degrees at the time. The humidity, though, is high - around 80%. I tough through the first four miles, with minor walking, and then take advantage of the still-virgin port-a-johns and try to drop a load and see if that will help this guy pain.
It does not. My day is dropping from below-average to less-than-stellar. I also have a hard time getting the Nike thing to wake up again and continue the workout. In fact, it loses signal again half a mile into the second loop and instead of battling with it like at the NYC Half Marathon, I decide to just turn it off. I think the accelerometer part is not functioning correctly - not sensitive enough to movement.
I walk quite a bit of the second loop and my belly and leg pains have become quite active. I run out of weak HEED and end up on pure water in the last mile. I decide that after the third loop - which will consist of the Fitness Magazine four-mile race - and then maybe walk the final loop today. I am aware that a short race and a long training run don't mix well, but I promised MBee I'd run this one and then stay to cheer on the women runners - plus, how could I pass up what promised to be an easy qualifier? Pay $11, cross the start line, cross the finish sometime later (no time limit that I could find), and a nice goodie bag to boot. So this was my eighth qualifier of the year, according to my excel spreadsheet, and I have at least two more planned - Fifth Avenue mile, Grete's Gallop, and Staten Island Half.
As I finish the second loop and go to get my stuff for some quick re-fueling, I am aware that things have gone terribly wrong today: my orthotics and I were perhaps not ready for a long run in them; I am massively under-fueled and under-electrolyted, a fact which would become even clearer in about an hour, and would still end up under-hydrated as well; and my gastro pain just wasn't going lessening, sorta coming and going in waves. (As it happened, I am finishing up this entry and STILL have the same gastro pain, though it is somewhat less tonight.) I confirm with myself that I am NOT racing this race; just using it for qualifier-accumulating and mileage.
the statistics are interesting: this was not my worst race ever. Qualitatively, it now holds second place as my worst race, bumping Nashville to third, with Manhattan half retaining first place. But according to the numbers, I have run much worse in the past. Fully one-third of my races have been at slower paces. And I have had a lower age-graded percentage, much to my surprise. I didn't place well, of course, with 93% of the field finishing ahead of me - but they were all men. Also, looking at previous races, I have found out that in the last two races, I've finished ahead of at least 50% of the field, a fact that gives me hope at a relatively good marathon run, but one that also points to a field of runners that is slowing down in general. This also was not my slowest four miles by far. Having my lungs on my side is helpful, as far as that goes.
So. Miserable fucking run. Absolutely a waste of a glorious Saturday morning. I could have stayed home and thought about running hard and accomplished better training. And now, with Sportscare therapy added in, I'll be getting up early and going to Maharam's offices every single day next week.
Well, week after this one, I'm off to Seattle, Aslask, Calgary, and environs. I am hoping things turn around and I get some interesting runs in. I want to say I did 18 miles on a cruise ship's 1/8-mile track. I want to run in Sitka. I most especially want to run in Calgary.