Two days ago I ran my second marathon. I completed it in 4:15:33 which is a PR (personal record) as it was better than last years 4:21:12. I got out to a great start finishing the first 1/2 in 2:01 which was well on pace to finish in 4:05, my secondary goal for this race (my primary goal was to beat last years time).
That secondary goal may have been a bit aggressive. At about mile 18, while my pace had continued on track, I started to notice cramps in my foot which turned out to be a sign of things to come. As the mileage progressed so did the cramping. The cramping moved to my calves and my calves were next followed by my thighs. I ended up walking on several of the late hills of the race but usually only after starting the hill to get as far up as possible while running. I restarted to run before the crest as a sort of mental “win”. In the last mile I walked on a couple flat sections when the cramping became unbearable.
Through all that, I still crossed the finish line at a decent pace. It’s amazing how much you can overcome with the finish in sight and the crowd cheering.
As with last year, it was a great experience. The weather was pretty good. The fall colors were a nice distraction as the course took us through some rural areas. Unlike last year, I arrived earlier to the start and had plenty of time to stretch and position myself in the starting area with those aiming for a similar finish time.
Last year the end of the race seemed to drag on forever as the course looped back on itself first on the east side of the river and then on the west. Like many runners, the mental aspects of running are huge for me. I can be close to the end of a 3 mile run or a 13 mile run and either can be just as difficult to finish as I over-anticipate the finish making it seem like forever for it to come. This year I had experience with the course and dreaded the last 6 miles. But, they just didn’t seem as long as they did last year. That’s probably the most surprising thing I am taking away from this. I’m not sure why. I want to figure that out.
And, that’s probably why I sit here thinking about when I’ll do it again.