Learning from the BMO Marathon

OK, so it was probably one of the worst athletic decisions I’ve made. I shouldn’t have run the marathon, as is evident by my goal time compared to my official time. Yes, I should have listened to those very close to me, but I didn’t. Admittedly, in athletics, I’ve always thought I could “play hurt”, or plough through things when I’m injured or sick. I remember before a hockey game when I was younger my mom would put a thermometer under my tongue and I’d put it on top so the reading on it would be lower than it should be.:)

But the marathon is different, and I learned a valuable lesson today.

Today was  amongst the toughest of any final 15k I’ve done in a full marathon. Miami was close, so we’ll call it a toss up. Literally, it was all I could do to keep any type of respectable pace.

I felt pretty good at the start and really felt like I had an outside shot at coming under 3 hours. What I didn’t take into account was my elevated heart rate. Mistake number 2.

For the first 15k I was feeling great. Clicking off sub 4:08 k’s felt really easy. That gets you way under 3 hours, but I was not paying attention to my heart rate. Mistake number 3. Under normal conditions, I don’t do this because I know the paces I can run at threshold and below. But, as most runners know, you can only run above or at threshold for maybe 80 minutes or so. Today, because I was sick for the last 10 days, my pace was 38 seconds slower at threshold than it is when I was healthy. When I downloaded my data, I saw that I was above threshold from the 2nd km until the 29th. Oops.

For those that don’t understand what threshold is, it is the heart rate you can clear lactic acid buildup from your muscles. Go over this for too long, and you are in trouble.

So its no secret why the wheels  completely fell off at about 18k or so. I didn’t “pull back”, I didn’t have a choice. I was thinking, why the hell are my legs filling up with lactic acid so fast and not clearing?? Pretty much from the 24th km or so, it was about survival. I was stupid as well. I should have pulled out. I was there to race, not finish. But, that is easier said than done. When you are mid race, admittedly you are thinking of what it would be like to tell your friends you pulled out of marathon, even if I have done 11 or 12 and even if anyone that matters knows I’ve been sick as a dog for the last week and a half and would totally understand.

Despite conditions, or health or injury, with my races its mostly about the number on the clock, but its good piece of mind for me to understand specifically what happened today.

Wow, though, it is not fun watching guys pass you that you know you should be smoking. I’m competitive so that was tough for me to deal with today.

But, regardless of having a bad race or a bad time, I always feel good crossing the finish line. But, weirdly enough, today for a split second, I actually didn’t think I deserved a medal. Just a fleeting thought that went through my mind. Everyone that runs a marathon deserves a medal. Regardless of time. Its an accomplishment to be proud of.

I’ve never felt so beat up after a marathon, but, I’ll dust myself off and be back for a good race soon. And I won’t let my ego get in the way of decisions such as pulling out of a race or starting it in the first place.

Thanks so much to everyone who came out to cheer. Not sure if you realize it but if you are having a good race or a bad race, to see a familiar face and get a friendly cheer goes a very long way.