Okay, that title may be a little over-dramatic, but in hindsight it holds weight. Many of you know that I decided to concentrate on my training for the last 3+ months and take a go at running a “fast” marathon. I targeted the Phoenix Marathon with high aspirations of a BQ and had to scale that dream back significantly when training didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I still thought that I was in position for a PR and to finally break that 3:30 mark.
What I didn’t tell you was that I tweaked my hamstring at some point during training. I don’t remember exactly what I did or when I did it, but I remember it being “tight” during my runs towards the end of January. I still had some solid speed sessions and could knock out sub 8 min miles and hold pace for long runs, it just didn’t feel 100%. Since I was still training well, I just kept moving forward never taking the proper steps to address it. “If I ignore it and taper well, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Like I said in the title, it was over before it started.
Let’s dive right into the race. After catching a shuttle to the start line and easily finding the #ItsGoingDownAtPHX crew, we snapped a couple of pics, wished each other luck, and were on our way.
Mile 1: 8:12
Mile 2: 7:56
Mile 3: 8:13
Mile 4: 8:02
Perfect. I was right on pace and jumped into it rather nicely. Based on the course profile, I expected the downhill to be a bit steeper. I initially wanted to keep these comfortable so I didn’t trash my quads, but it was more of a gentle downhill that was rather perfect.
Mile 5: 8:44
Mile 6: 9:06
These were the 2 miles that were a gradual incline the entire way. I expected these to be around a 9 minute pace and didn’t want to push it to maintain pace. I knew that I would be able to make up the couple of minutes I would lose across the next 20 miles.
Mile 7: 7:58
Mile 8: 8:16
Mile 9: 8:13
With mile 7 being a downhill after the 2-mile incline, I eased right into the 8 minute pace. Miles 8 and 9 felt more labored than they should have been. I was a little over pace, nothing drastic, but I just felt like I was trying to hard to hold what should have been an easy pace.
Mile 10: 8:20
Mile 11: 8:30
Mile 12: 8:18
Mile 13: 8:32
Half Marathon: 1:49:13 (8:21 avg.)
Over these last 4 miles, my right hamstring felt extremely tight and it was causing me to adjust my stride. I knew something was wrong around mile 9-10 and I wasn’t able to find that 8 minute pace that felt so good early on in the race. I just kept moving forward and hoped that it would feel better over the next few miles.
BUT IT LOOKS GREAT
Just by looking at the avg. pace and splits, it looks like I’m running a solid race. What it doesn’t show is that the last 4-5 miles were “labored” miles. I’m putting in too much effort to hold what should be a comfortable pace. It feels like I’m at mile 20. It’s at this point I realize my race is slipping away. I’m trying to fight it because I know I can hold the pace, but the tightness in my hamstring is affecting my stride and causing me to overwork everything. Although my pace was slowing, I would run the first 18 miles without stopping trying to fight what would happen eventually: walking.
Mile 14: 8:37
Mile 15: 9:07
Mile 16: 9:28
Mile 17: 9:15
Mile 18: 9:50
Toast. During long portions of this 5 mile span, I felt like I was running straight into a headwind and it didn’t help the hamstring situation that I found myself struggling with since mile 9-10. What was once a smooth, low 8-min pace had turned into a short-stride shuffle. I was taking one mile at a time just trying to hold whatever pace I could to keep moving forward. I had entered full survival mode and was just trying to make it to the finish line.
Mile 19: 11:27
And just like that, my left side quits the race. I had been overcompensating on my left side for the last 8-9 miles and it finally just cramped up. I knew it was coming. I could feel the range of motion getting less and less. Wifey and the First Lady were waiting for me at 20 and I knew I had to get there as quickly as possible. Get to your family.
Mile 20: 14:28
Wifey: Are you okay? Me: (fighting back tears) I’m hurt.
I was so glad to see them. I knew wifey was immediately concerned. She knew what I wanted from this race and how much it meant to me. I tried my best to reassure her that I was going to be ok and that I needed to finish. I swooped up the First Lady and gave her all the hugs. I answered her questions “You running daddy?” Yes. “You are all sweaty.” I held her and put my big head against hers and was trying to send her all the thoughts and emotions.
Mile 21: 12:00
Mile 22: 12:18
Mile 23: 11:49
Mile 24: 11:52
Mile 25: 12:05
From 21 on, it was run as fast as I could and as far as I could without putting myself at risk of cramping again. When I hit a water station, I would walk and take in both electrolytes and water just trying to keep myself moving closer and closer to the finish line.
Mile 26: 10:33
I spotted @RunEMZ at this mile. She had finished and was running back to find a friend (Sara) to help run her in… yes, she is that amazing. I also came across Gregg and told him what was going on. He had finished the half and was helping cheer people in. He ran with me for a couple minutes and wished me well. I also spotted Jeremy and Corrine who were snapping pictures of runners approaching the finish line. Who knew, all the cool kids were partying at mile 26.
It is not lost on me that there are three 4’s at @RunEMZ’s home race. #totallyintentional #myplanthewholetime #forgetsub330
These were not the results that I had envisioned. It was not the race that was giving me chills during training. But it was the race that my body had on that particular day. I should have known that in order for me to have the best race of my life, I needed to be at 100%. I was foolish enough to think that since I had been training for a FASTER race, that if I scaled it back I could still pull it off.
Don’t get me wrong, I did not start this race injured and I did not injure myself further by continuing on after mile 10. I honestly didn’t think that a tight hamstring would throw off my race as badly, more importantly as early, as it did. I thought that I would run a strong race and was pretty settled on walking out of PHX with a PR, even if it wasn’t a sub 3:30.
I’ll save my “next steps” for a future post, but I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone that sent well wishes before and after the race. It wasn’t the race I was hoping for, and many of you sent incredibly kind words that further solidify my belief that the running community is truly built on love.
Phoenix Marathon: Let’s Get Social