Marine Corps Marathon 2008 recap, part 2. (MCM 2008 recap part one)
Just before the end of mile 9, my stomach started feeling off. I felt like I was running with a brick in my belly. Not a good feeling at all! I walked the water stop and tried to drink, but the liquid made me nauseous, on top of the brick feeling. I hit the 15K mark at about 1:35, which was still a 10:13 pace, but I was feeling absolutely horrid. I should have still been fine at that point. 9 miles at that pace in cool weather is usually easy for me. I spotted a set of porta potties with a short line and attempted to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, I still felt like crap and had wasted 6 minutes to boot. My legs felt ok, my breathing was fine, but I desperately wanted to throw up and couldn’t. I made a mental goal of making the halfway mark with only walking at the water stops and kept on keepin’ on. I tried to take another Gu with water, but had a really hard time getting it down.
I hit the 20K mark at about 2:15, which was a 10:47 average pace, but taking out the bathroom stop, put me still at about a 10:23 pace. I was hanging in there, but it was a struggle. Most of my mile splits were closer to 10:30 and I was really pushing myself not to walk. Finally I hit the halfway mark at 2:21:25, which without the stop would have been a half PR by 4 minutes! I almost PR’d the half without subtracting, but I walked the water stop just before the half.
I have to give major kudos to the Marines for their water stops. They were super long and alternated powerade and water at each side. I was able to get at least two cups of powerade each time that were about 3/4 of the way full. At the 13 mile point, I managed to get most of a glass of powerade in me.
I knew I was still ahead of pace for a 5 hour marathon and that I would “Beat the Bridge” by at least an hour, so I just kept pushing. I ran when I could and walked when I had to. I slapped hands with about a million kids. :o) I hit at least one more water stop (things started getting confused here), where I drank at least two more cups of powerade. I tried to do a third Gu at mile 15, but it took me over a mile to get the whole thing into me. I hit the 25K point at about 2:47, which put my overall pace at 10:47. I got hit with a sharp pain where the brick had been in my belly and starting to wonder why the hell I was doing this. At that point we were running around the Mall, near the monuments. I barely noticed anything around me. I knew I was at a point that if I walked the rest of the way, I’d finish before they closed the course. I also knew that if I kept up at least a 12 minute pace for the remaining miles, I could hit the five hour mark. I drank two more cups of powerade just before mile 18 and the pain in my stomach finally passed. Woohoo!, but unfortunately, by that point, my legs were feeling like lead, so speeding up or not walking was not an option. I passed the 30K mark at 3:22, which still had me at a 10:51 overall average. I had on a 4:45 pace band and knew I was slowly sliding away from that possibility.
I walked the waterstop at just past the 19 mile point and drank two cups of powerade and one of water. They gave us some sports beans, but I just couldn’t eat them. I saw the Washington Monument up ahead and realized I was nearing THE BRIDGE. As I started up the onramp to the bridge I started crying as I realized that I would nearly certainly finish the marathon, even if I walked the entire rest of the way. My knee started cramping up, so I stopped to stretch. It didn’t really hurt, but it did weird things to my stride. Standing still to stretch made other parts start cramping, so I gave up and moved on. I was managing a fairly decent pace when I was running, but walking was pretty frequent as well.
I hit the 35K mark at 3:58, which still had me averaging just under 11 minutes per mile. I had a cramp in my calf off and on and one in my knee still, but I knew that if I could just keep moving, I still had a chance at the 5 hour mark. I was back in Virginia and headed into the miles of heavy spectator support, so my mental state started looking up.