For about 11 miles, it looked like I was going to have one of those perfect days. I started off running with a friend of mine with half of Corral B blocking me from running too fast. At 3 miles, my friend pulled back to his target pace, and I quickened my pace to get to my target of 8:45 to 9:00. For most of those 11 miles, the course even managed to gift me the perfect camber for my IT band injury, and even though I’m no fan of downhill running, I turned loose and let gravity do its work to try to save my quads and knees.
As I left Brookside and moved to Riverside, everything was going great. The wind had picked up a bit, but I was only a couple of miles from turning North and running with the wind at my back. I was also drafting off of other runners in front of me to conserve energy.
I don’t recall the exact moment, but somewhere on Riverside heading North toward the half marathon finish, my left foot started screaming. I backed off of my pace and did some walking knowing I had over half the race left to run, but it only got worse. I made it to the turn off for the half at just over 2 hours with about 1 mile of walking. That’s actually a 20 minute PR over my previous (and first) marathon’s halfway point, but it was a bit slower than training.
I slowed to a walk again when I saw the hill transitioning us from Riverside to Downtown. Along the way, I chatted with a guy struggling with a knee problem and started to realize the magnitude of my own foot problem. As we came over the hill, my friend passed me, and I couldn’t get going again. I stopped for a few minutes to talk to my wife and told her things weren’t going well still fully expecting to be able to run at least in the 11 to 12 minute pace range for much of the balance of the race.
I walked another mile and ran a quarter mile with no further improvement. As a fairly new mid foot striker, I resorted to heel striking to try to spare the foot. I even tried putting on my knee brace to see if it would dull the pain. Nothing seemed to work. My muscles were game, but my foot felt broken.
I ran about an 1/8th of a mile at 18 with remarkable pain. I was probably running 8:00 minute pace, but it was doing a lot of damage to my foot. Doing some math as I walked, I realized I was looking at 6 miles of injured walking for, at best, a 5 hour 30 minute finish. At 20 miles, I decided it was time to stop. I finished well over 5 hours once before under extreme circumstances, and I wasn’t interested in being injured long term just so I could say I finished.
For the time being, redemption from my first marathon debacle will have to wait until my 3rd marathon some time in the future. In the interim, I’ll try to remember the many positives of my 2012 Route 66 Marathon experience including significant PR’s in all race distances (other than full marathon of course) and discovery of a safe fueling strategy for my numerous food intolerances. There’s still much work to do, but I’m optimistic that I’m in a good position to run my next race successfully.