I had a great number (F8) and was feeling super excited. However, the long and short of it is that I got to the starting line and my legs were tree trunks and would not go. 3 weeks ago I ran 1:31:50 for 13.125 miles by myself and yesterday I struggled to run 1:34:30 for my first half. I ran 7:05; 14:30; 14:40; 7:24; 7:30 and then the 3:10 group caught up to me so I picked it up and went with them. Got back down to 7:01 for that mile and then hovered between 6:58 and 7:18. Right before mile 11 there was a huge downhill and the pacer decided to make up over 20 seconds on it. Stupid in my opinion. I had to catch back up to him on the flats. I knew if I let the group go I was done so I hung with them, but when we passed the halfway mark I knew something was just not right and I should not be feeling so bad to be going that pace. Around 14 we hit a boardwalk and my legs felt like they were on fire and I knew right then and there I needed to make it to 15.25 where my mom would be to drop. As luck would have it mrp just appeared right around mile 15 and he ran with me until I saw my mom holding peanut. I stopped running, tears streaming down and hugged my baby, but needed to give it one more shot just to make sure. Mrp came with me and I slowly eased back into a non-embarrassing pace. Mrp said I sounded great--feet were light and my breathing was good. However, my legs would not go, at least not without serious pain. By 17 he knew and I knew it was pointless. I don't need to just finish a marathon at this point, especially it means not walking normally for days to do it. It's pr (or at least close) or bust. Plus, seriously, something WAS NOT RIGHT.
I dropped and mrp hugged me as we started the walk back to peanut and my mom. I cried. Mrp hugged me tighter. We laughed. I cheered for friends. I cried some more. More hugs. Some jokes. We made it back and I had fun holding peanut while he cheered very enthusiastically for the runners and saw their happiness as a result. My cousin came by and I got to cheer for her too. It was nice. I hitched a ride back to the finish to get my gear bag. When I saw the stadium I cried some more. I found a very kind volunteer who helped me fight the crowds and bypass security to get to my stuff. I saw a few friends in the invited runner finish area and chatted with them while I waited for a massage. Got the massage and again fought the crowds, stopped and chatted with my buddies who of course made me feel tons better and found mrp and peanut, finally.
We headed over to a restaurant for some much needed food and E happened to be there too! She joined us for a while and the three adults hashed out what the hell happened to me. There were a few small things I can do differently next time, but the one big thing that seems to be the issue is my taper.
Ok. Here's where I need to back up.
A couple of months ago I was laying in bed tossing and turning trying to hash out my training schedule when I freaked out and e-mailed my old coach and asked him to coach me for the last 8 weeks before the marathon. Of course he agreed and it was a huge weight off my shoulders to not have to write workouts up and obsess about my training. I could just do what I was told. Perfect, I thought!
Things went along fine. He had me do some weird workouts, but honestly I felt like I just needed to run the miles, do some structured quality and I was good to go. I was running almost dead-on to my pr's in races (or even setting new ones like my 1:05:21 10 miler), so being fast enough to break 3:10 did not seem to be something I needed to worry about.
3 weeks ago my coach asked me to do 5 x 3 miles at MP with 2:00 walk breaks. I thought this was weird and not a beneficial workout for me, especially since I was doing mostly fartleks for the previous 5 weeks. I needed a long solid block of MP miles. I asked him to explain why the 5 x 3 miles was better via e-mail and his response was an e-mail back to just do 13 at MP in the middle of a 20 mile run. So that's what I did and it went super well so I was very very confident I could go into Akron and break 3:10 with time to spare.
Fast forward back to yesterday and 7:00 pace HURT! I ran 15 miles averaging 7:14 pace and I am pretty sore today. I ran 17 miles averaging 7:17 pace (with the 13.125 at MP) 3 weeks ago and was totally utterly fine. So what happened during those three weeks?!
5 weeks out I ran 83 miles
4 weeks out I ran 75.5 miles
3 weeks out I ran 71 miles
2 weeks out I ran 51.5 miles
1 week out I 22 (in 5 days) before the marathon.
I did not taper enough.
It's like my legs were just hunkering down and focusing on recovery yesterday when I asked them to quit it and refocus on running hard. I would have been better off not tapering at all I think! Mrp made a good analogy. He said tapering is like sleeping after a long bout of sleep deprivation. When you're chronically sleep deprived not getting sleep is no big deal, but once you start sleeping again you feel like crap because your body suddenly knows what it's missing and goes into recovery mode, trying to get you back to rested. Same thing. I ran just 8 miles in the three days before the marathon. It was like much needed sleep to my so tired leg muscles. Then on Saturday when I said, "hey go out and party all night," they were all like, "F You!" in response!
So. Yeah. I had no choice. It was like when I got the epidural after 2 solid days in labor. What are you going to do? But hopefully, I will recover from the 17 miles quickly and possibly just maybe jump into another race in 2 weeks. We shall see what F8 holds for me!