My Worst Marathon-The Marine Corps Marathon
We all have great race stories to tell but then we also have the ones about our worst races. When thinking about my worst marathon it is hard to choose as there are definitely a couple that could qualify. I am going to bestow the honor of my worst marathon on the Marine Corps Marathon. It was October 30, 2005 the day of the race. It was one of my early marathons. I ran this race after training following a plan that I had found on the internet. This was a marathon that I raced before I had kids and back in the days before I had discovered Skirt Sports as my go to race day uniform.
I was hooked on marathoning and wanted to race some of the bigger marathons and was lucky to snag an entry into this iconic race. I trained dutifully for the Marine Corps Marathon but really did not have a good strategy for running a smart marathon. From what I recall the morning of the marathon was beautiful albeit a bit warm. I was excited to run past all of the monuments in the city and to be running in such a large race. I had my GU packets ready. I wore running shorts, a Nike tank top and Brooks Adrenaline GTS running shoes. I had my old style Garmin, the rectangular one that you strap on your arm. I was ready to race.
The crowd at the start was huge. A sea of people. I started off fast and I felt good. So good that I allowed myself to pick up the face. I was flying. But that’s not what I should have been doing at that point in the race. I should have been racing more conservatively in the first half. However when I got to the half marathon check point I checked my watch and I had run my fastest half marathon to date.
My coach now uses the analogy of having a book of matches-going out too fast is like lighting all matches but one and letting them burn out leaving only one match left rather than burning each match in the book one by one. I had burned up my matches by running the half so fast and so my body was burning through glycogen stores. I remember trying to force in more GU taking extra packets that were offered because I needed the energy. I was also having a hard time replenishing my electrolytes. My pace began to slow and my legs started to feel heavier.
As I came around a bend around mile 18 I distinctly remember seeing someone in a costume-it was a wall with a sign that read something like, “Don’t hit the wall!”
I was crashing.
Around mile 20 was when the real trouble began. CRAMPS! Rolling leg cramps. They would start in one calf and I would slow to a walk/jog. As soon as I began to run again another cramp would set in. This went on for almost 6 miles!. I was in pain. My pace had slowed to what felt like a crawl when I could run. I was in agony but I did not want to stop. I neded to make it to the finish line.
Finally up ahead, in the thick of the crowd, the finish line awaited with one last kick in the ass . . . a small hill that took you across the finish line. I finished and got my medal and then hobbled away from the finish line. The next days were painful. It was hard to walk around because of all of the cramping that my legs had endured.
I do not know what my finish time was for that race but what I do know is that did not run a smart race. Rather than negative splitting the course I positive split which means the second half was slower by far. My memories of this race are of trying to drag myself to the finish line. This was definitely a worst race but even though it was terrible, I am proud that I still finished!
What was your worst marathon (or race)? I’d love to hear your story!