I secretly ran the Charleston Marathon last weekend. I said I wasn’t running a race until spring. This was not a last-minute decision. It was a 12 weeks before decision. I lied to everyone*. Sometimes by omission, sometimes directly. I’m a terrible liar. Many lie-recipients cleverly realized I wasn’t being entirely forthcoming, but figured I had my reasons. I did. A zen marathon. No pressure. No analyzing of pace and strategy. No constant reminders of the race. Just a race. Simple. Except for the telling lies to my friends and family part.
I’ve been training well. Still low mileage, but high quality. My tune-up races were good. I had expectations for a PB, but mostly just wanted a strong race. With a PB. In the end I ran an A race under B circumstances, so it’s a happy ending.
Why I classify the day as B circumstances (for me):
- I was Sick (capital S) from Jan 2 to Jan 13. Sinus and ear congestion. Fatigue. Little sleep. I ran 6 times from January 1 to the race. I almost cancelled the trip. Two days before I was still considering dropping down to the half marathon. I didn’t. But I blew my nose so many times during the race it was chapped and raw at the finish.
- A painful tendonitis flare-up began Christmas Eve. In both feet. My doctor put me on a two-week cycle of heavy-duty anti-inflammatories. I wasn’t sure how well my foot would hold up. I was running mostly pain free by Jan 12, but it’s the kind of thing that gets in my brain.
- Race day coincided with the time of the month when men ought to be glad they are men and don’t need to worry about things like tampons and cramps and back pain and migraines on race day. And so it began, race morning.
- Race morning was colder than expected. I took only carry-on luggage for a 6 day trip with a marathon. I packed one race outfit. Short shorts and a tank top. No throwaway gear. It was below 0C (<35F) at the start. With a strong wind. I was so cold I was shaking. I didn’t stop shivering until mile 14. I like it cold, but 5C cold, not <0C and windy when I’m practically naked. I’m still cold.
- The course is point to point, mostly going north. According to my weather app, there was a strong headwind from the north at 25 mph (I think around 40 km/hr, I haven’t looked it up). According to my tour guide, Charleston is known for this north wind. Charlestonians may have known, but not me. The wind never let up and it culminated in a final 3 miles straightaway into the wind tunnel. I’m not being a whiner. Well, I am being a whiner, but it is not unfounded whining. Even the men’s half marathon master’s winner commented on the headwind in his race report. Twice. And he ran half the distance. (Read his race report – it’s much better than mine).
- The marathon course has a lot of twists and turns that break up rhythm – plus an evil out and back for the last 6 miles. Around 19 miles I was chatting with a fellow racer and we took a wrong turn. We quickly saw the dead-end and luckily only lost 10 seconds or so. Coincidently, when we got off course we were trying to figure out if we had missed the marathon turn-off. The marathon route merged with the half marathon route twice (around 20 miles and 26 miles), which made the course a bit confusing and meant twice trying to get around large numbers of slower runners. Still it’s a reasonably easy route given the (lack of) elevation, but there are a few fixes that could make this a really fast course. So A for flat and fast, B for twisty and confusing.
- Travelling to a race always adds an element of adventure – and removes the home court advantage.
Why I classify the run as an A performance (for me):
- The plague didn’t bother me, my tendonitis didn’t bother me, lady stuff didn’t bother me.
- Despite the cold and wind and poor clothing choice (which did bother me) I ran nearly perfect splits. I think I could have managed to run a negative split without a headwind in the final 3 miles. I maintained my effort, but couldn’t overcome the gusts.
- I never hit the wall. I never really slowed down. I got a bit tired at the end, but that’s it. (Sweaty Kids talks about this in her race report on the Louisiana Marathon; read her report – it’s much better than mine). I just ran. I finished smiling.
- I have no second guessing. No desire for a do-over.
- I spent the next 2 days walking Charleston with no muscle soreness, no lingering fatigue. Maybe to some (most?) that means I didn’t push hard enough (a longtime problem of mine), but I know I ran to my ability that day. I can’t always say that.
*Husband knew and so did my coach and one friend/training partner figured it out. If anyone else knew I don’t know they knew.
Title: Steppenwolf – Born to be Wild. 1968.