You Know What Sucks?

Realizing thirteen miles into a twenty six mile run that you are out of gas.

I actually knew I was in trouble from mile one. In previous marathons, my reaction to the first mile has been “Wow, that was quick, are they sure that was really a mile?” Yesterday it was “Man, when are we going to hit the first mile marker.” Still, I thought maybe I just needed a few miles to warm up. I never did. I managed to hold my goal pace – the pace I had held for every mile of every long training run – until the halfway point. After that, I never did better than nine and a half minute miles. By the end, I was run-walking twelve minute miles. It all added up to a 4:07, thirty five minutes slower than my goal and my worst marathon ever.

The worst part occurred at about mile fifteen. At that point, the marathon course went right past the finish area, before doing a ten mile loop and returning to the same spot for a mile run to the end. Running that close to the finish with that far still to go would be bad even on a good day. Yesterday it was horrible. I could see it, hear the bands playing, watch the half marathoners veer off to go through it, know the pain would end if I quit. I stopped running. I walked over to the side of the road. I nearly cried. Some woman ran by, shouting “Come on, we’ve got this beat!” I mumbled “not today.” Then I started running again. Why? They already gave me a t-shirt, which I liked and wanted to be able to wear.

I say that was the worst part, but don’t let that cause you to underestimate how terrible the rest of the race was. After deciding to finish, I ran between aid stations. Then I could only run from one mile marker to the next. Then it was half a mile. Then less. The walking hurt, too. That all goes with the hopelessness, anger, humiliation and general emotional suffering.

In fact the whole thing was so bad I think I might do it again the second weekend of April. After the race, and for most of the morning today, I was convinced that I would never do another marathon. Then I started thinking I might need a chance to redeem myself.

Yesterday, after mile thirteen every mile I ran was over nine minutes. In all of my training for the marathon, you know how many miles I ran over even eight and a half minutes? None. That includes two eighteen mile runs, one twenty mile run and one twenty two mile run. Until yesterday I had consistently held eight minute miles into the high teens and low twenties. Because I had run strong to the end of all my training runs, I expected to slow down in the marathon, if at all, at some point past my longest training run; i.e., around mile twenty three. Instead I felt at mile thirteen like I expected to feel after mile twenty three, like I had never felt at all while training. Why? Like I feared here, a combination of injuries, training runs missed while they healed, and bad mental mojo combined to ruin my day. It’s not like I did not train enough, or ran at a pace to high; I just had too many little things go wrong. That’s the worst part about the whole thing. I had set good goals. I could have done it. It just didn’t happen.

With this in mind, I began considering another marathon. All those things can’t go wrong again, right? Figuring I’m in close to top shape right now, I started searching for something in the next month or so. That would give me time to recover this week and then train hard for three or four weeks. Ideally, that would put me back in the peak form I had just before hurting my knee and mentally checking out of the New Orleans training program. Plus I now have loads of anger and shame to keep me focussed.

Will I do it? Dunno. I found one that works. The date is right and it’s close-ish to home. I’ll go for a ride tomorrow, then run Wednesday and Thursday before trying thirteen miles on Saturday. After that, I’ll make up my mind.

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6 Comments on “You Know What Sucks?”

  1. Himself Says:

    Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you. You’ll be back – evryone goes into a slump from time to time.

  2. mom Says:

    I totally agree….and I think I read there is another “Rock n Roll” marathon in Dallas coming up soon. Go for it! So….did you like the city?

  3. KC Says:


    I ran 4 in one year once before I went “gump” and just stopped running….I’d go ahead and do another, the truth is each one is different, and how you feel at any point in a race is really no indication of how you may feel a mile later.

    Once in the Marine Corps Marathon, I was feeling Great at mile 20…told my buddies I was gonna pick it up and see them when they got there….famous last words….less than 2 miles later I was slammed …..limped in….never saw it coming, it was like a switch was thrown.

    Next one will be better!

  4. draftsonyou Says:

    Sorry, dude. That sucks. And not that it’s much consolation, but you still beat ME! I had a pretty shitty run myself, but I’m still proud of my big 4:11 rookie time (b/c I know I’ll try again). Had a brand NEW injury (ITB) start on me around mile 10, almost fell with several steps around 15, stopped to stretch, an upset stomach that resulted in post race diarrhea and caused enough nausea to prevent me from properly fueling, and as a result, I crashed about mile 21. had to run/walk the last couple. I know it’s all relative, but we all know you’re a stud. you’ve got nothing to prove to anyone ‘cept yourself. keep your head up. -jd

  5. Wheeler Says:

    nice job!

    finishing the first one is one of the best feelings i’ve ever had about anything.

  6. Greenshirt Says:

    my two cents: think this through. are you rushing it to make up for this bad one? is your knee ok? do another race but choose it strategically.

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