How Many Time Can I Use the Word "Idiot" in a Single Post?

October 18, 2010

If it's not a matter of life, death, or health I usually don't get upset about things. But yesterday's marathon has my heart feeling pretty broken.

I made a huge, immensely stupid mistake in that race, and it turned out horribly. You guys, I'm an outright idiot. This mistake is somewhere along the lines of running through an aid station and voluntarily grabbing a cup of hot lava and a turkey dinner instead of some water and an energy gel.

Really, what an idiot.

If you're not a runner, this will probably be insanely boring/technical/eye-roll-inducing to you, but I feel the need to write it all out anyway, so here goes...

If you run, you probably know that barefoot running is a ridiculously huge craze right now. From the book Born to Run to those crazy looking Vibram Five Finger shoes, the trend is showing up everywhere. The idea is that your foot is a perfectly engineered running device and overly cushioned shoes only screw things up by causing injury.

No, I didn't run the marathon barefoot.

An offshoot of this barefoot movement is the minimalistic shoe. From the Nike Free to the Newton, lots of companies make them. These shoes are less cushioned, have almost no arch support, and leave you running on your forefoot and midfoot, not striking with your heel.

Generally speaking, the heel cushioning of a traditional shoe is 21ish millimeters tall, and the toe portion is 10 millimeters--that's an 11mm heel toe drop. By drastically reducing the heel toe drop, minimalistic shoes keep you on the front of your foot. It's almost like your heel can't reach the pavement anymore.

In early September, I ordered a pair of these shoes--the Saucony Kinvara. They're 8mm in the heel and 4 in the toe--a minuscule heel toe drop.

When I first put them on, I felt twinges where I've never felt twinges before. In my knees, my IT band, my hips. But there's an adjustment period for shoes like these--the body needs to build up the muscles to be able to run on the forefoot/midfoot. Seriously, my butt and hammies and calves have never looked so good.

Before yesterday's marathon, the longest run I'd done in my Kinvaras was a ten miler, and it was a really awesome ten miler. An epically awesome ten miler. How could I not wear those shoes for my BQ attempt, right?

Well, a marathon is almost three times longer than that ten miler, and my legs were completely not ready for the switch. In the barefoot/minimalistic world they call it TMTS, of Too Much Too Soon.

I TMTSed my race.

Miles 1 through 16 were beyond awesome. I needed to keep an 8:24 pace to qualify for Boston (3:40 total), and as the miles passed I was consistently putting up split times of 8:05, 8:13, 8:10. I crossed the halfway point at 1:47 and by mile 16, I had banked over 4 minutes toward my BQ. In other words, I could average an 8:44 pace for the rest of the race and still qualify.

Around mile 17, I looked at my watch and my average pace was in the high 9 minute range. I couldn't figure out what was happening, but I had plenty of time in the bank, I just had to pull myself together.

By 17.5, my legs said, "No more running, we're completely fatigued." Actually, they were more like, "You're a #$%^&% idiot for wearing those shoes and we're done."

By mile 18 I was walking.

By mile18.5 I was getting passed by the 3:40 pace group.

My legs were shredded, like nothing I'd ever felt. I could muster half walking half running, but that was it. My average pace was down in the 11:15 range.

By mile 21 I was getting passed by the 3:50 pace group.

At mile 22 I almost accidentally stepped on a roadkill turtle. I took that as an omen.

At mile 24 someone handed me a peanut butter cup. That didn't hurt anything.

After an 8.2 mile death march, I hobbled to the finish line at 4:06.12. If you do that math, you'll see that I was 26.2 minutes off of my BQ time. Cute, huh? The finish was around the warning track of a baseball stadium and I almost had to stop and walk, I was that done.

I had that BQ. I've never trained so hard and so fast for a race in my adult life. Somehow, with two kids, a job, a nursing baby, and a daily early-morning religion class at my house I still managed to put up the miles.

And then I went all TMTS with the shoes and flushed it down the crapper.

I'm mad at myself today.

Last night I came home and was insanely close to registering for another marathon in two weeks--I don't want to waste this training and my current fitness level. Jared was supportive of whatever I decided to do, but encouraged me to talk to my friend Seth about it.

Seth had a few great points:

1. He said, "How many times did you call yourself an effing idiot? Because it probably wasn't enough."

2. Three marathons in three months is probably too much.

3. My baby just turned 1 last week. (This time last year I weighed 185 pounds and couldn't sit down because of the stitches).

4. Not a lot of nursing moms are BQing.

5. Winter's a great time to build strength and speed. Maybe I could have some fun winning for 5Ks and 10Ks in the spring.

He's right. Jared agrees. I jumped into the long distances right after having Maggie, and I'm lacking something for it. You can see it in my gait. You can see it in how hard I have to work to propel my body forward. There's not a lot of grace in my running, but there is a lot of grit. I look like I'm working 100 times harder than the girls around me. I look like I shouldn't be able to keep up.

So there.

Maggie will be weaned any day now, and after that, I'm getting my strength, glide, and explotivity back. The winter is a perfect time to do it and hopefully, my endurance and the fact that I'm at the highest fitness level of my adult life won't be wasted for it. I'll be a more efficient runner come spring and maybe then I'll take on another marathon.

Or maybe I'll just hang up the shoes and get fat. I haven't completely decided yet. But either way, I have a broken heart to tend to.

See you all in Boston. I'll be cheering at mile 25.



Katy Shamitz said...

I really like the plan you and Seth came up with.

saundra said...

Mmmmm....I don't know, Amy. Sounds to me like you would have gotten your BQ if you had not been wearing the wrong shoes. Sounds to me like you are kicking butt at being a mom and training properly for long distance.

Grandma said...

All the points make alot of sense and you should give yourself a big old pat on the back for all you have done!!!...and also put those shoes in the driveway and drive over them a few times. I think that will make you feel better.

Fast Punx said...

as frustrated as you are, to write a RR like that less than 24 hours after the race... says a lot about you!

Im very proud of how far you have came.. trying to convert the miler mentality into a marathon is crazy, and you've done it in stride (hah.. get it?)

anyway, you learned a ton today, you're a better runner this morning (probabaly a sore one too)

I'm so glad I started that stupid Facebook group, because I get to call you my friend because of it!

julie said...

Aw, man. That stinks.

But I am so impressed that you can run even 3 miles let alone 26.2. That is awesome!!

bldvdb said...

But I just packed up your maternity stuff to give back to you. I mean...isn't it time to pop out another one??

I kid. I told Seth that you should kick some major ass at some 5Ks. Go get yourself some medals.

Morgan -Ing said...

Oh I'm sorry! What a sucky thing to have happen. But it sounds like you've got a plan, and that is good! :)

Mindy said...

I love you anyway. :)

Pam said...

I'm just glad you're okay. When you posted your splits on FB last night and referred to your "death march" I was worried that you were injured.

I'd have been darn tempted to register for that other marathon, too, but your friend Seth made some very valid points. He sounds like a pretty fart smeller! (That translates to pretty smart feller for you non-Southerners.)

You took one on the chin this time. Now come out swinging!!!

Amy said...

That's lame, but I still think you're cool.

Bahston Beans said...

I'm tired and all I did was cheer for you and eat pizza!

Michemily said...

Are you going to stick to those shoes? Yes or no, I think you're going to make it into that marathon some day!

Vince A. said...

I am still learning what works after 21 Marathons. The last one in Chicago last week didn't work. Spend three days in the lower loop and then let it go. With your talent and discipline you'll be to Boston and back a dozen times.

Tanya Gough said...

Two marathons in two months is amazing. And to keep an 8:24 pace is beyond anything that I'd ever be able to do. I like the sound of those shoes though - when I started running it was hard for me to transition into running shoes because I was so used to moving on front part of my feet (because of dancing). Good luck on the road ahead!

Blaine said...

I feel your pain Amy. My last marathon I was pushing for a 3:30 finish, but went out too fast and crashed by mile 16 to stumble in at thing to do is rebuild and move forward. I keep reminding myself that at least there is one reward for me getting BQ time keeps getting closer to my finish times.

Catherine M. said...

Um Amy, You may want to rephrase your previous post, "when it comes to mothering I operate in the extremes." It should read "I operate in the extremes and when the extreme things I sign up for are not extreme enough I make them more extreme."

I am proud of you for training so well and for taking off those shoes - maybe just should have done it sooner. Keep up with the "barefoot" idea but slow down a bit and do it right - you will be a much stronger blah blah blah...

Mel said...

A few things. I actually teared up that you worked so hard and didn't get the BQ :(

Second, you're a MARATHON RUNNER! Do you know what would cause me to run a marathon? NOTHING not even zombies chasing me could make me run that far so you are my HERO. You are an amazing mom, and wife and sister and friend.

I think your plan of working on things throughout the winter (where I won't be caught dead exercising outside) is amazing. I'll be hiding in my basement doing 30 min on my elliptical machine and wishing for death somedays.

Did I mention you are my hero?

Amanda said...

awww...I'm really sorry! That sucks so much that you were doing so well. I think you should just pretend like the 2nd half of the marathon was a cool down & you probably ran a PR on the half :)

I'd love to hear more about your shoes. I just bought a pair of 5 toes & I will start out VERY slowly training in them after my next marathon.

Good luck- you are totally rocking it and amazing that you can pack so much stuff into every day!

Jen R. said...

Amy. You. Rock. I think that the fact you were able to train for, and then, RUN 26.2 miles, is amazing. And you did it with 2 kids, a husband, and a life. I am beyond impressed. And please be proud of yourself.
A 38 year old mom of 2 who has only reached 6.6 miles on her treadmill, but wishes and hopes for more.

TheOneTrueSue said...

Ack. I'm so sorry. That totally blows.

Anonymous said...

I can relate on the small end. I also broke down and bought a pair of those shoes, amazing feeling in my leg, they seriously looked amazing! My RN friend who works in the OR warned me to not wear them! I called my SIL who works for my foot Dr he said after 3 months your feet will be shot. So I'm no longer running in them and I LOVED them. SAD day!

Adam said...

Awwwwwwwwww. Mannnnnnnnnnn. I agree with Seth's #1 point. :)

Hey, live and learn right? Nothing wrong with making mistakes. I think we've all said to ourselves "oh, I don't have to poop that bad, I can make it home" or "new GU/Gels at the expo! I'll take 4 samples please!".

Lock down your strategy next time and get the BQ. Then, take the day off so that you can ACTUALLY get into the race whenever Boston registration opens next year! :)

Jen said...

I came to say thanks for a post you wrote awhile ago about what not to say when something terrible happens to someone. It helped me recently to not say some dumb things to my sister this month, so thanks.

I guess Boston sold out in 8 hours. One of my friends got in, and no one else of all our other running friends got in because of the crazy rush. I am amazed at you and my friend Liz, who also ran marathons this year after giving birth this summer. Crazy awesome.

LAPT said...

I was there, but running the half. That was a terrible way to end the race, for sure... I saw a couple marathoners nearly wipe out just in the change from asphalt to SAND.

I'm sorry about the choice of shoes, but we all learn from our mistakes. And even with that, overall you are finishing with a marathon time WAY FASTER than I could ever hope for!

k said...

I'm just catching up- sorry to hear about TMTSing your race. Think of how much smarter you'll be next time?