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.
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.