I needed a goal race to stay motivated through winter training. I needed to justify getting up at 6am in the morning for a run, and most importantly I needed an excuse to use that jacket I bought on impulse because it had racing streaks and I thought it make me look fast. I decided on the SunTrust National Marathon. What better way to gauge my training efforts than by running through the nation’s capital with such awe inspiring landmarks as the capitol building and the white house in the backdrop.
The training went smoothly saved for the 40″ of snow that were dropped on us during Snowpocalypse 2010. Instead of running I altered my training and shoveled snow instead. I was more focused on speed during training and only managed one long run at 19 miles. Regardless of how I performed on race day it would be an honest impression of my efforts. I decided to go for a time of 3:50:00 or better.
I was a lot more relaxed on race day compared to my previous marathons. I didn’t feel any pressure to perform, it was just gonna be another long run. Perhaps it was the weather but I felt ready than ever to take on this race with my spiffy new compression arm sleeves and the “Eagle” namesake imprinted on my bib.
I soared through the first half at an 8:34 pace and even managed a new half PR. The 2nd half was a different story, the sun was out in full force and as a precaution I had been taking my salt pills at every water stop after mile 13. I didn’t think the heat was gonna be much of a factor since it’s a spring marathon after all. I was WRONG! The heat crept up on me and by mile 18 I ran out of salt pills. I knew the last 8.2 miles will be hell and I took every steps in stride waiting for my calves to cramp up at any moment.
It finally happened at mile 24. I stopped to grab a cup of gatorade and sure enough my calves cramped up and I involuntarily fell to the ground. A few seconds later I realized what happened, I drank my cup of gatorade and proceeded to massage my calves and mentally tell myself that I am not done yet, there are still 2.2 more miles left. At this point I was flat on my ass in the middle of the road, a few runners passed me shouting words of encouragement and reminded me that the race is yet to be finished. I gave them the dirtiest look I could muster and continued to massage my calves 🙂
One of the volunteer at the water station asked if I was doing alright and whether I required medical attention. I declined but she insisted that someone take a look at my legs. By this time I was ready for this race to be over and would be happy if I can just finish. I’ve never DNF in a race before and I don’t intend to today. I will neither confirm or deny what happened next but as I remember it, it went down something like what I am about to describe in the paragraph below.
I was still sitting in the middle of street massaging my cramped calves, the on site medivac guy came over and asked if I was doing alright. I shooked my head and continued on, he then kneeled down to take a look at my legs and as he was kneeling down our eyes locked for a brief moment. He looked and me and I him, I intently nodded my head and tilt back with both hands behind my back propping myself up and my legs spread forward.
The nod was my approval for him to do what he needed to do to make me better, no words were exchanged during this conversation but he understood what must be done. I looked away as he started to massage my calves, switching between my left and right. I will neither confirm or deny that I enjoy what he did but the guy sure knew what he was doing, he had the healing hands of a caregiver. After about 5 minutes of him working his magic on my calves I felt much better and wanted to just sit there letting him finish what he set out to do.
A few dudes ran by and gave me strange looks as I was being massaged; I then realized how gh** this must’ve looked to them. I had to be strong and put a stop to this magical massage therapy session. I hoisted myself up and with my left hand gave him the motion to stop, I said “thank you” and asked him to help me up as I must do what I need to do and finish the race. He respected my decision and stopped, again no words were exchange but as I limped my way to the next mile marker I sneaked a look back to see if he was looking on.
The last 2.2 miles were pretty uneventful, I walked all the hills and shuffled my way to a 4:06:01 finishing time. I got my medal, went back into the armory to pickup my belongings and headed out to Eastern Market to meet up with some friends for lunch.