Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Humbled...Double Race Report: Part 2

They say you should take at least 1-3 weeks to recover from a marathon. Most doctors recommend no running for at least that long. I needed to be back at it 19 hours later, so I relied on every recovery method I had ever tried.

An ice bath, compression socks, blister pads and stretching routines were the tip of the iceberg. There was also a healthy dose of Aleve, a massage roller and two Chipotle burritos. I'm not sure where the magic was, but I woke up Sunday morning at 4:45 with energy. I stood up to legs that were sore, but not stiff. I stretched and experienced very little pain.

"Today may be a good day" I thought as I hurried to get ready. For everything that was wrong with the Palos Verdes Marathon the day before, Pasadena got right. Ample parking and porta-potties, a solid finish area and an organized start helped calm my nerves on race day number two.

I ran into Ron (my Maniac friend who helped me finish Carlsbad and gave me valuable tips on running a double) who did what all Maniacs do, pump me up. Bby the time the race started, he had me feeling confident in my tired legs.

The race started and our shuffle turned into a small stride. A comfortable rain was coming down, distracting me from my stiff legs. I yawned as I forced one leg in front of the other. Running wasn't as effortless as I was used to. Normally on long runs I am able to turn of my mind and go into 'autopilot' as my brain told my legs what to do and I stood by as a third party.

Not today.

I had to constantly remind myself to keep moving forward, forcing myself not to walk until my scheduled breaks. Today would be just as tough a mental test as it was physical.

Miles 8-12 brought me tons of encouragement. Fellow Maniacs gave high-fives and fellow runners shared a few laughs as we ran the "lonely miles" together. I passed one guy who was dribbling two basketballs throughout the entire race. I thanked the soldiers running with the American flag. I smiled at the elderly Asian woman shuffling through the full marathon.

When your energy is depleted and you have nowhere to go but towards the finish line, you look for any type of encouragement you can find. Thankfully, there was plenty of it out on this course. Maybe it was the cool weather, but everyone was social and everyone in a good mood.

As the miles ticked off I noticed I was keeping with my target pace, ahead of day one even. I didn't expect it to last, so I pushed myself in the middle miles. To my surprise, I reached mile 20 and was maintaining my pace. The mental effort was still exhausting, but my legs had turned into some kind of senseless machine, turning over as fast as my mind could tell it too.

Mile 22 came and a steep incline thankfully coincided with a scheduled walk-break. I looked down and noticed a spot of blood on my shirt. Uh-oh.

This being my 13th marathon, I had seen my fair share of nipple chafing, some producing some gnarly blood stains, but thankfully never had the pleasure of experiencing it for myself. Until now. Rather than risk any further damage, I took of my shirt and ran most of the rest of the way while I worked on my tan.

Four miles from comleting my toughest challenge yet, I wasn't about to let that slow me down. I pulled negative splits over the final four miles and threw my 'Marathon Maniacs' singlet on to run the last quarter mile.

I passed my parents and sprinted through the finish at 4:11, six minutes faster than day one. Three days later I still don't know how I ran faster on day two.

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