“I was crushing it until I blew up at mile 16,” said every marathoner, ever.
And I was. I started this race tentatively, but came alive at mile four and decided to go for it all, and by 14 was thinking about a shining PR on a perfectly gorgeous mid-morning in the laurel highlands. I doubled down on my resolve and pushed forward.
Except I underestimated the heat as the run rose through the mid-morning mist to a scorching lunch bell boiler.
I love this race. It’s tiny compared to some of the races in the few weeks previous, like 30K people at the Pittsburgh Marathon and 15K at The Great Race. This is absolutely all runner vs. the course and there is no jockeying for position or crowding to deal with at any point in the day. 55 people finished; they don’t list DNFs, so I don’t know how many started.
Coming into mile sixteen is a small knoll followed by a mile-long gradual climb. The problem for me was that I throttled down the hill leading up to this point with such reckless abandon, I had little lungs left once I began the climb. I made this same mistake last year, but thought for sure that I had the muscle to pull it off now. Once I stepped out of a run and began walking the hill, I just never felt like I got back on top of things through the remainder of the race.
Luckily, I was able to power walk pretty aggressively, and between jogging, shuffling and walking, I was able to hold off all but one person from passing me.
I came in crampy and aching in the lower back. Certainly, a shot of chicken broth and something solid would have helped, but I did this race 100% unsupported.
Also, I’d like to note that running a race a second time or more makes it infinitely more difficult. Even though the weather is different, your training is different, and you are different, every second of the race is a rewind compare to the year before. I could not shake this feeling.
All in all, a nice morning out. Shirtless race, accomplished.