After good showings in the first three legs of the Austin Distance Challenge (IBM 10K, Run for the Water 10-miler and Decker Challenge Half Marathon), I had high hopes for my second running of the 3M Half Marathon (2011 report). However, it seems training for the full marathon has not been kind to my legs. On top of the foot pain I've been having since before Decker, I hurt my left knee running 18 miles last weekend, and had a bad right calf cramp Thursday night at swim practice.
While I had a pretty good 10K this morning (~51 minutes), that was about all my knee could take. I started walking near the halfway point. I tried once or twice to pick the pace up to a jog (10-12 minute miles), but walking (15-16 minute pace) was as fast as I could go without severe pain.
It was rather demoralizing, walking as everyone ran past. First it was the 1:50 pace group, then 1:55, 2:00, and eventually 2:10. After that I didn't feel quite as bad, as there were a lot of people taking walk breaks. At least I wasn't in the way as much at that point. For a while, in my head, I was saying to the passing runners "Yeah, well I had a better 10K than you did," which is of course completely moot in a half marathon.
I seriously considered stopping at one of the many convenience stores on the route for real food, a drink and ibuprofen, but I was quite sure any stop would be the last. I had stopped early in the walking phase to chat with a friend spectating and was barely able to start again. At that moment, with almost six miles to go, I seriously considered withdrawing and getting a sag ride to the finish. But, I figured a DNF would be a more lasting pain than my knee, so I kept on.
At the final turn, onto Congress in front of the state history museum, I made one final attempt to pick up the pace, but the pain was too much. I crossed the finish line with a time of about 2:40, got my finisher's medal, picked up my dropped clothes, and boarded a bus back to the start.
The drive home was quite painful as well, having to work the clutch in my manual transmission car. Surely there is a line between tough and stupid, and surely I have crossed it.