I probably should not have attempted to do a marathon today. I probably did for the wrong reasons, namely that I was already registered and I wanted to finish the Distance Challenge. But, I did start the Livestrong Austin Marathon, and good idea or not, I did finish my first full marathon. While I didn't finish anywhere close to the time I had hoped for months ago, I met my expectations on the day, still recovering from major knee pain suffered during the 3M Half Marathon three weeks ago, with a 6:27:47. Since I knew I would be going slowly, and not being one for a crazy costume, I thought I would tweet along the way. Those tweets are collected here.
After 3M, I saw my orthopedist, who took some x-rays and wasn't especially concerned by them. His diagnosis was a mechanical problem, which caused inflammation of the joint. He prescribed an anti-inflammatory, but didn't I couldn't use my leg. He didn't think it would be a good idea to attempt the marathon, but he didn't say it was out of the question. My knee started to feel better, but it was frustrating because every once in a while my leg would move just so and the pain would flare up again. Friday after work I went to the marathon expo, and after getting my packet, I saw a physical therapist who works with KT Tape, something I've used numerous times to help with injury. He put on a couple of strips and told me to try it out. I went for a jog around the neighborhood Saturday morning, and while it was the best (and pretty much only) run I had had in three weeks, I still only made it a half mile before the pain came back. I went back to the expo and the PT put four more strips on my knee in something of an "if that doesn't work, nothing will" effort. It was going fine until I had another flare up last night. The race seemed to be in doubt.
Most of my thoughts from the actual race I already put out on Twitter. It was pretty cool to see the 18,000 participants stretched out along Congress Avenue, and later coming back north on South First Street. It seemed like a lot of people were doing the race in intervals, and had their watches set to beep every so often (jog 2 minutes, walk 2 minutes or whatever) and it was kind of annoying. My strategy was just to walk, steadily and as quickly as practicable. That pace (13 1/2 minutes for the first mile, ranging up to 15 1/2 minutes later on) was not taxing for me, but it certainly seemed to be for some of the people around me. I found it kind of amusing that people would jog past me, then slow down and I would pass them again. It seemed to me that my method expended less energy and was just as fast. It was actually kind of fun to be back with the walkers and not be out 'racing'. Just past the 10 mile marker, the half marathon course diverted, and most of the pack around me split off. It was kind of lonely being on the roads with so few people, but there seemed to be more camaraderie. The walkers on the full marathon seemed more determined than the half marathon walkers. I was quite pleased that the organizers hadn't forgotten about the walkers, and every water stop (every mile) in the tough miles 14 to 24 were well stocked with Gatorade, water, and energetic volunteers. For the most part I was still in pretty good spirits through that portion, but my feet were badly blistered and got more painful every mile. When I finally got onto the UT campus, the end was nigh. I attempted something resembling a jog, but it wasn't long before the knee gave a warning yelp. Coming around the Capitol, with the finish line actually in sight, I pushed the pain away and crossed the final 100 meters at almost a running pace. I got my finisher's medal and went to the medical tent to get my blisters dressed. It was not a pretty sight, with at least three huge blisters on each foot. It still felt good to have finished, and not just to be done.
Every split of this race was my worst ever. My worst 5k, 10k, 10 miles, two worst half marathons (second half being slower than the first). But it still adds up to being my best marathon, by virtue of it being my only marathon time. The results show me as being second to last in my age group. I'm not sure if it's better that way, so I can say I was faster than somebody, or to have the distinction of being last.