Cramping my style

The only time a man 'moons' without trying to be funny!

The only time a man ‘moons’ without trying to be funny!

It has been  four days of deep soul-searching, a humbling exercise precipitated by an extremely disappointing marathon performance last Sunday.

The extent of the soul-searching has been such that, at times, I even began to question whether I’m physically and/or mentally cut out for this human torture that is called the marathon.

The only consolation from the race is that I crossed the finsh line … barely. While the official time of 4 hours and 33 minutes was some 44 minutes outside my Personal Best, at least it was an improvement on my last shameful DNF effort over the distance.

Nevertheless, I feel like such a failure.

It all started perfectly according to plan. I paced myself at 5 minutes per km for the first half of the race. I hydrated and fuelled myself diligently, even swallowing a couple of those sticky, foul-tasting GU Gel for good measure. I kept my competitive streak in check, refraining myself from having mini-races against those who were trying to overtake me. I even held back from tailing pretty girls with long legs, so that I don’t later in the race turn into a pathetic old man with wobbly legs.

Unfortunately, all that was to no avail.

At the 34km mark, the first twinge of cramp began to rear its ugly head on my hamstrings. I knew if I stopped to stretch them at that point, it would have been all over. However, at the 35km drink station, my lack of mental tenacity forced me to stop and gulp down a cup of water. And it was indeed all over at that point.

When I tried to resume running, my mind was ready, my heart was willing but my hamstrings and calves basically declared: “Buddy, that’s it! We’ve had it, we’re going home. Good luck!

And that was that!

I started the ‘loser’s walk’ from that point on. Everytime I attempted to run, excuciating pain rippled right along my hamstrings, all the way up to my butt. In fact, I could have picked up a 10 cent coin with my butt cheeks, such was the extent of the tightening sensation in my ass, brought on by the breaking point-strung back thighs.

Jog-walk-stop-curse. Jog-walk-stop-curse. Jog-walk-stop-curse.

That was my pattern for the remaining 7km of the marathon. It was the longest and the most humilating running experience ever since I picked up the hobby again back in 2006.

At one stage, I thought perhaps I’m just getting too old for this shit, having just turned 40. Then, out of nowhere, I got passed by a man who looked at least 65. At another stage, I questioned whether I’m just not the wiry, skinny-type for marathon running. Then, again out of nowhere, I got passed by a 6’6 rotundo, heavy-set type. Basically, I was running out of excuses, and the God-damn finishing line was still an eternity away.

In the end, and I don’t know how, but I did manage to finish.

And having painfully reflected on the race many times over, I have decided that I am NOT going to go out like this.

I have decided that one of the problems may well be due to complacency. I have always considered myself to be pretty competent over anywhere between 10km and 21km. Perhaps I have been foolishly carrying this cockiness over into 42km events. Maybe I should realise that, just because I can run a half-marathon even with a hangover, it doesn’t mean I can run a full marathon fine and proper. Indeed, this is no different to the recent realisation that, just because I can maintain a blog, it doesn’t mean I can write a book.

It comes down to dedication and preparation. Those are the keys to conquering this thing called the marathon.

So, I have decided that I WILL enter another 42km run later this year. And for that event, I aim to follow a strict 8-week marathon training program – something that I have never bothered doing to-date, again most likely due to this unwarranted ‘know-it-all’ complacency that I have built up over the years. Furthermore, if stopping the cramps in the latter stages of a marathon means I have to load up on a cocktail of potassium, electrolytes and minerals a week before the race, then, back up the fuckin’ truck and get in my belly!

Because there is no way I’m going to let 4 hours and 33 minutes to be etched in the books as the time for my last marathon.

More importantly, there is no way in hell I’m going to let jog-walk-stop-curse to be etched in my mind as the chief recollection from my last marathon.

Keep on pounding.


21 thoughts on “Cramping my style

    1. The Jogging Dad Post author

      Yes I know the Wondering Jouster. Her last run was not just a marathon, but an epic. She ran for almost 15 hours. I can barely run for 4 and a half! We’re not in the same league. Heck, we’re not even in the same ball park!

  1. nancytex2013

    I know you are super disappointed with this, but I’ll sheepishly admit I’m a bit glad to read that even an elite athlete like you can struggle with a race. I’m training for a 10k at the moment, and every time I take one step forward, I end up taking two steps back.

    I’m confident you will crush your next race. You’ve got this, JD.

    1. The Jogging Dad Post author

      Umm, madam, when I read you referring to me as ‘an elite athlete’, I had to actually do a double-take and make sure you commented on the right blog. No, if I was an elite athlete, I wouldn’t have been overtaken by a 65 year-old, no matter what my condition was! Good luck with your 10k.

  2. wandering jouster

    i enjoyed reading your narrative, JD! as a kindred runner i can always sympathize with you in going through hell just to cross the finish line. 🙂 🙂 your fighting spirit and locus of control are admirable.:-)looking forward to your redemption time.

    1. The Jogging Dad Post author

      Hey, the great vanilla housewife was just talking about you! My fighting spirit is nothing compared to yours. I can’t even imagine running 14 hours and 55 minutes!

      1. wandering jouster

        yeah, read the “free publicity” from missus v. 🙂 🙂 how kind of her. 🙂 thanks to the both of you for the generous compliments.
        i guess your running a longer mileage is not far, jd. you know we runners are certified “crazy”. we will never stay long in our comfort zone. the goal to level up is always there to tempt us. with the proper training and mindset, you will be setting your own epic (as you call it), too, soonest. 🙂
        i am a wAndering jouster… 🙂 🙂

  3. Ashley @MilesonOats

    Hats off to you for even committing to a full. Secondly, you should be proud. I also commend you for listening to your body. And being humble enough to share your experience with us (even though you feeling down about it).

    I hope I can take on your discipline someday, for now- 1/2 marathons are an accomplishment in it’s own! I have 2 under my belt and debating on a 3rd. Maybe I’ll train for a full one day. Either way, I am in your corner and know you’ll make a beastly comeback.

    Keep on pounding!

    1. The Jogging Dad Post author

      Thanks for the kinds words, Ashley. Perhaps I should go train in the Arizona heat – that should toughen me up. Oh wait, I don’t need to go all the way there for heat. I can just go to the outback woop woop, right here in Austraaaaalia!

  4. jamhunt

    Luck for the next one JD, I have a feeling your first will be the picture of my first lol Maybe I will just count on it, and then be pleasantly surprised…
    Anyway, not on my books for another year or so.
    Look forward to hearing how the 8 weeks goes 🙂

  5. Jill

    Standing at the starting line of a marathon is a feat, so don’t discount that fact. I am looking forward to your training and the recap of the marathon where you kick a$$. 🙂

    1. The Jogging Dad Post author

      Thanks for the kind encouragement. Actually, I’ve never seen anyone getting cramps while running in jeans. Perhaps the solution to my marathon problem lies therein! 🙂

  6. TIA

    You sir are a no failure in my books! You still finished a marathon, in good time I might add. I had this same experience today actually with a half marathon.. I walk/ran the last 3 miles in misery. Still, I wasnt well trained, so I decided to chalk it up to still exercising for 2 hours!! Good job this time..and of course you will kill it next time!!:)

    1. The Jogging Dad Post author

      Well, as you know, great ones like us have to have an off day every now and then. Because we don’t like to make other people look bad all the time, do we? 🙂

  7. MaybeMarathoner

    Don’t know how I missed this…so sorry it was a bust, but love your spirit and determination! Can’t wait until you tackle the distance again and kick its ass!

    1. The Jogging Dad Post author

      My spirit and determination are nothing but a piss in the ocean, compared to this girl I know who’s on the verge on running 3 half-marathons in quick succession! And this chick is already kicking ass, despite what she may say!!! 🙂


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