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May 7, 2023 Marathon Training: Providence Marathon

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

It was a beautiful, hot, and rough day for my friend Chris and me. The sun was out with a lot of blue sky. However, temperature rose quite a bit, beyond what we had trained for, and therefore, the heat affected both of us, since we were not adapted to it.

Fortunately, I was still able to achieve my second fastest marathon. My fastest was the Mayflower Wind Cape Cod Marathon in October 2022.

I seemed to be feeling strong and I felt like a personnel record for a marathon was in reach. Around mile 22, cramps started in my left leg. It was the first time that had happened, and the leg cramped in four different places. I had just passed a runner that was down and being attended to by firemen with a fire truck. A female runner stopped to stretch. Other runners were slowing.

Prior to that, I was in front of the 4:20 pacer, which was my goal, that felt well within reach. I was even thinking that I may be able to get 4 hours 11 minutes which would have been a 5% than my personal record.

Chris was cramping too and fell way back. We separated around 15 miles I think. He told me to go and do what I could, since I was feeling really strong.

Soon, at about 23 miles, the 4-hour and 20-minute-pacer passed me. I tried to use it as motivation to keep up and started running again. However, the cramps came back quickly. I spoke to two runners on Henderson Bridge. We each shared our disappointment that the race would end much slower than we hoped. While on the bridge, I saw Chris passing under the bridge just below me. I thought about waiting for him. Instead, I tried to stay enough ahead to justify that we had split up on another long run.

Later, I called Chris to check how he was. He had started having serious cramps a few miles back as well. I thought about waiting for him. But, he was about a mile back and sounded worse off than I was.

Each time I reached an aid station, I took water over my head, once a whole pitcher of water over the head was offered and provided, and I drank water for hydration. It was still a struggle to stay cool. At 25 miles, a nice woman was volunteering to help runners with a cup of ice. I was walking along the shade of a building on Main Street. She gave me ice, along with some encouragement stating "make sure you finish!" I told her that I would.

At nearly 26 miles, heading up the hill, a runner reminded me to finish with a smile. So, I turned on the remainder of the effort that I had an ran through the finish line.

Then, wobbling after the finish line, I started thinking about Chris. I wanted to be able to find him at the finish. I called him. He was still 20 minutes or more from the finish line and suffering from cramps. I offered to go get him. He said that he was committed to finishing.

I decided that I should let the medical tent help me, while I was waiting. I went to the tent. They asked what I need. I stated "ice." They offered me ice to help cool and icy towels that they put over my head while I sat on a folding chair. I did this three times before meeting up with Chris when he finished. Later, they were to run out of ice. But, I saved a small bag for Chris.

After my first round at the medical tent, I walked around the vendor tents in Station Park. I was a bit surprised that I could not get a cup or bottle of water with ice. So, I went back to the finish line and used a warm bottle with some of the medical tent ice in a bag for a cold drink.

Things had seemed to go exactly to plan during this marathon and my training, until the heat degraded the performance of many runners and caused a lot of cramping for me. A lesson learned is that the Gatorade may have been too sugary. And, on day like that, I may have benefited from more sodium as well. I definitely craved ice water at the end as I typically do.

Getting out of Providence was a miserable experience. It took me an hour to get out of the Providence Place parking garage, due to the volume of marathon traffic. I tightened up quite a bit sitting in the car.

It was disappointing to not achieve a personal record, after well thought out training. However, there were lessons learned and accomplishing a marathon still feels good.

Recovery took a bit longer than usual, since we pushed hard and the heat was a factor. I carefully rehydrated with ice water, took a hot shower, had a hot coffee and took a nap after the shower.

It did feel good to accomplish my 4th marathon, have another adventure, and share the experience with a good friend.

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