Jeff’s Post Marathon #1 3:58 – Marathon #2 3:58 – Marathon #3 3:58 – Really??

Let me begin by saying we had a great weekend in DC.  This was my first Marine Corps Marathon and it was all I expected it to be – well almost (I’ll get to that in a minute).  It was great to see Marines everywhere and the sense of patriotism and pride was evident everywhere.  The highlight for me was at the end when the Marines are lined up to congratulate the runners.  I made sure I took the time to thank them for what they do for us.

It was also great to have Tamara and Samantha cheering me on along the way.  This is really a spectators race and I ended up seeing them 4 times.

As I type this we are feeling the wrath of Hurricane Sandy.  There was some uncertainty going into this race as to what type of impact the hurricane would have but luckily the weather held off.  There were definitely portions where I had more of a headwind than I wanted but all in all the conditions were ok.  Heading into this race I felt really good.  I had a string of really good training runs, I had just come off a good time at the Army Ten Miler and I felt fit both mentally and physically.  I honestly felt like on a great day I could run a sub 3:30 marathon and on a good day I was expecting at least a sub 3:45……and I was almost there until mile 23.  My goal was to try to get to mile 20 by 2:40- 2:45 and I was there at 2:43.  I was slowing a little but wasn’t freaked out about that at all – I felt like it was part of my plan and I was on pace for a 3:30ish at that point.  At about mile 22 I started feeling this pain in both of my hips and then in my inner thighs.  It was unusual as I haven’t felt this before but I just figured it fatigue related and kept pushing.  Then out of nowhere I started getting these strange muscle spasms in both legs and even had some weird involuntary things going on with my arms.  The spasms in my arms just felt weird, not painful but as I kept running the muscle pain in my legs became almost unbearable.  I stopped for a moment to stretch thinking that would help but it didn’t.  I was also feeling this extreme thirst.  I carry a water bottle and decided to finish that off.  I walked to the next water station and asked the very kind Marines to fill my water bottle with Gatorade and they did.  I drank the whole thing but at this point it was probably too late.  There were things going on with my legs that I have never experienced.  All of these involuntary painful spasms (when I looked down at my legs you could see the spasms) and when I tried to run it was almost comical – like I had no control.  I even had someone from Medical walk over and ask me if I was ok.  Mentally and from the waist up I felt fine – I was with it mentally (Tamara asked me that later) – just felt like I had no control over my legs.  Miles 23 and 24 took me almost 30 minutes to complete – ugh.  During that time I just tried to keep moving and I probably drank 4 additional bottles of fluid.  Finally at mile 25, after multiple false starts, I was able to start running and keep running with pain that I could tolerate and finally with control of my legs.  I was disappointed but honestly I was relieved to be running again and I was happy to finish and what did I finish with…. another 3:58 – I couldn’t believe it.  For those new blog readers – I ran my first Marathon (Baltimore) last year in 3:58 -I thought I could do better so I signed up for Richmond a few weeks later and finished that in 3:58.  As I discussed my lofty goals earlier in the week Tamara kept telling me all I needed was a 3:57.  I was hoping to crush that number but just not on this day.

So what caused this?  I’m open to and would welcome any thoughts/suggestions.  I think it was dehydration or possibly a sodium issue.  Tamara said afterward she didn’t think I was drinking enough earlier in the week and definitely not enough the day before.  I’m disappointed but far from discouraged.  I can see progress and feel like I’m so close to getting where I want to be.  What is on my mind at the moment – I want to run another marathon which is a good thing I think.

Happy Running and to all those dealing with Hurricane Sandy be safe!


  1. AHHH! So frustrating. I do think you are right though. It really sounds like a hydration and electrolyte issue. It’s the hardest thing to figure out, but the easiest to control. I would try S!Caps or something else once you start your next training cycle.

    OK. WARNING! Now, I am going to yell at you. 😉 Please don’t take this as preachy. I certainly DO NOT know it all but this is just an observation. When I saw that you were running Army and MCM, on back to back weekends, I cringed a bit. Although it is awesome you ran Army 10 and hung behind Tamara the whole time, you guys still ran it really fast! Sub 7:30 miles! That is amazing and again – fast! Even though you felt great after the race and all week, I’m thinking you probably didn’t fully recover before MCM. When I wasn’t running as fast, I could race every weekend and be OK. When I started running faster, I really had to start to take my recovery more seriously. You are getting to a level where recovery is going to be key. The next marathon you run, I wouldn’t race within 3 weeks of the marathon. Again, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way. I am one of the biggest Internet cheerleaders you and Tamara have out here!

    So what do you think…Shamrock Marathon…VA Beach…March 17…3:35…We will have a great pace group there! DO IT!

    • Hi Jessica – Thank you for your comments and feel free to yell at me anytime. I really do appreciate all of your feedback. Like most runners, I’m stubborn and I’m competitive (helps and hurts me). I definitely struggle with when to push and not to push and in retrospect I should have taken my time with the Army 10. I so struggle with what to do the weeks before a marathon. I remember thinking during my last 20 mile run how good I felt and how I wished that I was running the actual marathon right then. I need to start believing that rest and recovery are good things and not being lazy :).

      I kept joking with Tamara that I was going back to Richmond but we both agreed it wasn’t the right move right now. I want to run a spring marathon and Shamrock was the first one that crossed my mind. That may just be the one – and it is nice to know that I could hop in a pace group! I did sign up to run the Annapolis 1/2 Marathon in December – Just had to do that to keep me focused on training – I don’t want to lose what I’ve worked so hard for.

      Thanks again for your comments and coaching – I really do appreciate it! Best of luck to you and Happy Running!


  1. […] thankful he finished. I know he is capable of a faster marathon, but for now he is stuck with yet another 3:58 finish. Setting aside time, he ran the MCM – one of the largest, well-known marathons ever – and he is […]