The past ten months have been a dream come true. I did my first marathon at the California International Marathon last December in a debut 2:17:22. I followed that up with a bunch of great races throughout 2011. In fact, I can only think of one ‘bad’ race, which was the Buffalo Subaru Chase 4 miler – an event far outside my best race distance on an extremely hot and humid day. I’ve had the best race experience, and the first win of my career, at the Kauai Marathon in early September. Then I came back two weeks later with the goal of negative splitting the Rock N Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon to run sub 1:05:00. I ran 1:04:59 with a perfect negative split. In addition to racing well, I’ve trained at ‘the next level.’ I looked at my log last week and I’ve averaged almost 97 miles a week since January 1st. That’s impressive considering I took a complete week off after Grandma’s Marathon and 4 days off after the USA 15k Championships. I haven’t missed a day of running for any other reason except those planned days off. More importantly than these races, I’ve met some incredible people through the sport. I’m continuously inspired by the people I meet at races. I have a phenomenal marathon coach in Brad Hudson who I’m confident will help me reach my absolute potential, which is the pinnacle reason anyone runs. I have a wonderful group of training partners and people to run with in Boulder. Before this race I have had so many friends reach out to me via twitter, facebook, phone calls, text messages, comments on the website, etc.
The build-up to this race was ideal. I was talking to my wonderful former high school coach Megan on the phone on Friday at the airport and saying, “Yeah, my life is pretty much perfect right now, I’m absolutely living the dream.” On Saturday evening things started to change. After fighting a bad sore throat and sickness last week, I was feeling pretty good all week but never 100%. On Saturday evening I felt like I was getting sick again. The left side of my throat (feels like my left ear) started really hurting. I tried my best to ignore it, but waking up to a nasty sore throat the morning of the Chicago Marathon isn’t ideal.
My college coach used to say, “Fake it til you make it” and I did a really good job of doing this on race morning. I went through my pre-race routine but after the gun sounded I just still felt awful. I felt hot like I had a fever during the first mile. I kept repeating in my head that it’s the marathon and I have a lot of time to feel good. I continued to try to run relaxed and hit my goal of 5:10 per mile. I imagined the quote of Aldous Huxley’s quote, “In all activities of life, the secret of efficiency lies in an ability to combine two seemingly incompatible states: a state of maximum activity and a state of maximum relaxation.” Staying relaxed is key in the marathon because you need to conserve all the energy you can. However my body started losing any energy it had. I felt weaker and weaker after 16 miles. My throat hurt to swallow and I was in trouble. After being passed by several guys between miles 21-22 as well as the lead woman, I knew I went from feeling bad to dangerous territory. At a water station around mile 23.5 I pulled the plug on the race and took my first DNF ever. This was by far the hardest decision of my running career, but I knew it was not worth it to try and push through in my condition. I immediately thought, “Tyler, keep your chin up. You’ve made the best decision, this was not being weak but being smart.” The next hour I walked back with pride knowing that I had done my best with what I had today.
I sit here with my throat aching even with two advil. I know I need to go to a Doctor when I get back to Boulder and get healthy. I assume that either I had strep throat last week and it didn’t clear up without antibiotics, or I have an ear infection. Either way, I need to get back to 100% again.
As the title of this post says, there’s a Chinese Curse that says, “May All Your Wishes Be Granted.” I’ve felt that all my wishes have come true in the past year. Today was a low point in my life but will make the good days that much sweeter. I have the Olympic Trials in 14 weeks. Lining up on that starting line in Houston will be a major moment in my young marathoning career. I certainly have a chip on my shoulder and something to prove running 26.2 miles around the Bayau in Houston against the best guys in the United States. Sounds like a great place to redeem myself, right? My high school football coach (yes, I was the kicker!) used to say, “The biggest test of character is what you do in the face of adversity.” Today I was faced with adversity, yet I’m not backing down. I’m not changing my goals. The vision I see of myself in my mind’s eye as the athlete I’ll be in 14 weeks, in a year, in 2016, in 2020 hasn’t changed. The only thing that’s changed is I need a doctor’s appointment on Monday to try and get some antibiotics. Thanks for all the kind words and support.
(Note: wrote the blog post so soon after a race because I’m laying in bed in the hotel room. I had plenty of time to think in the 80 minutes I was walking back to the finish line.)
Splits from the race…
5:16.4 (1:08:02 halfway)
3:31.6 a little more than half a mile. (2:05:03 – <5:19 pace per mile)