Garmin data and map: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/72660419
When I hurt my knee during this cycle of marathon training, I drastically changed my expectations. At first, I thought I'd have to drop out of this race. I took most of two weeks off from running, during what should have been peak training weeks. During several of the final training weeks, I trained lighter than normal, substituting cycling minutes for some of my running miles. It was a trade-off. If I rested enough to heal completely, I'd have been so undertrained that I'd have no chance of lasting the distance. If I tried to run my scheduled training miles, my knee would have been in no shape to run at all. So I tried to strike a balance between the two, and revise my goal downward from PR to simply finishing. However, the best the balanced approach could yield was to get me to race day both slightly undertrained and underhealed.
As I feared, this race got ugly, was 28 minutes longer than last year's marathon PR, but at least was a finish. Although my knee had made great improvement in the preceding weeks, I knew going in that I was undertrained and not 100% healed. I had almost no pain on my last few training runs, but the runs were short, and that allowed me to deceive myself into thinking the knee was farther along than it was. I even had a few taper-induced delusions of a possible PR. I'd considered possible pacing scenarios, and thought I might be able to comfortably average around 10:30 pace through the halfway point, and assess the situation from there. Even if I had to back off to the low 11's after that, it would be possible to finish a few seconds under last year's effort. The first half went pretty well, but the knee started getting a little sore around 12 miles, and got worse from there. I still managed to keep on track for a possible PR through about 18 miles. It all came apart at about 18 ½, and by 19, a PR possibility was gone and it was just a matter of survival. I walked more than I ran in miles 19 through 21, got a small second wind around 22, and found a slow jog pace that made the knee hurt less than either running or walking. This pace, plus a few short walk breaks, brought me home. Coming around the final bend, I pulled together what little I had left, and tried to hit the finish chute looking better than I felt. It wasn't pretty, but I'll take it.
Ironically, even with my relatively slow finish, I later found that I'd taken a 3rd place age group trophy. Only 5 men in my age group ran, and I at least finished before two of them!
After the finish, with two local running friends, Dailymilers Will and Jeremy Fermo.