Stiffness and Muscle Fatigue

We ran the last 22.2 miles of the AT&T Austin Marathon on Saturday morning. I went out ahead of the 4:30 group with Glenn. We were doing fine for many miles. I think we were doing about 9:45s and were just sailing along. I was taking Clif Shots and Electrotabs about every 50 minutes. But beginning about mile 23 on the marathon course with about 3 miles to go I was getting stiffer and stiffer. I felt like my legs were logs. My stomach was aching and I didn’t want to eat anything whatsoever – IOW I thought I was going to hurl. I was also going into myself. The mental battle of keeping going or just walking was raging inside me. For the last mile I felt like I was just a slug going up the 12th Street hill. All I wanted to do was walk. However I made it to the end at 8th Street, but that was it. I ended in 3:34 with an overall pace of 9:44. I walked back to the Annex with Glenn down Congress. I couldn’t have run it. I had nothing left. My muscles were totally fatigued. They were even tensing and throbbing when I was driving home.

Now what gets me is that during the ARA 30K the other week I took it totally easy and none of this ever happened, but then again I didn’t push it at all. I walked all the big hills and I was running at a slower pace with Chris. We ended with an 11:23 pace overall. When I got done I wasn’t stiff. And I felt happy to have completed it. Mentally it was no challenge at all. I never got any demons. I even went out running 3 miles the next day. How can one day be so different from another?

So what should I do? Right now my first thought is to slow down and keep back with the 4:30 group. My second is to change my posture from time to time to use different muscles as our coach suggests. Finally I should probably to fuel myself later in the run even though I don’t want to. Figuring out what went wrong is really tough for me because all the weekly quality workouts do not come close to simulating what happened to me yesterday. The only time these crazies happen is on the very long runs. In general I’m fine with anything around a half marathon. Also this has been happening for the past three years of marathons. That is to say it might be just me, my body and my mind and what happens when I go over 20 miles. I wish that I could somehow conquer this, because it is the primarily reason that I’ll stop running. If I could only figure out where these physical and mental demons are coming from.

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