For whatever reasons wet rain is a trigger to causing muscle cramps for me. And guess what, this year's edition (the 115th - North America's oldest road race) featured drizzling cold rain with a chilly wind off the lake. I was thoroughly drenched.
At about 12k (!) my left calf cramped. Which is ridiculous because it's not like I hadn't trained leading up to this point (And I ran the 12 normally, at about a 5:30 pace, so it wasn't a case of overzealotry at the beginning leading me astray). It was EXTREMELY frustrating, because normally at 12 I'm just about warmed up and ready to push a little. I mean, if you cramp at 27 or 28, that's fine, you're in the home stretch -- but 12?! I have never had a DNF but when you have 18k of ugliness ahead of you, bonking out is a serious option to consider. I chose to slow down to a 6min/k jog where the cramping was held in check. Nevertheless, it was touch and go between 14 to 18k.
Once I hit twenty I knew I would just grit it out (in the worst case, I could just walk 10k). I felt like a zeppelin with a leak, slowly being forced to descend from the sky. The rolling hills section in Burlington didn't help either. I thought I might have an outside chance to hit three hours but the Mountain brutalized me. My right quad started locking up too. Cardio wise everything was fine, since I was going at a turtle's pace. Huffing along at slower than 6 minute kilometers is not enjoyable for me.
My chip time at the finish was 3:01:27. Oh well. It still felt good to complete the course; it was like an exercise in humility and perspicacity. I felt like I earned my finisher's medal the hard way and will wear my race jersey (a somewhat lurid orangey-red longsleeve tech shirt) with pride.
Normally ATB is on the training schedule leading up to Ottawa or some other marathon in the spring, but this year I'm taking it easy. I might still do the Waterfront marathon or Toronto Int'l in the fall, we'll see!
Next thing on the menu: climbing in Kentucky!