I finished, so that was a victory, but I bonked fairly badly as well. I was hoping for a time around 4:30, and I was a little ahead of that pace through mile 20. I finished with a 4:56.
If I remember correctly, miles 15-19 were through a park, alongside a river and mostly in the shade. I was feeling strong and was really enjoying the race. I was mostly oblivious to everything around me and was just basking in the "I'm actually running a marathon!" experience.
After leaving that part of the course, I began a long stretch that was without shade, 85% humidity and 85 degrees. I started losing steam and then the charley horses started ... several of them ... simultaneously.
I had to completely stop and wait for my calves to calm down. I stood there in agony and disbelief while staring at incredibly visible muscle spasms in my calves. I was genuinely terrified that I wouldn't even be able to start moving again.
My calves eventually calmed down, and I got moving again ... but just barely. I wound up walking most of the last four miles. I later learned that I was severely dehydrated. My best guess is that I wasn't hydrating properly while running in the park and by the time I realized what was happening, it was too late to do anything that could help. The real bummer is that all of my training and preparation were spot on. I was fit enough to run the entire marathon, but I blew it on race day because of my inexperience.
So, for the last couple of months, I've been mulling over in my mind how much better I might have done had I not bonked. I've been wanting another bite of the apple.
I've just registered for the Nationwide Children's Hospital Marathon in Columbus, Ohio on October 19. Watch out, Columbus ... I'll be smarter and in even better shape ... and I'm going to crush you.