Grandma's Marathon- race report

This was a tough return to the marathon. I felt so great and then blew up a bit but I finished- a huge accomplishment given the 5 year gap in marathon racing!  I knew I needed a decent time to turn in if I want to run competitive marathons in my continued quest to run an Olympic qualifying standard for 2016. Though I felt terribly about the race right after, I realized that I just felt awful (marathons will do that!) and needed a week to gain perspective on the race. It really was a great effort and sets me up well to train, run long and race again this year with great confidence for a 6+ min improvement. 

So here's my report from the roads...    I was on pace so well, and so comfortably at least through 15m. I went through in 93:30- 6:14 pace- & was feeling effortless, easy. I thought for sure I would keep up the pace or even drop it in the last 10K.  

What happens from 15 to 18 is vague. I wasn't tuned in to the people around me anymore, the pack I'd been running with, what miles I'd placed my bottles, etc. At 18, I panicked when a golfball sized knot settled into both calves. I was off pace and my body wasn't responding. I felt like if I went faster a charley horse would take me down. I contemplated dropping, but knew that right now I need something recent and decent race on my resume. But I got slower and slower, like I was on standby for a crippling calf spasm. I don't know if this is what hitting the wall feels like but it wasn't a lack of energy everywhere, it was just my lower legs and they weren't going to do anything for me. 
I kept trying to hit reset but it just wasn't there. At first, I was embarrassed to think about the last 10K- I felt that I just didn't dig deep enough. In fact the last 100m was the only fight I gave after 20m.  

What I learned from this race: 

- I need more practice competing. I don't know if my mind could have overcome my calves, but I wasn't too worried about letting the pack go. I was afraid I'd lost my edge.

- I also recognize that my training wasn't perfect-esp the long runs. With the 'zinger' on my longest run, I effectively ran 16 miles with a 4 mile hobble home.  This mini injury also affected my next LR, so while my fitness was good my strength was probably more suited to a half marathon. 

- the good news is that my foot felt great through out-1 bright spot!  I feel more confident going into my next training cycle and ready to rock the marathon once again!  2:42 or bust!