Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bel Monte 50k


That’s the gist of how the race went for the most part, though there’s really no good way of making this a short story. I pity those attempting to read this on their phones.

Friday afternoon I drove down to Charlottesville to pick up my packet and spend the night relatively close to the race (45 minutes away, as opposed to 3 hours). I had a wonderful pasta dinner with friends from DC (Becki, Tom, and Becki’s parents) who were running the 50miler. After dinner I had some time to kill before I headed over to my hosts’ house, so I naturally found a cute little wine shop and decided to check it out. I walked in to a full-blown wine tasting event and my eyes grew large as I saw the nearly dozen bottles of wine that were open for tasting. I was offered a glass, and everyone stared at me as I realized I was somewhat out of place in my casual driving attire. I agreed with their assessment for entirely different reasons and escorted myself off the premise with nary a drop of my favorite grape juice.

My usual partner in crime, Matt, was not with me on this trip though he set me up with a friend of his to stay with for the night. Oh how I love the running community and the general willingness to help out the traveling runner. Within 10 minutes of arriving at Deborah’s place, I was sitting on the couch with a glass of Cab in hand and a happy dog on my lap. 5 star rating for this particular accommodation!

I woke up around 3:50 Saturday morning after a paranoid night of sleep. I was so worried about oversleeping that I checked the time almost every 20 minutes expecting it to say 10am. I finally gave up and got dressed quickly, hitting the road for the 45 minute drive to the start.

My first mistake of the day hit me when I realized I forgot my handheld. Son of a b*! I didn’t completely freak, but I was pretty pissed at myself. I really needed the pocket on my handheld to store my s!caps and a Clif bar. I could only fit 4 gu’s in the back of my shorts before they started to pull off, and there’s no way I could fit anything else anywhere else. After a panicked call to Becki, she agreed that I would be fine to pick up a water bottle at the gas station to use for hydration. I somehow ended up at a gas station that didn’t have any sport-top lids on any beverages of any sort, so I settled for a 20oz bottle of G2 in favor of the wide top for easy re-filling.

My second mistake of the day was noted when I parked at the start, stepped outside of my car and realized it was flipping cold. Not like, pre-race chilly-but-it-will-warm-up sort of cold, this was I-didn’t-wear-enough-clothes sort of cold. My car registered 33 degrees, and I was running in shorts, singlet, arm warmers & gloves. Oh dear. All of the trail races I did last year were insanely hot, so running on trails in the cold was new to me.

I set out to find someone with duct tape so I could potentially affix a mini Clif bar to the Gatorade, and didn’t have to go far as the van next to me was willing to help out. I’d never had G2 during a run, but decided to keep it instead of dumping it out in favor of water. I was pretty sure it was too cold for me to want to drink anything, and having the nice lemon lime flavor would help.

The RD’s (Gil & Frencesca) called a pre-race briefing before marching all of the 50k and 50 mile runners up to the top of a levy for the official start. There I found myself looking like a fool being literally the only person in shorts and a singlet and with my pathetic excuse for a handheld someone commented they felt 20 degrees colder just looking at me. A guy next to me actually had to remind me to turn on my headlamp, which added to the guise of my inexperience. In my defense, this was the first time I’d ever worn a headlamp and I have my amazing, wonderful, awesome neighbors to thank for letting me borrow theirs. Eliza should probably add “caretaker of Amy Lane” to her resume.
Oh silly me, wearing a singlet...

I knew a couple of things going in to this race…
1-    I was not fully recovered from Napa
2-    My crappy 42 mpw average was not going to help me in the least
3-    Two seriously good female ultra runners were toeing the line, and they were way faster than me.

The hilarious part is that one of the “elites” is Amy Lane, a woman a few years older than me from MA, and Riva Johnson, a stellar master’s runner from PA. I’ve seen their names multiple times on results listings, always winning or in the top 3 at much bigger races. Riva beat me by well over an hour at JFK, and Amy smokes the heck out of the 50 milers she has done.  I had to laugh when I saw 2 Amy Lane’s on the registration list for this race, as we would finally get to meet. I’d been confused with her multiple times and wanted to know who this other Amy was!

Finally…the race.

The RD set us off and we charged in to the woods filing down to single track. I made a point to be near the front of the pack, as the 50 milers would be going presumably slower from the get-go. I fell in behind 2 women, and I heard someone shout out “Is that Amy Lane?” Knowing they didn’t mean me, as I’m an unknown, the woman directly in front of me shouted back a greeting. I chirped “Amy?!”, from the surprise in my voice she said “you must be the other Amy Lane!”. I laughed and we talked for quite a bit, exchanging stories about constantly having our results confused. Apparently she had been receiving emails after JFK congratulating her for my finish. How crazy is it that there are 2 Amy Lane’s running ultra marathons? Huh.

Come to find out the woman directly in front of Amy was actually Riva, and I was excited to run with them for the first couple of miles. My legs felt great and it was easy going. I wasn’t looking at my pace as it took every ounce of concentration to run over the roots and rocks in the dark without stumbling.  At some point Amy and Riva switched places and I focused on watching Riva’s footing, and mimicked her running. I would’ve been much more cautious if I was running by myself, but seeing their footwork somehow gave me confidence.

2 miles went by quickly, but we soon faced some short, steep climbs. Amy pulled ahead (running up the climbs) and Riva kept a slower but steady run. I realized if I walked I wasn’t losing too much ground behind Riva, so I decided I should walk. I caught up to her on the downs and we chatted away for the first 5 or so miles. I was totally blown away by how kind and open she was. I don’t know why I had been anticipating anything else, but I figured these awesome ultra runners wouldn’t have any interest in talking to me. Riva’s gearing up for Western States this year, which will be her first 100miler. I expect she’ll be phenomenal. 
Riva going up
By mile 5 it was light enough out to not need a headlamp, and it was suddenly driving me crazy. I didn’t notice the weight of it on my forehead when I needed it, but now that it was light out it felt like a dead weight. I was happy to realize I wasn’t freezing to death, though that would soon change. Now that it was light out I could finally allow my concentration to shift and attempt to drink a little. My hands were pretty numb, and the act of unscrewing the Gatorade top was futile. I spilled fluid all over my hands, which took another 5 miles to finally dry out. I also realized I should take a Gu, which was an even more impossible task than the formidable bottle top. I finally stopped and set all of my crap down on the ground and took my time fumbling with the safety pinned gu packets conveniently on the back of my shorts. I had my camera with me as well, but it was really hard taking pictures while holding the Gatorade bottle. With the handheld I don’t actually have to grip the bottle and can manage much better, but between frozen fingers and a bulky bottle I just wasn’t doing well. Thank God we were in a foot race. I actually fell at one point while walking uphill and it seemed that my legs were so numb I literally couldn’t control them. It was more of a controlled stumble, but still was enough to get me down and dirty. I saw mud on my knee out of the corner of my eye but later realized it was blood. Oopsie daisy.

Miles 5-8 had some pretty darn good climbs, but I don’t recall how often I walked. We got our first taste of what was to come over the last portion of the race, but had no idea to the degree of difficulty we would be facing.

Riva pulled ahead of me and I was happy to let her go. I started panicking that I shouldn’t have run with her for so long, as I had no business being on pace with her or Amy. Especially not today. After dropping off my headlamp at an aid station around mile 7.5 I was slammed by the jarring discomfort of cold air. We were cresting to the highest point of the race on top of a ledge, and my face was completely numb. I constantly had to look down at my shorts to make sure they were still on, as I literally couldn’t feel the fabric against my skin. I had this vision of the over-loaded Gu situation pulling my pants down without me noticing. My hands were miserably cold and I desperately wished for hand warmers, but there were no hand-warmer elves to be found roaming through the sparsely populated trees.

With the sun coming over the mountains it was supremely tranquil scenery and I found myself wishing I could lay down and take a nap. I hadn’t seen another runner since losing Riva, so it was very quiet with only the sound of my clobbering footsteps making my way along the ridge. Mile 10 started a nice downhill section through soft dirt with occasional mud.  I relaxed my upper body and let my shoulders position slightly over my knees. Thank you, core work. I saw a man on a bike who I realized was Riva’s husband, and tossed him my camera asking if he would take it to the finish. He was so kind, and without knowing who the heck I was gladly took it off my hands. I was sad to pass it off, but I realized I just couldn’t handle taking pictures today.

I came down off whatever “hill” we were just on and was surprised to practically bump in to Riva. Apparently she wasn’t very far ahead of me in the least. We came through an aid station side-by-side though I pulled behind her as not to block her reach from the table. The next 2ish miles were a nice rolling dirt/loose gravel road and I immediately lost Riva. She bolted after the aid station and I had no desire to stay with her. My pace was starting to look more like a marathon pace than a 50k pace, so I backed off as much as my legs could handle on the downhill.

Mile 14 I started to feel exhaustion in my hip flexors and I was pretty worried about what would come next. I coasted through15 but it was starting to feel like mile 20 in a marathon…or maybe like mile 15 in a 50k 3 weeks after a marathon.

By mile 17 I was done. My legs were exhausted and they just wouldn’t cooperate. On the plus side, I wasn’t cold anymore and my hands were finally dry. I fumbled with my Clifsicle that had frozen at the top of the mountain and couldn’t get it out of the duct tape, so I had to rip open the package with my teeth and let the bar fall out. I also really had to pee. Like, really really really had to pee. I never have to stop for the bathroom in races and I suppose the cool temperatures were preventing me from being too dehydrated, hence the full bladder. Between the pain in my legs and the need for a pit stop, I was in a pretty low place mentally. I couldn’t fathom how on earth I was going to finish the race and I chided myself for being so arrogant as to run so close behind Riva for so long. I wasn’t sure if I had gone out too fast or if it was the horrible post-marathon legs, but it just sucked. I came to a creek and had to plunge in to the frigid water for a good 10 steps, which came up a few inches above my ankles. Now my legs are exhausted, I have to pee, AND I have sopping wet feet. Mommy :(

For those who are thinking “just go behind a bush already!”, know this…there were no bushes. In fact, there was nothing but super skinny trees completely naked of leaves, hardly good camouflage for me to take shelter behind. I had no idea how far the next runner was behind me, and assuming it was a guy I really didn’t want any sudden surprises. For the both of us.

I finally threw caution to the wind and just took care of business, about 8 miles after the urge had started. I’m such an idiot. I felt instantly better and no one was anywhere near me. Having one of my 3 problems solved I felt a little better, but still wanted to be done with this mess of a race. At mile 20 the uphill climbs started, and I decided then and there to walk every single climb for the rest of the race regardless of how short/steep it was (in fact, had I not made the decision mentally my legs would’ve come to those terms on their own). By mile 21 I secretly wished I could walk until mile 23, not realizing that just up ahead were some serious switchbacks that were absolutely NOT runnable for the likes of me.

I ended up walking for about 45 minutes straight, which is about the longest stretch of walking I’ve ever had to do in a race (save the Leadville marathon). 2 guys passed me going up and it made me feel better to hear them express my thoughts about how tough the climb was.

I came up to the aid station at mile 23 and grabbed some PB&J and refilled my bottle. They confirmed it was 8 miles to the finish, which I was worried about because all of the trail races I’ve done have been so far off on my Garmin I never knew if my watch would read 31 or 34. Thankfully this was going to be a 31 mile race for a change.

Around 23.5 there was a good decent and I had a hard time finding my running legs again. They were pretty beat up from the climbs and didn’t really cooperate any better on the downhill. About a mile later everything seemed to magically get better as I found my legs responding to my commands. They ran faster when I told them to, and didn’t stumble on the rocks and roots. My relief at this newfound sense of energy was short lived as I came to by far the most difficult terrain I’ve ever run on. To say a mountain spit up every rock imaginable and showered a 4 mile stretch with the its bile might give you a remote idea. There was absolutely no where to put your feet except on loose rocks, and hope that you didn’t lose your balance. I fumbled through the rocks like a Clydesdale in a mine field, perhaps less gracefully. I was not-so-agile on this particular course.
:( Boo. This was taken on the way up, but we came down this same portion.

I so desperately wanted this race to be over, and my legs were finally ready to run, but I just couldn’t figure out how to run over this crap. I stumbled in to a tree and wanted to cry with frustration, but nobody cared. After maybe 2 miles of this I was growing completely angry. “Rock” was a new 4-letter word for me, and it may be the most offensive of all. I saw the 2 guys who had passed me earlier just up ahead and realized they were struggling just as much as I was. Now it seemed my 3 previous problems were solved but this new issue just would not relent. Every turn left me praying the next piece of trail just around the corner would be r@$#-less, but it wasn’t the case. There was a super steep drop around mile 28, but it turned out to be impossible for me to run down. The combination of the grade and the technicality of the terrain left me completely hopeless.

FINALLY we popped out of the rocky hell at the last aid station where I dropped my bottle and wanted to weap openly at the sight of asphalt. Beautiful, smooth, black, luscious asphalt. Normally at the end of a trail race the feeling of road under your feet is torture, but this time there was much rejoicing. I was giddy when my legs settled in at a sub8 pace and I quickly passed the 2 guys heading up the road. I’ve never finished a 50k so strong, and didn’t understand why I suddenly felt great. I laughed at my mental battle over the last 10 miles, and went from thinking I would never run another 50k ever again to thinking about my next race in April. Oh silly mind games.

I made a wrong turn with less than a mile to go, and thankfully the 2 guys saw me turn and whistled loudly to bring me back around. It wasn’t far off course, probably a minute or so. Just enough to be annoyed with myself for missing some of the most blatant course markings imaginable. It takes a special person to go the wrong way on this course. Seriously, they did an amazing job marking the trail. A++.

Anyways, the last mile went by fast but I couldn’t quite catch the guys who had passed me when I went off course. I didn’t care, it was almost over. As I came through the finish area Riva cheered me on while her husband snapped a photo. I cried out to Riva “THAT SUCKED!” and she laughed.

Finish time: 5:24.  I hung out at the finish area after changing my clothes and chatted with the other runners who had finished. What was amazing to me was how staggering the results were. It seemed like it took 30 minutes for the next runners to come through. I knew I was 3rd, but what I didn’t realize was that I was only 10 minutes behind Riva and 15 minutes behind the other Amy. Not too shabby…
Me, Riva Johnson, Amy Lane (North)

We huddled by the fire and I got to know Amy and Riva a little better, it made the race all worthwhile. I met so many great people it made me excited for Promise Land in April (even though I expect that course to be much harder than Bel Monte). I’m definitely still figuring all of this ultra/trail stuff out, but one thing I’ve noticed is that the highs are high and the lows are low.

I should also note that the ONE thing I did absolutely right was wear the right shoes for the occasion. I heard a lot of people complaining that their feet hurt really bad and were tenderized from pounding over the rocks, and I am so thankful I didn't have this problem. The Salomon XR Crossmax held up to the test, which is crazy because they are supposed to be a road to trail transitional shoe...not a hard-core rock hopping shoe.

I'm really excited to try out more Salomon shoes, as I still have no idea what I'm supposed to be wearing. Heck, I'm lucky I even have trail shoes (and let me be clear, Salomon is NOT paying me to say this). I just know when I find something that I like =)

Amy (North), Riva, Me (Dirty South)
We were presented our awards for top 3 (wooden plaques) and the other Amy was announced as “Amy Lane North”, and I took “Amy Lane South”. I kinda like it J 
The really freaky coincidence is that Amy is engaged to a man named Brian. Ha. I got in my car and left before I found out if she also has 2 great danes and likes wine.

If you made it this far, kudos to you. You should probably hydrate and eat something by now.

Course profile...6,300 ft total gain
Total rocks: A bazillion

Monday, March 7, 2011

Napa Valley Marathon

It’s hard to be anything but ecstatic with an 8 minute PR.  With that, I begin my not terribly epic and usually long-winded race recap.

I’ve dubbed myself an honorary NorCal "local" racer, as I realized I’ve crossed the country 3 times in the past year to toe the line for a marathon. What can I say? California has a lot of good stuff going on.

Friday was a nightmare logistically between the 3 hours of sleep and 6 hour plane ride, with a bunch of rather boring complications at the airport and rental company. Needless to say I was relieved when I finally made it to my host’s house in Santa Rosa that afternoon. Carrie (my lovely hostess) had been gearing up for Napa before plaguing herself with injury from a very serious round of Dance Dance Revolotion with her energetic daughters. So yes, even video games are off limits during taper.

I was completely exhausted all day Friday and was pretty terrible company for Carrie on the hour-long commute to Napa. Enjoying the passing scenery through my groggy eyes was enough to get me excited about running in wine country in spite of the sleep deprivation. We arrived at the expo at 6pm as the website claimed you could pick up your bib until 8pm, and were rather confused by the rude and unaccommodating volunteers. They apparently closed at 6, though did not seem to realize there was conflicting information on their website. A few of the volunteers were very nice and helped us get our bib, but as we stood there a woman sneered that they were locking the doors as soon as they (meaning us) left. She was also pretty unhelpful when we asked about parking at the start, and pointed out that since there will be thousands of family members who want to watch their loved ones start, we should take a bus instead. Screw it. We went to pick up our much-coveted duffel bags and shirts, but were surprised to find the shirt people already gone. When we asked a volunteer about it they said everyone left at 6. I  was baffled, it was 6:05. Were they really in that much of a hurry to leave when they saw runners coming in to the expo at 6? The volunteer told us to come back the following day during expo hours, and I said that wouldn’t be possible as we were an hour’s drive away. They said “sorry, but we’ve been here all day. We’re tired and want to leave”. WHAT?!!! I flipped out. I was exhausted, hungry, worn out,…and I tried very hard to calmly explain that as I had paid for my shirt, flown all the way across the country, drove for hours to make it to the expo, it would be nice if they could spend 60 seconds getting me a flipping shirt. Ugh. Anyways, I’ve never felt so unwanted at an expo before. Very disappointing.

Pre-race dinner
As usual, the gang met up for some pasta for some solid carbs and conversation.
James, me, Carrie, Jim

Race Day:
After a good 6 hours of sleep I woke up a few minutes before my alarm at 4:40. I was feeling pretty calm in spite of the rain pounding against the window, determining to mess with my head. I knew that had definitely improved since the last marathon (Chicago), but the mileage thing was still a concern for me. I ran an unimpressive 185 miles in Dec., 198 in Jan, and 207 in Feb. By far my lowest mileage to date for a marathon. Nevertheless, I was ready to rock ‘n roll.

We drove through the rain to the start with a short pit-stop on the way. By the time we parked and walked to the start area we both had to pee again. Carrie was pretty sure she wasn’t going to be able to race because of her leg, but she wanted to at least start and see if it would be manageable to run easy.  
No comment.

We stood in the warm rain in one of many super-long lines and at 10 minutes til the start of the race were still pretty far back in the line. We took off for a little hill on the side of the road where men and women alike were pissing in the grass. I was thankful for a long garbage bag to give me a little privacy. The things we do for races…
Potty lines...booo
Carrie was awesome and supportive and took my bag to the drop with only 8 minutes to spare. She knew I was getting antsy as I was gunning for a PR, and she still had no idea if she was even running. Bless you, Carrie.
The mad-scramble in the final hour (err, 8 minutes)

He isn't actually peeing, just looks suspicious. 
I pushed my way through the crowd to get up to the front, not wanting to get boxed in by anyone. I don’t know why it still surprises me to see people who clearly aren’t “fast” standing about 3 feet behind the line. 

I was tempted to tell the overweight guy standing in front of me that I would likely run him over if he didn’t go out at a 7:00 pace or faster. Before the gun went off  I met Guillame, which was fun. I was expecting to see Jim & James, but never did. I figured Jim was staying further back to be conservative and James was likely peddling a bagel off of an unsuspecting bystander. I did however see Ian Sharman, who re-claimed his world record for the fastest marathon in a costume (and who is also amongst the best of ultra-runners today). 

I should probably mention by now that it was raining steady, but with temps in the 50s it felt absolutely fine. I wore my Endurasoak singlet and cheap cotton gloves, which was just perfect. The gun went off and true to my prediction I was frustrated by the posers who had no business being at the front of the race. I told myself to calm down and skirted my way around everyone, and quickly fell in to a rhythm. It was hard holding back, as my legs were itching to go and we had a slight downhill. My plan was to average 7:00s, but with all of the slight hills I knew my watch would probably never actually say 7:00. Easy on the up, relaxed on the downs. Seemed like a comprehensive plan….

After the first mile I settled in next to a guy and we stuck together for about the first 7-8 miles. He was easy to chat with and I found that I missed about 5 mile markers in a row, and consequently had no splits to gauge my speed. I wasn’t sure how accurate the Garmin would be, so I really wanted to go by the splits. Oh well, I was feeling loose and happy and genuinely having fun. Tahoe Matt (as I aptly named him) told me about his gig as a high school principal, and how he has a system to allow kids to run with him to serve as detention time. I loved that he takes the time to do something so personal with the kids, and told him to watch St. Ralph whenever he needs a little inspiration. At some point I saw James run by us, looking as spry as a 16 year old with nothing to lose. He said he missed the start because of the port-a-potty lines, and was making up lost time. He looked good for his first sub 3 attempt.

Joan Benoit Samuelson came up behind us and ran in my range for a ways, and it was really neat getting to talk to her. I mean, how often do amateur (hobbiest?) athletes get to talk to legends during a race?  I was smiling like a goof knowing that I was now “fast” enough to run her easy run pace. Hey, it’s a start.  She told me she was only running 16ish miles, and encouraged me along. We also talked about the “weight in wine” award, and she told me she’d once won her weight in salmon! I’m still a little giddy by this.

Around 8, Tahoe Matt pulled ahead slightly (though I would later pass him) and I chatted up the next guy, Air Force Tim. We actually had a lot in common as he was stationed at DLI in Monterey, which is where I first fell in love with running marathons. I told him I was at DLI for 2 years, and Big Sur was my first marathon. He said he ran Big Sur last year too as his first marathon, and we exchanged stories about living and running around Monterey. He was looking really strong, and I had a feeling he was going to end up dropping me. We ran really well together and kept a pretty steady pace for the first few miles. I was hitting 6:5xs pretty consistently and felt good with that. Legs were fine, breathing was fine, everything seemed just fine.

Probably the worst part about this race is that there wasn’t a marker for the 13.1, so I don’t actually have a split for the first half (I suppose there could be worse not enough port-a-potties at the start). I hit 13 at 1:30:56, so probably a 1:31:35ish first half.  The water stops had been and would continue to be a breeze. The volunteers were fantastic, always making it well known who had Gatorade/water, and worked with you to make sure the cup made it in your hand. I was a little frustrated by the plastic cups, as they don’t bend at the top for an easy pour on the run. I muttered out of frustration at one point, and one of the volunteers said “Hey, we hate these things too!”. Good. The rain subsided at some point before the half, but I hardly even noticed. The clouds provided the perfect cover, and for the first time in a very long time I had no complaints about the temperature. At one point (while running uphill) I noticed the wind pick up a little, but gave it no though. I eventually spit, and when it came back at my face I realized we had a head wind. I felt panic for a nanosecond, and then thought about my 5k 2 weeks ago and laughed at the mild little breeze we were facing in this race.

There weren’t many spectators along the road due to lack of access to the course by vehicle, and I was completely relieved. A few people were complaining along the way, and I was secretly sending my thanks to the race director for making this a quiet, private course. Every once in a while I remembered to look around me and was continually amazed by the vineyards. I was sad to not have my camera, though I know I can’t be a photographer and run a PR in the same race.

Air Force Tim and I had it easy going, and around 18 we started picking it up. My plan was to maybe somehow by some miracle run a negative split (oh how funny my brain works at times), and I was still feeling ok. I was definitely working harder and breathing harder, but still no signs of anything bad to come. We passed a guy who ended up picking it back up to stick with us, and we became a pack of 3 running in tight formation navigating the slight hills with little to no conversation. I started breathing a lot harder, but other than that it seemed to be fine. Finally around 21 the wheels came off and I realized I was the only one breathing hard. Tim was still breathing easy and when I saw a 6:29 pace on my watch I knew I was in trouble. I immediately fell back and let them go, I couldn’t afford to get caught up in it. About .25 miles later the wheels did come off, and there was no salvaging the race.  By 22 I was in pain and seriously fighting for any semblance of a pace. I wanted to stop, walk, moan & groan about the tightness in my legs and the pain in my feet. My breathing was under control (probably because I had slowed down so much), but my legs were toast.

Even though I dropped my pace significantly (>30 seconds /mile), I was still picking off runners, and not a single soul passed me since I left Tim & Co. There were a lot of people fading hard and fast, but at a worst rate than me. I just focused on getting to the next aid station, and for the first time in many races never thought for a second about my finishing time. I would get there when I got there, and it would be the best that I could do.

Around mile 24 spectators starting coming out, and I was attacked by the clamor of cowbells and obnoxious noisemakers. If there was a way to sue the company who invented those, I would gladly join the plaintiffs. When I’m exhausted and in pain, the sound of those things just makes me feel that much worse. It hurts my brain and my soul. I know, I’m a poor sport.

I finally hit mile 26 and managed to pick off a couple more runners ahead of me who were really struggling. I knew I was almost done, but there were so many turns that I never saw the finish until it was right in front of my face. Sometimes it’s better that way anyways. 

I crossed at 3:04:16 (chip time), and was escorted by 2 volunteers to through the finisher’s shoot. They were pretty fantastic about making sure everyone was ok to walk, but I had a hard time getting people to leave me alone. A for effort, but I really just wanted to lie down. My legs were a tight, painful mess of nerves.

I saw James immediately and he wasn’t sure of his chip time. He came across at 3:00:xx on the clock, and was anxious to see the actual results. I convinced him to head over to the physical therapy room so we could get stretched out without having to do any of the work. This is the first time I’ve ever taken advantage of something like that, and it was heaven. I think my muscles recoiled in my legs and had no plans of ever coming out, but the girl working on me really helped. Air Force Tim was in there getting worked on when I arrived, and come to find out he ran a 3:01, which is insanely impressive considering he didn’t start his negative split until mile 18 (and he’s only been running marathons for a year…)

Carrie found us at the finish and I was sad to hear she didn’t run, but she’s wicked fast and will be kicking serious butt at her next race. Eventually James’s friend found us and greeted us with cups and a bottle of delicious champagne. After chugging my carb-free protein shake (seriously?), the champagne helped restore order. 
Champagne, water, & protein shake...why not? And yes, I look like a pathetic wet dog.  
I didn’t remember enough about specific points on the course to give a by-the-mile detailed report, but overall I found the course to be fast and fun. It’s not flat, but it has more downhill than up, and the uphill isn’t anything difficult. I would definitely run this race again, and plan on peeing in the bushes much earlier at the start.

Jim, me & James playing with the wine scale. 
Me & Carrie, the bestest hostess!!

3:04:16 (chip time)
12th female overall
4th age group
54/1755 overall

Mile 1: 6:53
Mile 2-6: 34:56
Mile 7: 6:56
Mile 8-9: 13:56
Mile 10: 7:05
Mile 11: 6:52
Mile 12: 7:07
Mile 13: 6:54
Mile 14: 7:09
Mile 15: 7:03
Mile 16: 7:22 (long hill)
Mile 17: 6:57
Mile 18: 6:49
Mile 19: 6:41 (oops)
Mile 20: 6:46 (oops again)
Mile 21: 6:45 (super-oops)
Mile 22: 7:07
Mile 23: 7:19
Mile 24: 7:23
Mile 25: 7:26
Mile 26: 7:23
26.2: 1:24 (6:09 pace)

Total Garmin mileage: 26.38 (not so good on the tangents, plus the usual inaccuracy of GPS watches)

What next? Maybe we should save that for another post...