Friday, June 16, 2017

What was I thinking? A marathon. . at this point in my fitness comeback? I don't want to admit this, but. . .

When I started putting things on my calendar for June, they started to snowball.  something this day and that day, then this week and that week.  Of course I didn't want to eliminate anything! Only one was a race, too!  
 I got to see U2 (and the Lumineers) in concert at the start of the month.  
Then on two hours of sleep I had my six month check up for my Melanoma (mine was acral lentiginous, not thought to be sun related).  The nurse said my blood pressure was high, and I said, yes of course. I'm running on two hours of sleep and am dehydrated.  

Elevator Alphabet Soup at the hospital.  

I felt special at the hospital when, for whatever reason, my name tag wrist band had a gem stone on it.  I did manage time to smell the flowers (these are the wildflower Spiderswart).  My neighbor, when we moved in, told me they were weeds. I said they were wildflowers, but he was free to pull them on his side of the fence!  Haha.  
I did also manage to get in a walk in the middle of the week.  I did have to beg permission from the old cat.  21 year old felines don't like to move.  Okay, they like to move even less than regular felines. 

I hadn't been on this route in several months and I was happily surprised to see it was repaved and the crown removed from the roadway.  Reminds me of Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down A Dream" song.  Or U2's, Where the Streets Have No Name.
Being out in nature is always a good way to recharge.  

Which brings me to the second part of "what was I thinking?". . . a marathon.  I haven't run a marathon since three weeks before my car collision.  That was about eighteen months ago.  I've been walking. I'm actually starting yoga again later this month since the wrist is sort of up to it.
After a long day of convoluted driving, I arrive just before the end of packet pickup.  It's the end of the road for this marathon, so it wasn't like I could wait another year to be in top form. I *had* to do it now!  Small towns love to draw people in with activities, but sometimes it's hard to get people to volunteer for a full day of activities.   
Flat Quirky.  Sunscreen shirt, Waist pack for sunscreen, water, shirt, nutrition, and food. 

Let's do this!   
 End of the Line for the Marathon.  This was it's twenty-second running on the mostly flat course.
This day started out windy, with winds of 20mph and were told they would climb to 30 and possibly 40mph gusts. I could definitely believe it. Thankfully, it was a full southerly wind, and the course stairstepped east and north, so the couple sections of a mile or two west to east were rough.  They got rougher at one point when there was a hog lot right by the road. Pewwwweeeee.  That's the smell of bacon being made though!   It was also hot.  It'd been hot the previous week and we were looking at 70ish at the start and up to 90s by the end.  
So not use to seeing this road in the state. Usually I'm on bicycling road race course where there are the Caution signs. 
The first couple of miles were great and I was chatting with some other walkers, feeling good about being at the back of the pack.  Then they mentioned that some people had asked the race director if they could start early, so even though there were more "back of packers" they weren't actually with us.  It never entered my mind to ask for an early start.  We had a couple slight inclines in the first half.  I say that as someone who has lived in this state, and as someone who currently lives on the river bottom. (I learned after the race that there were some racers who had complained of the hills. I'm not sure what course they were on, but a twenty feet of climbing over a few miles isn't hills!).
I see people!  
This race is well stocked.  Water stops every 2.5 miles with it more frequently at the end.  Volunteers, ambulances, and the sheriff department were out in force going up and down the roads making sure all were okay and well hydrated.   
A sight that drives me nuts.
Not only were there runners littering, but they also did it within approaching sight of the aid station.  Multiple times.  I supppoooose that the stuff could have been there from people not racing this day, but the likelihood of that. . .

I did really well up to mile 15. I was on pace for a 6:30 finish.  Then something happened and I slowed down a bit. I don't know what it was.  I thought I might have been walking a little slower--I was.  Then I was on pace for 7 hours.  I was feeling good. In addition to having packed HUMA and GU to alternate, I had also packed a sunbutter sandwich figuring I'd actually be able to eat real food at some point. I had my flask for water which I refilled at every chance too.

Somewhere around mile 15 I did a squat in the road to stretch, stood up and then pulled on each capri leg fabric just a bit.  WRONG thing to do. . . my left leg capri started coming apart at a seam on the thigh (not a sewn seam, but one of those melted/melded ones). I made sure to put sunscreen on that spot!   I did reapply sunblock three or four times in the duration I was out there. I never did put on my spf/sunshirt. I figured it was too hot to put something like that on against my skin.  I faired pretty well. I was a little pink (hanging my head) along the tank top arm area, I suppose it rubbed off there.

In addition to the people who were suppose to be checking in on us, we also had some random people driving down the road deciding to stop us to chat and ask questions.  Not wanting to be rude but also needing to keep moving. It seemed odd.  I've had this happen in another race as well--one that takes place on a rails to trails course in January.  We have race numbers on--yes, of course we're racing--it's the same course as every year--no we are not nuts--yes, it will take us a while.  Sometimes I wish I gave off the "I'm from NYC" vibes of "leave me alone"!  

Mile 20 my feet were hurting, and not in the "of course they hurt, I've gone twenty miles", but rather in the "uh, I'm getting a blister or four".  By mile 23 I felt like I had a blister on a blister in one spot.  The inside of both heels had blisters, and the inside of the foot below the toes had a blister on each side.  I was definitely walking slower by this point.

Mile 20, 21, and 22 were slower than I'd have liked, but were reasonable.

Miles 23 was my slowest.  How is it possible that I sped up after this mile?   Maybe it's because I had an oasis appear before me?  
My oasis
 Okay, there was actually ice from mile 21 onward at every stop.  By this time on the course, the volunteers at aid stations had been given leave to go home, which is understandable when only a handful of people are left on the course and PROVISIONS are made for them.  (not understandable when they just abandon racers, which I've heard some races do).  Not only ice, but iceees and cold water too!  I may have spent a few minutes here instead of walking right away

Mile 24 and 25 were 3mph miles.  My right hamstring had random twings and pains running up through it which I'd never experienced before. I assumed it may be dehydration,  so I took some salt pills someone had given me. I was able to keep moving.  The ambulance guy came along and asked if we were okay. Yes, but I actually said, "If the race director needs to DNF me, it's okay, but I'll keep going otherwise". I was told "you're fine. keep going. no worries."  That is always a HUGE thought for any racer to consider, and it was a hard sentence for me to say/offer.
The final stretch, sort of.  
 Down this mile, turn the corner, straight ahead.  
Hey, as long as I'm going to be taking a long time, I might as well take this photo!   

Another oasis. . . cold water for us!  
Turn a corner, go straight, turn a corner, and go straight to finish!   
Ice cold water, ice packs, bananas were available for us. I've seriously finished a race in a faster time and had less offered to me at the finish line. These race folks were so kind and welcoming!  

My finish time isn't something I'm proud of, but in ways I should be. I haven't done something like this in eighteen months. I knew I probably shouldn't be doing it on such a hot day, but I was going to do it anyway. I put in a good showing. I have not raced/walked/exercised on such a hot day in seven years. I thought of my second marathon which was in March and had a 90degree day as well.  I thought of one of the Hospital Hill Runs I did in KC, MO on a hot and humid day while The Mike was off racing his bike on the Dirty Kanza adventure.

The ride back to the hotel town was given by a very nice man who shared with us that his son started the race early in the morning with a ruck sack on his back to honor a military friend,  and that his parents are the ones who thought up this event!  It was great to talk to someone from the community and from the race too. Since I'm from a farm background we talked about the local economy, and the turkey and hog farms we saw on the course (a lot more than I'm use to seeing).
My blister on top of a blister
I waited until after the waterpark to pop these

We had checked out of the hotel that morning, but since it was a water park, we had wrist bracelets to get in.  We headed to the hotel water park, showered, sat in the pool for a bit and then we headed out for some food (a cute little local Mexican place), then got on the road to get closer to our destination. 

I still think "What was I thinking".  

One foot in front of another is the best way to keep moving.  
Dedication, perseverance, and a bit of nuttiness help too.