Whistlestop you ask?
"I thought you vowed to never run a road marathon again?"... you say.
"I didn't know you were even planning on running this?"... you say.
Well, truth be told, it's not a road marathon. It's all crushed limestone with a mile on each end of pavement.... that's a trail in my book. (although, if I ever run TCM again, I will run on the parkway on Summit Ave and call it trail running.
The other piece of truth is, I miss walking downstairs backwards.
It all started with the cancellation of the Eddie Fitz. Twas' to be my first 100k. But, once canceled, I bagged the last long run (50k or so at Afton). But, watching TCM, and all of the great discussion around what happened at Chicago, I was like meth-head at a looking to score (okay, real bad metaphor).
I decided Wednesday night, found a cabin Thursday night, and thus, the start of another great family outing.
My plan was to take full advantage of the flat course and weather (forecast high 53) Yeah baby!
My rationale (since I had not trained specifically for this race) was that I had solid legs in me (Superior 50), and that extra muscle mass could compensate for the lactic acid buildup one gets when "racing" a marathon. I had not done many long tempo runs, so this conclusion sounded good, albeit stupid.
Could I PR? (3:08, Chicago '92). I figured if I went out on the 3:10 plan (5% pace variance) then I can see what happens.
So, to the start line. On the way, bald eagle flew over our car for a quarter mile. It was huge. Good omen?
The colors were spectacular. It was cold. Perfect.
I saw Kurt King at the bus, found out his wife's maiden name is my name too. Whenever I go out, the people always shout..... Could I be related to Kurt?
I met up with Wayne Nelson at the start, and we got psyched together. Karen Gall was there to with her game face on. It's always good to see fellow ultras.
I lined up right by Allan Holtz, and wished him luck on his warm up race (this one) to his next day 50 mile (Glacial).
And we were off. 1 mile on pavement, then all crushed limestone.
This is probably the "easiest" course I have run, since it is soft, no hills, and no crowds. If anything, it can be hard when you are looking a half mile ahead at complete flat. Many times it looks like you are running uphill (seriously). The optical illusion fooled many runners around me. I told them "trust me, we are not running up hill at this pace".
This time I did something I have never done in a marathon, carry stuff. I carried my own aid station. One Ultimate direction belt with 20oz bottle, plus a hand held strap Ultimate dir. with 20oz. I used to think carrying stuff would slow me down. I also used to believe in Santa Clause.
I took S-Caps every 1/2 hour and had Succeed! in the bottles. My family swapped me two bottles at the 1/2 point, and I was good to go until 20. I had some shot blocks and Cliff Shots in my belt, so I was ready.
For the first time ever in a Marathon, I had ZERO signs of dehydration, not even slight swelling of the hands. I had minor upset stomach, but that was due to Cliff, instead of Hammer Gel.
My first half, textbook.
I saw my wife exactly when I said I would for the pace.
I was with a pack for about 10 miles. We had one newbie in there, 22 years old, strong runner. He did not wear a watch because he did not want the distraction of thinking he had to speed up. I told him the watch was to tell you to slow down. He learned that later.
After the refill from my wife at the half, reality set in.
I fell off almost 20 seconds per mile. Luckily I was smart enough not to try and regain it. I could already feel the Lactic Acid building in my legs. HMMMM. Maybe those hills didn't help as much as I thought they would.
So I just let it happen.
Yup, 5 - 10 seconds slower each mile. It was okay, since we banked 5-10 seconds of the first six or so.
I never hit the wall. I was just a battery running out of a charge, slowly.
My mobile aid station maid all of the difference in the world. I will never run long again without full hydration and supplement with me.
I saw the newbie puking at 16 or so. He said the Cliff shot was not setting well. I tried to tell him that he was actually dehydrated, and he needed water. I am not sure the words came out though.
By 20 I was quiet and just trying to hold a decent pace. I kept telling myself that 6 is a peace of cake.
I forgot how hard marathons are when you push yourself. I got cocky thing my 50 milers this year made me tough, but as many people have quoted Bob Glover recently "the marathon will humble you".
I don't remember much until we hit pavement around 25. I just know I never stopped running.
My family was cheering at mile 26, and I got the smile on. I hammered to the finish line, which I had to myself for a short time.
Final time 3:19 and change.
I was happy, because my last two marathons were warm at Grandma's, this was a redemption compared to those.
I also forgot the immediate pain of running the marathon. My cardio was fine, but my legs hurt more than any ultra made them feel.
I rode my bike today to get them moving. I got a flat tire. In honor of that, I am brewing a Fat Tire Amber Ale clone this week.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. pictures on another post