At the beginning of the year I signed up for the Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge and thought it would be wise to actual walk a marathon before competing in this race. And since the Lewis and Clark marathon was so close to home, I picked it to be my first marathon. As I look back I think my signing up for the Goofy Challenge was a little hasty, I have since regretted signing up. That’s for another story.
It was a typical morning. Even though I woke up an hour earlier than planned because of asthma related stuff, I did get some quality sleep. I wasn’t the least bit nervous because I just was not going to worry about the race. I had a cup of coffee and a bagel, then I gathered my things and off I went.
I did get the race parking lot a bit early, but I needed to take my meds and relax for a moment. The reason I took my meds as close to race time as I could was because I was hoping to get the maximum effect before they wear off. Boy was it cold out too. I was freezing. I waited the last-minute to put my jacket in my drop-off bag and check it in.
I also had a walking partner for this event (well at least for half of it), my racing friend M. We were introduced at a race last year by a mutual friend that I work with. So, we have been friends ever since. I was so happy that she was walking with me.
The Start – After I dropped off my drop bag, M and I headed to our pace marker at the starting line. There was definitely a lot of people who were going to walk the half and full marathon, which was great to see. I think the announcer said there were 8300 people participating in the event, which makes it the largest event I have been too. We never did hear the Anthem or anything that said that the marathon was starting, but people started moving in front and M and I played follow the leader. I think it took about 15 minutes to clear the start line and we were off.
1 through 5 – This was kind of blur for me. M and I got to talking about everything under the sun and the miles seemed to wiz by. We did have to clear some congestion so that we could have room to walk our own pace. We ended up nestling ourselves between two fairly large packs.
6 through 10 – This were it starts getting interesting. The 6th mile went through a business district and the 7 mile was all about traversing a bridge which is part of a highway. The police had cordoned two lanes so that we could stay clear of the highway traffic. Actually, the bridge had a pretty long climb to it, but it was so gradual that it really did not feel like I was climbing. However, this comes to the part of the race that would pretty much be a problem the rest of the race; I needed to use the restroom. Frankly, I thought I was dehydrated before the race and boy was I wrong. So, at mile 9 there was restroom at the aid station. Whew, that was cutting it close, I needed to use the restroom bad. M went on ahead of me and I had to play some catch-up. It is amazing how far a person can get when having to stop for a minute or two. I caught M pretty quickly and we soldiered on.
11 through 15 – Let the craziness begin. M was doing great and we continue on to the half marathon finish line. Actually, the half and full share the same finish line, but the full runs along the side of it and continues on the second half the course. Although, I have to admit, it is a little disheartening to see it when I know I have over three hours to go before I see it again. M and I started looking at the time on my GPS watch. She said that she thinks she is pretty close to a PR. Come to find out, she did finish with a person record time. It was important too her and I couldn’t be happier for her. Talk about a mad house though, people were all over the place. They were even blocking the marathon course. I know that they finished the half marathon and wanted to share the happiness with loved ones on the fence, but they could have been more considerate. For me, with all the adrenalin pumping, this was making me furious. Heck, a marathon runner on his way back in tried to run over me and a crazy man in a truck drove onto the course, almost hitting me. After all that craziness, I got my first taste of the Katy Trail. The Katy Trail used to be a railway that was converted into a recreational trail. The trail is not paved but has a packed down gravel surface. To be honest, I found it to be kind of awkward to walk on. Oh and by the way, I had to use the restroom again. I was so glad to finally get through those miles.
16 through 20 – Loneliness through this section and what, these are not hills, they are cliffs. Boy was I lonely, after crossing the half way mark, there was almost nobody to be seen in front of me. So, I popped in my ear buds are listen to my mix of 80s music on my Blackberry. Speaking of my phone, I also updated my Facebook status so everyone could know that I am alive and still plugging away at this marathon slowly. The course went off the Katy Trail and back on pavement again. I did pass a few people who obviously were struggling. I felt bad for them. They had quite a few miles to go yet. Huh, the description of the race course said that there would be some hills. They were wrong, these things were like cliffs, and they seemed almost straight up. I believe this section of the race course did my feet end. The down hills were steep and my feet took a pounding. They were definitely hurting past this point.
21 through 24 – This was a pretty uneventful section. A little after the 20 mile marker the course moved back onto the Katy Trail. I just zoned out on this section and just listen to music. The truth is my feet hurt and my quads burned. I just did what I do best and block it out. I did find that the Katy Trail was heavily wooded and had no scenic views, unlike the hilly section that had awesome scenic views. However, it was shady, which was nice. Every other year this race had an out and back on the Katy Trail, but this year they changed the course to add hills. People actually complained that the course was too flat (Katy Trail is pretty flat) so race officials gave them what they wanted, hills.
24 though 26.2 – Hey, I think I am going to finish this thing. Before doing this marathon, I read tons of articles on what to expect during the race. There is this saying; there are two halves to a marathon, the first 20 and the second half of 6.2 miles. For some I guess the struggle begins after the 20 mile marker, for me, the wheels came off at the 25 mile marker. Yeah, I was hurting, but nothing like this. But first, guess what, I had to use the restroom again. Wow, my left IT band tightened up and I could barely walk for a half a mile. Whew, I was thinking, thank goodness I do not have much more to go. Just for some added fun, my lungs were tightening up too and they were telling me they have had it. It took four puffs off the rescue puffer in the last hour to get them at least a bit happier so I can make it to the finish line. Luckily, the pain and lung issues seem to fade from my mind as I started to see the finish line from a distance. The course also hit pavement again and began to loop the finish line because the race finish was on the other side. By this time, I was an emotional wreck. I have never been emotional during a race but I sure was crying the last half mile of this one. I finished with 7 hours straight up on the clock.
Personal thoughts – Frankly, I should be proud of myself for finishing this race but I am struggling with it. I don’t know, maybe I could have performed a little better. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the mileage and the adventure. But honestly, due to some major set backs in my training, I was way under trained for this marathon. Hey, I finished, so I guess that is all that matters (That is what I tell myself). Yeah, I am not that happy about my performance at this marathon.
I did learn a couple of things, I gave heavy thought into bring food and recovery drink in my drop-off bag and didn’t. That was a big mistake. Like many races I have attended, back marker folks get the crumbs after they finish. I think that would have made me a little happier after the finish if I would have packed my own stuff. Plus, not eating right away, made me sick when I got home.
90 calories an hour was not working in the nutrition department either, which seemed to work in training. I’m not sure upping my calorie intake would have prevented my wheels from falling off after 25 miles of this race, but I know I was getting hungry and my quads were burning. The burning muscles are a real good sign that I was low on calories and my muscles were cannibalizing themselves.
Good news is, my nutrition must have kind of on the mark because my recovery time was really short and I was only a little sore. Yeah, my feet were trashed but that was actually normal.
Thoughts on the race it’s self. It was definitely well organized. The voluntaries and water stations were great. The course was well mapped out and I had no problem finding my way around.
Finally, would I do it again? Heck yeah I would!!!