Sometimes you have a well thought out plan for a race and things go perfectly. Other times you have a well thought out plan and things go down the toilet. And then there are times when you have a well thought out plan that you purposely crumble up and flush down the toilet. The Louisiana Marathon would fall into the third category. My plan was to go out slow, stay slow and just use it as a good training run. The last thing I needed to do was to trash my legs and body making my recovery longer than the time I have before the 100 mile race.
The morning started out well. I picked up Lara & Taylor at their dorm and got to the race early. And it was frickin’ cold. After the mandatory porta-potty line wait and gear bag check, Lara and I headed to the starting line. She would be running her first half marathon (on somewhat sketchy training), so I suggested we hang towards the back to keep us slow. We finally settled in a spot between the 4:45 & 5:00 hour pace groups. It looked good to me.
Have I ever mentioned that Lara is a very competitive person? As soon as we started, she decided she didn’t not want to run that slow and took off. I chased her weaving through the crowds for well over a mile before I finally caught her. We blew passed the 4:45 group never to see them again. As we hit the overpass, I was feeling good and she was settling into her own pace. Mine was a little faster, so I pressed on. On a side note…..Lara does not like it when I run with her, so it wasn’t like I was abandoning her. That was the last time I would see her until I crossed the finish line hours later.
After the overpass, I realized I was severely deviating from my plan of going slow. It was decision time. Should I stay or should I go now? I decided to force myself into a 9 minute run/1 minute walk routine to slow things down. I ended up doing this for the entire rest of the race. It was somewhere around 3 miles in that I caught and passed the 4:30 pace group.
I have mentioned before that cold weather has some physiological effect on my bladder. I think it shrinks it making me have to pee every 3 minutes. I am proud to say I did make it to the 4 mile aid station before stopping at the porta potty. After my nature break, I grabbed a powerade and started running again. A minute or so later, my left hand was very sticky. Thinking that I had spilled the powerade, I looked at my hand and it was covered with blood. Really? When did that happen? At the next aid station, I used a cup of water to rinse my hand off and noticed a cut on the side of my hand. Oh well. I kept running and it kept bleeding.
At the next aid station, I washed it off again with a cup of water and could tell it was going to keep bleeding. I took one of my running gloves and wrapped it around my hand tightly. I held it there for a quite a few miles to stop the bleeding. I continued on with my 9/1 routine and I was drinking water & powerade at the aid stations. I was also eating a margarita shot block about every half hour or so. Between the shot blocks and the S-cap (salt tab) I took at 1 hour and 3 hours, I had no cramps for the day.
At around the 7 mile mark, I saw a woman with a 4:15 pace group sign on her back. I was confused because she was all alone and was not carrying a sign. I found out that she had left her group and they were behind us! Okay, so I was now running faster than 4:15 pace. It was around here that I decided that I was going to run “purposefully” from here on out. I was not going to kill myself, but I was not going to give myself any slack.
Around 9 miles, I stashed my gloves. At 10 miles my hand was covered with blood again. This was getting old fast. By now I am sure I was at least a pint low if not a quart. I went into another porta potty and grabbed some toilet paper. I wrapped it and kept it there for probably 10 to 12 more miles. I was getting scared to see how bad the cut was, but I knew I wasn’t going to stop for a medical examination.
At the 17 mile mark, I passed the 4:00 pace group. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. You are running much faster than you planned. Oh well. I’m stupid, stupid, stupid.
Around 21 miles, I actually had a rational conversation with myself. I thought about the possible damage I was doing by pushing hard with less than 3 weeks until the 100 miler. What effect would it have on my recovery? Would the overall fatigue still linger 3 weeks from now? What is more important: breaking 4 hours for this marathon or finishing the 100 miler? The obvious answer was finishing the 100 miler. So I did the smart thing and slowed down. Or not. What the hell, the damage is already done so you might as well keep running!
About 25.7 miles, the song “Sail” by AWOLNATION came on and I decided I wanted to finish with that song playing. So I did. My official time was 3:54:56. Looking at the results, my second half was faster than the first, and I felt good when I crossed the finish line. Considering that my taper for this race included 30 miles of running last weekend, I was pleased.
I found Lara and she was walking gingerly. She had finished the half in 2:30 which was impressive considering it was her first and her longest run was 8 miles….maybe. She said her feet hurt more than her lungs or legs. Time on her feet would solve that problem. And since I found out she is signed up for the Rouge Orleans race, she will definitely get time on her feet!
We stuck around to watch some friends finish, get a band-aid for my still bleeding cut and then we called it a day. All in all it was a great race especially for a first time event. Craig, Pat & Danny did an excellent job putting it on and thing seemed to flow smoothly from my perspective.
Now it is on to a real taper. And then another little race.