Monday, November 17, 2008

Mountain Home for Kenya Marathon

Race Results:
Time 4:41:00
24th overall (out of 52)
7th overall female
1st in age group

The take-away from this race is: Do not run a marathon that has the word "mountain" in its name. There were 60 runners registered for the race including two handcyclists. On race morning only 52 runners finished and 2 handcyclists. I'm not sure if the other 6 elected not to run because of the weather conditions or if they failed to finish.

The weather conditions made it difficult to decide what to wear. I took a stack of clothing options in the car to the race start so that I could change last minute. Ultimately I chose shorts, 2 long-sleeve technical shirts, a wind vest, a fleece headband and gloves. The temperature was around 39 degrees with strong winds (18 sustained, 30 mph gusts). The windchill probably never got out of the low 30's. We encountered a bit of sleet, which was fortunately short-lived, just to make it fun.

The hills were unbelievably challenging. One of the runners (who ran a 3:21) had this to say about the course:

"I have a lot of rolling hills in southern Michigan where I live," he said, "but they're not this bad. There were a couple in opportune places, though. If I have time the day before, I'll go out and drive a course and get a feel for it. I'm really glad I didn't drive this course, because if I'd have known how hilly it would be, I would've been unmotivated from the very beginning."

Diana and I did drive the course the evening before. We were glad that we did because it gave us a good idea of what we were in for on marathon morning. I found it helpful to know where the hilliest sections were and especially what the last 6 miles looked like. Miles 22, 23 and 24 each had a significant hill. Fortunately the large Rottweiler (about the size of a small cow) which was checking out the course (around mile 8) as we were driving the course, was nowhere to be seen on race day. We had the feeling he was scouting out the course and trying to remember the best spot for picking off runners during last year's marathon.

The first half went well - my legs did not feel tired from the long drive the day before like they had at the Marshall Marathon 13 days ago. However, around mile 16 I started to feel the hills and my pace slowed. The wind and cold, combined with the fatigue from running so many hills was beginning to take its toll. For me, getting cold is a very big problem. Once I get that cold I have trouble maintaining my pace.

Between mile 24 and 25 I was playing cat and mouse with two female runners. They would pull ahead of me, and the I would pull ahead of them. I thought one of them looked to be in my age group, so at mile 25 I pulled away from them determined to finish ahead. I resisted the temptation to look back and see how close they were. I did not want them to know I was concerned or that I was tired. It turned out to be a good strategy as one of them was in my age group. She finished 29 seconds behind me for 2nd in the age group.

I must have looked very cold to the finish line volunteers because they quickly found a blanket from the medical area to wrap around me. They were not handing blankets out to all the finishers, so I'm sure my shivering was a clue as to how cold I was.

The post-race food included 7 or 8 choices of soup - vegetable beef, a curried "something", chicken noodle, 2 kinds of chili, minestrone, ham & bean to name a few. The soup tasted wonderful and helped warm me up. I had trouble carrying my bowl of soup because I was still shivering so the soup was spilling over the sides.

After our post-race meal, we headed back to the hotel, took quick showers and hit the road for our 8 hour drive home. The trip home was long, but uneventful. We stopped in Rolla, MO at an Applebee's for dinner, and had a Snickers ice cream bar for a treat later on.

Surprisingly on Sunday morning I was not very sore - very tired overall, but not sore. I did manage to get on the bike for 25 minutes for a little light spinning.

*A big shoutout to my husband Howard who announced on Sunday morning; "Marathons are over for the year, time to start Ironman training". Thank you Coach!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Marshall University Marathon Race Report

Time: 4:15:44 (Boston qualifying time)
Overall place: 175/342 total runners
Age group place: 3rd
Place among all females: 40/127

Weather conditions:
90% humidity at race start
Approx 48-50 degrees at start (the website shows 42 at start, not sure how they came up with that since the Weather Channel in our hotel showed 46 degrees for Huntington 2 hours before race start).
It warmed up very quickly, bright sun, probably around 70 by the end of the race

*"Free" pasta dinner the night before had a lengthy line (they ran out of spaghetti and had to cook more). It was just ok - paper plate with small portion of spaghetti w/ sauce (no meat in sauce), slice of bread and small lettuce salad
*Since we registered late we weren't eligible for the choice of fleece or technical shirt. We got a long-sleeve cotton T-shirt. All the shirts were missing the date of the marathon. (The race director sent out an e-mail informing us of that)
*The roads were not great - lots of potholes, slanted roads and rough railroad track crossings
*Very few spectators along the course, but it was a small marathon so I was not surprised
*No timing mat at the start - I started back by Diana (I often will run with her for the first bit to warm up) and then realized I had just lost 30-40 seconds due to no mat at the start line
*No clocks or timing mats on the course except at Mile 13 (that was odd, because it wasn't at 13.1 as you would expect)
*Course was a little confusing in a couple of places with arrows on the ground to direct you
*No extras along the course, except for pretzels (no bananas, oranges, gummie bears, or gels of any kind)
*Very steep ramp into the stadium (so steep it really wasn't runable at all)
*Finish line had pizza (didn't look appealing because it was hot outside, the pizza looked greasy), cookies, bagels, but nothing salty like chips

*Plenty of fluids on the course
*Running on the crushed limestone path in the park was nice and offered shade - nice relief as miles 13-20 were in the open and very sunny
*Portions of the course where you could see other runners (ahead or behind of you) were nice
*During last mile, they handed out flowers in memory of plane crash victims which you could place in the memorial fountain
*Running the football into the end zone was really cool!
*The awards for age groups were beautiful! I received a handblown Blenko glass buffalo (Thundering Herd)
*Very cool medal - similar to Flying Pig medal with the 3-D effect (front of buffalo and then the back of the buffalo with his tail)
*There truly weren't any hills to speak of, so even though this was in West Virginia, hills were not a factor