Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Marathon Madness

Photo By: Far North Endurance

"It's just a training run, it's just a training run"

These are the words that I continually told myself over and over the days leading up to and the morning of my first trail marathon.  I hadn't entered a marathon distance race since 2004 and that was the Vermont City Marathon.  Just about ten years later and with races ranging from 5k to 100 miles on my race resume I was very nervous. How fast should I go?  Do I need to fuel?  Should I have a consistent pace or aim for negative splits?  Should I be able to talk or running so hard that I really don't want to?  So many questions, but my answer to myself was "it's just a training run".

Typically I run the 50 mile distance when at Stone Cat Trail Race in Ipswich, MA, but because of where I was in my race calendar/training this year warranted the marathon.  In my mind running 50 miles seemed easier and less stressful to me.  My goal for the marathon was to run controlled and to get a solid workout in, but also to have fun and not put myself in a situation where I would have to take time off after the race to recover.

After the 50 milers started I peed one last time and hung out with Liz Gleason, Chris Tabb and Heather Furman as we waited to begin.  We would two small loops around a recreational area before heading out into the woods for two full laps on the course. Off the start it was a bit of chaos.  Runners with their headlamps running in all directions not completely certain where to go.  I fell into stride with Liz by my side, which made me really happy because I love her company.  As we completed our first small loop I told her to look around.  It was a full loop of streaming blurred headlamps.  It looked amazing, so amazing that I got distracted.
Geo & Chris after their Races

Finally one course I felt better.  There were two or three males in front of my leading the way and Liz was still with us.  The guys directly in front of me got frustrated finding the course so finally I heard them agree to "let the girl lead".  I was comfortable with finding the trail, but knew I was also doing more hard work by taking this role.  Then as the sun started to shed light the two gentlemen behind me decided it was time that they pass me and go on there way and now I was alone.

I struggled to find the right pace.  It was a lot of trial and error, this ones to fast, now I am being lazy, oh look a bird.  Around mile 9 I caught up to Geo who was running the 50 miler.  I was excited to see him and it motivated me to hear his cheers.  As my first lap ended I look at the clock and knew I was doing okay.  I grabbed a fresh bottle and my trucker hat and headed out for my final lap.  Within two minutes I saw Liz running at me on a two way part of the course.  I cheered her on and tried to increase my pace as she just about 4 minutes back on me.

Then around mile 16 I bonked and bonked hard.  I wanted to walk, I wanted to curl up on the side of the trail and rest.  I ate and drank and told myself to continue on and then re-evaluate in 8 minutes.  Yes my energy came back and I was finding my stride again.  I turned up my music and sang along and knew that each step put me closer to the finish of my training run.
Heather, Liz and I after the Marathon

After hitting the final aid station my pace intensified and now I was working.  Just a few miles to go and I knew I still had plenty in the tank.  As I once again passed the spot where I had broken my femur years ago I felt nervous, although also so grateful as I recalled those who were so compassionate during that ordeal.

As I started the final mile towards the recreation field and finish line I peered at my watch and felt content with what I was doing.  I crossed the line in 3:16 with a smile and relief.  I had survived the marathon and found myself wondering what I could do in a race situation and on pavement.  Yes that dreaded word....pavement.
A new course record, hours in the sun following watching and encouraging others while hanging out with good friends.  As always a big thanks to Marty Sullivan and his race crew at Stone Cat.  An amazing event that just always seems to top itself.  A big shout out to Chris Tabb who ran his first marathon on this day and rocked it from start to finish.  It didn't take him long to discover that the food after a trail race is awesome for recovery.

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