Sunday, June 9, 2013

Storm the Dam Marathon Report

I ran a marathon! I really had no desire to ever run one because I have no desire to run 26.2 miles on pavement, but this was a trail marathon so I decided to go for it. I did not really have the training in place to do one, but Jason assured me that we would take it slow, just another training run, and he would get me to the finish line.

Rick and I stayed in El Dorado Friday night because the race started at 6:00 am. Yes, that's right. 6:00. A.M. I got up at 4:00 because we needed to leave around 5:00 to find the race, get a parking spot, get everything ready, etc. I think we actually left around 5:10, but still had plenty of time. We got there, finally found the start finish area (it was dark. I think there were signs but you couldn't see them) and waited for Jason and his daughter Carina to arrive. When they got there we talked to them, met a bunch of their friends from Wichita, and took a few pics. My friend Joanna arrived and we talked for a minute and took a pic. She was doing the half marathon (her first!!) but came an hour early to see me start.

Rick and I before the race. Isn't he a good man to get up that early and come hang out at a race for 7 hours waiting for me? He's pretty fantastic. Oh, and by the way, he ran the 5K and did a great job! I was so proud of him.

Joanna and I

And we're off! We started out on some pavement and then ran through some grass, then onto some dirt/gravel farm roads on private property. The first few miles went by fine. We were doing 4 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking. It was working nicely. The plan was to eat something every 30 minutes to keep our energy up. That was working ok at this point. We went on past the first aid station because we both had everything we needed as we had handhelds. Eventually we got onto some nice single track. I loved it! Running through the woods is my happy place. I was loving life. At the second aid station, probably near the 5 mile mark, I downed a whole cup of gatorade. This turned out to be a fatal error. My stomach immediately got angry. I also consumed some more chews at that point, so I just felt full and sloshy. Not good. We had some more single track that was mostly downhill, then popped out of the woods. Oh look! The dam! Wait. There's a mowed path up it. Straight up. It's steep and long. Is it too late to back out? Yes? Ok. Onward and upward!

We finally got to the top of the dam and started running across. It went on and on and on. My stomach was ok for a bit but I still just felt incredibly full. The next time it was time for fuel I only ate about half the chews I normally would. Besides the food being an issue, we also hit a part of the dam with big rocks that just tore us up. It was exhausting.
Going across the dam

Finally we were off the dam and at the next aid station. We refilled bottles and I grabbed a couple of grapes thinking real food might help. It might have if I would have had more than one. They were sour and dried my mouth completely. No thanks! At this time we entered a horse trail. Basically it's a prairie with a path mowed through. It was kind of tough because it was uneven, but due to the grass you couldn't really see the holes. I still felt pretty good here. We came out of the prairie onto some gravel road for maybe half a mile or so, then hit the next aid station. After that, more prairie. We went uphill for a while and at this point my stomach was very unhappy. I was really struggling. I knew it would pass, but still whined. Jason kept reminding me to just stay calm, breathe, and run. It would go away. It did and I felt great again. At this point I also knew I'd see Rick soon because we ran two loops and he would be at the halfway point. I did well the next few miles.

When we got to what we thought was half a mile left we decided forget the intervals and just run. We ran, and ran, and ran. There's the 13 mile sign so we're almost done! Wait, where is the end of the loop? Are we lost? Why are we still running? And running. Our watch passed 13.1 a while ago. It turns out, the half marathon loop was almost 14 miles. For some reason this pissed me off beyond belief. I'm already running 26.2 miles and you're going to add over a mile by the time we do both loops? No bueno! It just ruined me mentally. We finally got to the start finish and Rick and Carina gave us everything we needed for the second loop. I did not want to go back out. At all. Quitting was not an option for me though. After we left the turnaround I told Jason I needed to apologize to Rick because I was really bossy and just told him what to do and didn't even thank him.

Helping us get ready for another loop

After we left the start/finish my stomach was rebelling and threatening to do a volcano move. I just kept going and stopped eating. Jason suggested I switch to eating every hour and see if that helped. It did! Another issue right after the halfway point was that a blister was forming right between the last two toes on my right foot. At first I thought maybe my sock was just bunched up so I took off my shoe to check. Nope. A blister. It bugged me the whole time! Eventually I started stepping differently because it hurt and that started affecting other areas. Fun! I was also a lot more tired on this loop so we started doing 3/2 intervals. We hoped to keep that up as long as we could. Jason told me no matter what we were not walking more  than 2 minutes at a time. It was getting much warmer and we were draining more water so we filled up at the first station. I also ate some pretzels here and my stomach was ok with that. Whew! Running, running. Whining. Walking. Whining. That became the theme of this loop. Also, dreading the dam. DREADING IT. Have I mentioned we were in last place? We were.

When we got to the second station we asked for ice and thankfully they had some. The first half of the course the water wasn't cold, but was ok. The second half it was warm. It was also getting warm outside and there was very little relief from the heat. We didn't see much shade at all. Mostly running in open prairie, on gravel roads or that long run across the dam. Speaking of the dam, I made it up the second time! Mile 18 and we had a really steep climb! Hey! Maybe this is why they call it Storm the Dam? Though I can assure you there was no storming as far as I was concerned. As we were going across the Dam I thought we had switched to running 2/2. Then Jason said something about switching to that at mile 20. I'm thinking "hmm. Weird. I thought that's what we were doing." I didn't say anything, kept going. He was keeping time by the way. He just told me what do do all day and I did it. Right before mile 20 he mentioned going to 2/2 again. I asked what we had been doing. We had still been doing 3/2. No wonder those 2 minutes seemed sooo long! I wanted to keep doing 3/2 as long as I could, so we decided to keep doing that.

We had been playing cat and mouse with a guy and finally got ahead of him for the final time at the end of the dam. Yay! At the aid station at the bottom of the dam we asked for ice again. No go. Warm water it is! If I have a complaint about the race this is it. When you are running in the sun for hours and it's pushing 80 degrees cool water is important. We asked at every station after that and none of them had ice. Anyway, back into the prairie. I started feeling really good through here. At one point I even decided to run 4 minutes instead of the three. Yeah, reading that makes me feel like a wimp. Whatever. It was a big deal at the time! We came out of the prairie, onto the road, and then came to the next aid station. Refilled bottles, drank gatorade, at pretzels. They pretzels really seemed to be working for me.

When we crossed the road we started running north. The wind had really picked up and was out of the south. This just crushed my spirit. I was done. I started getting upset and whiny. Not too far into this crap and we dropped to 2/2 intervals. A couple of times we walked an extra minute. Jason seemed to be doing great, so don't think he needed the breaks. It was all me. One time I asked if I had to run. He said yes. I asked what if I cried, would he let me walk then? He let me walk :) Finally we got to the last station and knew we were almost done. I kept going. The last part of the race has some more single track and I was happy to get back in the woods and on the kind of trail I like. Very close to the end we got to a place where we had done a little loop in the first half and people were standing there pointing us away from it. We asked if we had to run it and they said no. Yay! They had evidentally realized how much extra mileage it was adding and they didn't make us run it. Hallelujah. That meant we were on the blacktop in the home stretch! We were maybe a tenth of a mile from the end when pain shot through my foot. The blister popped! Oh, the pain. I kept going though. Limping.

Coming in the home stretch

We're done!!
 The race photographer told us to make muscle arms, so we did. I fear it looks a little like we were too tired to hold our arms all the way up!

Jason and I after we got our medals. I was so happy!

Sitting in my chair, finally!

So, that's the overly long story of my first marathon. I could have at least doubled this, but I was trying to make it less than a novel.

What's next you ask? FlatRock. After that? We'll just have to see.

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