Pilgrim Pacer Marathon Race Report...

Wow, it's been quite a ride the last 62 days.  I set out on a mission to qualify for the Marathon Maniacs by running the Patriots' Run 9/11, the Blue Springs 50k 10/30 and the Pilgrim Pacer Marathon on 11/12.  I struggled through Patriots' heat-fest to get the needed 27 miles, I suffered through over hydration in Blue Springs for my first 50k, so I woke up Saturday morning with just one race to go in my quest.  I'll admit I was very nervous about this one.  Before I started this attempt to qualify for the Maniacs I had only run one marathon, the Napa Valley Marathon 5/6 and I'd had a stress fracture in the spring that kept me from running for almost 8 weeks.  After struggling so bad through these last two Ultras I was wondering if I was going to do the same with the Pilgrim Pacer Marathon.  This was going to be the hilliest race of any distance I'd ever run so that wasn't making me feel any more confident.  After Blue Springs I decided I'd just struggle to do whatever I had to to get through this then do full training plans for two marathons in the spring to get my base back.  No time to worry about all that now though, I had a marathon to run.

As always, my race report will be long and much of it will not be directly about the race itself.  Sorry, I talk a lot and I write long reports.  You really should be used to it!!  I'm starting this story on Monday evening.  We had our monthly Olathe Running Club meeting and everyone gave their race reports.  I gave mine on the Blue Springs 50k. It felt good to give a race report on such a huge accomplishment.  Anyway, at the meeting they had some new t-shirts they had gotten so I got a nice grey ORC shirt which I was excited to wear to packet pickup to advertise my club a little!

Thursday turned out to be a very tough, emotional day that took a lot of energy out of me.  My husky Dakota had a stroke on the last day of March this year.  He mostly had been doing well since, but considering he was at least 11 years old (we don't know for sure since he was a rescue) we knew we were on borrowed time.  Then a few weeks ago we found a tumor in his throat.  Well, Thursday morning he couldn't walk, could barely stand up and was refusing to even eat lunch meat.  The tumor had grown to fill up almost his entire throat.  We knew it was time to let him go.  My wife is a vet tech so she headed off to her clinic and I called in to my work to let them know I wouldn't be in and I stayed home with Kota.  Kristy got to the clinic and called to tell me they couldn't get him in until noon so I got a few hours to spend some one on one time with him. Kristy's mom picked us up and drove us to the clinic where we said goodbye to our good friend.  He will be greatly missed and we spent much of the day crying.  Lots of emotional energy spent.  To tie this back to the race, I was worried that I had used up so much emotional energy that it would hurt my performance, but I also knew that when I hit "the wall" thinking of Kota would give me a boost.  I knew I was carrying him with me for this race.

Friday evening I went to packet pickup to get the packets for myself, Team Ruhs (Ron & Bobbie) who were coming in to run the marathon as well and Kristy who was running the 10k.  Ron & Bobbie got in fairly late that evening so we didn't have a lot of time to sit around and chat before going to bed to get rested up for the race.  Somehow over this year I have developed the ability to sleep REALLY well the night before a race.  I used to never get any sleep the night before a race.  The marathon started at 8:30 and the rest of the races (half, 10k and 5k) started at 9:00 so Ron, Bobbie & I got up earlier to get ready and Kristy slept a little.  I have found a new pre-race food that I've had before my last two races and really worked out well for me; Wheaties Fuel.  Team Ruhs & I headed out at about 7:00 and Kristy stayed home to feed the pets and carpool with a fellow ORC member, Mary, who was running the half marathon.  The weather was cool, but the 22+ mph wind made it feel cold before we got started.  Luckily this was a Trail Nerds event so we had the great Dick Ross of SeeKCRun there to take great pictures!

The race started promptly at 8:30 with all 42 of us marathoners taking off.  This is a bit of an unusual course.  It was an out and back and out and back.  We ran the half marathon course's out and back twice.  I wasn't sure how I'd like that, but in the end I thought it was great.  As you can see in the elevation map from my Garmin, this was the hilliest race I've ever run of any distance.  It started at Theater in the Park at Shawnee Mission Park, ran down the dam and out onto the Millcreak Steamway Trail and back; then turn around and do it again.  Ron, Bobbie and I all started together but Bobbie and I pulled away from Ron fairly quickly.  I ran with Bobbie for about the first 1.5-2 miles but my hips were getting tight so I throttled it back a little and let Bobbie go on without me.  I was feeling great and I knew if I toned it down a little my hips would probably cooperate.  I was concerned that if I didn't take it a little easy the effects of the 50k two weeks earlier would catch up with me.

I got to the first turn around at 6.55 miles maybe a quarter mile behind Bobbie.  The entire first and third quarters of the race had a 22+ mph wind gusting to 30 mph right in our faces!  One of my DailyMile friends, Indika, was volunteering at that turnaround.  It was cool to see her and her words of encouragement really helped.  I was still feeling very strong and doing quite well.  I had set my Garmin to only display my heart rate, graph and calories, so I could not see my distance, time or pace as I ran.  I did that so that I wouldn't get too excited about how I was doing and go too fast or get to discouraged if my time was suffering on the hills.  I felt like I was on a decent pace and it was kind of cool to have the race cut into quarters. First quarter: 6.5 miles in 1:08:32 at a 10:33 avg.

The second quarter of the race was out-freakin'-standing!!  I felt VERY strong, it was like I was flying!  I was catching up to Bobbie and having fun telling all the other marathoners and half marathons great job as we passed each other.  The wind was now at our backs and the sun had come out so it felt a little warmer. I took off my headband/ear warmer and my gloves and tucked them into my belt and ate some Clif Shot Blocks.  I was stunned that I was feeling so good.  This was by far the best I'd felt in a race in quite some time, I didn't even feel this good in the 5k that I ran in October!!  When I got back to the dam I slowed down quite a bit because it is a significant uphill that last 1.5 mile to the finish/turnaround and I didn't want to burn out.  I also put my gloves back on because the wind coming over the lake at this part of the course was COLD!  I actually did really well up the hills.  It was odd going across the finish line, doing a little loop and heading out again!!  I got a reminder of how my last few races have got when I crossed the finish and started to turn to do the second half and Kristy was there asking how I was doing.  She shot me a look of complete shock when I yelled back "outstanding!!"  She was definitely not expecting that.  Second quarter: 6.5 miles in 1:07:23 at a 10:22 avg, first half 13 miles in 2:15:55 at a 10:27 avg.

The third quarter was very good as well, but I did slow down some.  As I went passed Ron he said I was looking really strong and that gave me a bit of a boost.  I had a few more Clif Shot Blocks since I was getting a little hungry.  My quads were getting tired on the downhill coming out of the park and my big toe was getting a little sore so I was taking it somewhat easy on the downhills rather than running faster as I would have liked.  Again on this leg I had the crazy wind right in my face again and the sun had been covered by clouds so that made it feel quite cold again, which anyone that knows me knows this didn't make me happy.  That said, I still felt strong and still had Bobbie right in my view, she was still about a quarter mile out in front of me.  Third quarter: 6.5 miles in 1:13:54 at a 11:22 avg.

As I passed the final turnaround I again got encouraging words from Indika and I had some Sport Beans to get some energy back up.  I was still feeling okay, but starting to get a little tired.  I was doing pretty well and now had the wind behind me again.  With about 4.5 miles to go I hit the wall.  It was NOTHING like the wall I hit in Napa at my first marathon.  In Napa I hit the wall around mile 17 or 18 and walked much of the rest of the race, this time I hit the wall much later and I still managed to jog the majority of the time.  Granted, my jog was slow, but I was still running much more than walking.  I passed several folks that had obviously hit the wall worse than I had I we all gave each other some encouraging words.  I thought to myself at one point "I wish Kota were here so I could tie myself to him and let him pull me."  I got a slight boost at that thought and it felt like Kota really was pulling me, but that didn't last too long.  The sun came back out of the clouds and things warmed up fast!!  I was SO grateful for that!  I took my gloves back off, and pulled off my North Face arm sleeves.  I also had been wearing two shirts since I sweat so much and at one of my walking breaks I took off my bottom shirt.  It was great to feel warm!  I tried to tuck my shirt and sleeves into the back of my shorts, but they just fell out so I had to carry them.  That was somewhat annoying, but no big deal really.  As I got back into the park for that last 1.5 mile climb I was determined to finish strong.  I walked some, but I forced myself to keep jogging as much as possible dispite the steep, long hill.  I did pretty well moving up those hills and came in the final 0.2 miles stretch (biggest hill of the whole course) at a jog!  Fourth quarter: 6.84 miles in 1:30:17 at a 13:12 avg, second half 13.34 miles in 2:44:11 at a 12:18 avg.

At the finish I was exhausted, but not like I was in any of my previous marathons or ultras.  They put the GIGANTIC finisher's medal around my neck and I started to walk over to the aid station.  Apparently Dick was rather excited about me having run this in Vibram Bikilas so he snapped a picture of them!!  One of the volunteers handed me a cup of water and said there was a massage therapist and pointed to me to him.  I headed over to wait my turn for a massage.  I checked my watch finally to see my time.  Overall it was 26.34 miles in 5:00:09 at an 11:24 avg.  This is well short of my marathon PR (4:36:20 in Napa) but I was THRILLED!!  My lack of confidence recently, two weeks after a 50k, the hilliest race I'd ever run, and all the energy spent Thursday.  This was better than I dreamed possible, and honestly was the best I've felt through a marathon or ultra.  Again, THRILLED!!!  Kristy went to the car to get me a Vitamin Water Zero and my buddy Mark Hilboldt had come out to cheer for us so he stood and talked with me as I waited for my massage.  Finally it was my turn.  He asked what was bothering me most so I told him my calves and my hips.  He went to work.  It hurt, but it felt SO good.  We waited to watch Ron finish and get a picture together before heading out.

After the race Mark had to leave for a wedding so Ron, Bobbie, Kristy and I headed over to Minsky's Pizza for a little post-race lunch and celebration.  I haven't eaten there in many years, but I love pizza so I was more than willing.  The food was awesome, the waitress was great and the conversation was excellent.  I was glad Team Ruhs was able to have lunch with us before heading back to Nebraska.  It's always a joy to have them visit.  It was definitely a fun day.  I was very stiff and walking was no fun, but I was full of pride for such a great race and full of happiness for time spent with such great people.

The event was fantastic!!  I fully plan to run this again next year.  Well organized, GREAT volunteers, a fun but challenging course, a unique shirt and a completely excessive finisher's medal all add up to a great event!  The Trail Nerds always put on great events and I did several of them this year and hope to do even more next year.  Once I got home I rested for a while, had the leftover pizza from lunch for dinner.  I was still very stiff so around 9:00 I decided to head downstairs and do P90X Stretch.  Hurt SO good!!  I literally groaned through much of it, but I felt so good after and was actually able to walk almost like a normal person again!!  I will definitely be adding P90X Stretch to my post-race/long run routine.

Now that this is over I've achieved my goal of qualifying for the Marathon Maniacs!!!  You have to send them your information to request permission to register so I sent it all to them via email.  Very shortly after I got an email back congratulating me and giving me the registration info.  Now I just need to check the money situation in the bank and get officially into the Maniacs!!  If you'd told me a year ago I'd qualify for the Maniacs my first reaction would have been, "what the hell is a Marathon Maniac???"  After you answered it my next response would be, "even if that were possible why in the hell would anyone WANT to do that???"  This year a lot has changed for me for sure!!

Now it's time to look to the future.  It's now the day after the race and I'm still a little stiff but not too bad at all.  Later today I'm starting the full P90X program which I WILL get all the way through this time to build up my core and functional strength and get my weight back under control.  Also, Tomorrow starts my 9 week training plan for the Louisiana Marathon on 1/15/12.  I really think eating better and going through a couple good marathon training programs will help me get back the fitness base that I had before my stress fracture.  Good times are ahead for sure!!!


  1. YOu totally rocked it!!! And I'm amazed that you ran the whole things in the Bikilas! Kick-ass!!

  2. Thanks!! It was great to see you there, your words of encouragement were very helpful!! Thanks so much for volunteering, you rock!!

  3. Again another great race report. Of course life happens and that all influences our races so totally appropriate to include. Congrats!!!


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