Mississippi Blues Marathon/First Light Marathon Double Race Report(s)
|Me with the Main Maniacs (Steve, Chris, and Tony)|
|Bringing Will in for his finish at the|
Cajun Coyote 100 Mile
|Some of my Team RWB group that I|
run with on Wednesday evenings.
|Forecast for Saturday, it ended up|
being pretty accurate.
|Me, Chris, and Houston at the Maniac reunion/dinner.|
|Race morning #1, all bundled up.|
|At the 20 mile mark.|
I did really well staying with the group and I was feeling mostly good through 16 miles, but at that point I decided to drop off of the pace group and start doing some walking. My feet were really starting to hurt with the crappy roads. I knew that with another marathon the next day I'd better take care of my feet rather than let them get worse, so I started taking walk breaks and being even more conscious than normal about where to place my feet to avoid bigger rocks and cracks in the roads. A few times I did hit bigger rocks and I did end up with bruises on my right heel and ball of my right foot, but that wasn't anything bad. The problem at this point was mostly mental, though. My feet were hurting thanks to the roads, and I had a strange pain in my left shoulder. I didn't know what that pain was, but it was getting a little worse and a little worse. So I'm going to trudge through the rest of this race, but how am I going to finish tomorrow? If I feel like this 17 miles into the first marathon, what am I going to feel like 17 miles into the second? I just walked, ran some, and tried to stop the negative thoughts, but they just kept coming like waves. I was powerless to make them go away. Walk, run, negative thoughts. That was my existence at that moment and I couldn't change it.
|Marathon Maniac group photo before Miss. Blues Marathon|
All that continued until about mile 24.5. I suddenly had the thought, "maybe I should just run the half marathon tomorrow." The very instant I had that thought it pissed me off that I even thought it. This was not an acceptable thought. I need to get my confidence back if I want to complete the race the next day. No more fucking around, I need to get this done, and get it done running. I ran the rest of the way with no walking at all. It was tough, my feet were killing me, my shoulder was killing me, and I was still freezing my ass off, but I was NOT going to walk again. I had to prove to myself that I could do it. I ran from the mile 25 marker to the mile 26 marker in 11:23, then the final 0.32 miles to the finish at a 10:34 pace. I came through the finish line with a smile on my face and my confidence back. That last almost 2 miles of running had gotten my confidence back. I felt better about finishing the next day. Sometimes we just have to give ourselves a strong push to get get ourselves back where we need to be mentally. My feet still hurt and my shoulder was killing me at the point the volunteer put my giant, glass medal around my neck and another gave me a space blanket to help me warm up. I walked out of the finisher's area to find Kristy, who I had seen at the end, but laid down on the sidewalk instead. I had finished 26.32 miles in 5:23:06 for an avg pace of 12:17 (click here for Garmin data).
I just had to stop for a minute and let my feet rest. I wanted to take my Orange Mud pack off, but my shoulder was hurting so bad that I couldn't, so I just laid with it on. Kristy found me and I gave her my space blanket because holding it around me was bothering my shoulder. I laid down and she took a picture of me. It captured pretty well how I felt. I was hurting, but I was happy. I got up and I asked Kristy to help me get my pack off. When she pulled it back of my shoulder, I almost screamed it hurt so bad. What the heck was wrong here?? I had no idea, I just hoped it would get better before the next day.
|Dinner with some fellow Maniacs Saturday night at|
Dreamland BBQ in Mobile.
The weather on Sunday was MUCH nicer than Saturday. The start was 46 with a windchill in the high-30s, and was set to warm up quite a bit. Much more my style. I needed much less for clothes for this race, which is good, and my asthma would be much less of an issue. All I wore for this one was my Team RWB short sleeve shirt, Marathon Maniac arm sleeves, compression shorts, Adidas shorts, Zensah calf sleeves, Injinji socks, pink Marathon Maniac Buff, RoadID, Garmin 610, and Mizuno EVO Cursoris. I decided to go with the EVO Cursoris shoes for this one instead of my VFFs since my feet were still hurting from the bad roads the day before and I didn't want to risk there being bad roads again. I actually felt pretty good and loose. My feet were sore, my legs and hips were a little tight, but not bad, and my shoulder felt mostly pretty good. I got my Tailwind Nutrition for the day mixed in my bottles, and I started to make my way over to the start area. Unlike the Mississippi Blues Marathon, First Light Marathon was very bare-bones and low frills. I like races like that. Simple, laid back, most of the money going to charity. There was not ever chip timing, literally just a chalk line drawn across the road for a start line. People were already gathering at the start area, mostly Maniacs, and there was a DJ there playing music. Most everyone was running the back-2-back challenge, so everyone was moving around getting loose and having a lot of fun.
|Marathon Maniac group photo at the First Light Marathon|
I felt pretty strong at the start. I was keeping my pace easy with splits pretty consistent in the 11:45-12:30 range, and I didn't really feel a whole lot of soreness. I was just chatting with people and having fun. Just enjoying the day. I was doing the same plan as the day before, drinking some Tailwind every two miles, but also drinking more water from the aid stations as well since I was taking a little longer between stations. It really was a nice day and a pretty nice course, so it was easy to enjoy things.
As I said, my plan was to run straight through as long as I could, then re-evaluate from there. I went about 8 miles before I decided I really wanted to walk, so I decided I would run to 9, then walk a little. I got to the 9 mile mark and started to walk. I walked about 0.2 miles before I started running again, so I decided I would do that each mile. Walk 0.2, then run 0.8. I'd see how long I could hold that pattern, and figured if I could do that at least through the 18 mile mark I'd be in pretty good shape. It seemed to be working pretty well. I was really tired, but not all that sore, so the walk breaks gave me a chance to recoup some energy every mile. I wasn't bothering with trying to keep my walk breaks fast, I was just walking and letting my energy come back. I was mostly holding between 12:30-13:20 per mile with this strategy, which was perfectly fine for me. One thing I did at this race is kind of funny looking back, but really did help me, was using the virtual pacer on my Garmin. Kristy had asked me to text her if I thought I would finish later than the 6 hour mark, so I set my pacer at 13:40 and basically tried to race it. Each mile I would do my walk, then see if I could make time up against that pace. I knew going in that finishing slower than 6 hours was possible, but I didn't want to, I really wanted to stay somewhere in the 5 hour range.
As I was getting to mile about 13 or 14, I caught up with Kim & Laura. They were not doing the double, so they were very encouraging about my effort to do both races. They are very nice people that I love seeing during races, so I was happy to see them there. We kind of played leap frog for a couple miles. I would pass them, then they would pass me, until they finally got in front of me and stayed there. They never really got far out of my sights, though. I was still feeling pretty good and not really slowing down much when I got to the 18 mile marker and the aid station that was there. Now this was a great aid station. I had some oranges, some beer, some Skittles, and some nice jokes with people volunteering. This station really helped give me a boost. I also drank a 5 Hour Energy at this point to try getting my energy back up. I had held my 0.2 walk/0.8 run through the mile mark like I had wanted to. There was a huge hill at this point (which the volunteers referred to as Fireman's Hill since there is a fire station at the top) that was fairly steep and about 0.64 mile long. I decided I'd walk that whole hill, run the less than 1/2 mile to the 19 mile mark, then get back to my 0.2/0.8 strategy and do that the rest of the way no matter what. I was determined at this point, and I felt like I was doing really well and could finish strong using that strategy.
I got to mile 25 and started my 1/3 of a mile walk, then got back to running. I felt pretty good still. I was completely exhausted, but really wasn't hurting as much as I expected to be. There had been a handful of Marathon Maniacs that I had been playing leap frog with over the last several miles, and we were all encouraging one another, which really was helping. I ran out the last mile at around an 11:30-11:45ish pace, which is awesome after all of those miles. As I was getting close to the finish line I saw Kristy and she tried to get a picture of me, but didn't manage to get it. I was enjoying having lots of people there cheering me to the finish and telling me I looked great. As I got to the finish line at 5:36:24, I had a huge smile on my face. I had not only completed day two of my first back-2-back marathons, but I had only run it 13:18 slower than the first day!! I never would have guessed I could have done that! I was completely exhausted. As I was still running to the finish, I knew I could have kept up the 0.2/0.8 plan for several more miles if I had had to, but as soon as I stopped I really how used up I really was. I walked over to the back-2-back challenge table to get my extra medal for completing both races and saw my friend Jamie and another maniac sitting in chair behind the table.
I grabbed my medal and went to sit with them. The empty chair was on the far side of Jamie, but as I was walking past him to the chair, he grabbed it and set it down in front of him. I had to stop and think for a second to manage to turn myself around and sit in the chair he had placed just behind me. I was so exhausted, but I was so proud. I honestly had not felt this much pride in an accomplishment since my very first marathon in March 2011. I had completed 2 marathons in 2 states in 2 days. WOW! The First Light Marathon ended up being 26.36 miles in 5:36:24 for an avg pace of 12:46 (click here for Garmin data). In total for the two days, I had run 52.68 miles in 10:59:30 for an overall avg pace of 12:31. I only lost on average 29 seconds per mile from day 1 to day 2. I was so proud. I honestly thought I might cry. I sat chatting with Jamie, Christy, Kristy, and Julie Weidner (another fellow Maniac who had run the double). After sitting for a while, we decided it was time to get up and get headed for home. I got up and all the tightness and soreness finally really hit me. I could barely walk!!! We slowly and gingerly started making our way back to our car at the hotel for the hour drive home from Mobile. On the way, we saw Kim & Laura and congratulated them on their finish and they congratulated me.
We got back to our car and headed home. I'm glad it was a fairly short drive from Mobile, AL to Pensacola, FL since I was tired and sore. I knew it would take me a couple days to get over the soreness and get caught up on energy, but I felt so great about my weekend. I'd see people I hadn't seen in a long time, made new friends, and accomplished my first big goal of the year. I have to give a big shout out to Ryan Knapp, who coached me through my training. As I said, I had felt very under-trained, but it turned out I was perfectly ready to go and I had done better than my best expectations. I'm not sure I could have done it without his help. I also am grateful to my friends who recommended Tailwind Nutrition to me. It really helped me get through both of these races. Looking forward, a few things hinged on how this weekend went. As I said early one, I had committed to running my first 100k in December at the next Cajun Coyote, and in pursuit of that goal, I planned to run my first 50 mile at the Spring Equinox 50 Mile on March 21. I felt like if this back-2-back weekend didn't go well I would skip the 50 mile and try to use that time to get into better shape and recoup for the 100k. Well, this weekend went great, so I am sticking with the plan of the 50 miler in March. I'm also going to add the Soldier Marathon and the Pensacola Marathon as a back-2-back weekend in November as part of my training for the 100k.