Monday, May 26, 2008

Scenic City Trail Marathon

My third marathon (first trail marathon) is now in the books. My overall goal was to finish in under 7 hours...my second goal was to finish without injury. My unofficial time was 6:14:58...first goal accomplished. I did not have any injuries or even a blister...second goal accomplished. I arrived to the start area about an hour early. I wanted to make sure I didn't repeat my late arrival error at the MS50 again! Check-in was uneventful and quick, so I still had a lot of time to waste. Once the morning ritualistic potty break was tended to, I caught up with Michael and Drew. I also ran into another local ultrarunner, Bill Luton and his wife. David Ray was there and I had the pleasure of meeting him (sorry I couldn't talk longer, Dave!). The race started without much fanfare, albeit a few minutes late. After a bit of blacktop running, we enter the trail. The congo line was long, but moving at a decent warm-up pace. After a mile, the smart people started their run/walk routine and the rest of us breezed past them. I was behind Michael and Drew until right before the first aid station. I couldn't catch my breath and had to slow to a walk. Looking at my Garmin, I noticed my heart rate was pegged out at 181...which is above my max! Well, shit. After walking a bit, my HR would get down to about 165, which is still too high considering I was walking. Of course, I was sweating profusely as my body was trying to regulate itself to lower my HR. After the first aid station, my HR stayed in the 170's when running and the 150's when walking. I felt ok and continued at decent pace without any problems. On training runs, my heart rate usually averages 145. I wasn't sure what was going on, but figured I would keep going and walk as needed to keep it from hitting max again. In the back of my mind I kept thinking about how a continuously high HR was going to sap all my energy as the day wore on. Well, shit again. The trail was well maintained, but had a shitload of rocks and roots for your tripping pleasure. Although I never bit the dust, I did trip...a lot. Each time I caught a root I would catch my balance with an awful forward lunge. This re-aggravated an old groin pull injury as well as pissed me off. After a few trips I thought a couple of Aleve would relieve the pain. Of course, it would have been great to actually have some Aleve, but I forgot to bring any! Well, shit once again. Historically, RD's have let it be known that the runners should not ask for pain meds and that they wouldn't give them out anyway, so I didn't bother to beg the aid station workers. By mile 9 and countless more trips, my hip was very, very sore. The pain affected my gait, which then caused my opposite side knee to hurt. Let me tell you...it's a bitch being old. Of course, I never paid attention to the pre-race speech, so I assumed we would pass the start area (and our cars) after the first loop. I needed my second water bottle and wanted to drop off my camera. Well...we didn't pass go and I was not able to get to my car. In hindsight, this was actually a good thing for me. My hip was hurting and I was feeling sorry for myself. If I had the chance to go by the car, the temptation to drop may have been too great. The second loop was lonely. Except for one runner passing me in the opposite direction (he decided to call it a day) and the aid station workers, I never saw another soul. I tried to power hike as much as possible and even ran a bit, but the day was taking its toll on my old, fat ass. The second aid station on the loop came up around mile 17 and I said rules be damned...I needed some pain meds! The young lady reached into a large medical bin a whooped out ibuprofen and Tylenol! Well, shit! I should have asked for drugs 15 miles ago!!! After downing 3 ibuprofen and refilling the h2o, I was on my way. Within the next 30 minutes, my hip/knee pains had faded enough to run without hurting. The next (and last) aid station was at mile 20.72, as noted on my Garmin 305. When the worker said I only had 2.2 miles left I could only stare in disbelief. Maybe the elevation changes were fooling my trusty Garmin shy of almost 4 miles. Who knows, but I was not about to protest and request the "extra" miles! The mileage on the Garmin at the end of the race stated I had run a mere 23.49 miles in 6:14:58. Thank God it was over! I was somewhat happy with my time, although I believe the course was not a full marathon distance. My last marathon (St. Jude, Dec '07) was 5:20:31, so an extra 54 minutes and over 5,000 feet in elevation change was ok enough for me. More pictures here.

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