Thursday, November 5, 2009

Marshall University Marathon Race Report

Mixed feelings about this race still. I should be elated with a four-minute PR and a second-place finish, but I'm somewhat disappointed that I didn't run faster. I went into this race thinking I was in 3:05 shape, and ran out of gas at about 16 miles. Apparently the 250 calories I had for breakfast were insufficient. Then again, if the biggest obstacle I need to tackle in my training right now is to eat more ... I can probably handle that.

More specifics on the race: MUM is a tiny, tiny race. About 350 people in each the full and the half. The perks of the race make it sound pretty good, which is why we went -- a full-zip fleece instead of a t-shirt, dinner the night before, lunch after the race, and a low $60 entry fee. Oh, and a copy of the "We are Marshall" DVD.

And the course is pancake flat. That aspect, at least, lived up to its name.

But, for only having a handful of entrants, it was one of the dumbest packet pickups I've ever seen. First you have to find the right building, then figure out where the hell the door to it is. Then you walk to the table and the volunteers stop talking to each other just long enough to tell you to walk across the lobby and look up your bib number and come back. Now, with 350 people in each race and a separate table for each, I kind of expect them to do that for me. Alphabetize the list by last name, give to volunteers, done. They don't offer us bags for the bibs, pins and stupid ankle chips we need ... but they do give us a poorly copied black-and-white course map from 2007 with the changes scribbled out and rewritten in pencil. Doh! The course loops back on itself in several places, so there's no way you can figure out where you're going on this map. If I can find my copy, I will post it.

Hoping with a small race I could score an appropriate-sized top, I emailed the race director over the summer -- before they ordered shirts -- asking for an XS. He said he would try to get one and to ask at check-in. I did. They had no idea what I was talking about. Even the race director looked at me blankly. I took the small, which would somehow later get mixed up with a medium and is now utterly worthless as an article of clothing for a 105-pound, 5'3" girl.

Still sans bags, we drag all this stuff to the car and head to Applebees for lunch. Not the best choice, but Huntington isn't that big and it seemed a safe option.

We check into our hotel, which is pretty nice even though the pool turned out to be closed. Alas. We probably wouldn't have gotten in it anyway. We lounge around, put in a four-mile run, head to the pre-race dinner (for free!) slightly sweaty, eat some pasta.

Here's where my nutrition starts to go awry. I don't like tomato sauce. Tomatoes make me sick. But the spaghetti doesn't look particularly good plain, so I have them put on a little bit. It doesn't help. I pick at dinner, and there's little chance I ate enough.

Back at the hotel, we reset the clocks since it's daylight savings weekend. We watch a couple of hours of the "I didn't know I was pregnant" marathon and go to sleep. I have the alarm set for 5 a.m. because I'm neurotic, pretty much, and wanted to get up early enough to know I hadn't somehow bungled the time change.

I have my meager breakfast around 5:30, have a cup of coffee, put on race gear and warmups, head to the start line. We listen to bad rap songs loudly in the car, I dance around the parking lot, etc. In a sports bra and arm warmers, a guy says, "It's time to get serious, huh?" I say, well, obviously.

I get stuck in a bathroom stall. Scratch my back coming out under the door.

Minimum of interesting stuff going on at starting line. There was an official prayer, but during that I prayed to the running gods by doing some striders. The gun went off and in the opening quarter mile I found out the girl ahead of me was planning to break 3 hours. So we let her go.

I had planned to pick up the pace at the 10k, half and 20 mile points, so I'll give you splits accordingly.

Miles 1-6: 6:56, 7:06, 7:10, 7:09, 7:10, 7:10. (Goal pace 7:10)

Not much going on to see, little bit on the riverwalk but only a half a mile or so. Mostly residential and no crowd support. Lots of police and ROTC out blocking traffic though. A couple of other guys start running with us. It feels nice and easy so far, which surprises me a little.

Miles 7-13: 7:11, 7:08, 7:07, 7:07, 7:09, 7:08, 7:08. (Goal pace 7:08)

We looped through a small park for a couple miles in here, like 9-11. The park would have been more interesting if the gravel path hadn't been covered in leaves, making it impossible to see where you were going. We did get to see some other runners as we came back out of the park. We drop the other two guys, so it's just me and Matt and the roads are getting extra lonely. There's no crowd support and I'm not sure the water stops were at regular intervals ... if they were, I couldn't figure out the pattern.

Miles 14-20: 7:09, 7:10, 7:16, 7:23, 7:24, 7:28, 7:33. (Goal pace 7:05)

CRASH!!!! I ran outta gas. You can see it happen. At 15 I told Matt to go, because I didn't want to slow him down. If I had tried to stay with him I might have stayed under 7:20 for a little while longer but maybe not. Nothing hurt, just pooped out. No juice. Around mile 15 we were running on a four-lane almost-highway, with just our lane blocked off, and the road was heavily cambered. There was no shade, no other runners, no crowd ... Barf. The only thing worth note was the Jolly Pirate Donuts store. And at that point I was pretty sure I was delirious anyway.

Miles 21-26: 7:33, 7:30, 7:49, 7:43, 7:33, 7:40, 7:20. (Goal pace 7:00)

Yikes! I was just trying to trudge home at this point. With no clocks on the race course, I actually had no idea what my time might be at the end. I had set my Garmin up to just tell me distance, current pace and lap average pace; at this point I didn't even want to know how it was going. I figured I had gone out well enough through the first 15 to still PR, but that was about all I knew and I wasn't even sure about that. But I figured if I wasn't going to PR, I didn't want to know.

Around 22 we hit the park again, going the opposite direction. On my way out of the park, going around a tight U-turn, I saw the next female runner pretty close to me. That's when the pace starts to pick back up. I remember thinking, "Damn, I have to hold her off for four miles!"

The last mile or so goes through the Marshall University campus, which I'm sure is neat for recreational runners but was kind of a pain to navigate. You had to follow arrow markers along the entire path, which veered around various plantings and statues. Sigh. Then back on to the street and down a couple blocks -- on the sidewalk, which wasn't blocked off at all and I almost trampled a few departing half-marathoners and their families. Whoops.

Into the Marshall University football stadium, where you have to run down the long side ... and then make a sharp left at the goalposts, which is much easier to do if the teenagers standing there handing out footballs would have told me to do so. I end up missing the turn (why it wasn't blocked off I have no idea) and ducking back under the caution tape.

Ta-da, a fifth marathon finish.

Matt, who ran the first 15 with me, ran 3:05 as his debut. His wife and my great friend, Diane, PR'd by 10 minutes, running a 3:28. They won their age groups!

We drank a bottle of champagne in the parking lot, showered in the rec center, checked out of the hotel and headed home.

The end. Mostly because I'm tired of typing. More thoughts later, perhaps.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The joys of small marathons.

250 calories after no dinner...there's your problem. I eat 450 before the race, then a gel and then four more while running.

Still, nice job holding off woman #3, especially when you were in the midst of imploding. And a PR is a PR. You'll get your 3:05 or better but YOU HAVE TO EAT.