Monday, September 22, 2014

Air Force Marathon 2014

Um, so, yeah...I ran a marathon this past weekend.  And I broke a lot of rules to do so.  I had a 20 mile run on the schedule so I thought why not do a supported run and just tack on another few miles.  The problem was, though, that Air Force was the only "local" marathon that weekend and it was sold out.  So I posted on Facebook if anyone knew how I might be able to get a bib for the race.  Lo and behold a friend's husband was signed up and not doing it, so I bought it from him.  And, I, um, didn't tell coach about any of this.  (I knew she wouldn't approve and well, she didn't.)

We barely got out to Dayton in time to pick up my packet and what a cluster.  The pick up is at the Nutter Center - Wright State's basketball arena.  They make you walk around the entire concourse to check out the gear (which was being torn down by the time we got there).  Then they make you walk down a billion steps to the basketball court to pick up your stuff, then back up the stairs, only to discover you were right next to the door you walked in.  Not like I'm running a marathon or anything tomorrow!!!  We didn't get to our hotel until nearly 9:00, none of us had eaten, and it was already past the baby's bedtime.  We ordered pizza and ate it in the room.  Not ideal, but this was just a training run right?

I struggled to sleep that night.  I was nervous.  Why?  I don't know.  The weather wasn't looking great.  I wasn't really trained for this.  I haven't run a road marathon in five years.  I felt like the expectations were high.  Whatever.  I slept fitfully and slept through the first five minutes of my alarm but felt at least somewhat rested and ready to go.  Because I was nervous I had a hard time eating anything before the race.  I ate a Larabar.  Not ideal and certainly not enough calories but it was something.

The logistics for this race kind of suck.  They suggest you get to the race site and hour and a half before your race.  Holy cow!  That's a long time and it's not like it's huge like New York or Chicago.  Now I know why.  There are only two exits to get on the air force base and they are on separate highways.  Then they snake you around and around in the dark, on a runway to a designated parking spot.  Finally you have to walk probably about a mile just to get to the start line.  NOT LIKE I'M RUNNING A MARATHON OR ANYTHING???!!!!  We left the hotel room at 5:30am and I finally got to my coral right around 7:00.  Our hotel was only 20 minutes away.  Understand?

It was chilly race morning but humid, sunny, and windy - the perfect storm of non-perfect race conditions.  I had no idea what to expect but told Dave I would probably be somewhere between 3-1/2 and 4 hours.  I started off conservatively, comfortable, if not a little fast.  The first couple miles were hilly and then super flat.  The majority of the race was on the air force base with absolutely NO spectators and no protection from the sun and wind.  For a while I was cruising...

Mile 1 - 8:52
Mile 2 - 8:58
Mile 3 - 8:11 (downhill)
Mile 4 - 8:29
Mile 5 - 8:23
Mile 6 - 8:21
Mile 7 - 8:15
Mile 8 - 8:19
Mile 9 - 8:21
Mile 10 - 8:18
Mile 11 - 8:18
Mile 12 - 8:21
Mile 13 - 8:27
Mile 14 - 8:23
Mile 15 - 8:23

For a while I thought maybe I was going to run a Boston qualifying time.  Cool, but I was running with someone else's bib and it wouldn't have even counted.  Seriously, I would have been mad if I had qualified and not even been able to use the qualification.  But then the wheels started to fall off.  My stomach started to bother me and I thought I was going to toss my cookies.  The wind and heat were starting to bother me too.  Everyone was suffering.  I saw people starting to walk being at the half way point.

Mile 16 - 8:41
Mile 17 - 8:45
Mile 18 - 8:54
Mile 19 - 9:16
Mile 20 - 9:13

Because this was supposed to be a 20 mile training run I made sure to run as close to 20 miles as possible before I started doing any walking.  I made it to 19 miles before I needed a little break.  Then I walked the water stops all the way to the end and threw in a few more short (10 seconds or less) walking breaks too.  I was definitely not having fun anymore.

Mile 21 - 9:48
Mile 22 - 10:23
Mile 23 - 10:40
Mile 24 - 10:38

Somewhere in the late miles the half marathon joins back up with the marathon.  The half starts an hour after the marathon so those who were still on the course were basically just walkers.  And they were all over the road.  I did a lot of weaving during this time.  That's too much energy to spend that late in a race.  Get out of my freakin' way!!!

Around mile 24 I seemed to have an upswing of energy.  At mile 25 the 3:55 pace group passed me and I was a little pissed about it.  I hung on with them and picked up my pace all the way to the finish line.

Mile 25 - 10:07
Mile 26 - 9:34

Overall time - 3:54:38


Here's a funny story about the race.  Yes, I wore an iPod and thank goodness I did as this was an extremely lonely and boring race.  But, I am also very good at slopping water all over myself when I drink it.  And because it was hot I was pouring water on myself too.  Around mile 16 my iPod started freaking out.  It kept saying, "Playlist 1, Playlist 2, Playlist 3, all songs..."  And it would keep flipping through songs.  I didn't even know I had playlists!  At some point it must have dried out and settled on what it calls Playlist 4, which happened to be 5 songs I just downloaded this week.  For 10 miles I heard the same 5 songs over and over and over again.  Before the marathon I really liked Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off".  Now I never want to hear it again!  

I was training for this marathon before I got pregnant.  It can be a PR course if you are okay with the desolate and pushing yourself.  But it is extremely boring with nothing to look at.  There are no spectators except for miles 10 and 11 which go through Fairborn (my favorite miles on the course).  There is no protection from the elements - no trees, no buildings and not enough participants to block any of the wind either.  But, the course was well staffed, well marked, right on target with my GPS (my watch read 26.26 miles at the finish), and the water stops were spaced well and had good supplies.  Will I run it again?  No.  But I'm glad I did it, even if only as a training run.  I've gotten the nerves out and I know where I am with my training for the goal marathon in a few weeks.

1 comment:

Carina said...

Nice job for a training run, you got in the solid and steady 20. I had wanted to do that race about 5 yrs ago but I heard some not great reviews (people doing the wrong route) and never looked into it again. Those conditions would have killed me!