Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rock n' River Marathon(!!): Race Report

((ok, so this post is really long.  and it has a LOT of pictures of me.  just so you know))

On Saturday, I headed on down to Reno for the race expo.  It was a bit underwhelming and was held in one of those hotel conference rooms that always somehow seem a little creepy to me.  

 I picked up my number, race packet and t-shirt, and scoped the room for whatever schwag I could find -- not much, it turns out.  I did spend some time at a booth that was highlighting those Vibram 5 Fingers barefoot shoe things . . . I even got to try on a pair and then ran around the conference room a few times to see what they felt like. I'm all for the barefoot running movement, I really enjoyed the Born to Run book and think there's TONS of merit behind the idea, but don't think I'm yet ready to give up my comfy running shoes.  Having said that, I AM thinking about buying a pair for general wear and things like river scrambles and tubing trips.  They were super comfortable and reminded me a bit of my childhood, which I spent for the most part barefoot.

I also bought a bright pink hat and some Scape sunblock that was promised to not run in my eyes. I was skeptical, because I've heard this promise before and, invariably, I end up with my eyes all teary -- and then a dark forehead, because I hate the teary eyes.  Anyhow, this stuff actually worked!  It was rather expensive, something like 11 dollars for a pretty small bottle (I looked online for this, is it possible this company does not have an on-line presence?  Really?), but it DID NOT RUN.  Wow, truth in advertising!

I got home and laid everything out for the next day.  Man, it takes a lot of shit* to run (and recover from) a marathon!

After I laid everything out, I noticed a certain trend towards, well, pink.  Damn that's a lot of pink, from the new hat to the recovery socks.  At least I'll be easy to spot in a crowd!

 We rolled out of bed at 4:30 am, and I tucked into my planned breakfast.  Traditionally this has been a Egg McMuffin from McDonald's, but I figured a little similar pre-made thing from 7-11 would also fit the bill.  I have tried this in the past on a long training run, and it seemed to set right in my stomach and logistically was easier to obtain (since 7-11 is right down the street).  In any case, egg-muffin-and-a-coke and I was ready to go.  *Speaking of shit, I dropped a bit of a deuce (#1 of many) at home, and thought that would be that and we could let the subject rest.  However, my intestines seemed to have a different idea and decided to channel Beth, who knows of what I speak, and to her I dedicate this marathon.  I decided thus right around the time we arrived at the race venue.  My stomach was feeling just a tad unsettled and I was hoping that perhaps I could visit the john and complete what I had started at home.  I actually watched as they unlocked the row of porta-potties at the start (the only time you can be assured of a decent crapper is when you watch them unlock them, then waste no time!), but elected to take advantage of the multitude of heated casinos also present. I thought it might be lucky to "drop my nugget" at the Nugget . . . 

. . . and I was inordinately pleased with my (awful, awful) success!  This pleasure didn't last too long, though, because after a few jogs around the block to warm up, I did have to hit the (still clean!) portapotties for another "tribute", yes, #3.  I hoped that this was the last of it, and turned my attention to the race ahead.  (as a side note, the people you find in a casino in Reno at 6:00 am are just kinda sad).

Let me start off by saying Well Done! to the race organizers.  This was a great race!  The marathon contingent was small, maybe 100? participants, with a much larger showing (couple thousand?) for the half.  There were very few spectators -- I've not yet done a race that had a lot of spectators, so this really didn't factor into it for me.  There were TONS of aid stations, each really well stocked (read: not depleted by the time my slow ass made it around, this is often NOT the case) with water, gatorade, bananas, pretzels and oranges -- all this even at mile 1! (mile 12 on the way back).  The course was very well marked, well-policed, and well-cordoned off when necessary.  The course itself was great, mostly flat and right along the Truckee River.  The volunteers? were awesome! and I was smiling through every aid station because they were so cheerful and supportive.  The whole event was the best-organized of any races I have done.  Just great all around.

So here I am at the start line, hanging in the back with all the slow peeps.  Previously, I had wondered whether I should join a pace group or not -- this turned out NOT to be an issue, as there were (officially) 107 entrants and, yeah, no pace groups.  There wasn't even much of a build up to the (on time!) 6:30 am start, mainly just -- Go!  So, I went.

I didn't have a race plan.  I thought I would try to keep it under 12:00/mile, and that was about it.  I looked around to find someone to run behind (this technique has worked for me in the past), but it was a little tricky to do this so early.

1 00:10:48

Too fast! (a phrase I never thought I would utter)

2 00:11:29

Better, and I pick someone to follow -- a woman with a big ol' backpack on.  Seriously, not just a Camelback thing, but a full-on daypack.  What do you have in there?  I settle in, calm my breathing, and convince myself I can do this!  The weather is perfect, sunny and cool and I feel just fine.

3 00:12:04

So, right around the 3 mile mark, I feel my innards making noise.  I speed up past backpack girl and hit a park bathroom.  I accidentally run into the Men's, but there's no stopping me at this point so I just shout out my incoming femaleness and storm on in.  Bathroom = unoccupied, Bowels = emptied (sort of).  WTF?  I used to have a lot of GI issues when I first began running, but they've mostly been a thing of the past.  I certainly haven't had to deal with this kind of thing in a race in a looong time.  I'm a little worried that this might have an impact on my race, but I don't actually feel poorly, so I hope for the best.  I come out and backpack girl is, of course, long gone.  I decide to catch back up, and after hustling for a quarter mile or so, I do!  I catch up to her, then pass her, never to be seen again.  I'm on my own.

4 00:10:49

Around this time, my right knee goes twang! and I'm now more than a little concerned.  This pain is weird, nothing I've had before, and this is not the day!  I note it and just keep going on.

5 00:11:11
6 00:11:35

I've settled into a rhythm at this point, and the miles are flipping by.  My knee settles down, then at mile 6 twang! there it is again.  Bad.  It's not making me limp, but every time I bend it I've got pretty sharp lateral pain.  Again, WTF?

Around this point the fast half marathoners (who left :30 after us) start passing me, and I'm totally enjoying it!  I feel like, Look at me! I'm running with the fast guys!  who of course pass me handily, but for a brief moment . . . !  I'm generally making a fool of myself, cheering all the runners on, both the folks passing me and the ones I encounter on the out-and-back.  Now the course is starting to get crowded!  Oh, and here I thought I was being all individual-like with the bright pink top and bright pink hat (Tom'll find me easy), but nooo.  I swear, every 5th woman was dressed in hot pink and black, just like me.  Ok, I lose out on individuality, but do I make it on fashionably with the times?

7 00:11:24
8 00:11:08

I'm barely aware that I have run 8 miles.  Though I know where I am on the course, because I've run it in training, it doesn't really sink in where I am until I look down at Gary.  8 miles, gone.  I'm running along the side of the road and find Tom waiting for me there.  My personal cheering section!  I ask him to procure me some ibuprofen the next time he sees me, because the knee is still acting up and I'm a little worried . . .

9 00:11:52
10 00:12:30

I figure out that if I keep my foot straight and concentrate on rolling my weight off of my big toe (I'm usually a little bit pigeon-toed) the knee pain goes away.  I adjust my stride accordingly, and it's the last I feel of the pain.  I don't know what it was all about, but it hasn't twinged a bit since.  Mystery.

At mile 10 I form an alternative race plan in my head.  I decide I've made it this far, I should run at whatever pace I can maintain comfortably (so far I've been running a little slower), for the next 10 miles. I think I can run fast!

11 00:10:50
12 00:10:56

I do, for the next 2 miles.  Then my pace naturally slows, and I let it.  At mile 13 we lose the half folks, and   ::crickets::   there is no one around, I am running on my own.  I run through all the aid stations without stopping, except right here where I fill my handheld again.  In just about every aid station I grab an orange slice and revel in the taste and the juiciness.  This is notable because I generally am not a fan of oranges.

13 00:11:33
14 00:11:18
15 00:11:50

My speedy sub 11:00s have kinda tapered off.  I don't much care.

At the end of mile 15, I find Tom on the side of the trail.  I take the ibuprofen from him even though my knee isn't hurting anymore.  I figure it can only help.  I'm totally cheerful and feeling strong, not at all tired.  I'm completely enjoying the morning and the experience.

I chat for a little, then resume my run for about 100 yards or so, and then am suddenly veering for the permanent (you can tell by the cage? around it) porta-potty right off the trail.  My guts are in knots.  A guy is standing there shaking his head at me, saying "It's not pretty in there." He was right -- it wasn't.  I didn't have the luxury of caring.  Poo #5.  Eeeesh.

16 00:13:22
17 00:13:03

I left what little speed I had back with the poo in that nasty porta-potty, never to return. Here I just feel tired.  My joints ache.  sad trombones

18 00:12:21
19 00:12:01

At 19.5 we have the last turn-around.  I ask Gary and he says 3:49.  For a half a second I'm thinking Oh, I can do a 10K in 1:10, and thus get my secret goal of under 5 hours.  Then the other half of the second passes and that thought flies away.  More oranges, another gel, and I turn around and head for home.  I stop looking at the GPS and run by feel.  I'm feeling much, much better.

20 00:13:07
21 00:12:11

For no apparent reason, right at the mile 21 aid station I fall down, scaring the shit out of 2 women pedaling their bikes in the opposite direction and adding a (much, much smaller) matching scab for the left knee.  I get up, brush myself off, say No worries, it happens all the time (it does!), grab another orange and continue on.

22 00:15:18

Poo #6.  Less said the better.

I find Tom again at mile 23.  The end is near, I can feel it, and I know I'm a short distance away from being done.  Whoppeee!  Tom lets me know I have orange bits all around my mouth.  At this point, I'm just glad I don't have shit running down my leg (sorry) so I wave him off with a backwards smile, jam my buds back into my ears and almost run into a cyclist.  Good lord.

23 00:15:24
24 00:13:05
25 00:12:49
26 00:12:55

These miles just blur on by, I'ma cruising, and the next thing I know

27 00:03:03

I've just run a marathon.

Yay!  I'm so happy!

My official time is 5:19, and that's good enough for me.  

Holy nipple presentation, Batman!

I am completely pleased with myself, and think this long distance running stuff just rocks.  I don't know how to say this without sounding like a tool, but this whole race was kind of . . . easy.  I felt like I could have run another 5 or 10 miles, no sweat.  This race confirms something I've suspected all along: I am built for distance, not speed.  I do feel like this is the first of many long distances for me.

Today I signed up for the High Sierra 20 mile "Fun Run" in Bishop in 2 weeks time.  

I think I'm obsessed.

ps @formulaic . . . HA! (emphatically)


Stuart said...

Great job again...sounds like the obsession has started!

When you're looking for your first ultra...which you know you will be! Check out the Calico Town 50k

ShutUpandRun said...

I am so honored you dedicated this run to ME! And I can totally see why. The fact that you did not have poop running down your leg or even in your pants is a HUGE plus. Man, what the heck did you eat the days leading up to the race? Or maybe it was that 7-11 egg thing. That would have done me in. Either way, nice race, and thanks for thinking of me.

Pam said...

Note to self...avoid 7-11 on race day at all costs.

That's so awesome that you not only finished but finished STRONG!

funderson said...

If I wasn't already amazed, I'm truly amazed you did all that on some egg McMuffin-like food from a convenience store and a coke. That cracks me up! You're a total bad-ass

Formulaic said...


Formulaic said...

Oh! BTW:

Awesome job out there. You had a good day and didn't let it wear you down. Dealing with GI is NEVER fun, but you dealt with it like a champ.

Way to go!

ShirleyPerly said...


I've had my share of GI issues but in a long race like a marathon they don't seem to matter much (unless I get dehydrated which happened once). Great photos and keep smiling!

RBR said...

5:19 is AWESOME!!! (Sorry I am so late with the congrats. I think I mentioned my Google Reader issues and apparently not all of my blogs on on the roll. Grrr...)

Congratulations on your first marathon! I smell an addict (and, no, that is not a "poop" slam)

Woo hoo!!

SF in July?

I am jut sayin'....

MissBrightside said...

You're a bad ass! Congratulations :O)

Sarah said...

Congratulations on your marathon! You deserve a medal for visiting so many port-a-potties as well...you are a champ!