Apr 5 - 10/17
Sat, Apr 8, 2017
Marathon # 383
Country # 132
Some of my readers may recall that there seems to be a trip report missing?
My announced plans called for a marathon in the Seychelles at the end of Feb.
Never happened for Maddog!
A few days after the previous marathon in St Lucia in early Feb, I noticed that I was struggling just to run a few miles? At first I thought I was just tired from the tough marathon in the tropical heat. However, after a few more days I realized that it was more than that. I couldn’t run more than a few minutes before becoming totally fatigued and short-of-breath. I had a good idea what the problem was but preferred to go into denial and keep thinking that “I was tired”. Finally, I had to come out of denial, and call my cardiologist, and tell him that I believed my heart was in A-fib again. He asked me to come into the office that day and an EKG quickly conformed that I was right – unfortunately!
I was supposed to depart that weekend for Africa but I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Instead I had to go to the hospital for another cardio version! The cardiologist jump started my heart back into rhythm and advised me NOT to go to the Seychelles and NOT to run the marathon. For one of the few times in my life, I decided to follow his advice and reluctantly cancelled the trip.
A few days after the procedure, I felt much better and was able to run again without suffering fatigue, etc. Since the next marathon wasn’t scheduled until early April, I figured I should be OK to run that race? To increase my chances and reduce stress on the heart, I even stopped drinking alcohol and resolved to stay ‘on the wagon’ until I completed my next marathon. That race was important to me, and I didn’t want to miss it!
My health and conditioning improved quickly, and I was confident I would be able to run the marathon in Palau. I never ran a training run longer than 12 miles because I didn’t want to stress my heart. I figured this would eventually impact my performance in the marathon but I would deal with that on race day.
So I kept my plans and departed for Palau on Wed, Apr 5/17. I selected the fastest route from Tampa but it required 4 flights- TPA/IAH/HNL/GUM/ROR. Unbeknownst to me UA uses old/crappy planes on this route and the service is terrible! No meals on 7 & 8 hr flights, and entertainment is available only on personal devices – or UA will rent you a tablet for $15 on each flight? What a rip off! Avoid UA and these flights if you run Palau!
However, I did arrive safely and on time 25 hrs after leaving Tampa. When I departed the airport in Palau at 9pm, it felt like I was walking into a steam bath! Oh joy! This race was going to be so much fun!
After a few hours of sleep and rest I finally got up at 7am and ate an early breakfast. The sun was up and it was HOT! Oh goody – I should be on the final 10K of the marathon about this time. Since shops don’t open until 10am, I had to go back to bed and wait to do the shopping for my mandatory souvenirs. I was actually surprised that I was able to find everything. Now I was bored and there was nothing to do – and it was too HOT to go outside!
My friends and fellow Country Club members had arrived in the wee hours of the morning so they slept most of the day and we got together later that day. We went for an early dinner and then I went to bed and slept for 5 hrs since we had to meet at packet pick-up at 12:30am on Sat. The Race Director arranged for a car to pick us up and drive us to the pick-up point located at the 20-mile point of the marathon and start line of the 10K race.
There were 10 runners in the marathon and 5 of those were CC members! There were no local runners in the marathon. After picking up our race bibs, marathoners were driven 20 miles north into the country on Babeldaob Island. It was isolated with few houses and lights. The course was hilly with several BAHs (Bad Ass Hills) and it was dark. Thankfully I had brought a headlamp. Without one it would have been difficult and dangerous to run.
After taking a group photo of the CC members, the marathon started on time at 2am. Instead of water stations there were 4 support vehicles that cruised the course, and provided water and support. There was no traffic other than the support vehicles so that part of the course was safe. One minor complaint was that were no distance markers, and none of the volunteers had any idea of distances along the course. The only markers were the Shell gas station (packet pick-up at 20 miles), and the finish line!
Although it was HOT – about 80F at the start – the humidity was lower than expected so we didn’t feel too hot or overheated at the start. But we felt the hills right from the start. There were several hills. My pre-race strategy was to use a cycle of run 7 min/walk 2 min. However, the hills rendered that strategy useless! So I changed my strategy to run 2 min/walk 2min on the uphills, and run 10min/walk2min on the downhills.
Ibecame frustrated when I couldn’t determine what my pace was and how far it was to the Shell station (20M). When I reached what I figured was the Half I asked a few volunteers,”how far to the gas station”. One answered “about 10miles” and another answered “about 5 miles”. Great! And that point, that I later learned was the start of mile 13, was the start of the baddest BAH on the course! That BAH climbed relentlessly for over 1 mile. I thought it would never end? Thankfully, we were rewarded with a long gradual decline on the other side where I ran my fastest mile of the race.
The sun rose at 6am, and I turned off my headlamp. I still had no idea how far it was to the gas station but I was hoping to reach it by 6:30am? At 6:30am I still couldn’t see the station, and one volunteer told me it was still about 3 miles away. I hope not because I am starting to tire, and if the 20M mark is still 3 more miles, the final 10K is going to be UGLY!