End of the World Marathon
Marathon # 367 – Country # 118
Where do I start? I would have ran the inaugural marathon in 2012 (hence the name to reflect the end of the Mayan calendar) but I was on a sabbatical from running to rest and resolve health issues. One year later not much has been resolved and I did not have much confidence or enthusiasm as I walked to the start line. I feel it is important to tell my medical history during the past year that got me to this point for my own records and so that my readers can understand my mental attitude and dilemma at this time. It may be boring so feel free to skip the first page and go to the start of the actual race report.
When I finished the Guernsey Marathon in Aug 2012 I was in bad shape health-wise. My two health issues had become serious: the UC (Ulcerative Colitis) was in a major flare-up that could not be controlled by normal meds and my heart was back in A-fib. I knew I wasn’t feeling well and announced that Guernsey might well be my ‘final’ marathon. A cardio version was needed to jump start the heart back into rhythm but that only lasted for a few months. The cardiologist refused to perform another cardio version and recommended an ablation procedure to stop the heart from going into A-fib. I reluctantly agreed to have an ablation procedure the day after Christmas. During this same time the GI doc had increased my meds to a cocktail of toxic meds to force the UC into remission and this cocktail had some nasty side effects. When I was released from the hospital a few days after the ablation I was able to walk a few miles without problems. However when I tried to run after one week it was a total disaster – I couldn’t run more than 500 ft. without collapsing from fatigue and shortness of breath. One week later my heart went back into A-fib and another cardio version was needed to get it back into rhythm. I was very discouraged at that point and agreed to follow the cardiologist’s orders NOT to run for a few weeks to give my heart a chance to recover from the ablation.
I flew from Miami to Belize City where I connected with a small 8-passenger airplane for the final leg to Placencia. It has been a long time since I flew on such a small airplane. We never flew above 2,000 ft. as we followed the coastline and made a short stop to drop off passengers in Dangriga. Finally I arrived in Placencia and joined my roommate Edson from NYC. We soon bumped into another CC member Brent who joined us for dinner. We stayed at the host hotel (Robert Grove Resort) which is expensive and remote (only 4 miles from the village but a $10 taxi ride). On Sat we took a taxi into Placencia to explore the village. I was surprised that the village is so small (1500 people) with only one paved road? It is very basic and laid-back – not modern and upscale as I expected. It took only a few hours to explore the entire village and enjoy a pizza for lunch. Later we picked up our race packets at the hotel and joined the final two CC members (Yen and Peter) for a pasta dinner at the hotel.
Sun was M-day! The race started at 5:30 am to benefit from at least one hour of darkness and cooler temps. The race started in the center of the village, ran 13 miles north on the only paved road and returned to the finish line in the center of the village. On Sat we had noted how hot it was at 10 am so we were hoping for cloudy skies and maybe rain on race day? The weather Gods were kind to us. The skies were overcast at the start with temps in the low 70s F. Peter and Yen slept in and just made it to the start line as the gun went off so we weren’t able to get a group photo at the start of the race. Brent started fast and the other four CC members ran the first few miles together. At 3 miles I stuck to my race strategy and stopped to stretch and walk for 3 min. When I passed 4 miles in 44:56 it started to rain which cooled the temps and my bod and I started to leave my three friends behind. We enjoyed light rain showers for much of the first half. I reached 12 miles in 2:01:05 and stopped and walked. So far I felt OK – actually good- and had no problems with cramps or tightness. I passed the Half in 2:26:17 but I knew the 2nd Half would not be that fast because the sun was starting to break through the clouds. I was concerned that the sun would bake the wet road and we would be running in a steam bath. We were lucky! The skies remained overcast for much of the 2nd half also and I don’t think the temps rose above 80 F? We passed some gated communities at Maya Beach and the Placencia Hotel which were modern and upscale which is what I expected to find in Placencia Village. When I reached mile 20 in 3:35:30 I started to tire and my legs started to get tight so I changed my race strategy to run 2 miles and walk 3 min. When I passed mile 23 in 4:15:50 and a split of 13:26 I had an notion to run the final 5K but that silly idea didn’t last long as I started to struggle. After another walk at Mile 24 I was able to cruise to the finish line in 5:11:27.
I was happy with my time and performance based on the struggles I had experienced in my training runs for the past month. I had completed Marathon # 367 and Country # 118 without suffering any problems and I was one marathon closer to my first goal. Brent had already finished in 1st AG (60+) and we waited for our friends to finish. Peter and Yen had to jump into a cab immediately to return to the hotel, shower and catch a 2 pm flight home. I remember when I used to do silly things like that before I retired? Edson and I returned with them so we could shower, relax and enjoy some food and beer.
Brent and Edson left Mon morning and I moved into the village where a hotel was cheaper and I could walk to all the bars and restaurants. I had booked a 6-day trip hoping to visit some Mayan ruins after the race. Unfortunately there were few tourists in Placencia at this time and I wasn’t able to find or join a tour to any ruins. The only tours available were snorkeling tours and I didn’t feel like snorkeling. Instead I explored the village and met many locals and transplanted Northerners at the local bars where the beer is good and cheap. There seemed to be a lot of Northerners who came to Placencia on vacation and never left? Each night I would enjoy a great seafood dinner and a nightcap at one of the bars with my new friends.
I am back home now and feeling more encouraged and optimistic about my running. Since I was able to complete the Belize marathon without any problems I have booked the trip for my next international marathon in early Jan. That race will allow me to accomplish my 1st personal goal. I also plan to reduce my training program from 50 miles per week to 30 miles per week to see what effect and benefit that produces?
Where is that race? What is the goal?