Thursday, February 20, 2014
Sun, Feb 16/14
Five Points of Life Marathon
5:08:22 - 2 AG
I decided to run this race for a 3rd time because I needed to run a long training run. My longest run since the Haiti Marathon had been only 16 miles and that doesn’t build a lot of confidence when preparing for an important race. After Haiti I decided to cut back on my training program and just do the minimum amount of miles needed to get me through the next few marathons. I decided to run a marathon as a long training run and I chose Gainesville because it was close and I could drive to it and I had run this race twice before.
You would think after 368 marathons that it would be difficult to experience a ‘first’ in a marathon so I was shocked to experience TWO ‘firsts’ in this race. Let me explain.
I drove up to Gainesville on Sat and picked up my race packet and enjoyed a nice pasta dinner at Carrabba’s where I usually eat so no ‘firsts’ yet. Sun was ‘M’-day. The weather was cool with a temp of 39 F at the 7 am start – the first time I had enjoyed cool weather for a race in a long time – but not really a ‘first’. There were about 200 runners in the marathon and 500 in the Half. The race starts and finishes on the UF (University of Florida) campus. I wore 2 layers of clothes on top plus a garbage bag and gloves to keep warm – the first time I have had to do that in a long time – but not really a ‘first’. I had to make two last-minute pit stops before the race. That concerned me but wasn’t a ‘first’.
A few minutes before the start I hooked up my heart monitor and checked my HR. It was only 32 bpm? That was a ‘first’ (for the start of a race) and really concerned me. I ran a few sprints to see if I could get my HR to rise higher but it never got above 39 bpm. I had bought a new heart monitor/watch to replace the old one that had malfunctioned in the past 2 races. I had wisely practiced with it on a few training runs to be certain that I knew how to use it. But my HR hadn’t been that low since the ablation over a year ago? I wasn’t sure if my HR was actually that low or had I screwed up a setting on the heart monitor? I didn’t want to mess with the watch in the dark so I took off with the pack when the race started. Although I tried not to be concerned I watched the heart monitor every few secs during the 1st mile to see if my HR would rise? It never rose above 40 bpm during the 1st mile. Now I was becoming concerned! Shortly into Mile 2 the monitor jumped suddenly to 130 bpm which is the normal race rate for that new watch and I was able to relax after confirming that it stayed in that range. Whew!!!
As I reached Mile 2 in 20:51 I took off the garbage bag. At the same time I started to suffer severe stomach cramps and knew what that meant – an emergency pit stop! There was a port-o-potty but it had a line so I found a bush for pit stop #1. Two miles later the stomach cramps started again and this time I was able to use a port-o-potty. Now I was concerned again. The cramps and diarrhea are symptoms of UC (Ulcerative Colitis). Was I suffering a flare-up of my UC? I haven’t had a flare-up in more than a year? At mile 3 I removed my throw-away sweat shirt so that I was now running in a long sleeve T-shirt and shorts – the sun was up and the temps were in the low 40s. At mile 4 I got my answer to the UC question when I suffered severe stomach cramps and had to make another emergency pit stop behind a bush! Two more pit stops were necessary by the time I reached mile 10 in 2:06:18 and a split of 11:58. This was not the second ‘first’ – I had experienced this problem before when my UC was severe.
However as I approached the UF/Gator football stadium at 11 miles I could feel stomach cramps starting again so I decided to use a port-o-potty near the entrance of the stadium for a pre-emptive pit stop to prevent an embarrassing situation in the stadium. On previous pit stops I had noticed that the elastic band in my race shorts was starting to lose its elasticity so I had tightened the drawstring. I couldn’t waste time trying to untie the drawstring so I yanked the race shorts down and –Oh Crap!- both the elastic band and the drawstring broke. When I pulled my shorts back up they just fell to my knees! There was nothing left to hold them up. This was certainly a ‘FIRST’!
I had visions and concerns about running and holding my shorts up for the next 15 miles! However my Boy Scout and military survival training took over. I removed two safety pins from my race bib and folded each side of the waist band and pinned them. The fix seemed to work but I was concerned about how long since the pins were very small and not very strong? After I passed the half in 2:32:33 and a split of 11:56 I noticed a medical station so I stopped and asked if they had any large safety pins. Unfortunately none. When I explained my problem the medical staff used stretchy/sticky medical tape to wrap around my shorts and waist. The shorts felt much more secure but I was going to have a problem if I needed another emergency pit stop!
The next 4 miles were my fastest of the race. I had enjoyed lots of unplanned rest stops and now had no worry about shorts falling down and there were no more stomach cramps or pit stops! I recall reaching Mile 15 in 2:54:54 and a split of 11:16 and reminding myself how good I felt compared to the last time I ran this race in 2012. At that race I was sick with a flu and totally crashed at mile 15 and had to struggle for the last 11 miles. Not today! I felt good!
However as I approached Mile 18 in 3:38:39 and a split or 10:37 the stomach cramps returned. Another emergency pit stop was needed. I didn’t want to wreck the ‘fix’ on my shorts because I didn’t think there was any way to re-fix the fix? I won’t provide graphic details (TMI) but suffice it to say I found a way to make an emergency pit stop without dropping my race shorts – and without making a mess. I was back on the road and still feeling good. When I reached mile 20 in 3:53:44 and a split of 11:23 I felt really good energy-wise but my legs were starting to tire due to the lack of long training runs. So I stopped and walked for 1 minute and decided to follow that strategy (run 2 miles and walk 1 minute) for the final 10K. I had no more problems during the final 10K and crossed the finish line in 5:08:22 and 2nd AG.
I was a wee bit disappointed in my time because I knew that I could easily have finished the race under 5 hrs if I had not experienced all the problems. It would have been nice to finish a marathon under 5 hrs before hanging up my racing shoes because I don’t believe I will have another opportunity. But I was happy that I felt strong and good at the finish and now have confidence that I can complete my personal goal # 2 – country # 120 – at my next international adventure.
I plan to join a few Country Club friends in Tanzania to run the Kilimanjaro Marathon on Mar2/14.