Monday, February 15, 2010

RR Bahamas

Race Report
Sun, Feb 14/10
Bahamas Marathon
Nassau, Bahamas
Marathon #325 – Country # 102
4:14:04 – 1AG

This is the report that all my ’couch potato’ readers - you know who you are – the ones following the ‘Gluttony & Sloth’ program – have been waiting for!
Since I am writing it I obviously survived – but barely! And it wasn’t the ‘Gluttony & Sloth’ program I followed for one week on the cruise that almost did me in – it was the friggin,nasty cold and sinus/chest congestion that some kind bugger gave me during the cruise!

A few days after we returned home from the Caribbean cruise both the Sports Manager and I started sniffling and sneezing. I managed to get a few 10-mile runs in those first few days and my legs felt lazy and sluggish due to the ‘G & S’ program. Then the cold hit me full force and knocked me on my ass! My sinus’ were congested and Thu I spent most of the day in bed suffering from hot & cold sweats, high fever and flashes of vivid hallucinations! I was worried that I would never be able to get out of bed on Fri morning to catch my flight to the Bahamas? Thankfully the fever peaked and broke in the wee hours of Fri morning and I actually felt not too bad when I left for the airport.

I met up with my friend Edson at the hotel in downtown Nassau on Fri afternoon. Edson is from NYC and is a fellow Country Club member and longtime friend going back to the days when we were both completing the 50 States circuit for the 1st time. We agreed to share a room for the race since hotels are ridiculously expensive in the Bahamas. On Fri night we attended the reception for the race at the Atlantis Resort and picked up our race packets. After a shaky start the race organization was spending big bucks to make this inaugural race a success. We had great difficulty getting info on the race and I wrote the race director a strong letter complaining about the lack of info, etc. They made some changes quickly to better the race but were too late to make it the ‘big’ race they hoped for. However I think they will do much better in 2011.

There were lots of exhibitors at the race expo and free food was provided – the only pasta we enjoyed during our visit! The race director had reserved Bib # 102 for me to represent Country #102. Edson was completing Country #69. Since we were both tired we retired early. Up to that time I had felt OK but then the coughing started –and I coughed and hacked all night! I felt sorry for Edson but either he is a sound sleeper or a good friend because he didn’t complain that I kept him awake all night with my hacking. As soon as the stores opened on Sat morning I found a pharmacy and bought enough drugs- cough syrup. sinus spray, etc – to keep me drugged up and to control the coughing and ease the congestion!

For the rest of Sat we did a walking tour of downtown Nassau. Since it was my 3rd visit to the Bahamas I acted as tour guide as we toured around and bought a mandatory Bahamas rum cake to bring home as a souvenir. We scouted around for an Italian restaurant and quickly realized that we might not enjoy a traditional pasta dinner before the race. Downtown Nassau closes up at 6 pm when the cruise passengers return to the ships so there are few restaurants and shops open after 6 pm. There are two fancy Italian restaurants in downtown Nassau but it was Valentine’s Day/eve and both were booked solid and would not accept a reservation. We asked the concierge to find us an Italian restaurant but the only option he could find required a $20 taxi ride to the other end of the island so we decided to try our luck at finding a small local diner with pasta downtown. No luck! We ended up eating noodles at a Chinese restaurant – one of the very few restaurants open. I was concerned about breaking a long. long tradition but there was no alternative and besides it was only one more minor glitch on a screwed-up week of preparation for the race! Then it was time to retire early and I drugged up on cough syrup, etc so we could get a decent night of sleep.

Sun was ‘M’ day. I felt much better in the morning as we drove to the start line with a local runner who had offered us a lift. The weather was a pleasant 60F at 6 am with a light breeze that made it feel cooler. (This was not normal weather – the Bahamas was experiencing the same cold front that moved through the Eastern US). There were about 300 runners – 100 in the marathon and the rest in the Half and relay. The race started at Fort Mantague on East Bay St, ran across the West Bridge to Paradise Island and back across the East bridge before proceeding through downtown Nassau and along West bay St and the ocean to Old Fort Bay where it looped back to finish at Arawak Cay. I had no idea what to expect from my body. After a week of ‘G & S’ followed by a week of illness – I had absolutely no idea what to expect – except that it probably wouldn’t be good?
It didn’t take long to get an answer! By the time I reached the West Bridge at mile 1, I was already sucking desperately for air. I felt like I was running at 10,000 ft in the Rock Mtns! I realized how badly congested my lungs were – they could not suck in enough air to keep the legs moving! As I struggled over the West Bridge I wisely decided that I would just listen to my body and let it dictate the pace.

I passed mile 4 in 38:34 and a split of 9:45 and decided that was probably the best pace I could do on that day? If I could hold that pace I would finish under 4:15 for a BQ (Boston Qualifying) time which would just have to be good enough for Maddog! I wasn’t willing to push my sick old bod any harder! For the next 5 miles I tried a few tests /experiments and noted some strange results. If I tried to run faster than 9:45 I would start sucking desperately for air so I figured that was the lower limit of my pace for that day. Then I tried to push harder to raise my heart rate to its normal race levels. I noted that my heart rate was at 135bpm instead of the normal race level of 145bpm? No matter how hard I tried I could not get my heart rate up to 145bpm – the congestion became the limiting factor and I would start sucking for air and have to back off? I passed mile 10 in 1:35:07 and a split of 9:35 and my legs felt fresh and full of energy and I seemed to be breathing easier so I decided to try to push the pace again. I managed to get the pace down to 9:20s and my heart rate up to a blazing 143 bpm but that was the limit for both and I could only hold that pace and heart rate for about 5 miles.

I passed the half in 2:04:35 and once again naively thought that since I was running so slow and easy I should be able to hold that pace and finish under 4:10? Wrong! After the course looped back at Old Fort Bay the wheels started to fall off as the lungs started to plug up again? I started sucking for air again and the pace started slowing until I passed mile 20 in 3:10:33 and a split of 10:11. If I could hold a 10-min pace I would be close to my target of 4:15. I had passed one local runner around 10 miles that appeared to be in my Age Group and confirmed before the turn-around that there were no other AG competitors in front of me so there was not much motivation or reason to hurt myself or accept a lot of pain.
From the turn-around point to 23 miles I ran all alone which didn’t help but finally I started to overtake runners/walkers and that provided a boost. I managed to keep the old legs churning and crossed the finish line in 4:14:04.

I waited for Edson to finish in 4:52:58 so we could take a finish line photo and walk back to our hotel together. After a quick shower we headed to the airport where we enjoyed a quick lunch and parted ways.
Considering the circumstances and conditions going into this race I can’t say that I am disappointed or frustrated (or happy) about my time or performance! I am disappointed that I wasn’t able to show up healthy and in peak shape because the course is flat and fast and I believe I could have achieved a good time if I had been healthy. One upside to running so slow is that my legs were not the slightest bit sore after the race and hopefully I can begin some intense training soon to get ready for my next race in two weeks.

And remember the BIGGEST and BEST news of all! I survived a marathon after following the Gluttony & Sloth’ program – and even threw in a severe cold for an added handicap! That means that all you ‘couch potatoes’ and ‘G & S’ followers are pre-eminently qualified to run a marathon!
Of course I must add the flowing caveat or disclaimer “Don’t try this stunt at home”!

Stay tuned!

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