Thursday, August 18, 2011

TR -Isle of Man

8/10 – 8/16/11

Race Results
Sun, Aug 14/11
Ramsey, Isle of Man
Isle of Man Marathon
Marathon #347 – Country # 110

Where and how to start this report? There were a number of events that occurred leading up to this race that are important to better understand the story. So I am including a prologue or background section to fill in this information.


Planning for this race began about one year ago after the Country Club reversed a decision that the Isle of Man and other Channel Islands were not considered ‘countries’. Some Brits and European members protested that decision and submitted data to support their claim. The most significant criteria was data provided by Wikipedia that stated that these British colonies were not part of the UK or EU and competed against the UK in the Commonwealth games. One of the fundamental rules of the Country Club is that if a ‘nation’ is recognized as a country by an International Sports Organization such as the IOC, FIFA or the Commonwealth Games then it is accepted as a ‘country’ by the Country Club.
This decision reversal was good & bad news for Maddog. He now had to run 3 additional countries in Europe to maintain his claim that he had completed every country in Europe – but at least the countries were easy to get to! IOM was the first marathon in the Channel Islands scheduled for 2011.

Since I had not been back to Europe for 5 years I decided to arrange my trip through London and stay over for a few days to visit friends I had not seen for a few years. When I used to travel through London I always stayed with a good friend, Tad Lancucki, and he graciously offered to host me again. Another friend, Roger Biggs, offered to join me to run the marathon and help set up the travel/hotels etc in IOM. Everything was going smoothly until March when I received the shocking and tragic news that Tad had died suddenly and unexpectently of a heart attack! We were all saddened by this terrible news! Our one consolation was that Tad knew he had bad genes and had retired at the age of 44 (same age his father died of a heart attack) and enjoyed 17 years of adventure and fun before his bad genes got the best of him. There is a moral or lesson in this sad news that needs to be heeded by many readers of this blog!

After we let the shock of the tragic news pass Roger jumped to the rescue and scrambled to rearrange the logistics of the trip for the time we were to spend at Tad’s. Then I thought “everything is fine”?
Until early April when an orthoped informed me that I had a stress fracture in my left fibula and needed to take 6 to 8 weeks off from running. As most of you know that ‘rest’ seriously hampered my training and marathons I had planned before IOM. After running/walking the next 3 marathons and moving to our summer home at 9,000 ft in the Rockies I was finally starting to get back in shape. Three weeks before the IOM marathon I was able to run 13 miles at 9,000 ft w/o walking! I felt encouraged that with 3 more weeks of training I would be able to run close to 4 hrs in IOM. Until late July when some friends who were staying with us asked me to join them to run the Vail Half Marathon. It is a tough trail course and I thought it would be a good training run. I was worried about an injury and decided to run easy and not take any risks? However 8 miles and 3,500 vertical feet into the race I heard and felt a ‘pop’ in my right calf. As I was carried off the mountain on an ATV I kept asking “what have I done to myself and the IOM marathon”? I had torn the calf muscle and to complicate matters we were scheduled to leave 2 days later for a family wedding in Canada and thus I was not able to schedule any PT (physical therapy).
I could barely walk during our visit and when I returned to Colorado I immediately scheduled PT in the hope that it might expedite the healing process. I also forced myself to walk every day and started to include short runs. At first I couldn’t run longer than 30 to 60 secs but one week later (and 4 PT sessions) I had built up to 10 miles with a cycle of Run 5 min & Walk 1 min. That equated to a 13-min pace which would be good enough to finish the IOM marathon under the 6-hr limit! My biggest concern was “would the injured calf hang together for 26 miles”? But I had no option other than hope as I departed Colorado for London.

And now the race story begins.

Race Story:

I arrived at LHR in the early morning and was greeted by a smiley and cheerful Roger. It was 2 am –my body time – so I was not smiling. We drove around London on the M 25 to the village of Copthorne that is close to Gatwick airport where we were to depart early the next morning for IOM. We stayed with John Gilbert and Pam Story – 2 ultra marathoners and members of the 100 Marathon Club (UK). Gil & Pam are also included in the ‘Messengers’ book but I had not met them before. Nobody seemed to mind when I slipped away to sleep for 4 hrs. Later we enjoyed a pleasant stroll through Copthorne and a nice feed of fish & chips at a local pub. I slept 11 hrs before we headed to Gatwick and departed for IOM.

Roger had booked a rental car for 2 pm. We arrived at 1 pm and the rental agency would not let us have the car until 2 pm? I bit my tongue so I wouldn’t appear to be ‘an ugly American’ – Roger said it wouldn’t do any good? Finally we got a car and drove into Douglas to find our B & B. I was glad that Roger was driving. The country and roads reminded me of Ireland. Everything is green and the roads are very narrow with hedges and rock walls along both sides! The island is not that big – 572 sq Km and a population of 80,000. The cities and towns are quite small.

After checking in we decided to leave the car parked and explore the capital city on foot. High Street was only a few blocks from the hotel and within 2 blocks and 30 min I had collected all ‘required’ souvenirs – postcards, teaspoon and silver charm. That is a record – it often takes me 2 to 3 days to collect all the required souvenirs. We enjoyed another good feed of fish & chips at a chippy shop.
Another friend and Country Club member, Edson Sanches, was supposed to arrive that evening so I left a message that we planned to tour the island on Sat morning.

The weather looked like it might cooperate on Sat with cloudy skies and no rain as Roger and I ( couldn’t find Edson) drove north to Laxey to check out the Great Laxey Wheel – a giant wheel with a diameter of 72.5 ft built in 1854 to pump water out of the lead and zinc mines in Laxey. We planned to take an electric train from Laxey to the summit of Snaefell Mtn but we figured it was too overcast and we wouldn’t see much so we continued on to Ramsey where the race would start/finish. We saw part of the race course as we drove over to the Atlantic Coast and south to the town of Peel. There we visited the Peel Castle and the House of Manannan. (Lots of photos posted to my photo website). Then we continued on to Castletown, the ancient capital of IOM. We strolled by Rushen Castle, the Old House of Keys and along the town center before heading back to Douglas. As we approached Douglas the sun had burned off the clouds and we decided to drive back to Laxey to take the electric train to the summit of Snaefell Mtn (2036 ft). It was an interesting ride and I couldn’t help but notice the similarity to the terrain and environment of the Rocky Mtns even though the mtn is only 2036 ft. The tree line ended around 1200 ft and alpine meadows climbed to the summit. And it was much colder – about 20 degrees – at the summit. We could see Scotland and England from the summit but Wales was obscured by clouds. We had toured the whole island in one day. Back in Douglas we finally found Edson at his hotel and enjoyed a nice pasta dinner on High St.

Sun was M-day. The race started at 9 am so we ate a light breakfast and then picked up Edson for the drive to Ramsey. Packet pick up was at the start line in Ballacloan Stadium in Ramsey. My only complaint about the pre-race logistics was the lack of toilets – only 4 toilets in the club house - for more than 300 runners. I had to find a bush near the stadium! The weather was nice – sunny and temps in the low 50s at the start. The marathon started at 9 am and the Half at 9:30 am. I had decided to wear a compression sock on my right leg in the hopes that it would help to hold the injured calf together? Since the leg felt OK my race strategy was to go out at a cycle of Run 5 min & Walk 1 min. The course was a half-marathon loop with the first 5 miles being hilly and the highest point at 5 miles (259 ft). Edson was suffering from a hip injury and figured he would run a 5-hr race. We started together but he would leave me behind each time I walked and then I would catch up again during my run cycle. When we passed mile 3 in 32:24 I was quite pleased – averaging an 11-min pace. The next two miles included the BAH. When I reached mile 6 in 1:05:08 and a split of 10:36 the leg still felt OK and I decided to increase the cycle by 1 min each cycle until I reached a cycle of Run 10 min & Walk 1 min. I was a wee bit discouraged when the Half Marathon leaders blew by me around 7 miles – they were running twice as fast as my pace! I caught Edson at 10 miles (1:47:25) and we ran together to the Half. The compression sock seemed to be helping the injured calf but by 10 miles I could feel a blister starting to form on my big toe. By the time we passed the Half in 2:19:05 I was concerned that the blister would get worse so I stopped and took off the compression sock to check for a blister. Thankfully there was no blister but the toe was red and raw so I rubbed Vaseline on my toes and only put the double-layer sock back on. The foot felt much better!

Edson had continued on and by the time I reached the top of the BAH for the 2nd time at Mile 17 in 3:06:45 I couldn’t see him? Those hills seemed to be much harder the 2nd time around? I guessed that he might have made a pit stop and was behind me? Since the leg still felt OK I increased the cycle to Run 2 Miles & Walk 1 min. Edson caught me at Mile 19 in 3:30:01. We had 90 min to run the final 7 miles – a 13-min pace – to break 5 hrs! Edson declared that he was going to stay with me and drag my sorry ass across the finish line under 5 hrs! We (read I) did OK until Mile 23 (4:16:00) and then I ran out of gas. It is difficult to maintain the required level of aerobic conditioning to run 26 miles w/o being able to train. We had 44 min to cross the finish line and I knew we could do that even if we slowed down. I told Edson to go on ahead but he refused! He nagged/pulled/pushed me to hold the pace. I didn’t care if I finished in 4:59:59 but Edson said that was not acceptable. I finally told him to f%*k off and leave me alone – but he refused! When we reached Mile 25 in 4:40:37 and a split of 12:41 I told him that I was going to walk 2 min so I could run to the finish line. Thank goodness the final mile was a gentle decline so all I had to do was lift my feet and let gravity drag me to the finish line. At Mile 26 Edson stopped and told me to go across the finish line first. Maddog wasn’t willing to accept that! I grabbed his hand and we crossed the finish line together in 4:55:13!

I was in bad shape. I was totally exhausted and felt nauseous! From previous experience I knew that I was suffering from low blood sugar - that happens when I push the old bod beyond its limits. I stumbled into the clubhouse looking for sugar – preferably a coke. However pop and beer had to be purchased at a bar. I wasn’t sure if I could find my warm-up bag and money before puking or passing out? Luckily Roger was in the club house. He had finished in 4:09 – and already had a shower and lunch. I asked him to buy me a coke while I wolfed down two large pieces of chocolate cake covered in icing and then washed them down with the coke. Within a few minutes I could feel the sugar coursing through my system and I felt much better and recovered quickly.

We stayed in the stadium for the awards. Maddog received an award for completing Country #110.
Then we drove back to the hotel over the IOM TT course – where the annual TT motorcycle race is held.
After a hot shower and another coke I felt much better and walked down to the Promenade to take more photos of Douglas. Later we met a bunch of friends/members of the 100 Marathon Club for a few beers and dinner.

Roger and I had an early afternoon flight back to Gatwick so we explored more of the city on foot to take more photos. We arrived at Gatwick in the late afternoon and drove around London on the M25 to St Albans – north of the city. We joined another good friend, Jack Brooks, who was hosting us for the night for a great pub dinner and lots of English ale – maybe too much ale (although a few were hoisted to our fallen comrade Tad) because I was not too eager to wake up at 5am for the drive to LHR. It was a lonnngggg flight home!

I am back home in Colorado. After a 12-hr sleep to adjust the body clock from GMT to MT I went for an easy 10-mile run. The leg felt OK so imagine my disappointment when the PT dug her fingers into the scar tissue in the calf – and I jumped two feet off the table in pain? We quickly surmised that many more PT sessions are needed before the calf is ready for hard/fast training.

Fortunately I have 6 weeks before my next adventure and two international marathons – back in the Channel Islands and Europe!

Stay tuned!

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