Monday, October 29, 2012

TR Guernsey

Trip Report
08/22 – 9/17/12

Race Results:
Sun, Aug 26/12
St Peter Port
Isle of Guernsey
Guernsey Marathon
Marathon # 360 – Country # 115

 Well here it is – more than 2 months since I ran the race and I am just getting around to writing the report? I have lots of reasons but no excuses. So best to get it over with while I can still remember some of the details.

 If you recall, my last ‘training’ marathon three weeks earlier in Moses Lake, WA was a painful disaster that I was hoping not to repeat in Guernsey. I was at least encouraged that I had not suffered symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath during the ML marathon but the optimism soon faded. After only one week in Seattle the symptoms started to occur again – at Sea level? It became a struggle to run 8 to 10 miles at Sea level. There was no hope of running a few 15 mile long runs to prepare better for Guernsey. Then with only 10 days left before the race I suffered a painful injury to my left abductor on a simple 8-mile run. Fortunately I was able to get an emergency session with a masseuse who helped to reduce the pain and I was forced to take a few days rest. I figured I had better try a test run before leaving for Europe to see what shape the leg was in and how ugly the marathon would be? Much to my surprise I was able to complete a 10-mile run w/o any problems and it felt good? At that point I figured rest provided a much bigger benefit than running junk miles so I decided to rest until race day.

 I had booked a ‘luxury’ one month trip around and including the marathon for two main reasons:

1)      Guernsey would represent the completion of a marathon in every country in Europe including the IOM & Channel Islands

2)      The marathon was actually on our anniversary day – 45 years later! To entice the SM (Sports Manager) aka wife to join me on the trip I booked a 2-week river cruise after the race.

We departed Aug 22 so that we would have a few days to enjoy Guernsey and recover from jet lag before the race. Several friends and members of the Country Club were planning to join us for the race and anniversary celebrations.

 After arriving in St Peter Port in the late afternoon and checking into the Collinette Hotel we forced ourselves to stay awake for dinner and then crashed for 12 hours. On Fri we completed the mandatory shopping for souvenirs and located a few of our friends. Fri evening I noticed some cars with the marathon logo at the hotel and soon learned that the ‘Colly’ was the unofficial club house for the Running Club and I was able to meet several local runners and Peter Head, Race Director for the race. I joined them for a few beers which is usually taboo for me before a race but I figured that it couldn’t hurt my expected performance on race day? On Sat our friend Edson (NYC) joined us for a tour around the island. We drove most of the marathon course since it used almost every mile of road on the island. Guernsey is a pretty and affluent island. Sat night we joined other members of the Country club – Jaap, Netherlands; Edson, USA, and Klaus, Germany; and a few other friends for a pasta dinner prepared by the Guernsey Running Club.

 Sun was M-day. The race started at 9 am. It was a bank holiday weekend which meant there would be little traffic on the narrow winding roads during the race but it also meant it was impossible to get a taxi. Luckily Edson and I were offered a lift to the start by another runner but Nicole had to get the hotel shuttle to take to her the start later. Thankfully the weather had changed from strong winds and rain on Fri and Sat to nice sunny weather with only a light breeze.  In fact many runners had not been able to make it to Guernsey because all ferries to the island had been cancelled for the past two days due to high winds and rough seas.

 I had no idea how my body was going to react? I had no confidence that I could run the entire race and figured there was going to be a lot of pain –and walking involved to finish the race. Thus I decided to run a smart race – start slow and walk often if needed. I started out at an 11-min pace and was surprised when I made it through the hilly first 10K in 68 min. That is one of the few splits I remember. Sadly I had worn only my heart monitor/watch for the trip and forgot to download the splits after the race. And is the case (and problem) with the Polar Heart Monitor it is easy to accidentally start the stop watch and that erases all previous data. Yep – that’s what happened a few days after the race! So I lost all the data for what may well be my last marathon?

 But the good news at that point was that I had run (no walking) the first 10K and felt good and the rest of the course was downhill and flat. I decided to hold that pace as long as I could, expecting to crash around 18/20 miles, due to the lack of any long training runs. I passed the Half in 2:17. I knew the 2nd half would not be as fast or enjoyable!

 I started to tire around 18 miles but got a brief surge of energy when I met two friends along the course. Tony had travelled over from England and Sue had joined him from the Isle of Jersey. They promised to meet me at the finish line. I believe I reached Mile 20 around 3:40 since I remember calculating in my fuzzy/tired mind that if I slowed down to a 12-min pace for the final 10K I would finish around 4:55. I was amazed that I had made it that far w/o walking? I decided to hand the race – maybe the final race – over to Maddog. I had gotten us that far w/o walking. Now it was up to Maddog to get us to the finish line – w/o walking- so we could finish our last race proudly!

 Thank goodness for Maddog. The next three miles were tough. By mile 22 I wanted/needed to walk. But Maddog refused! We struggled to keep the old legs shuffling. Water stations were located every three miles and I figured the next/last one was near 24 miles. I could use the water station as an excuse to slow down. Shortly after passing mile 23 my legs had nothing left and Maddog started playing mind games with me – “just one step at a time”, “slow down for a few minutes and rest’. “Just finish this race and then you can have a long rest”! Luckily I could see the final water station up ahead at 23.5 miles and I struggled to reach it and allowed myself a brief rest while I swallowed a final carbo gel and washed it down. At that point Maddog and I were determined that we would cross the finish line w/o walking! It got tough/painful again at Mile 25 but finally I could see the sports stadium and knew that I would finish the entire race w/o walking.

 I crossed the finish line in 4:46:20. Needless to say I was surprised and HAPPY. I had completed marathon #360 and country # 115 – and my final (?) marathon w/o walking!

 Nicole was waiting at the finish line (thanks to the hotel bar manager who drove her to the stadium in the hotel shuttle).  We waited for Edson to finish and then accepted a kind offer from a local runner to drop us off at the hotel. Later that day the members of the CC Club met with Peter (Race Dir) and discussed the possibility of organizing official marathons in the Channel Islands of Sark and Alderney.

We discussed the logistics and feasibility of holding two marathons in two countries in two days in Sept 2013. Peter thinks it is feasible and will look into this winter. We promised to bring at least 12 runners from around the world so runners stay tuned and mark your 2013 calendars with that tentative event.

 That evening Nicole and I were pleased to have Tony, Sue and Edson join us for a great dinner to celebrate our 45th Anniversary.

 On Mon we caught a fast ferry from St Peter Port to St Malo, France to begin a one-week train journey across Europe to Amsterdam where we were scheduled to depart on a two week river cruise on the River Queen (rated #1 cruise ship in the world) on the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. I won’t bore you with all the details but I will post photos of the trip to my photo website (eventually).

 As I said at the start of the report it is now two months after the race and I am still wondering what to do with myself – regards running! When I was suffering all the bad symptoms/problems during the summer w/o any plausible explanation I came to the conclusion that my old bod needed a rest. I promised myself that when I finished Guernsey I would take a Sabbatical for at least 4 weeks. With all the travelling through Europe after the race and then a long drive back to FL from WA, the Sabbatical was six weeks.

 I started running again about three weeks ago – very slow and low mileage but so far no symptoms of fatigue and no injuries. I plan to build my long run back up to 13 miles before adding speed and intensity to my program. Then and only then will I determine if Guernsey was truly my final race. I must admit that I have not yet rekindled a ’fire in the belly’ or burning desire to race or compete again.

 Who Knows?

 Stay tuned!

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