Monday, April 27, 2015

Spring Eagle Marathon: Race Recap

Stepping up the start line of Sunday's marathon I was completely calm, relaxed, just ready to do it. I was sure-- sure!-- that it would be just another long run and I would just enjoy it and be able to check that training box off my chart.

Carb loading dinner. That beer was super yum. Not pictured: carrot cake.

Ha! Is a marathon ever just another run? And not that I wanted easy, I just assumed it would be easier than, say, my last marathon. After all, it was just a training run. Not a goal race. 

But it was so, so hard. Not at all of it, just the second half. SO. HARD. I might have sputtered out "goddammit" more than once. Maybe. 

The goal was to run the Spring Eagle trail marathon as my last long run before the 50k. Sally signed on to run the half marathon, which would be the first half of my marathon. I was so grateful she was there! Hanging out before the race start we also got to chat with Arnold, a friend I have known for quite a while on instagram, which was fun.

Hanging with Arnold pre-race.

After a brief pre-race meeting the smallish group of us running the 50k, marathon, 20 miler and half marathon took off running. Sally and I fell in to an easy pace on our first loop. The course is 6.57 mile loops. So I had four loops to run. The first loop felt super comfortable. Like I was at a "run all day" pace. I think we ran the second loop even a tiny bit faster. We finished the first half in about 2:40-ish. I felt like it was much easier than the last half marathon I ran there (the one with the crazy puddles!) but we ran only about 4 minutes slower. 

Sally and I having fun! Photo from the event.

Luckily the weather held out for us the entire day. Overcast and dry. The trails were mostly dry with a few muddy spots that we easily skirted around.

There was one aid station in the center of the figure-eight shaped course and I loaded up on fig newtons and chips ahoy cookies almost every time I passed it. YUM. There was also an aid station at the end of the loop, so you get to stop three times. I packed enough food and water to not need to stop, but I ended up taking about half of my food from the aid stations. The volunteers were all friendly and it was so nice of them to be out there so long for those of us making a whole day out of the race! 

I sadly said goodbye to Sally when her race was over and set out for my third loop. The course was just totally empty by the point. I saw two other runners on the entire loop third loop. I also was starting to hurt. My hamstring was sore and I was getting nervous that I might not be able to complete the race. It helped to stick in my earbuds and listen to music to keep my mind off of the discomfort and worry.

Once I finished that loop I perked up a bit. I chatted a bit with Rachael, a runner I met through High Heels Running Group, and re-gained some energy. One loop left! My hamstring calmed down slightly but was joined in soreness by my entire lower half. I oddly felt better once everything was sore. It was another lonely loop. I looked forward to seeing the flags and signs marking the course, and mentally making a note that with every step I was going over a part of the trail I wouldn't have to run over again that day! I walked/ran that loop slightly faster than my third loop, slower than my first two. I felt like I was running sloppily, catching my toes on the trail and slipping a bit on the mud, and didn't feel that strong. It felt impossible to get in a groove at all. I muttered more swear words and attempted to pep-talk my body in to getting it's shit together.

Rachael and I spotted two deer off of the trail as we began our last loop.

My Garmin was showing a shorter mileage (at the end of the race it was 24.5) so I asked the volunteers at the aid station how much farther to the finish line. 2 1/2 miles they said! I shuffled to the finish line and when I crossed there were a few people around cheering and that was it. I beat my family to the finish because I crossed earlier than I told them I thought I would, so I grabbed a snack, a bottle of beer to bring home, and my raffle prize from the race director and hung out for a few minutes. 

I finished about 40 minutes faster than my first marathon, but I am not sure what that means, because this race had less than half of the elevation. It would make sense, I suppose, that my foggy memory tells me my first race was "better" because I had also properly tapered for it since it was a goal race.

Post-race "ice" bath, sans actual ice.
Thinking of sitting in icy cold water got me through many miles of the race!

Up next: taper then 50k. Gulp. 

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