In October of last year I almost ran the Portland Marathon. I had the flu, but felt Ok that morning. I lined up at the start but with a minute to go, I got light headed and weak and decided to sit on the curb and watch 9,000 people run past me. The next week I was fine and while racing I met Maniac Mellisa from Arizona. I've never been to Arizona and she suggested the Lost Dutchman Marathon as the race that I would most enjoy. I made the plans and Jody and I looked forward to a Valentine's weekend getaway. My struggles with nagging mild injuries affected my training and I do not expect to run well, but I'll have fun at least.
Except that now I am sick again. No fever, but a sinus infection for sure. I have not slept well in three days and my appetite is reduced. We go for a day trip on the day before the race and I alternate between feeling OK and feeling weak and tired. Not sure if I should run at all.
4:30AM - wake up. Am I sick or just tired? There is often some pre-race jitters that can sort of make my head feel funny. It is tough to evaluate, but I know that I feel better than at Portland.
5:15AM - get on the bus. We are staying at the host hotel and the bus picks us up to take us to the start line. The hotel is on mile 8 of the course. I figure that if I do start feeling lousy I should be able get a ride back to the room. I decide to carry my cell phone just in case.
6AM - we arrive at the start line up a long dirt road, at a camping area. There are numerous small fires going to keep people warm. It looks really cool, but also smokey and I decide to stay warm in a bus that is here just for that purpose. This is a really well organized race with some thoughtful touches added. They treat the runners well here.
7AM - Sun is rising and it is time to run. As I walk toward the middle of the start area I pass by and get to say hello to four fellow northwest runners. Three of them ran a 31 mile trail race yesterday. I find as good a place as any to start and off we go.
Mile 1 - 9:00 and feeling good. Its crowded on the dirt road but will think out soon enough. I am in no hurry.
Mile 5 - Still on the downhill section and dirt road. I passed the most scenically located port-a-potty I have ever seen. Beautiful desert country. My overall pace is 8:48 and I feel terrific. I am so glad that my head cold is not affecting my running. I know that I am going faster than I should and that I will pay for it later, but I'll deal with than then.
Mile 7 - Now on the pavement. We are on a major highway but we have the shoulder and an entire lane to use. Running with some Maniacs from Minnesota. Pleasant time. Overall pace at 8:40. Hey that is my PR pace. I did have a very good long run at the Pigtails 50K three weeks ago and although that is done at a much slower pace, perhaps I will have good endurance and be able to keep this up. I will not let myself go any faster than this though.
Mile 8 - Running past my hotel, so happy that I feel good. Run with a first timer who hopes to break 4 hours. We are well ahead of that time and he goes on ahead of me. I pass a 14 year old with his mother. He ran the race last year and this year he is wearing Vibrams.
Mile 12 - Long uphill. Sun getting warm. I see a young woman sitting on the curb. She was a runner who must have had a nasty fall. Lots of blood and scrapes on her face, hands and knees. I stop to see if I can do anything. She says that a person on a bike had gone to the next aid station to get help and that she was OK. Other than serious scrapes she looked OK, so I continued on and was happy to see an ambulance arrive right away.
Mile 13.1 - Halfway there and at about 8:45 pace. Long downhill now. I take advantage of the hill and speed up some. Back to the highway for a short bit, then onto roads heading toward the finish line.
Mile 17 - Getting warmer and starting to tire. I shift to a lower gear and continue on.
Mile 18 - The wall. Surprised at how hard it hits. Usually I can trudge along at a slower pace for quite some miles, but this is early and really tough. I need to walk a bit.
Mile 19 - I am toasted. Out of energy. I am running with a guy who is doing his 196th marathon and I ask his advice, already knowing what he will say and what I will do. Should I grind it out, push as hard as I can and still maybe beat 4 hours, or just walk and shuffle it in, relaxing and enjoying the last hour as best I can? Of course I choose the latter. I am going to finish, I never expected to have a good race today anyway. I'm not going to enjoy having so many people pass me, but I can choose what attitude to have and today I choose to smile.
Mile 20 - Out and back section. I see Maniac Robert, then Maniac Mellisa both of whom ran the 31 miles yesterday. I yell to them that they will soon be passing me.
Mile 21 - Long uphill. I can't go more than half a mile without taking a long walk break.
Mile 22 - Leapfrogging with another tired soul.
Mile 23 - Robert passes me. Good for him.
Mile 24 - Big cardboard "wall" at the top of a hill. Just past it I see that first timer who had gotten far ahead of me. He is stopped and is stretching. I ask if he is OK and he says that he is cramping up and trying to stretch it out. I am also passing half marathon walkers so my own slow pace does not seem so bad.
Mile 25 - Another long straight sunny mile, this one uphill. Melissa finally catches me. I have absolutely no competitive spirit and I am happy that she is finishing in decent shape. After what seems like a super long last mile I make the turn toward the finish line. Jody is yelling for me and taking pictures. I am so out of energy I take a walk break with about a tenth of a mile to go, but soon get moving to the finish.
26.2 - Done. Beautiful course, great race but lousy run for me. I feel like a rookie going out too fast. It was hard to judge how much the head cold, then the heat would affect me and in the first half I started thinking that I would have a good run. It really blew up bad at mile 18 and there just was nothing I could do at that point. I'd like to come back and run this one again.
198th place of 471
186th race, 4oth marathon, 43rd marathon or ultra