Tuesday, November 8, 2011

11/6/11 Bass Pro Shops Conservation Marathon

Jody suggested that I visit Caleb at College (Evangel University) and I suggested that I do so when there was a marathon in town too.  So here I am in Springfield Missouri.  Its going to be the 7th state in which I have run a marathon.  Bass Pro Shops is the world's largest sporting goods store.  My hotel is just across the street, but packet pick up is on the other side of the building and it is a long walk to get there.  Very nice long sleeve technical fabric shirt.  Just before bedtime I realize that I forgot my S!Caps electrolytes that I have taken in each of my last 50 or so marathons or ultras.  I'll try to drink more Poweraid and less plain water and hope for the best.  Would be great to beat 4 hours, but I am not going to stress about it.

Very windy and cool, but it is dry.  I will wear my jacket over a short sleeve shirt.  Tomorrow at this time it will be raining steady and I will be grateful for today's weather.  But this wind is strong and will probably slow me down.  Chat with a guy from Connecticut who I had sat next to on a bus some time ago at a previous race.  Other than that I do not know anybody here.  I line up with a Maniac, Tim from Wisconsin, and its nice to talk before the start.

Start - Frank Shorter says something.  Moment of prayer.  National Anthem by some country singers.  Start is delayed by five minutes.  The start is to be aired on the local news station at 7AM sharp but we get bumped to second story because of an earthquake in Oklahoma.  Soon enough we are off.  1,200 in the Half Marathon and 274 in the full.

Mile 1 - The Halfers split off and now there is plenty of room to run.  Nice to have the big festive start, but I prefer a smaller race.  This works out well.  Course is on roads, then a short bit on a paved trail, then all roads.  Not the roads I had driven on yesterday though.  I was not impressed with what I had seen of Springfield so far.  Just big busy roads with a tremendous number of fast food joints, and little city character.  But this course will show me much more of the town.  Mostly residential, but a pretty course.  Lots and lots of turns.  Well staffed with volunteers at almost every turn and road crossing.  Green arrows on the ground at each turn.

Miles 3 to 8 - Much hillier than I expected.  I feel good but not great.  Jacket comes off at mile 4.  I pass an older guy, later found out that he is 68.  We will go back and forth all race long.  He will draft off of me a few times when we are heading straight into the wind, but ask if I mind and I do not.  In the last mile he will pass me for good and beat me by less than a minute.

Mile 10 to 13 - More residential roads but flatter.  Some roads are open to traffic, maybe just in one direction.  The cars are not a problem, but I am not sure if it is OK for me to be running the tangents.  I will do so, but carefully.  Running is easier now, I am feeling very good, chatting a bit with two others.  Giant green mile markers can not be missed.  Well stocked aid stations with plenty of volunteers directly after each even mile marker.  A kid at the mile 12 aid station offers me a pack of peanut butter crackers.  Remembering my lack of salt intake, I take the pack and munch on two crackers over the next two miles. 

Mile 13.1 - Eight seconds faster than my planned 1:58.  In Victoria I ran a 1:59 first half and managed a negative split, so I decided to run a 1:58 first half today and see if I can still run a faster second half.  Now I set off just a little bit faster and leave the two other runners behind.

Mile 14 to 18 - Feeling great.  Still holding back and I have only increased my pace slightly, just hoping that it will last.  It is still early in this race.  Gradually passing people, but no one is passing me.  Looking forward to the mile markers, especially the even ones where I can walk through the aid station, get a drink, and also pour a little water on my head to help cool off.

Mile 18 - Marker is there, but where is the aid?  I start to fret and feel thirsty.  A couple more turns and there it is at about mile 18.5.

Mile 21 - Now I am starting to slow.  No nausea and my head feels OK, but I am tiring.  Slow the pace for a bit as I regroup.  Now make an effort to speed up a little and I am able to do so.  Get a bit of a second wind, then turn into the wind.

Mile 22 - Wind is as strong here as it has been all day.  Not nearly as bad as at Bellingham in September, but strong enough that I have a good excuse if my finish time is not what I had hoped for.

Mile 23 - Turn so the wind is crosswise and now the longest straight stretch of the course.  I like being able to look far ahead and see a traffic light that I can focus on.  Feel like walking, but I know that I won't beat 4 hours if I do.  Soon I am confident that I will beat 4 and I might even get another 3:56 if I can hold on.

Mile 25 - Bald Eagle.  It is the conservation marathon and there have been a few stuffed deer along the way.  The eagle is live and tethered to its keeper, so not quite as cool as the wild one that flew over my head at NODM two years ago.  The race has been getting more and more difficult, but gradually so.  No sudden wall, but eventually I realize that I am in tatters.  This close to the end I should be able to rally and run strong to the finish, but I really lose it at about mile 25.5.  Get passed by three or four people who I had just passed.

Mile 26 - Giant sign is sure welcoming.  I see 3:56 slip away but I am pleased with my performance today.  I will be 6th out of 20 in my age group and 71st overall which is a better position than usual.  I slog it in for a "sprint" to the finish, my named called by the announcer. 26.26 on the GPS.  Huge medal with an elk on it and a space blanket which is helpful in the cool wind and I am wet from dousing myself with water. Tons of post race food.  I take as much as I can carry on the long walk back to the hotel.  Soon I meet up with Caleb and we go off to explore the Fantastic Caverns.

71st of 274
Marathon or Ultra#74

1 comment:

Ginger said...

Way to hang in there, Andy, even when you were in tatters and had to slog it in to the finish :)