Monday, September 17, 2007

I'm No Longer a Virgin!!!!!!! (Caution - - Long Report)

As of yesterday, Sunday September 16, 2007 I lost my virginity….again. This time it wasn’t as a teenager, or in the back of a vehicle, but it was definitely more memorable than that “other” first time. I lost it at 7:00 A.M. and was in a crowd of at least 5,000, no it wasn’t an orgy. A gun was fired and I officially started my first marathon. The location was St. Charles, MO, just outside of St. Louis and the event was the Lewis and Clark Marathon.

The day was great, low to mid 50’s for temps, cloudy, not much humidity, and little to no wind.

I ran with my two training partners from Edmond, Clyde and Rachel. Clyde was there to run the half-marathon; Rachel was there to run the full 26.2 miles with me. Rachel’s sister Alice was also participating as a walker in the half-marathon.

As for times, well Alice finished her half in just over 4 hours, Clyde finished his half in 2 hours 46 minutes, Rachel finished her full marathon in 5 hours 44 minutes…AND…I finished my FIRST marathon in 5 hours 56 minutes (13:28 pace).

Rachel and I ran most of the first half together and ran a pace of 12:34 for the 13.1 miles. Probably a bit fast for me to be effective with my finish of the last 13.1 miles, but I did finish. No negative splits today, not even close. But hey, the finish today was the key, the fact that it was under 6 hours was icing on the cake for me.

The end result for everyone was no injuries, no blisters, and no quitters. Well I must admit that around the 23 mile point I had some serious thoughts of quitting, I was tired, had no energy and couldn’t formulate complete thoughts, or so I thought in my own head.

This marathon has some fabulous scenery along the way. The last 13.1 miles is all on what is called the Katy Trail, a woodland area trail that is made of crushed rock and dirt base, so it was very easy on the feet and legs. We crossed the Missouri River at mile 7, in fact mile 7, according to their race map sit right at the midway point on the bridge. This was also the “hill” for the marathon. We ran through areas of rural farming (beans and corn and maybe more) through old town St. Charles that was originally established in 1796 and as I mentioned the Katy Trail. The run through the Katy Trail was often covered with tree foliage so we ran in shade, as the sun did come out at times but did not stay out for long. The races both finished on the west side of the Missouri River in the Lewis and Clark Frontier Park area.

Clyde and I shared a room and we were up at 4:30 to get ready to catch a shuttle bus to the starting line area by 5:15 A.M. We were the first on the bus and the driver got a bit disoriented where we were supposed to be let off and we had to get to the start line by a race official using a golf cart. We got there early enough that our first trip to the port-o-potties did not require standing in line, not so for the second trip just before the start time. We were able to hook up with Rachel and her sister rather easily so we were all in the mass start together. The beginning was a slow walk to the actual start gate that took about 5 minutes, so our gun time and start time should be off by approximately that much.

Early on in the race we were dodging a fair number of walkers but it wasn’t a big issue for us. Rachel and I soon were out ahead of Clyde. At the 2 or 3 mile point I suddenly realized for the first time in a long time I was running pain free (no shin pain, no feet or toe pain, no ankle pain) and my shoes didn’t seem to be bothering me.

Mile 3 saw us having to make a bathroom pit stop that was relatively short. Miles 3 and 4 were a short side-trip out and back through an industrial area that was neat because it gave you a really good indication of the number of people that were both ahead of us and then also that were still behind us.

Miles 5 and 6 were pretty uneventful. Well mile 6 led us up to the approach of the bridge over the Missouri River. While on the bridge I lost my visor and had to stop to grab that. I panicked briefly as I did not see my Oakley sunglasses laying with it as I figured if the hat went so did the glasses that were on top of my head at the time. When I didn’t see them I figured I had lost them earlier….till I reached up and felt them still on my head.

After hitting mile 7 at the top of the bridge we had a long down hill off the bridge that allowed us to drive our pace time down in the neighborhood of 12:25 for a while….that felt good.

Mile 8 we had to give way to an ambulance that went running by in the same direction we were headed and we later realized they must have picked up a runner out near the 10 mile point. I hope they weren’t in any severe pain.

Miles 9 and 10 took us through a more rural area just outside of St. Charles, very laid back and quiet.

Mile 11 gave us our first exposure to the Katy Trail for maybe a mile, running alongside the Missouri River.

Mile 12 took us through the historic area of downtown St. Charles.

Mile 13 saw Clyde suddenly appear and pass us by as he finished his half-marathon. He ran a very strong race today, much stronger than the half-marathon that he ran in Oklahoma City in April.

At this point Rachel and I continued on our journey working our way back onto the Katy Trail. For this particular race there were over 4,500 entrants for the half-marathon and only 850 for the marathon. So after we left the halfers it got a bit lonely at times, or was that because my innate ability to run at the back of the pack.

We ran together until Mile 17 when I started to lose energy and then we seesawed some, but by Mile 18 Rachel and pulled away to a commanding lead. By the way, Rachel was the runner that I beat at the Oklahoma Half Marathon in April of this year and she vowed then that I wouldn’t beat her again. Little did I know how seriously she would trounce me in this race. I have to applaud her though, today she was “on her race” from the start and I just feel fortunate to have run with her for 17 miles.

Between Miles 18 and 20 she slowly pulled ahead to the point where I lost sight of her. At 19.5 we made the turn to return the Lewis and Clark Park, via the same Katy Trail and she was smiling as she effortlessly ran by me. Not long after that I lost sight of her for good until I got near the finish line and she was cheering me on along the sidelines.

It was at Mile 18 that the left side of my brain started to try and convince me that I wasn’t capable of finishing a race of this caliber. I kept reverting back to positive affirmations that seemed to keep me putting one foot in front of the other.

At Mile 21 Clyde found the two of us, first Rachel and then he waited on me. It was great to actually get my hands on a 20 ounce bottle of water and a baggy of sugar-coated mini-wheat cereal. During this stop a speed-walking lady passed me by. She was part of one of the several organized efforts that were participating for one cancer or another. By Mile 22 she was joined by a “coach” that had run out to catch her. I caught up with her about the time the “coach” caught up to her and overheard the speed-walker say that if she didn’t finish this marathon in less than 6 hours she would not participate in another. I thought, since I was getting more exhausted by the step I would follow them in, or at least attempt to do so. I was by now keeping a weary eye on my Garmin and the average pace for the race, straining to keep my pace faster than 13:34 which I thought I remembered would be right at 6 hours. As I ran behind this couple I found I could just catch up to them during a run but not pass them. Then when I walked I was left in their dirt due to the pace the speed-walker was maintaining. So I would walk my pace then run a faster pace to catch back up only to be left behind on the next walk. This went on from Mile 22 to the finish line.

At Mile 23 Clyde found me again and gave me a colder bottle of water, a God-send and my baggy of cereal again for several quick mini-munchie bites. Then I was off again to catch my speed-walker again and again. She crossed the finish line just ahead of me and we both finished in less than 6 hours. Without her to lead me in I suspect I would have finished far worse or perhaps not at all.

The finish was great, hearing my name as I crossed the finish line knowing that I had become a member of a select group on Earth that had completely such a distance run.

The end was a bit anti-climatic. We had to hurriedly go back to our hotel to shower so we could check out of our room. To lay some quick ground work here, I run in compression pants and a compression shirt. These are good for not allowing the armpits and thighs to chafe. However, there is an area between the cheeks that I forgot about and the shower reminded me that it had become sore. An error that I hope I don’t make again in the near future if ever.

Overall we had a great time driving over together, meeting Rachel’s sister, preparing for the race and participating in the race. Even though I was doubting my sanity for wanting to accomplish this event around Mile 22, I finished and I feel great now as we drive home Sunday evening.

One last observation, I have to give a great deal of credit to both of my running companions (Clyde and Rachel) for being great coaches over the past 3 months in preparing for this day. I ran out of energy and that can’t be blamed on their training efforts. I feel that without their assistance and guidance I would not have finished today.


Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

Good job and nice report. Now that I have finished my first half marathon 8 days ago, I'm particularly impressed with anyone who even WANTS to do a full marathon. Way to go!!!

Michelle said...

Wow, great job, Randy!!! I am so proud of you!!!!!! I'm sure this will be the first of many marathons for you! :-)

Marcy said...

Holy Mother Randy!!! Awsome race report!! I'm so happy for you!!! ;D ;D ;D I agree with Michelle, I don't think this is the last one for you. And who knows maybe you'll be beating the trails with Scott in an ultra soon. YAY RANDY!!! CONGRATS!!! ;D ;D

Jess said...

Excellent report and congrats again!

ws said...

congrats on a great marathon and thank you for an outstanding race report. a good reminder why we spend all these hours training...that finish line really is a magical place, isn't it.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your new accomplishment! Great race report too.

home rehab

Pat said...

You are now a marathoner. Congrats. St. Charles is a wonderful place. I'd love to do that marathon some day.

So, what's next? You have a PR to beat.

scott keeps running said...

WAY TO GO RANDY!! Awesome report and I'm so glad you didn't listen to the left side of your brain near the end. Your left side didn't know what it was talking about because you DID finish it!

Randy said...

Hey Pat,

Next up is a half marathon in southern Oklahoma on October marathon will be the Route 66 in Tulsa on November 18.

Backofpack said...

Great run! You just hit the wall at 23 - and the good news is, you made it through, so next time you'll have that tucked away in the back of your mind...the "I did it last time when I was tired, I can do it again". You are awesome!

txrunnergirl said...

Wooohoo, awesome job Randy! You're a marathoner! I loved the report...I know what you mean at mile 22 and questioning your sanity..I do that every time. Congrats!

J~mom said...

Wow! Randy that was a great race report!!!!! Love it!!!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!! You put your mind to it and you did it!!!

Mendy said...

Randy!!! Yahhh.... You did it! Marathon man!!! Great race report and nice to see exactly how you were feeling, negative and positive. It's encouraging, Randy!!

Nice job!!

Sarah said...

Congrats! You'll never forget your first. : )

teacherwoman said...

Congrats RANDY!! You are awesome!

Mary Gee said...

Wow Randy. That is just wonderful! I am so impressed. Amazing.

runliarun said...

Yesss! Tou are an initiate now. Great, great job. You held out so well. I lose it way before mile 22. Congratulations!

WADDLER26.2 said...

Great job!!!! You are a marathoner now. What a feeling to cross that line the first time.

Darrell said...

Way to go Randy, welcome to the club. Finishing that first marathon is quite an accomplishment.

I'm glad you didn't lose your new glasses, too.

Thanks for the great report. It sounds like a pretty nice course. You know there are a couple of other Lewis & Clark Marathons. It might be fun to do them all. What do ya think?

Tall Girl Running said...

Hey... just found your blog and read your marathon report. As one of my favorite running quotes states, "There will be days you don't think you can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime of knowing you have".