... this could very well suck ass.
I thought to myself standing at the start line of this race. Sure, I'd trained well. I'd averaged 60 miles a week through most of the training for this marathon, I'd been training in way higher humidity than the race offered. Those things boded well for me. What didn't bode well was my diet and sleep in the week leading up to the race. I've already recounted all the booze I had that week... as well as the fact that I had eaten loads of crap all week and had probably gained at least 5 pounds from the alcohol and junk food. I also already mentioned that the Thursday night before the race (you know... the night that experts say is the most important sleep-wise for your marathon) I slept in a tent. On the ground at Testy Festy. (Slept is really not the right word... I should say...
I didn't know what to expect. I mean... there have been marathons in the past, where I'd done everything right in the days leading up to the marathon and ended up having an AWFUL experience. So... how bad was this really going to be?
We got up Saturday morning and were out the door a little before 5am. We made the drive to Choteau, MT and it was still dark when we parked and went to check in. It was a small-ish race, so we had plenty of time to get registered, hit the porta potties and make it to the start line by the race start of 6am.
Strangely enough... I wasn't nervous. I didn't have any PR expectations, I just wanted to finish and get my celebratory cheeseburger and milkshake (nevermind the fact that I'd had both in the past week anyway). The race route was an out and back (my favorite) and when we started, I just tried to settle in and take it easy. My plan of attack was to hit all the water stops (I'm not used to low humidity and didn't want to dehydrate) and just enjoy the race as much as possible. About 22 miles of this race was on gravel. Which... sucks to run on. It's great for recovery, but not an enjoyable running surface for 26.2 miles.
For those of you who don't know me outside of the blog... here's a well-known fact about me: I'm a complete nitwit. I mean... sure, I have a good bit of common sense and can talk literature till I'm blue in the face... but throw a graph or chart in front of me, and my brain becomes complete mush. This pertains to my running in that... I have no idea how to process an elevation chart. Like, I can look at it and see that there is a bunch of up and downs on it, but I really have no concept of what that means. This can be a major problem if you're running a race (or two) in Montana. (Lots more on that in the next race report). So, to say I was really surprised about how hilly this course was... is a bit of an understatement. For whatever reason, I didn't think this course was supposed to have any significant hills in it. And then... there... at mile 2 was a BEAST of a hill. Drats.
For the first few miles, the climbing was tough. But, I just took my time and tried to soak in the scenery. Montana is really beautiful and I couldn't help but get carried away by the miles and miles of rolling hills that I could see off in the distance. (Also, I had to be on the lookout for those bears, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes). But eventually... I stopped noticing most of the hills and just settled in.
The first 13 miles were incredibly windy. FYI... ummm... there is a lot of wind in Montana. Like... strong winds. So, that kind of sucked... by the time I turned around, the wind was getting ready to die down, so I didn't get much of a tailwind like I was hoping for.
I stopped at every water station after the 3rd mile. I double fisted with water and gatorade. Despite the hills and the wind and the week-long booze and junk food fest, I was feeling pretty dang good. I was smiling... chatting with the volunteers, stopping the kids on the ATVs that had water on the back. Vandy-Montana and I actually orchestrated a successful mid-race high five when we saw each other on the course. All was good. When I hit 16 miles, I thought to myself... oh, just a regular Tuesday morning run left to go! (FYI: running longer runs in the middle of the week like that make marathons seem so! much! better!).
And then miles 21-24 hit me. I was just starting to remember one of my favorite parts of a marathon. It's always those last 3-4 miles. Where the race course starts to resemble a battlefield. Runners begin to stop and walk, they're hobbling, they're cramping up. They're chatting with those around them. It's one of the things I always forget about after the race, but during... you feel such a kinship with these other runners. Even though the one guy ahead of you, has been driving you crazy for the last 20 miles, with his labored breathing, his stopping and starting, etc... once you get close to the end... you feel like he's your brother. Like you'd take a bullet for him (well, not really... but almost). This was a smaller race, so there weren't but a few people around me during this time period, but I did catch up with a girl who I chatted with for a couple of miles. We bitched and moaned about the lack of water stations (there wasn't one for miles 21-24 and after running in the sun for 10 miles I was desperately in need). She told me she had run 16 marathons this year since March!!! (Talk about a Marathon Maniac) and when she asked me where I was from, and I told her Nashville, she immediately asked me if I was a Nashville Strider and rattled off names of other members that I knew. How crazy! We ended up running my fastest mile of the entire race together and when we finally happened upon a water station, we decided to part ways and meet up at the finish line.
I didn't stop and walk until about mile 24. I walked/ran the last couple of miles and when I crossed the finish line I was ecstatic! My official time wasn't great: 4:48:09. But, I had an awesome race! One Marathon down... One to go.
Showing off my Bling:
Take that, you marathon experts! I can run a marathon after partying all week! Holla!
My splits, in case you're interested:
Mile 1: 13:58
Mile 2: 5:45 (ehhh... methinks the 1 and 2 mile markers were wrong).
Mile 3: 10:23
Mile 4: 11:12
Mile 5: 10:48
Mile 6: 11:01
Mile 7: 13:37 (porta potty stop)
Mile 8: 10:32
Mile 9: 11:40
Mile 10: 10:03
Mile 11: 12:09
Mile 12: 10:30
Mile 13: 11:53 (porta potty stop... and a slight tail wind)
Mile 14: 11:26
Mile 15: 10:21
Mile 16: 10:01
Mile 17: 10:49
Mile 18: 11:00
Mile 19: 10:31
Mile 20: 11:02
Mile 21: 11:27
Mile 22: 10:42
Mile 23: 9:31
Mile 24: 13:08 (Finally! Water!!)
Mile 25: 8:25 (I think the milemarkers were wrong again)
Mile 26.2: 15:06
Can't get much more consistent than two 2:24 halves! (I originally had thought that I had negative split... but, alas! I was just hallucinating).