One word to describe this whole darn marathon: Poo. It was hot, humid, and executed by a bunch of amateurs. But I’m getting ahead of myself….
This trip has been planned for several months, and I always knew it was a ‘double’ only 2 weeks after my first 24 hour race. I knew it would be rough, but a worse hand could not have been dealt.
There are few cardinal rules in marathoning, but one of the most important is never run in an ‘inaugural’ race. Ever. Ya just don’t do it. No matter what. If you need evidence for it, I submit this race report. Bad moves all over the place. But again, I am getting ahead of myself….
As I follow my state chase, I try hard to save money wherever I can. I run ‘doubles’ (two marathons in one weekend) to save money, not prove something. In this case, I flew a triangle flight path, Detroit to Houston, Houston to Omaha, Omaha to Detroit.
My weekend began good enough, getting to Houston on Friday afternoon and had a great dinner as a hole in the wall restaurant in Houston with an old friend. The food and conversation were both great. A quick ~1 hour drive to po-dunk (A.K.A. Beaumont) Texas.
Packet pickup was chaotic to say the least. With a 5K, half marathon and full marathon and some people pre-registered, some people wanting to register right then and there, you would think they would have signs designating which volunteers had which. Nope. You got 10 lines for 10 volunteers and you didn’t find out until you got to the table that you were in the wrong line. This was a sign of bad thing to come….
Hotel (Thanks Hotwire.com!) was nice and cheap, two things I love in a hotel and I woke up at 5am for my 7:30am race. The race information was pretty crappy, never really telling you where to park,so I got about 0.5 miles away and thought I was OK. Turns out, we ran right by my car during the race. I almost thought about changing socks on the second trip around.
With <5min to go, the people at the race start realized that all 1500+ runners were on the wrong side of the start line and told them to go over to the other side. Yeah, THAT was smart. They had not mastered the art of the PA system, and nobody bothered to shepard people in the correct place before the last minute, but OK, I’ll give ‘em that one.
One thing outside the race director’s sphere of influence was the weather. It was drizzling and 75 degrees, on its way to 85 degrees and 150% humidity by mile 18. It was blessedly overcast until mile 14 when the sun came out and that was oppressive. Everyone around me was hurting. I ran a 100+ mile race just 2 weeks previous, so I was not 100% by any means. I actually had knee pain and light shin splints going into this race. By mile 3, my shins were absolutely screaming with incredible amounts of pain. One way to prevent shin splints is to (no joke) do some running backwards. It stretches out the correct muscles and actually helps. Many of the miles were on closed off highway so the road was in good condition (read: no potholes) so I did 200 or so meters running backwards. That helped because when I flipped back around, I felt no pain for ~400m, and then the pain came back but slowly. I did that 3 more times and then, and mile 7ish, a miracle happened. My shins, decided that they were in fact fine and all pain went away, never bothering me again all race. I give a lot of credit to a brand new pair of 2XU calf compression guards, which seemed to really help. My knee gave me small cries all day long, but nothing major. Considering how beaten up I was going into this race, I felt pretty damn good.
Ok, back to yelling at the race directors…VERY poorly marked course. Some of the race marshals did not even know which was we were supposed to turn at some points. The course had seemingly zillions of turns through town, and some were not even labeled. One the second loop (for us a few marathoners) the field was so thin you could not use that tried and true method of not getting lost by just ‘following the runner in front of you’ because they would sometimes take wrong turns or you couldn’t even see them, they were so far ahead.
Ok, last dig. It’s hot, right? It’s humid, right? So that means your sweat is just plain not cooling you off. You are overheating. You would think water is REALLY *&$#%ing important, yeah? The last 7 water stations of the race were dry. Bone dry. No water, no Powerade, nothing. Well, some had some oranges leftover they would give you in the cups meant for water. I saw one aid station getting refilled by some National Guard troops (Thanx guys!) but obviously not enough was done. Everyone I talked to during the race was upset, and wanted to get done and get out of dodge. I could not agree more. The only bright spot of this race was the finishers medal, a nice cool design with a oil well shape. was really cool, gotta give them that.
From past experience from doubles, I knew I needed to get food energy in me as fast as possible, recovering from one race and prepping for the next, and I think I found the perfect food, chocolate milk. Loaded with calories, fat, protein, carbs, and my stomach took it with no icky-ness at all. On my way out of town getting to Nebraska, I had a late lunch at the airport, and I chose crispy fried alligator, and yes it tasted like chicken