Under a hot autumn sun just 6 days after running a 4:08 marathon, I ran the inaugural Mill Race Marathon in Columbus, Indiana on Saturday, September 28 in 4:52. It went well early but the heat and leg fatigue took their toll over the last 5 miles.
NOTE: This is the second in the series of three blog posts on 8 amazing days of running. Here's the report of the first marathon and the half marathon.
About a year or so ago, long-time running buddy Larry Wasson let me know he was shooting to run his 100th marathon in a new event not far from his hometown in southern Indiana. I first met Larry on the plane flying back from the 2006 Portland Marathon and we've run into each other many times since. With his invitation to this interesting race, I signed up early.
However, as I described in the description of my previous race, our son's visit on leave from the Army coincided with this marathon, so I didn't think I'd be able to be part of Larry's celebration. But, in another zig and zag, our son had a late change in plans, shifting back his arrival by a few days. Thus, this race was back in play. This meant two marathons in 6 days...I decided to take it on.
To celebrate Larry's wonderful accomplishment, fellow Maniac Todd organized a dinner the night before. It was a fun bunch to be with and the conversation ranged well beyond the usual talk of races, paces and laces.
It was neat to sit with Larry, a terrific guy, very humble and others-focused. I was thrilled to be part of the celebration.
A mutual friend in the group was Terri, a runner from my town who "blames" me for introducing her to the Marathon Maniacs!! She also grew up near the race site, knows Larry and is a generally enthusiastic person. It was a fun evening. But the night before a marathon guarantees such events include no alcohol and end early!
As the weather was nice and my plans changed late, I decided to camp the night before the race. I'm really coming to like camping and it sure saves a lot of money when you run a lot of races each year. I had a site way off by myself in the campground, slept well, was up at 5am and easily got to the race site 2+ hours before the gun. The organizers handed out parking passes at packet pick up (really, really well-designed packed pick up, I might add), so I scored a parking spot, literally, 25 meters from the finish line. Little did I know how grateful I would be for that closeness later.
I registered for this race so early, I had forgotten they gave us the option to personalize our bibs. So, I was thrilled to see my choice. This was particularly nice since the race site is quite close to Purdue's arch-rival, Indiana University. Boilermakers always enjoy tweaking the Hoosiers. I had fun with this one all day.
When it works out, I really enjoy taking a slow, quiet walk around a race start area well before everyone shows up. On this morning, I observed a familiar-looking pick up camper, parked incongruously near the start line. California plates, unmarked, at a marathon race site. It really looked liked the truck belonging to one of the most famous runners of our country, the legendary Jim Simpson. I wondered if I'd see him.
Race time grew closer and had a chance to see some fellow Maniacs and then pose for the obligatory Maniac prerace photo. Here, I'm with Michael Hoyt, on the left, and Danny on the right. I didn't get the name of the guy on far right. Michael is quite the photographer, so I have him to thank for many of these pix in this post.
Finally, the race started on time at 8:00am. The weather was nice early but I knew the legs would be fatigued from the effort the previous weekend. So, I settled into a 3/1 run/walk pace for the first 10 miles or so. That seemed to work just fine.
A real treat happened during mile 3. I saw a tall, thin guy just ahead of me and I realized it was indeed Jim Simpson. I came up along Jim, introduced myself as the race director of the Circular Logic Marathon, which he had run 18 months ago and we were off on a wonderful conversation for the next half hour (photo of Jim and me at CLM). Jim said he has now logged over 1,100 marathons lifetime and this race was his 127th of 2013, with 50 or so more to go. Amazing. We ran three full miles together, had a great talk and then he urged me to go on ahead as he wanted to slow down a bit. What a treat. I embed down below a wonderful video of Jim from last summer in which we describes how he runs, eats and lives. That video is the real deal.
From there, the race just kind of flowed. Columbus, Indiana is famous for architecture which is both unusual and unexpected in a small Indiana manufacturing town. We saw much of it and it was nice. However, around mile 11 or so, we ran out of "town" to see and so did about 10 miles in open, unshaded, less interesting areas of town plus countryside with corn fields. We even, literally, ran through the small local airport. Yes...we ran right next to small airplanes warming up. At mile 10, I was on track for a 4:43 marathon.
At mile 12, I upped my ratio to 4/1. In retrospect, that was not a smart move. But it worked well for a while. At mile 15, I had improved slightly to a 4:42 projected finish. The open space and the meandering course was taking a bit of a toll for me mentally. It felt like we were in a giant line for a ride at Disneyland, such was the serpentine nature of the course. It's not easy to fit 26 miles of running into a small town, I know. But I just started noticing all the winding around in this section of the race.
At mile 20, I was still on a 4:42 projected finish time, amazingly. But that was the last time I could claim that. By mile 22, the pace had slagged and by mile 24, it was clear I'd be over 4:50. I actually moved my run/walk ratio all the way back to a 1/1, I felt so flat. We were finally back in a shaded, residential area but no amount of water dumped on my head was counteracting the humidity and temps now in the low 80s. Eventually, we made the final turn, the finish line was in sight and I ran the final 300m to finish at 4:52:53. Amazingly, I was 14th of 28 in my age group of 55-59...I'm usually lower than half way, so I must have not been the only one affected by the heat.
But the real story of this race was still to come.
As I walked through the finish area, I found I was not terribly thirsty and had a touch of nausea. I also didn't have enough wits about me to recognize this was a clue of dehydration. I walked the (very short) distance back to my car, pulled the camp chair out of my trunk and sat down to pull my shoes off. Boom...my feet both immediately cramped up, requiring much walking to ease. This cycle of sitting, one or both feet cramping, painful walking continued for nearly 90 minutes. I changed into dry clothes and really wanted to drive home. But, every time I sat in the driver's seat, a foot would cramp and the safety issues were obvious.
I finally accepted I'd just have to wait this out, so I grabbed some money, walked a few blocks to the city's post-race street festival, bought a wrap that had some sort of filling and a Diet Coke and slowly had lunch. That seemed to do the trick. A half hour later, I was feeling better, walked to the car and headed home with no further incident.
This spooked me a bit, as I have had no such dehydration issues since the bad situation I had at the close of the 2010 Chicago Marathon (blog post). In retrospect, I realized I simply didn't drink enough fluids early enough. The cool start to the race faked me out. I should know better but didn't on this day.
So there it is...marathon #42 and the second in a week. But more fun followed the next day when I ran a trail half marathon with my oldest son!!! Stay tuned and do persevere.
6 minute video of Jim Simpson. Amazing stuff here!!