That was kind of damp…
The day and the race started off with some off and on rain and cooler temperatures, but overall it didn’t seem too bad. There had been over an inch of rain in the city the day before so there were lots of places where there were puddles on the course that needed to be watched for.
Within 2 hours of the race starting though it was raining steady and it never let up until after midnight! It made for a pretty soggy race.
All respect to the volunteers out there during the race – that would not have been the funnest of times hanging around in the rain all day while the crazy runners were out doing their thing!
As an executive summary of the race from my perspective it was good and I ended up with a new marathon PR, finally breaking my previous one from my first marathon in 2005. But I was not expecting the kind of impact on my energy reserves I experienced from the constant cool rain.
The volunteers and aid stations seemed to be well stocked and you could tell when they were planning the race they expected warmer weather than they got. There were many sponge stations which would have been brilliant on a hot day but seemed counterproductive to me for this race. If you wanted cold water on your head, just take off your hat…but that is just me, the sponges did seem to be used by several people.
The weather report had been going between forecasting light rain to forecasting heavier rain and back again, so I really didn’t know what to expect really. With that in mind I had packed a drop bag with a dry shirt, a sweater, a pair of socks and some sandals, half expecting to not need it.
I got up before my alarms went off, had a quick breakfast and loaded into my van and drove to one of the park and ride stations. The stations opened up at 5:30 am and I was probably parking at around 5:40. After parking the van, I put on my disposable rain poncho, gathered my stuff and wandered to the bus. I was able to walk right on a bus and we left within just a couple minutes.
The bus ride was quick and I had unloaded and dropped my drop bag at the baggage tent right around 6 am. This still gave me an hour to wander around before the race start time of 7 am.
I did some wandering around the corrals and eventually found a spot out of the wind and rain to wait for the start. Someday I am going to have to turn on my GPS watch early to see how many miles I put on pacing around before a race begins.
About 5-10 minutes before the race start I took off my rain poncho and got in the starting corral to wait. I was wearing my Half Fanatics arm sleeves and that drew the attention of some Marathon Maniacs folks and I spent a few minutes chatting with them.
The race ended up being delayed at the start because a moving / delivery van had decided to pull up and park on the race course a few hundred yards from the start line, right in the way of the course. The truck got moved and the race was finally started.
The race was very good for the first while, you did occasionally have to dodge large puddles to avoid getting your feet too wet but overall it wasn’t too bad.
My fueling plan was to stop and walk every half hour, have some fuel and a drink and then continue on. I would also supplement liquid fuel regularly while still running. This worked very well for the first couple hours…more on that later.
I was at a solid 7.3 miles at the hour mark and had a quick stop at mile 9 as my wife and kids were there cheering me on. Definitely a nice little pick me up. It also gave me a good reference point as they had done the same thing last year and by that point last year I knew I had pushed too hard the first hour and I was going to pay for it later. This year I was still feeling good and could tell I was pacing myself well.
Continued on and hit the half-way point at 1:52:23. A very good half marathon pace and I was pretty solidly sure at that point that PR was in the works for this race.
I kept on and hit around the 14.1 mile mark at 2 hours and stopped to take a fuel break as I had been doing every half hour. On this break I brought out something a bit more solid to eat so walked for a couple minutes instead of just a minute before starting to run again. Oh oh… significant knee pain in my right knee when I started to get moving and very quickly had to stop and walk again to sort that out.
Around this time a gentleman ran past in an INKnBURN shirt asking if I was doing Goofy or Dopey this year , I said Dopey and he gave me a “right on” and kept rolling. I was wearing my Goofy Challenge running hat that he might have noticed…I can’t imagine I was actually recognized from this blog.
I tried to run again at this point (maybe 5 minutes into the 3rd hour) and I was able to work through the pain in the knee and it quickly settled down so I could continue. Unfortunately my Garmin GPS lost the satellites around the same time due to the heavy tree cover and I had no idea what my pacing was like. I felt slow but couldn’t really be sure. So I figured I would watch the time and see when I hit the mile 15 marker and judge from there.
Damn it – no mile 15 marker and without any idea of what my pace was I didn’t know if I had missed it or if it was still coming up, or just what. Kept pushing though.
Got to the mile 17 marker right around the 2:30 mark – not awful considering I lost 5 minutes to fueling and knee issues. PR still likely at this point and sub 4 hour still on the table.
By now the rain was non-stop and there were some strong winds in places – was definitely feeling a bit cold but it didn’t seem too bad yet.
Ran into the wife and kids again between miles 18-19 and I was still doing decent. Just a real short break to say hi and chuckle with them about the signs they were holding. The rain was causing the marker to run like crazy – at this point my son’s looked more like a rainbow than anything else.
The water on the road and the splashing from passing vehicles here was so bad that many runners were running on the sidewalk instead of the road between mile 19 and 20. I took a lesson from my run a couple weeks back where I kept tripping on edges in the sidewalk and I didn’t want to repeat that. So I stuck to the road and with everyone on the sidewalk I was able to pick a clear path between the puddles.
Hit 20 miles at almost exactly the 3 hour mark (just under 3 hours). Just 6.2 miles to go – sub 4 hour still looked like it was possible and I was feeling pretty positive despite the weather.
I knew by the time I hit mile 21 that sub 4 hours was out the window. I was hungry and none of the fuel I was carrying was cutting it – it hit me at this point that with the constant cool rain my body was burning a bunch more calories just to stay warm and I hadn’t accounted for that in my fueling strategy. I should have been fueling harder earlier to combat that. That being said though the rain wasn’t constant that early on so I wouldn’t have necessarily known to start early. Damn.
At this point it was about pushing and making the new PR instead. I started doing more walking breaks and kept pushing as best I could – I couldn’t sustain 6mph for very long and found that 5.5-5.8 was my average.
I ran into the wife and kids again just after the start of mile 24 – could tell the kids were done! They were troopers to have handled being carted around like that all morning.
Only thing I could think to say to my wife at this point – “this looks nothing at all like the Boardwalk”. At this point in the Disney World Marathon runners would have headed out of Hollywood Studios and been on the path toward the Boardwalk and the Yacht and Beach Club resorts. Tried to keep those memories in my head as I continued on.
Just past the mile 25 marker there were emergency personnel helping someone on the ground. That would be crushing to get that close…my heart goes out to that runner.
It did not help my mind set at this point that a course official on a bike started stalking me at like some weird marathon grim reaper. I’m fine dude! Quit creeping me out!
At the 4 hour point I was decently over the 25 mile mark and I knew a new shiny (but soggy) marathon PR was mine. I had to take a couple quick walk breaks in that last mile but still finished strong.
My GPS watch said 4:09:48 – new PR by over 5 minutes! Whoohoo – but man, sub 4 was there…so close. Bloody weather.
Strangely official results later showed 4:09:01 for my official time which made me wonder how I messed up the Garmin timing that bad but then when I checked again later my official time had changed to 4:09:44. This time makes more sense with my Garmin but still a bit strange.
I crossed the line, got my medal and started walking toward the recovery area. I didn’t get a finisher pic at the end as the photographer seemed to be more concerned about keeping his camera dry than take pictures at that point. Oh well.
In the recovery area I grabbed a chocolate milk, sat down and fired off a few emails and then went to find my dry clothes. When I walked out of the recovery tent back into the cool air and rain, I started to shiver like mad. Need the dry clothes now!!!
Held it together and got my drop bag and headed into the bag drop tent that was for the half marathoners – only some other marathoners in there changing shirts and shoes. I found a spot at a table and put on the dry shirt and sweater and pulled off my socks and shoes (while trying to stay out of the mud). Unfortunately I hadn’t really been thinking and I had brought sandals instead of another pair of shoes. With the rain I was not going to be able to keep the socks dry for long. Must find the bus back to the park and ride quickly!
Was able to get on a bus with the dry socks still mostly dry and got back to the van quite quickly.
One snag though – my keyless entry fob which had been in a pouch around my fuel belt wouldn’t work – it had gotten too wet. So I used the key to get in and out of the rain but I couldn’t start the vehicle without the alarm going off unless I unlocked the doors with the fob. Crap…now what? Then I remembered that I had actually grabbed both sets of keys when I left the house this morning and came to my sense before I left the vehicle and hid the second set in the van. Grabbed them, unlocked/turned off the alarm, started the vehicle and cranked the heat! Seat of the van was still wet the next morning.
Went home and had a long, long, hot shower and put on warm and fuzzy clothes. I still felt chilled for hours after and then around supper time I actually started feeling too hot and ended up actually have a cooler shower before bed. I’m not sure my body had a clue what it was supposed to be doing at this point.
I woke up in the morning, a little stiff and some occasional jabs from the knee but other than that I am good. I had to climb several flights of stairs at work today and had no issues at all. Excellent.
So all in all, I came through healthy, pushed through some major obstacles and set a new marathon PR. But it was one of those races that by the end you question why you do these kinds of things to yourself. I am glad I am already signed up for the Dopey because if I had to sign up yesterday afternoon, I’m not sure it would have happened!