Leading up to Pandora's Marathon, we'd decided to camp out. Having always stayed somewhere the night before a tejas trails event, this'd be new, and I was looking forward to it.
We got there around 11pm and suddenly realized how cold it was. Fortunately, we set up our tent in record time. We stayed up for a bit trying to stay warm. It was so cold that I decided to park my car inches from the tent - in the hopes that the heat from the engine would provide some heat. That didn't work out too well. Apologies for Tim Smith & co. for being kinda loud and waking them up.
I woke up freezing at 5am. I decided to thaw out in the car since I was already sore from sleeping on the floor (next time, I'm getting a pad of some sort). Btw, my car's thermometer said it was 37 degrees. 37 degrees!!!
I quickly changed and ended up napping on/off until I heard Joe P's distant voice saying "3 minutes...3 minutes...". We ran to the start line, I lined up towards the front. Not too close to the front, but pretty close. I always start questioning myself when lining up for races...do I belong close to the front? should I line up towards the middle? the back? Argh!!! I don't have to tell you I tend to overthink things.
I'd decided earlier in the week to run w/o a handheld since the weather was going to be pretty mild. This was the only thing that made me nervous. I felt pretty comfortable about my fitness level, the rocky terrain, etc. This race was supposed to be a gauge for how much I'd improved or not since I'd decided very recently to get a little more serious about my running.
Loop 1: I started pretty quick - on purpose. I was going to go out at a somewhat (for me) aggressive pace. Other than my fingers freezing, I felt well. Having run this course once before (at night), I'd forgotten how rocky & treacherous this course was. I rolled my ankle several times and my achille's heel was burning from miles 3-7ish. I forced myself to drink a cup of gatorade and water and have a 1/4 of orange at each aid station. Overall, this loop was pretty swift. Despite rolling my ankle several times and having a serious upset stomach, I finished it in 2:02ish.
Observations from Loop 1 - I didn't regret starting w/o any hydration. My ankles were on fire from a couple really nasty twists...and I regret having tried something new to eat the night before.
Loop 2: As I came in from loop 1, I ran directly to the restroom. 3 minutes later, I started loop 2. My plan was to not waste any time in between loops and at the aid stations. So far so good. At around mile 16, I rolled my ankle again. This time, I had to walk. I walked for what seemed like a couple miles. It was pretty painful, and I considered calling it a day. After taking a couple aspirin, the pain went away, and I was able to continue running. I caught up to my friends (Carlos, Alex & Billy) several miles later and began running w/ them. I think I was beginning to fatigue because I kept tripping so many times. They were all close calls, but I managed to not fall. I, finally, reached the last aid station and knew there was only about 1.7 miles left. I tried to finish strong, but it was starting to warm up a bit, and I could feel it affecting me. Luckliy, it was over pretty soon afterwards.
I ended up finishing in 4:35.
Observations from Loop 2 - My ankles took a beating from all the rollings/twists. I only regretted not using some sort of hydration the last couple miles. Perhaps I'm justifying it to myself, but I know I would've used a handheld or my hydration vest if it was a little longer distance...I think.
Overall, I'm very pleased with my running. For the longest time, my average ROAD marathon finish time was 4:30ish. The fact that I ran a 4:35 considering the terrain, has me feeling pretty good going into my next race (whichever that will be).
I'm also considering the unthinkable - switching to INOV8 shoes. I thought I'd never quit my Hokas, but several people think that they may be responsible for the increased ankle twists. Although, I feel I've become faster (thanks to my Hokas), I'm open minded and am willing to be unfaithful to them.
- Picures courtesy of Jackie Dove -