Sunday, August 26, 2012

Timmy’s Challenge, Parker’s Marathon

This completes my 66th marathon in the 47th state since the myeloma diagnosis.  West Virginia probably shouldn’t host a marathon in August, but it worked out OK today.  The predicted high was near ninety, but the marathon started at 6:30 and by the time I was done at 11:40 the temperature had just reached 80.

My Marathon:

This was the fastest marathon of my last twelve, 5:09:51, and I finished fourth of 13 in my age group of 65 - 72.  I’m a happy runner!  I had gone out fairly fast in the beginning, to take advantage of the cool start, thinking that I’d slow toward the end if necessary.  Sure enough, my calves started to cramp in the last two miles and I had to walk in, but I’m fine with the total time.  Only one person passed me in the last half of the marathon and I passed several.  The warm weather got to everyone.  I took six Clif Shot gels and plenty of Thermotab salt tablets during the run.

Trail, aid station, and tunnel entrance
North Bend Rail Trail:

All but about a mile and a half of the marathon is on the North Bend Rail Trail.  It is wide, straight (mostly), and the hills are long and gradual.  Best of all, it is just scrumptious, mostly wooded and shaded, cut through the hills of West Virginia as a railroad right-of-way would be, with 15 or 20 bridges, and through one 1300-foot tunnel (flashlights required).  It's an out-and-back, so we did all of that twice.   I would run on this trail again in a heartbeat.  It’s not a place for a personal best, though.  The surface is rough gravel, with some stones large enough to be worth dodging.  Every step crunched on the gravel. Combined with the miles-long upward (and downward) slopes and the warm temperatures, it was more tiring than a nice, level, cool marathon course.  But I’m very happy with it!


The right hip flexors (hernia-repair side) started to hurt at about mile six and kept right on to the end, though it wasn’t a limiting factor.  I suspect that they wouldn’t have been any problem if only I had done my hip-flexor stretches regularly.  Tsk.  The hernia repair itself hurt just a little, especially if I poked it.  So don’t poke it.  Duh.  Otherwise no problems at all, and none afterward, not even a cramp during our six-hour drive after the marathon was over.

Parker’s Marathon:

All in all, Parker’s Marathon was well enough organized and I had a good time.  At the finish we all enjoyed a marvelous repast with every kind of picnic food one can imagine, all still available for late-finishers like myself.  Enroute, aid stations were almost sufficient in number, but the distance between them varied widely, from a mile and a half to four and a half.  The web site did not suggest that runners should carry water to fill in the longer intervals, but anyone who wasn’t carrying water could have been pretty dry at times.  I carried water.  Next year this race will be three weeks later, in a different city, and on a different rail trail, so this and other similar suggestions are probably irrelevant.

We were disappointed that the half marathon did not give out finishers’ medals.  Every one of the 36 half marathons that my gals have run before have provided medals for the finishers.  It’s true that the web site did not promise finishers’ medals among the “What’s Included” list, but neither did the marathon, and the marathoners did get finishers’ medals.  Happily, the post-race volunteers found a way to make it good for my gals, because my gals asked about it, but most half-marathon finishers went home empty.  That’s not good.

Splits: 22:22 (2 mi), 10:43, 23:09 (2 mi), 11:44, 13:18, 10:30, 10:11, 10:43, 14:03 (nature break), 10:42, 24:23 (2 mi), 12:00, 23:08 (2 mi), 12:03, 12:07, 33:57 (3 mi), 23:34 (2 mi), 14:03, 17:19 (1.2 mi), total 5:09:57, overall pace 11:49.  Great. I know I can do better, but it’s a masterpiece!


Anonymous said...

Great job Don and congrats on another one!

It sounds like you've really kicked things up a few notches from your recent history.

I was curious, any idea on what the total elevation gain was for the course? And how much liquid did you consume besides the Clif shots? I'm always curious as to what others are doing.

All the best.

Don said...

Hi Bert,

Back home now. The total gain was not bad, around 250 feet or so, then down, and back up maybe 150 feet. Then we turned around and did it all backward.

Because I carried water, I drank a lot, but I filled the bottle at every aid station and don't have a good measure of it. I know that on the way back I emptied my 16-ounce bottle in one 4 1/2 mile stretch between refills.

Nice to hear from you again.