Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mayor’s Marathon, Anchorage, AK

I finished my 64th marathon and 45th state today, in Anchorage Alaska.  Finish time 5:42:15, good enough for third of eight in my 70-74 age group.  I’m OK with that time.

Weather: We did not expect hot weather in Alaska!  And it wasn’t too hot - just 69 degrees - but the Alaskan sun at solstice was unrelenting and the combination did slow me down a bit.  On the other hand, it could just as well have been raining and cold, and  I liked this better.

My race: I had a wonderful time.  I was hoping for a 5:30 finish, and missed that by 12 minutes, but I’m happy.  Porta-potty stops and cramps made up the difference.  Mostly cramps.  So why the cramps?:  (1) I wasn't trained properly.  The hernia surgery in April made it hard to get in enough long runs; and (2) I didn't anticipate the heat and didn't take enough water in the first two water stops.  That's all it takes.  Once you're thirsty (and I was), it's too late, no matter how much water you take later.  I should have known, though, because I felt comfortable at the start in just my race shirt and shorts.  It’s better to feel cold at the start.  The course was a bit “challenging,” too, hilly and rough, just as I like it.


Hernia repair: It didn’t hurt much, but it was there throughout the race.  I wore my “hernia briefs,” which apply a slight pressure on the surgical area.  Also, in the beginning, I pressed a hand against that area on the downhills, when the belly-bouncing is at maximum, but that seemed to make  the pain worse, so I stopped that and just ran.  The hernia pain was never even close to a limiting factor.

Cramps:  I can't think of a single major leg muscle group that didn't cramp at some time or another.  Calves (front and back), quads, hamstrings, and more, both legs.  Generally I know what to do about a cramp - you stop at a light pole or whatever and find a way to put tension on the cramping muscle, pulling against the cramp.  Stretch it out.  That hurts at first, but then it stops the cramp.  Some of these muscles I've never heard from before though, and I found myself having to invent ways to pull against them.  Oh well, that was not a problem until I got within about two miles of the finish.

Other: None.  The knee was fine, hips and feet were fine, everything fine.  I'll be good to run a little by Tuesday I think.  We have another marathon to think about.

The Mayor's Marathon:

You have to like trail marathons to enjoy this marathon.  I do, and I did.  Most of it is on paved bike trails, but eight miles or so are on a coarse-gravel road called the “Tank Trail,” so called because it’s on Richardson Army Base and the Army drives military tanks on it from time to time.  I enjoyed it, not so much because of the surface, which required attentive vigilance to avoid a twisted ankle, but because of the woods, hills, and creeks that we passed.

A shorter portion was on a real trail, just a path through the woods, just wide enough for one person to pass another.  I love that kind of trail, though of course it calls for even more vigilance, to avoid a face plant.  The 900 runners were well-spaced by the time we walk/runners reached this trail, so passing was not a problem.

Very little of the course was on actual city streets or paved roads.  A few miles were on bike trails adjacent to noisy, busy, multi-lane roadways, and it felt good to be done with those miles.

These Alaskans have done a marathon before.  It was well organized, to the point where we even received an email before the race with the URL where the results would appear later.  Better yet: The race results were available immediately, even during the race.  At one time after my race I was third of five, but later third of eight.  RACE DIRECTORS TAKE NOTE.  Runners LOVE immediate results. I would never go back to a race that didn't post results until the next day.

The organizers of this race do a lot of stuff right.  I’d run this one again any day.  Except tomorrow.

This was a “destination” marathon (and half) for hundreds of Team-In-Training (TNT) runners, raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which does cancer research on blood cancers including myeloma.  I love talking to those people - they always have a story, and it’s usually about a loved one with cancer, sometimes in honor of that person and sometimes in memory.  One young woman was celebrating the eighth anniversary of her dad’s leukemia treatment.  “Oh yeah,” she said, “he’s still alive.  He’s running the half marathon.”

Splits: 13:01, 11:38, 13:23,, 12:30, 11:19, 12:51, 12:27, 11:58, 11:40, 12:15, 13:24, 11:39, 28:37 (2 mi and major natural break), 13:58, 10:35 (really?), 16:31 (really?), 12:43, 11:42, 11:57, 11:50, 12:33, 11:47, 13:43, 16:31, 18:50, 2:55 (0.22 mi), total 5:42:15.

Tank Trail, looking back Real trail, looking ahead

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