Monday, December 21, 2009

Pigtails Flat Ass Marathon Race Report

The short: Wet conditions on fairly flat gravel & paved trail. Finished the marathon in 6:13 (6:13:22 according to my watch).

The long: Since the Seattle Ghost, I tried my hardest to both recover and re-condition for this one. However, after some failures with getting my act together with my runs (17 miles the week after the Ghost, zero miles after that) and my strength conditioning (did some strength-endurance work with heavy weight, but not consistently), I knew I was asking to be punished by the course.

The race location was moved. Instead of it being in Renton, it was moved to Maple Valley. So the original turnaround was going to be the start/finish and we would run towards Renton along the Cedar River Trail until we basically reached the Renton border. Finding the race start area wasn't easy. Due to dark streets and lack of signs in the area, I ended up driving past where I should have gone. But common sense prevailed and I was able to find it well before the race was to start (I got to the race before Van 'Pigtails' Phan, the RD did!)

This race also had my wife and daughter in tow. It had been quite a long time since they were with me at a race. Since the race start was also the finish, I knew my ass would be grass if I didn't get myself to the finish line. No DNF allowed here!

As daylight progressed, things were much more the port-a-potties on the other side of the street and the parking lot. There was a good number of folks this year and the Maple Valley Food Bank was going to get plenty from the ultrarunning community this year since the entry is pretty much food donations and a minimum $5 fee to cover the insurance/permits.

While standing in the wet-wet-wet (a big F-U to the meteorologists who said it was going to be a dry Saturday!), everyone was ready to go. The course was in the shape of a "J" (or a funny upside-down "y" if you're doing the 50k), we would run for a half-mile down one access road along the river, turn around, go over the river, and then onto the actual trail where we'd be for about 12.5+ miles out and then back.

Closer to the race start time, Van tapped me to announce. Guess my loud vocal work at other events have given me a reputation to make everyone stand to attention. :-)

And as a simple 3-count, we were off and I was going to be punished for this one. I was in the back of the pack with folks like Michelle Barnes, Jenny Appel, and the ever cool hardcore marathoner, Bob Dolphin. Soon after we got past the bottom of the "J" and started on the longer part, Brian Pendleton caught up to me and we ran together to the first aid station about 5.8 miles away. Brian had been rehab-ing from a shin issue, so he wasn't going to go at a blistering fast pace. However, his non-fast pace did push me quite a bit more than I should have done. But in retrospect, I think it was necessary. We got to the aid station within an hour, which meant that if I could keep up everything, I could potentially get to the finish between 5-5.5 hours if nothing went wrong. However, I was shooting for closer to a 6 hour finish based on the Seattle Ghost time of 3:10 and the 14+ mile long run the week later also at 3:10.

After Brian went on ahead after the aid station, I drank some more soup (Thanks to Jess, Shawn, and Heidi for manning the aid station in the soggy weather!), put on my hydration pack I stuck in my drop bag and headed out. The wet never let up. Thankfully, it wasn't freezing cold and my body was radiating heat from all the activity. As I continued, I switched to a run 5 minute/walk 1 minute pattern until I got to the 2nd aid station. This one was unmanned and had just water and Payday bars. I chomped down on one and kept going. I was about 2.5 miles away from the turnaround and my time was around 2:40. I was very thrilled...until after the turnaround and I reached mile 15. After that, my quads and hamstrings seized. I didn't want to pop any Aleve unless absolutely needed. But after the gals from the Y-Run club passed me after they thought I was going to die, I decided to take three of those blue pills.

A mile or two of power-walking and the quads and hamstrings were feeling better. I got to the same unmanned aid station from before and was looking forward to the Payday bars...until I got there and saw they were gone. Like a drama-queen, I screamed out, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! YOU BASTARDS!!!!!!!!". That lit a fire under my ass to get to the last aid station and get something better than the GU's that I've consumed.

As I continued, I ended up running for three minutes and walking for three for my pattern. My calves were trying to cramp up, but thanks to wearing diabetic socks with the feet cut off (TAKE THAT EXPENSIVE ZENASH CALF COMPRESSION SLEEVES!!!), the socks pushed the cramping muscles back into place and I was able to continue on. Note: My calves were 100% fine after the race, my quads were the only things trashed.

About 1.5 miles away from the final aid station, Michael Cartwright caught me on his bike doing sweeping duty. I let him know that there was Bob Dolphin behind me still and one other person. He assured me that I wasn't too far away from the aid station and that lifted my spirits. Checking my watch, I realized I would be on target to hit 5 hours to the aid station and my 6 hour finish time would still be possible. I was also glad that it wasn't too far away for one other reason: The hydration pack ran out of water and I was fortunate to still have a bottle on me that was half-full.

I made it to the aid station and sucked down more soup. By this time, I had consumed 3 Aleve, 4 S!Caps, and 3 Tums Smoothies chewables. Any more pills in my gut and I'd be able to open up a pharmacy. The GU's I had on the course were not agreeing with me very well, so it was a welcome site to have some real food. I also got some mental relief talking to Jess, Shawn, and Heidi before heading off to finish (apologies to Shawn for playing "Party in your Bedroom" by Cash Cash).

I was nearing the end. 4.7 miles left and the 3 run/3 walk was still working for me. I tried to run a bit more, but anything past 3 minutes was only making me more beaten up. I caught Lorie Alexander from BC coming back to do her 50 miles (she's doing fifty 50 mile runs for this year to celebrate her 50th birthday, this race was number 49.) I gave her a hug and wished her well. As I kept moving, I noticed that the mile markers that the trail had (not done by the RD, but by the city/county) seemed longer, unless my math was just wrong. But thankfully, I eventually saw the finish line and I finally made it across hearing cheers and getting a big hug and kiss from my family. Family does make a race better, yes it does. For my efforts, I received another excellent finisher's medal from Van - a pink colored jingle bell made to look like a pig.

Oh yeah, I also gave *tc a kiss on the cheek and licked the crease in his face per Shawn's instructions. (Don't worry *tc, my wife isn't jealous. ^_^)

Laughter aside, I downed some more soup and did some socializing before leaving with the family. Post-race eatings with the fam after the race? Carl's Jr. and it was delicious.

Post-race analysis:

- Quads still feel beaten up, but not the hamstrings or calves. So doing the deadlifts & good mornings helped. I should get back into doing more squats though.

- Now that I've gone 26.2, I can use this as a launch point to get more quality long miles done that are much longer than 13-14 miles and feel less of the sick effects of being under trained for distances.

- Need to find alternative to GU's (unless the batch I have left is just bad).

Next event: Tiger Mountain Fat Ass on January 2nd. I'll do at least one 16 mile loop, but if things go right, I'll take another trip around the mountain range.

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