Friday, October 28, 2011

My 8th Marathon!

This past Sunday I ran the Delaware-Lehigh Heritage Marathon. It was my 8th marathon but the first in 8 years. Four of us, me, Jessi, Dave, and Ron, drove up the afternoon before to pick up our race packets. Had some ok beer at a brewery in Allentown and good Japanese food at another restaurant the night before. And of course - Jessi's cookies! The weather was perfect for a marathon - sunny, about 45-50 F at the start and warming up to about 60+ F by the time I finished.

The race course is very scenic. It is mostly on rail-trails along the Lehigh River. It is a relatively flat course with two noticeable hills - one short one to cross a bridge sometime after mile 10 and a steep one (~30% grade!!!) at mile 17.5. Though that statement needs a qualification as the course is actually a gradual uphill until mile 17.5 (thanks to Jessi's and Dave's Garmin data), then the race flattens out and becomes a downhill course.  After the big hill we ran along a ridge offering scenic views of the area and the Lehigh River. Good thing it wasn't raining or very windy because you are really exposed on that ridge.The one part of the course that I really didn't like (except for that steep hill! They really need to have some beer to reward us when we get to the top) was the multiple out and back at around mile 21. After running down from the ridge there is an aid station. You then run out about 1/2 - 3/4 of a mile then BACK to the aid station while passing the turn-off to the trail then back a bit where you are then running on the trail again.

This was the first time the marathon was run so there were bound to be some issues. The 30 min delayed start pissed off a lot of people. Especially those fast runners who had already done a warm-up and were now cooling down. But it gave me more time to hit the port-a-johns! And after drinking a whole 16 oz bottle of water I needed to pee again! The volunteers along the course did a great job and were enthusiastic. Along the ridge I had two girls shout out "Go NG!". Now this is a nick name that few people knew about so I knew that one of my friends who was running the race and wearing the same shirt as I asked the girls to do this. Thanks Ron! It is also a small race. There was a limit of 500 runners for both the full and the half-marathon and 125 people ran the marathon. Luckily, I have no problems running alone.

I had hoped that my 28 mile run in August with several 2-3 hr hilly runs (avg of 9 - 10.5 miles) in September and October would have been sufficient training but it definitely wasn't! I planned on running 10 min and walking 1 min; and I held to that for at least most of the first 10 miles. But I probably went out too fast - a 9:30 first mile! Early on my knees started aching and the muscle pains began. Why didn't I bring some Aleve with me??!? Occasionally I would walk 3-7 min in the hopes that it would help. But I think it just delayed finishing the race! I never felt that fatigued due to lack of energy. I was eating parts of a Power Bar, fruit chews, and drinking G2 Gatorade along the way. I was able to maintain good form - never did the marathon shuffle. When I walked I did so quickly. But people were passing me and I wasn't passing anyone else. As I approached the downhill to run the last 5-6 miles, one of the volunteers let me know that I was in last place. Oh well - not the first time that has happened. I made attempts to catch the runner in front of me and I was closing the gap! But I didn't have enough race left nor did I have any legs left to catch up. I definitely was running more than walking in the last miles of the race and actually ran to the finish line.

I finished in 5:24:35 (a personal worst) and last. Since its a small race, one of the volunteers quickly found my bag and brought it to me shortly after I finished. Jessi (placed first of the women - and had 2 hrs to rest before I finished) brought me a chair to sit down and some food - a turkey wrap, chili, and water. There was plenty of food at the end for the last runner and the volunteers to eat!

As expected, I hurt! The worst was the sharp pains in the front of the left ankle/lower shin. I was able to run without the ankle hurting but had sharp pains while walking during the race. I had a similar issue with the 50k in the Maylon Mayhem in August (except it was the right ankle then). Not sure what is causing this but I need to get it solved! Recovery has been pretty good. Did 25 min of yoga on Monday night - still able to touch the ground during a forward bend! Sore legs for about 2 days. And by Friday I think I'm ready for a run!

I'll run this race again. It's only about a 1.5 hr drive away (that is when Ron isn't driving) and hopefully I'll be able to do packet pick-up the morning of the race. But before I attempt another long road/non-technical trail race again there's a couple things that I need to do. The first is MORE MILES during training. I know that ultra runners think that time on the feet is sufficient but I know I need to do at least a couple of runs of distances of 15 miles or greater if I want to run most of a marathon and definitely if I want to finish it faster. The second is I need to lose some weight.

Dave, Jessi, me, and Ron. The shirts were quite popular!

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