Sunday, March 17, 2013

No hugs, no hugs! B&A Trail Marathon

Photo by Paul W. Gillespie — The Capital Gazette
So this was my redemption marathon to make up for the mess that I made at Marine Corps. I think I signed up for the B&A Trail Marathon sponsored by the Annapolis Striders about 10 days after Marine Corps. I was really pleased with my training cycle this time which included three 20 mile runs and one 18 mile long run as well as my first ever 50 mile week. I was conservatively aiming for sub-5 hours and optimistically hoping for 4:30. B&A Trail Marathon is really low-key and billed as fairly flat. 181 runners finished the full marathon yesterday. There were another 170 or so half marathoners as well so very small field without a lot of hype. We first had to make a stop at Starbucks so Daddy could get his triple tall. I had had horrible stomach pains the night before and was having a lot of cramping early that morning so I was completely freaking out. A few bathroom trips later, and the stomach finally settled down. We arrived early at LA Fitness in Pasadena, MD to pick up my race bib and chip. The race shirt was a nice long sleeve tech t-shirt. We could all hang out right inside this really nice fitness center, use the bathrooms, and stay warm. The bathroom lines were pretty long, but it was warm and inside so I wasn't complaining. The Running Weatherman had called for some rain but decent temperatures. It was chilly at race start, but I figured that I would warm up as the running got started. At about 7:50, the race director told us all to go outside and assemble on the trail (note about the "trail" part of this marathon: This is not a trail in the traditional trail runner sense. It is a paved rails to trails project so think asphalt running/biking path similar to W&OD).
 We have a quick race brief, a lame version of the national anthem (complete with the locals throwing an 'O' in there), and we are ready to go. Marathoners had a 5 minute head start.
And we are off!

Photo by Paul W. Gillespie — The Capital Gazette
We head out for about 2.5 miles before heading back and passing the start. This was nice because I got to see the boys and give them a hug as I passed by. This also started a bunch of the men half marathoners on "Go Mom!" which they continued to yell at intervals until they finally hit the turnaround. I was settled in at around 9:45-9:50 pace for the first 7 miles and feeling good. I chatted a bit with an ultrarunner guy and a group of run/walk ladies, but then they dropped off at mile 9 to use the bathroom and never caught back up. We lost the half marathoners at mile 9 as well which was good because they were irritating, and I was ready to spread the field out and focus in on the hard part. We had been told that there was a hill at mile 7, but I never saw the hill. There was a small incline to get onto a trail branch, but it didn't really register as a hill. For the most part, the course is boring. It's not very scenic, and it's pretty flat. The only thing you are seeing are backyards of dumpy houses, loading docks of strip malls, and highway. So if you are looking for a scenic course, don't pick this one. I was looking for a course where I could focus and get my time so this one worked. The only neat parts of the run were when we got to run over the old railroad trestles.
I had broken the run into sections in my head. I was hoping that JD and the kids would make it to mile 12-13 aid station, but I wasn't sure so I was telling myself that I could have my ipod at mile 15. I essentially started counting down miles until ipod around mile 10. This part of the run was the least fun as we had to make a detour through a neighborhood. When we were on the sidewalk, it was OK. We went by Severna Park High School where they were having a mulch sale and high schoolers stared at us like we were crazy. At this point the marathon field was pretty strung out, and I was essentially by myself. After passing the high school, we ran about 0.5 miles on a fairly busy street with our backs to traffic and nothing but traffic cones (ie no race volunteers) separating us from the traffic. I was really nervous in this area and was really happy to get back on the trail. As I started into the mile 12 aid station (aid stations were every 3 miles), I was around 10-10:15 for pace and was getting some cramping. I popped an Endurolyte tab (this was risky as I had never tried these before and had no idea how they would work). Then I saw my little guys hopping around. I had dressed them all in green so they were visible from quite far away. As I am coming close to them, JD is telling them "no hugs, no hugs" because he really wanted me to stay focused and stay in my rhythm so we settled for high 5's, and I was back on the trail.

Within about a mile my cramping started to subside so I think the Endurolyte was working. At this point we saw the lead runners on the way back. I knew we had to be getting to a turnaround point so I told myself to hold out on the ipod until the turnaround. This is where we get an unexpected hill. It normally wouldn't be an issue, but at mile 16.5 it felt hard. So I put on the headset and hear Eminem tell me "'Cause sometimes you just feel tired,Feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength And just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse." That got me up that incline and moving along so 'Til I Collapse was on repeat for a good 2 miles. Then I was tell myself that it was just 2 miles to the boys. I was still running in the 10s at this point. I came into the 20 mile aid station and saw my little leprechauns leaping around. I picked up some oranges and some water and got hugs this time. It was around 20.25 miles with time at 3:27 so I had a chance at 4:30, but it wasn't likely given I hadn't run under 10 since the beginning of the race. I just focused on not falling apart and moving forward for the last 10K. My legs were getting really crampy, and for some dumb reason I didn't bother to use anymore fuel after mile 20. It probably would have helped me as there were two more aid stations where I took water, but just didn't use any of the honey stingers. Somewhere around mile 24, I was really starting to feel awful. I looked at the watch and knew that I could still get in the 4:30s if I could just keep a decent pace. I was in the 11s by this point and hoping to stay there. I dropped to a 12 minute pace in the last mile and finally saw the 26 mile marker and could see the finish line ahead. The boys were all cheering for me, and Nic and Zach ran in beside me. JD snapped an awesome finish line photo.

Here's the medal!


Official time was 4:35:32 which was 130/181 overall; 32/54 females; and 4/8 35-39 females.
 Resting this week and ready to take on 17.75K with the Marines next weekend. Lots of half marathons on the schedule for the spring. Pretty sure that we are going to sign up for the Drake Well Marathon.

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