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X-Country Marathon - RunMarathon

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Lithia, Florida
United States
70F / 21C
Total Time = 4h 03m 4s
Overall Rank = 11/
Age Group = M35-39
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

I woke up around 530. I made myself a protein shake and took my usual vitamins and anti-fatigue supplements. We were on the road by 0600 on our way down to the park.
Event warmup:

The parking area is about a third of a mile from the registration area, so all the walking we did to and from registration was my warmup. About 10 minutes prior to the start, Pete and I walked to the start line, while Brian and our friend Mike stayed back...their race wasn't starting until 0800.
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I've done this race twice before (the half-marathon though) so I figured I'd know what to expect out there. I'd turn out to be wrong by the end of the day.

I started off with the top 10 runners and stayed with them. I took a gel on schedule at Mile 5. Among the first 5 or so miles I moved up to about 5th place and managed to settle into a pace that'd keep me there. I was comfortable. I wasn't running with music so I was conscious of my pace, my breathing, my heart rate zone, and my effort level. All seemed to be in perfect harmony. My pace stayed around 7:30 and that's where I wanted it. This was about 45 seconds slower than my usual road marathon pace at that elapsed time. I knew I'd slow down a bit but this was fine for now.

I took another gel at Mile 9 and chased it with water at an aid station. I knew I had to be precise with my nutrition because there was no aid from Mile 11 til Mile 14.5. During a trail marathon, 3.5 miles is a long way to go without water. There was an aid station at Mile 10. The girl there was not ready for the top 5 runners to get there, so there were no water cups ready. I decided to just pass her by. This was probably mistake number 1. At Mile 11, the aid station there had HEED and water, and I took a cup of HEED by mistake. I had already drank it by the time I realized it wasn't water. HEED is clear. You can't tell the difference.

I ran on, and I knew the HEED wasn't agreeing with me. But it was just one cup and I would get over it. Or so I thought. The next aid station wasn't for 3.5 miles so I had to run on that HEED until the next time I could have water. I took a gel again at Mile 12.5 (should have waited another half mile) and was just about to complete lap 1.

I passed the halfway point at 1:39 on the clock, right on schedule. I was 5th overall. The run on the pavement back to the start of the loop was all uphill and about a half mile long. It seemed to take forever. 4th place was right in front of me and I just couldn't seem to catch him. My pace was slowing but I still felt okay. I just really needed some water. I was thirsty. I saw him throw a water bottle down and I really wanted to pick it up. I looked as I passed it and it still had water in it. I should have picked it up. I would have felt so much better. He wasn't drinking it anyway, he had been dumping it on his head. I ran on.

At the Mile 14.5 aid station I took two cups of water, drank them both. I got passed by a runner at Mile 16, as I was taking my fourth gel. Still felt good, stomach was still in good shape.

Then the bad stuff started happening. The Mile 18 aid station had run out of plain water and only had HEED. I was in desparate need of some type of liquid. So I reluctantly took two cups of HEED and drank them. This was my downfall. I knew this stuff was gonna make me throw up, but I took it anyway. I was dehydrated. As I ran, I knew I wasn't bonking because I didn't feel the heaviness or the lack of energy...but my stomach was way upset. I was still absorbing the gel I'd taken, but the HEED was making me sick. I was still running okay, but slowing down due to the sick feeling. I took my final gel at Mile 20.

At Mile 21, I got water at an aid station and ran off. About 2 minutes later I was throwing up...and this time it wasn't like it has been in the past. It was just a "get out of me, poison" type of evacuation. After I was done I felt better, not worse, like in the past. A runner had passed me and I was able to catch and pass him back. But the damage was done. I was out of gels now and I was running out of energy. I would have been able to reabsorb more gel, my stomach wasn't sick anymore, but I just had no more left. I'd taken my final gel and I was only at Mile 22. I walked. I walked ALOT. Right before Mile 23, three more runners came past me, all three I had passed around Mile 7. I'd been walking for about 10 minutes just falling apart, figuring I should just DNF. I wanted to cry, scream, yell. I actually used a few expletives out loud as I walked. I simply gave up. I didn't want to do it anymore, I figured, one DNF after 30 races is just ONE. But then I thought...what will people think?? What kind of example can I be to my athletes if I give up just because I'm having a bad day. It's not like my legs fell off, they're just tired. Somehow after that, I told myself to HTFU and I started running again. When I walked, I just walked for as long as I felt I needed to and then ran for as long as I could before my heart rate shot up again.

I managed to run/walk the last three miles. I only lost one more position, and it was in the last 500 yards of the race. I felt bad because I couldn't hold off that last guy for just a fifth of a mile, but it was in the really deep sugar sand and there was no way I'd have enough energy to hold him off when I felt that bad and he was doing okay.

All in all, I lost 6 overall places between Miles 18 and 26.2. I finished 11th (at first I thought it was 10th, but I learned otherwise later on) and I pretty much collapsed at the finish line. I couldn't breathe, I was overheated, and I just needed water. Brian and Mike, who'd both finished the 1/2 marathon in decent times, brought me food and water. I was hyperventilating, and some race people came over to see if I needed medical attention, but I sat up and tried to relax. I started feeling better after I drank some water.
What would you do differently?:

Not underestimate the course. Bring my own electrolyte beverage.
Post race
Warm down:

I continued to drink water and tried to move around a bit so I wouldn't cramp or freeze up. After a while I was feeling better, but they had no soda, no other drink other than HEED...and no food other than some fruit, bagels, and really underdone egg wraps that tasted like dough.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

They need to have Gatorade...but Hammer is a sponsor of so they continually have that crap on the course. UGH.

Event comments:

I love the course, but the post-race stuff leaves a lot to be desired for a marathon. For a 5 or 10K, it's fine...but you can't serve marathoners HEED and bananas post-race after they've been eating/drinking that crap for 26 miles. Something with is cheap...rice/beans, turkey wraps, and SOME kind of soda or soft drink, not sports beverages!! SHEESH!!

Last updated: 2009-11-06 12:00 AM
00:00:00 | 00 miles |  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 11/
Performance: Below average
Course: Two laps of the half marathon course. Minimal hills but lots of rough terrain in the first few miles and NASTY sugar sand for the final 500 yards of both laps. Very challenging finish.
Keeping cool Below average Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? No
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? No
Post race activities: Bad
Race evaluation [1-5] 3

2009-11-24 10:06 AM

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Chelmsford, Massachusetts
Subject: X-Country Marathon

2009-11-25 10:15 AM
in reply to: #2529058

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San Jose, CA
Subject: RE: X-Country Marathon
you are still a God!
2009-11-25 10:59 AM
in reply to: #2529058

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Queen BTich
Subject: RE: X-Country Marathon
Sorry about the fluid situation. You can't help that. Maybe for races like that (off road races) think about one of those hand strap bottles to carry extra fluid? They are annoying, but it's something.

Don't beat yourself up, it happens. Sucks that it was based on the aid stations and not something you did (like the E-gels).
2009-11-25 12:16 PM
in reply to: #2529058

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Extreme Veteran
Latonia, Kentucky (near Cincinnati)
Subject: RE: X-Country Marathon
Drinking "stuff" always scares me anymore....been there, barfed that.  The thing is, you learn and KNOW and apply it later, so that's important.  Let's close out this 2009 with some good stuff and kick some in 2010! 
2009-11-25 1:23 PM
in reply to: #2529058

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Extreme Veteran
New Port Richey, FL
Subject: RE: X-Country Marathon

I think a lot of people underestimated the humidity out there because of the pleasant temperatures. I ran the 5k (and was totally soaked with sweat) and then spent the rest of the morning on the bike trails. My friend and I stopped to watch some people trudge through the sugar sand. It made my legs hurt just to watch.

2009-11-25 7:26 PM
in reply to: #2529058

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Subject: RE: X-Country Marathon

HEED is so terrible. Does anyone actually like it?

2009-11-25 10:15 PM
in reply to: #2529058

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Subject: RE: X-Country Marathon
that is pretty cool, good job, sucks about the on course nutrition...very impressive.
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