Marathon Route #11: Labor of Love Marathon – Las Vegas, NV

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“Bright light city gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire…” Vegas, baby! This was my lucky number 11 and after last week’s marathon in Flagstaff, I needed a win. Mama needs a new pair of shoes! I was not happy about my performance during the previous week’s marathon, no matter what excuses I had floating through my brain.  Too much altitude, volcanic silt, tumbling ass over teacup – these are things that could have been avoided or trained through with a little more research and preparation on my part. While I was still in Flagstaff, I made sure I did another run at 7000 feet to force my system to accept these oxygen restrictions and then when I got to Las Vegas, I made sure I ran in the middle of the day to get my body ready for increased heat and its effect on my body.  I was glad that the legendary “dry heat” didn’t wear me out like humidity does.  I surveyed the course and mapped out the hills so my body could properly imagine the exertions that would be required of it.  This slice of desert was goint to be a slice of dessert.

I did not choose to run the route of the Rock ‘N Roll Marathon. Although this is a great city course, the Rock ‘N Roll marathon series is really about the event and the races are designed as an overall “ultimate marathon experience”. As luck would have it I found out at the last minute that there was a little marathon right outside of the city called the Labor of Love Marathon. Not a lot of local runners had heard about this marathon. Instead of running in the more popular Red Rock Canyon this marathon takes place over that ridge of the mountains in a little place called Lovell Canyon. I would not be surprised if you have not heard of it. The locals I was staying with weren’t even sure it was part of Las Vegas (it is). So no bright lights.  No dancing girls.  No fancy shots and late night partying until the break of the start line for this guy.

Race Review:

Once again, packet pick up was only available the day of the marathon, alerting me this would be a smaller field of racers. The race director did do an excellent job mapping directions to get us to the odd starting line.out in the middle of beautiful nowhere.  It was absolutely stunning.  It had snowed the night before and so the white sticky stuff clung to every surface except the road.  In fact, as we were running, we would hear snow dislodging from branches, but the ground was so warm that as soon as the snow hit, it melted and left the smallest of moisture marks. This was a race that had a wide variety of distances and with the larger distances, they had the 50 milers, the 50kers, and the marathoners all start at the same time.  This was nice, not just for the group photo taken at the start line, but also because I had more runners around me during the race, although some would continue on after I had finished.

The course is a bit of an odd out and back. From the start line you run out ten miles, turn around and run back three miles and the head back to the furthest point before you run your final 10 miles. As beautiful as the scenery was, I’m usually not a fan of out and backs, much less the addition of the added out and back loop on the far side.  I would have preferred adding on 3 miles of trail to mix up the view a bit.  The benefit of the early morning snow was the out and back wasn’t as repetitive as normal.  As we ran out the starting gate, we were greeted by high desert winter scenery with snow highlighting the firs and cacti lining the road, making the greens pop against the monotonous khaki landscape (it made me feel like I was Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Josie Wales but it was warm enough not to wear the mexican blanket poncho).  On our way back it had warmed up enough to give us dessert views of Joshua Trees that made us look like we should be on the back cover of the 80s album cover. All the while we had dramatic mountains and cliffs looming to either side of us.

This is a great race to pace yourself with hills and inclines.  The first 4 or 5 miles are mostly a steady incline with a few hilly bumps, building to a large drop off. As I was running up, I was keeping positive because I knew this would be the final road home.  Having the last four miles be such a gentle, steady decline would be a balm to my tired legs.  At mile 5 you have the big hill.  The next hill is actually larger, it just doesn’t have the large grade angle that mile 5 has. Running downhill in mile 5 gives you that wonderful feeling of running as a kid – steep enough to take you fast, not so steep to make you feel like you are out of control.  Of course, as I’m running downhill I had someone piping up “Just remember – we need to climb this on the way out”.  Although true and somewhat intimidating,  my recomendation is to run the mile you are in.  Mile 5 is a beautiful free for all – take it and run like the wind.  As you start the climb from miles 6-10 although a steeper grade, I feel there are some very nice plateaus between inclines to give your legs a rest.  Once you reach the main turn around, you basically have 3 miles of downhill to your advantage.  Seize it.  This would have been a good place for me to make up some time but I stayed conservative needing to rebuild from mile 13-16.  But then you have another 4 miles of downhill after that so my recomendation is to take advantage of that intial downhill turn around while your legs are still fresh.  The final hill at mile 20 that I warned you about at mile 5 isn’t so bad.  Keep your head up, keep moving, it is almost exactly one mile.  One mile of hell to run, walk, or crawl through and then on to 4 miles of downhill heaven to finish. If you are from the lowlands, although this race starts at 4650 ft, you are above 5000 ft for the majority of this race

The finish line party was fun.  The race director was there to talk and encourage all the runners.  Fresh hamburgers off the grill, all sorts of sweet treats, choclate milk, juices and electrolytes. Overall this was a fun race, but I think it was a little pricey. There was a race photographer, but he stayed at a spot that was conducive to capturing the majority of racers, whereas I felt the most dramatic scenery was much further along the course.  No free photos (though this photographer was better priced than most, especially for individual shots). A shirt, a medal, some nice after race food.  I know I was late to sign up, but for a race that doesn’t advertise a cause, I felt this was a little pricey.  This will be the subject though of a future post comparing a number of races.  I would recomend this race for beautiful scenery and moderate challenge for the marathon.

Lessons Learned:

Run The Mile You Are In

I really felt this is a lesson I have been learning all along and I feel like all those little lessons came to fruition today.  Most of this race I tempered to how I felt at that moment and the road that was directly ahead of me. Two of my running buddies from this race Debbie Goodwin and Jaime Lynn said I was trucking along at a pretty steady pace and then we got to a hill and pow! I took off like a shot (the general congeniality of all the racers at all distances definitely made this race a lot less work).  I had a little hiccup holding me back during the miles 10-13 but running each mile for on its own merits felt really good this day.

Enter Small Races for Big Gains

This race is monumental for me.  Not only did I feel like I got my mojo back after gasping for air the last couple of marathons, this is the first race I ever won my age category!!! That’s right.  I walked away with a first place win Male Aged 40-49.  No, I was not the only participant in the category.  There were two of us and I won fair and square.  I certainly had nothing to do with the odd oil slick that sent him tumbling nor the suspicious smoke screen that blinded him before he ran into the cactus. This may not seem like very much, but it was thrilling to have someone walk up to me after the race and hand me a trophy.  I have told friends before, if you want a PR race a new or odd distance.  Now I can tell them, if you want to win your age category, find a smaller race.

Physical Review:

Although I was feeling a little depressed after last week’s race, I feel like I had the mental tenacity to turn it around and focus on utilizing the lessons from SP Crater to advance my running education. At a finishing time of 5:44:41, it was not my best time, but it did plant me firmly within my current best effort with a decent altitude and moderate to difficult hills to conquer. Comparing it to the El Paso Marathon, my first altitude race (though I didn’t realize that until recently) I came in at the same time, with a course that was a higher difficulty, and I recovered much cleaner, my body bouncing back and feeling fresh as early as the same day. I felt strong and my legs were giving me no problem whatsoever.  I am looking forward to the beautiful scenery and similar conditions next week in Utah, so I can build upon my current success and perhaps PR at a high altitude.  As always, I appreciate your feedback and constructive commentary.  Please like and share this post in whatever social networks you enjoy!

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Marathon Route # 10: SP Crater Marathon – Flagstaff, AZ

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It’s not enough of a challenge anymore to run 50 marathon routes in 50 states in 50 weeks. After 9 marathons, I am still feeling strong, I am getting stronger, I need something new to inspire me. I have already been making a conscious effort to regularly go through my marathon schedule and look for marathons that fit more into my ideal of a beautiful, inspirational challenge. This is how I came upon the SP Crater Marathon. Firstly, it fit into my schedule. Secondly, it was an amazing price $35. $35! Thirdly, it was around a volcanic crater. Awesomeness!!! I signed up immediately. Then panic set in. Maybe it’s too much, maybe I’m pushing myself too far, maybe it’s not real! Seriously, there are people out there acting as race directors and ripping people off.  It’s possible.

Although clearly I am I running addict, I still have moments of clarity. They usually come too late, but they still part the mists of endorphins clouding my eyes. After signing up, I realized this was partially a trail run. I have only done a couple Trail runs officially and most of my trail runs are done at a pace that is equivalent to a small child’s crawl if the child’s legs are tied together and the child is forced to wear a 50-pound backpack. The race had a 6 hour time limit. This didn’t worry me quite so much because I’ve met plenty of race directors who merely post a limit to scare off those who show up unprepared and to calm down neighbors complaining of access issues. Lastly, I realized the altitude was close to 6000 ft above sea level. I had learned a healthy respect for altitude at last week’s marathon run in Albuquerque, however I felt that with my training time and having completed a marathon at the beginning of high altitude that I would be better prepared for what was to come. Truly, my hubris knows no bounds.

Race Review

This is a small, challenging, and AMAZING race. I will not let my own ineptitude pull away from a race that I would encourage others to make travel plans and to attempt. To cut costs down to a minimum, bib pick up is the morning of the race. This always worries me. I like getting there the day before, not only to get my swag to show off my racing flat, but also to ask last minute questions about logistics, getting to the race, parking, course details. However, there was really nothing to worry about. Directions to the crater from downtown Flagstaff are simple and detailed on their website. Once you get to the Crater, there is a short and bumping dirt road that takes you to the start line where there is plenty of parking and porta potties. To give you an idea of how small this race is there were three of us standing in line for the porta potties for about 5 minutes before I realized that all of them were empty and nobody was going to come out. Old habits die hard. I should also mention that the race made it very clear that there would be limited support on the course.  Throughout the course there would only be 4 or 5 water stations.  These were well manned by positive supportive volunteers.

The view is spare and breathtaking with gorgeous mountains rising to the west, dominated by Humphrey’s Peak. Starting at around 5600 you climb about 700-800 feet over the first 7 miles and then slowly run down hill for about 10 miles with some rolling hills and ramps to dampen the impact of downhill running. I do not not mean to make light of this initial hill.  There are many steep areas alleviated by some winding switchbacks but even seemly flat areas in the first couple miles make you feel like you are running at 80%.  Vegetation is sparse and there are sharp spiky shrubs if you wander off the road.  I have said that I consider some of this trail.  There can be a great deal of gravel and rocky deposits and at least two areas of the course had been cut deep by rushing water – dry for the course, but still tiny chasms to navigate.  Also, I came to despise miles 18 and 19.  Ostensibly dirt road wheel ruts, these ruts were filled with sand or volcanic silt that was shifty and deep.  The sand was spiky and filled shoes that sank deep enough.  At one point, I slipped into a filled hole created by some high prairie animal and was knee deep in the silt.  This may have not been so bad, but during one of the steeper downhill segments near mile 11.5 I took a digger that was more of a slip, twist, and fall. Not only did it knock the wind out of me but twisted my ankle and hip.  I reached the half mark a minute over the cut off but started to lose time each mile thereafter. The sand and uneven footing just ground in the discomfort.

The last 5k of the course is a loop set into the bottom corner of the marathon.  You must pass the finish line to start these last three miles.  To their credit, nobody at the few support stations said anything about my time.  Their attitude when I mentioned my sub par timing for the course was “Not my monkeys, not my circus”.  However, as I reached the beginning of the final loop I was greeted with “Mr. Zardus? I regret to inform you we will be closing the course…”. I completely understood. I was, at that point, an hour over the stated maximum for that mile. “Have you picked up the signs from the course yet?” I mumbled. The race director said he was sending somebody out right now. I said,  “Well, as they’re picking up the signs I’m just going to run along and see what I can finish. I’ve got to at least try to run 26.2 miles today.” So I just kept running. Very slowly. Painfully slow. Eventually, trucks drove by me, going out to pick up signs. I just kept moving. One foot in front of the other. After I completed the loop, the race director and two other volunteers were waiting for me at the bare bones finish line, applauding my efforts. “Don’t worry -we’ve got your official time.” Best. Race. Directors. Ever. Also, unexpectantly, I got a wonderfully simple leather medal for completing the course.  Did I mention this race was only $35?!?!?

Lessons Learned

The Importance Of My Kedge
The writers of Younger Next Year redeveloped the term kedge. For them a kedge is their term for “Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things”. A kedge is actually a nautical term – it’s a type of anchor. Kedging is a method of moving a sailing vessel, typically against the wind or out from a dead calm, by hauling on a line attached to the kedge. My Kedge is my 50/50/50. At mile 19, I was dead in the water. If someone had told me I needed to leave the course at mile 20, I would have. I wanted them to put me off the course! I figured I’d take a break and finish the last 10k, or come back the next day and do the last 5k. But all I kept thinking was what a disappointment that was. 49.75/50/50 just doesn’t have the same ring. If I had enough energy to drive home, I had enough energy to finish the course. 20% – was that all I had to give?!? Slowly, but surely I hauled my lousy attitude out of the dead calm until I had a minimum of momentum. My kedge was what kept me going and I just needed to acknowledge that.

Don’t Ask If You Are Going Fast Enough – Go Faster.
My understanding is that at the races where they pull runners from the course, you don’t need to ask if they want you off – They make it very clear in no uncertain terms “Get in the Van/Ambulance and we’ll take you to the finish line.  I realize each time I asked about being overtime, I was just asking to be pulled from the course.  Trying to shirk the responsibility for quitting. It wasn’t my call.  They MADE me stop.  I will never do this again.  If I am going to quit, it’s going to be for a damn good reason and I will wear that reason as a hypothermic foil blanket of honor.

Physical Review

This may seem redundant, but I am tired.  It has been practically two weeks and although I can try continuing to blame the effects of high altitude, there comes a point where I need to acknowledge that I have been running a marathon a week since the beginning of the year with between 9-15 support mile through each week and it may be taking a toll on me.  I’m really not sure how I fell.  Yes, I was on a particularly steep part of a slope and yes, footing was loose and slippery, but my legs went out and up, my face was heading towards the the ground, and I was fortunate enough to ball up and roll, somehow scraping my shin, hands and shoulder and twisting my ankle and my hip.  I was a wreck.  I may have been screaming at the sky during mile 19 in uncontrolled bursts of anger. So I will not pile on new challenges quite so heavily next time.  If I am going up over 1500 feet in altitude, maybe not combine that with unknown trails or 7 miles of an uphill climb.  I am still gaining insights and building muscles to take on the most straight forward marathons without adding to many addition obstacles to my growth.  After this race I went home, showered and stretched and fell asleep for 14 hours.  Obviously my body was craving rest and recuperation. My final time for this race was 6:58:51 – my worst time yet.  I am somewhat nervous about next week’s Lovell Canyon Marathon outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. Fortunately, there is a little less altitude, but there are some scary hill outlined on the course and I may need to deal with real desert heat.  Tune in next week and thank you, as always for your feedback and support.

 

Marathon Route #9: Duke City Marathon – Albuquerque, NM

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Perspective. All I could think about while running this distance was how our perspective dominates our view of everything. The idea was forced into my head by the many hot air balloons that continually floated by during the first half of this marathon route, The Duke City Marathon. Most of this race is run along the sluggish Rio Grande and the scenic park that meanders along with it. With the Sandias mountains to the east and open high desert to the west, I’m sure that it is a beautiful view from way up in the clouds. From my perspective, I felt like I could reach out and grab ahold of the balloons. Yet every time I went to take a picture the balloons shrunk in the camera frame. I’m sure a professional photographer would get all technical with us and explain how the aperture’s size in the lens affects the shot. To simplify things though, it comes down to where you’re standing and the quality of vision you have. Where I was standing or in this case running is a very different place after 2 months than when I began this journey. Things have been going very well and I have greater expectations of myself and the races that I am doing. Because I am the one in the arena, slugging it out week after week, I need to realize that at times I may be too close to see the big picture. I may not realize the limitations of my equipment, like the size of my aperture (yes, sometimes size does matter). Specifically, in this city and the next few cities on my itinerary, there is a new dimension to my running that I need to take into account – altitude.
It gets harder and harder to run my unofficial Marathon routes. After 2 weeks of officially racing in Arkansas and Texas it was much more difficult to haul myself out of bed and run a lonely Marathon distance all by myself. No water stations, no timing mats, no big official Finish Line with medals and water and sustenance and support. Just me and the elements and the altitude. I purposely had scheduled three runs (2 at the race altitude and one at almost double the altitude). I felt that all of them went well. Unfortunately, what I didn’t take into the account was that altitude and its effects start to take hold over a longer period. All of my trainings in the week were approximately an hour. As it turns out that was hardly enough time for me to recognize what a struggle I was going to have on my hands. I was very proud of my mountain climbing at 8500 feet. Posted pictures, rolled in the snow, whooped and hollered from the mountaintop and all over Facebook. That hour run alone may have filled me with a sense of false bravado that would be my undoing during this run.

Course Review

As a city course, the Duke City Marathon comes pretty close to being the perfect environment for me to run. Starting off at the downtown Civic Plaza you run a couple blocks and are immediately immersed in classic Route 66 views of downtown Albuquerque. A mile or so along, you get the pleasure of the short but scenic upscale Huning Castle neighborhood (which some of you might recognize from the TV show Breaking Bad). After that you cross the street and start running the Paseo del Bosque Trail. Shaded by cottonwood trees, weaving to and fro along the Rio Grand, this is one of the nicest city parks in which to run. You run along this flat, scenic byway for almost 2/3 of the course, 16 miles (8 miles out, 8 miles back). At mile 10 you start running on some of Albuquerque’s excellent city bike trails as you run along Paseo del Norte towards the towering Sandias. This is where you encounter some rolling hills which I normally would have dismissed as short but sweet, if not for already being 5000 ft high. Then you turn around and do it all over again in reverse. I can’t believe I’m saying this but, the one thing that would make this course better is – more city. Especially since the course is an out and back, a detour at the beginning over to scenic Old Town would have showcased another major element of the city’s history. Runners could view Kit Carson Park and the Huning Castle neighborhood on the return leg. Tough to get lost on this course, so of course I did.  I think at one point I took a wrong turn and ran much closer to the river than intended.  Also, the map wasn’t exactly clear on the specifics of the turning points, so I ended the race by running around the Civic Plaza a couple times until I hit 26.2 miles.

Lessons Learned

Altitude

I know this is already the most used word in this post but it was a dominating feature for me. I was at the same altitude for 5 days before the run, I ran 12 miles at high altitude, I increased my hydration and fueling models, and I increase my walking to a 1:1 ratio with my running and still fell into an early exhaustion. I started to feel a little tired after the first hour. The second hour a little tougher.  The third was taking most of my effort to maintain my “training” pace (13:40-14 minute miles).  After Mile 16, I thought “The hills are done, the rest of the course is so flat, it will be a cake walk.”  This was an error. Mile 17 a monkey climbed on my back and never got off.  After that, I was lucky to be running one minute out of three and I’m not going to guarantee that my running was faster than my walking.  Two things I will try to do in the future.  Firstly, I will extend my training runs so I can feel where exhaustion begins.  Secondly, I will gauge my race by effort.  My watch does have a heart rate monitor and instead of just relying on pace, I can incorporate heart rating into my calculations.  It may not make me that much faster, but hopefully I wont feel so drained next race.

Don’t Know An Answer – Ask

This may seem like a simple thing, but I didn’t do it, so this is my reminded.  The map gave a general idea where the turn around point was but a quick email or call to the race director could have given me a better clue or landmark to map out my run.  I actually thought I ran past the halfway mark, but my return distance shows differently.  A simple question that could have been answered by someone in the know.

Physical Review

It was very difficult for me to deal with the exhaustion. During the run, I didn’t feel exhausted until mile 18, but when I look at my pace per mile, it was clear that exhaustion had been settling in for 2 to 3 miles before that, if not more.  Exhaustion is just an extended version of hitting the wall.  Everything hurt.  All of the injuries I had sustained over the previous weeks came back and started crying out, my ankles, my knees, my calf.  Mentally, negativity starts to set in. I’m so stupid, I should have trained longer, I’m not in good enough shape to make these kinds of drastic increases in challenge. However, I will say that I was quite proud of myself afterwards for continuing to move forward. One foot in front of the other, still running when I would hear a beep on my watch, even if it was for 10-20 seconds.  My feet were very swollen at the end of this race and I was very glad that my hosts Marilyn and Dick McCord had a bath tub that could actually fit my 6’3″ 270 lbs frame.  I soaked my feet and calves in ice cold water for about a half hour and then took a warm bath that unknotted the rest of my wracked body. After my usual stretching and rolling, I almost felt like a human again – so I napped for 3 hours.  Then I really felt better. My time was 6:37:17.  Not my worst time, but a far cry from my goal of six hours.  Recently, I heard a quote, that in any competition you either win or you learn.  Clearly, this week was all about learning, as is my entire journey this year. When put into the perspective of my entire year, I would never have been able to do this if it was my first marathon on 2016.  It was my previous marathons that gave me the strength and fortitude to continue when my body said it had enough.  Going up 5000 feet to high altitude and increasing my general pace from 13:40 to 15:08 seems to be pretty much par for the course.  If I remember to put things in perspective, I could almost reach out and grab that hot air balloon.  Next week I run in one of my favorite parts of the country – Flagstaff, Arizona.

Marathon Route #8: El Paso Marathon – El Paso, Texas

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Why El Paso? This was a question I have been asked many times by runners and non-runners alike. With all of the great races that take place in the state of Texas, what caused me to choose the El Paso Marathon as my marathon to represent the state? My non-running friends felt that there were cities that were more representative or more attractive than El Paso. My running friends felt that there were bigger races, more challenging races, races that were better designed or a better party or better support. To be honest, it was a combination of timing and not following up on the race. Initially, I had planned to start my journey two weeks later than I did, which would have lined up with The Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth. When my plans changed, I had budgeted for a Texas Marathon and the only one on that date was in El Paso. When I did research on the race, I really liked the fact the marathon started at the top of a mountain and we had 7 miles of downhill momentum to set us up for a possible record time. Unfortunately, the race directors announced in September that due to construction issues, there would be a new race route. If they sent out an email about it, I didn’t get it and I didn’t go back to their website until the week of the marathon. That is how I got to El Paso.

I was very fortunate that my host for the city was Edward Broadnax, a fellow pacer with Beast Pacing. Edward was one of the first people to offer to host me when I asked my pacing family for some help. It was truly inspirational staying with him. At the time that I was staying with him, Edward has run over 150 official marathons in the past 3 years, despite having a pacemaker implanted in October of 2015. Edward is also incredibly high energy and brings that energy and support to any running club or event in which he participates. It was great to stay with somebody who intrinsically understood my drive to just keep running. He made sure to introduce me to all the Marathon Maniacs who were at the race (which I appreciated since I am a new member) and invited me to a pre-race meal with the local chapter of Team RWB, an amazing organization which I will talk more about in a separate post.

Race Review

El Paso is a much prettier town than I was led to believe. Sandwiched between the Franklin Mountain range to the west and the Juarez mountain range south of the border, there is always a picturesque scene hovering on the horizon. Like many desert towns the profile of the buildings is kept low, however running on the course you couldn’t always see that gorgeous view. Please remember that the route that I’m reviewing this year is an alternative course. Typically this course starts with 7 miles of downhill running with a beautiful overview of the city. That scenic overlook was sadly missing from this year’s course. On the plus side the route is mostly flat for the first 15 miles, then there is a gradual decline of 300 ft over the next 9 miles with one little hill to conquer around 23.5, but then a fast downhill entering the downtown core. I found this course very boring. For most of the course, we were running through nondescript neighborhoods with no architectural variety and a numbingly neutral color palette or the kind of urban sprawl that makes me shy away from modern cities – strip mall after shopping plaza after outdoor food court ad nauseum. If the course was to stay the same in future years, I would not make the trip back to El Paso for this marathon. Two other disappointments included not enough Pacers and race shirts. They only had 5 Pacers up to a 4:45 time. This was a little frustrating, because I have come to rely upon the Pacers when they are provided. Secondly, as a bigger runner, I was greatly disappointed with the lack of 2 XL shirts this year. My understanding is they had them in the past and now it’s sad to have a shirt that really doesn’t fit me.

There were three highlights in this marathon. The first was the water stations. Of all the races this year, I felt that the groups who manned the water stations truly made an effort to individualize their part of the race. Everybody had a different theme and they truly committed to their theme and to helping motivate the runners. Stand out stations were the water station manned by the Army’s medical unit, the superheroes of Team RWB, the vinyl disc crew, the M&M fanatics, and the Chinese New Year group. There were not many spectators on the course, so these folks at the water stations we’re working doubly hard to support the runners. The second highlight, was the finish line in Southwest University Park. I remember the first time I heard my name called out at a race as I was crossing the finish line. It really has nothing compared to the sound of your name and your town being broadcast all over a professional ballpark with fans cheering in the stands for you. Thirdly, I was very happy for the free race photo downloads! This week’s photos didn’t compare to last week’s but I feel that has to do more with me and my performance than the photographers. However, I am disappointed that there weren’t any photos of the mountains as a backdrop or a pull away shot of me crossing the finish line on the baseball diamond.

Lessons Learned

Keep A Closer Eye On Race Websites

Finding out about the course change last minute is the least of my worries. It’s possible the El Paso Marathon emails were going to my spam folder, but I could have missed some really important information. I need to make sure that I am checking the website at least a month in advance.j

Food As Fuel

Weight loss is not a priority for me this year. However, I need to be particularly observant during the weeks when I am spending time with close friends. When I am visiting, obviously they want to take me to their favorite restaurants and drinking establishments. The week before this race, I may have indulged just a bit much. I definitely gained weight this week and that may have led to a less than stellar performance in the race.

Physical Review

I felt strong and confident going into this marathon. I had indulged in an amazing spa day with my best friend, Kiana Cornell in Dallas where a variety of water and sauna treatments helped align my body and spirit. Strangely enough, I performed less than desirably. This was the first week where I felt tired after the second hour of the race. The week before I had a strong wind pushing at my back for the first two hours, so I can understand why I felt a little sluggish during the beginning of this race. I did reach the half marathon point right around 2:30. From there it became a bit of a struggle and I had very little energy left in the last 3 miles. It essentially took me 3 hours and 15 minutes to finish the second half. The sun was definitely a factor in the last hour. The morning started off nice and cool and we had a great deal of cloud cover until noon. When the sun finally came out, it raised the temperature about 20 degrees. That and my three burgers and a bunch of burritos earlier in the week may have contributed to my second half slowing down. My chip time had me at 5:44:48 – about a half hour from where I wanted to end this race. Next week I start my high altitude training in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The next 4 runs are all at higher altitude and I look forward to the new challenge.