Thursday, January 23, 2014

a couple changes

Hats off to Brian & all the others who made the 2013 Tecumseh Marathon happen in 2014!

After quickly encountering disabling back pain at the Otter Creek Marathon, I did a couple things differently for the re-scheduled Tecumseh Marathon:

First thing was to tighten up the back brace as tight as I could make it -- I was stiff as a board!  Since I've learned from experience that this causes digestive issues & unexpected pit stops, I made sure I had NO food in my system other than a couple gels & gatorade at the start (no breakfast either).  This was no simple task as it required a special diet 2 days before the race . . . . eating food that I knew would pass thru my digestive system for sure before the start of the race.  This makes it tough the day before the race with only liquids that have no solids.  I don't know if I would have enough energy reserves if I tried this for an ultra.

Second thing was to use a measured pace (much slower than at Otter Creek) the first couple miles.  It was tempting to open it up as the 1st mile was on gravel road & mostly downhill.   I settled in towards the back, but when we approached a wide flooded stream crossing the road, there was a major backup.  I think there were some rocks you could use to jump across, but with what seemed like 30 or 40 people standing around, I wasn't going to wait.  The water was about thigh deep & I passed a bunch of faster paced runners I had not planned on passing.  Best part of this move though was when I reached the "squeeze down" to single track right afterwards, there wasn't any backup.  It was single file running the next mile and luckily it was not at a forced pace.

Because of these changes, I believe I was able to finish this marathon (this time).

new course:

This year the RD used an alternate course using an out'n'back section around the lake with 3 laps of a 6 mile loop.  Although more than half of it was on frozen gravel roads, I thought this a much better design than the previous alternate course that was an out'n'back starting at the finish line.  With that pure out'n'back, you had to pass everyone running in the other direction at some point in the race.  When that was done in 2010 in the snow, it made it difficult to get by everyone on the single track. 

The reason for the move off the Tecumseh Trail was because of all the snow, ice & mud.  Less than half of the alternate course was on actual trail.  The trails took a real beating with the repeated loops in the mud.  Some of the trail was on the old course but was so wallowed out I could hardly recognize it.  Most of the mud was the "splashy" type and small parts of the trail were under water (much like at the Otter Creek Marathon that was in the rain).  There was only one hill that was encountered on each lap.  Had it been a hilly course with that mud, it would have been tough. 

I ran into alot fewer people that I knew this year since the field was practically cut in half.  I can remember:  Bob S., Terry F., Mike F., Russ G., Brian H. and Cassie R.  I recognized several others, but didn't get a word in with them.  At one point in the race I told Bob S. (who I seem to meet at every Indiana race either running or volunteering) that this was my LAST race!  My back was giving me fits at the time as I had just run down the one hill on the loop (downhills are the worst on my back).  I even told him my thanks & good-byes . . . this after 10 years since our first encounter at OPSF!

Well, I've got a short memory and 2 days later, with my back having recovered somewhat, I went & signed up for a bunch of races!!!  Duh. With entry limits nowadays, a decision has to made early.   All I can say is I'll take them one at a time -- if I don't make it to the race(s), I'll know I donated my entry fee to a good cause. 

This year I was going to make a big donation to the Jefferson Memorial Forest as I have done in the past, but since they keep closing miles & miles of scenic single track trail for no good reason, I've decided against it.  It was an easy decision for me.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

couch potato

I've been spending alot of time off my feet lately & feeding my face seemingly nonstop (gained 10 pounds in 2 weeks) -- haven't gotten out of the holiday habit yet.  I've justified it by saying to myself:  I'm resting my back.  It's been almost 3 weeks since the Otter Creek Marathon.  It would've been my only marathon finish of 2013, but I ended up with my first ever marathon DNF -- my back shut me down, even with the brace.   Not sure what brought the pain on so fast other than my pace was a little quicker at the start than at the ultras I'd been running (I'm not going to do that again).  It didn't help that I fell awkwardly on my left hip early in the race.  I'm also beginning to think that the posture therapy I go thru for my gut problem is messing with the back -- if it's not one thing, it's another!

Got word today from the Massanutten lottery people that I did not meet the qualifications for the race in May this year.  After my mental shutdown there last year, in what would've been my best ever finish, I was hoping to redeem myself this year.  The way my back is now, I guess it's best that I didn't get to sign up.  Things are going to have to get much better just to get in a qualifying race for 2015.

Still going to try the re-scheduled Tecumseh Marathon Saturday after this holiday rest break.  It's been ages ago the last time my goal was to just finish a marathon.  I'm hoping to have more fun than pain this time . . .