Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sunburst Marathon

Course: From Hall of Fame to Notre Dame

Weather: Icky and sticky

Overall: Fun but glad to be done!

I'm no longer nervous about running marathons. To run several a year and do half iron tris, I've made the conscious decision to run them all like long training runs. So why the hell did I wake up with a stomach ache race morning?

Who knows ... But I've learned to get up at least 2+ hours before I leave for a race to give myself time to "work" things out. By start time, 6am, it wasn't much of an issue, just a lingering feeling that I might have to make a pit stop during the race.

Hall of Fame football statue and helmets. The left helmet was an old soft-shelled one worn by Johnny Lattner of Notre Dame in 1953.

It was a warm morning. I'd heard the race announcer say it was 70 degrees and with 90% humidity, I could have closed my eyes, clicked my heels 3 times and sworn I was back in Orlando, not northern Indiana. So much for training hot and racing cold.

So my plan was to run a little slower than my last 2 marathons. Besides weather being a challenge, the course itself was mentally challenging with 2 long out and back stretches (~miles 2-9 and 12.5-24.5). Did I mention that I hate out and backs? If I could run strong the entire way, however, I probably wouldn't hate them as much.

A mile into the race, I saw a course clock and checked my watch to see how long it took for me to cross the start line mat. I discover then that I'd been running for exactly 00:00:00. Damn, I should have replaced the watch battery after all. (It'd only been acting up for a month.) I try again to start the timer and the face goes blank. Oh well ...

But, I've run enough of these things to know what's too fast given the conditions. I settle into what feels to be comfortable pace and relax. It's going to be looooong run with or without a watch.

Running a new route is always fun for me, though, and this one followed the scenic St. Joseph River for much of the way. For a short while I ran alongside Steve Boone, head honcho of the 50 States Marathon Club, and a couple other 50-Staters. By the mile 6 turnaround, however, most people were running by themselves and the heat and humidity appeared to already be taking its toll on some.

But not me, not yet at least. I'm enjoying the river views and taking pictures. One good thing I realize about out-and-back courses is that if I missed any photo ops I could try again on the way back. Another good thing was that runners going in the opposite direction could cheer for each other, which was nice because there were very few spectators at this race. One guy made a comment about how appropriate it was that my race bib said #20 and that I was wearing orange. Say what?

Near mile 13 we went down a nice hill but I reminded myself that whatever goes down must come back up from here on out. I was still enjoying the river views when I thought I saw a big gator near the shore. As I got closer, I saw that it was just a dark tree trunk that had fallen into the water so that parts of it were still visible making it appear like a gator head and body. Silly me, there are no gators this far north!

But, there are definitely geese. I ran alongside a couple of them near mile 14 and then saw a big group of geese and gosling crossing the street. Honk!

Approaching mile 17, the run along the river changed character. Instead of running along green riverside parks, we were running behind a large development that overlooked the river. I noticed a path on the other side that had a few runners on it. Nice to see other runners out this morning, I thought to myself.

Well, it didn't hit me until later that those runners on the other side were in the race. Duh, didn't I study the course map? We crossed over on a small foot bridge and I became one of them. On the way back, I saw the same guy who'd made the orange #20 comment to me earlier. This time he said something about NASCAR and Tony Stewart (and I would find out later that Tony drove an orange car with #20). Sorry dude, not a race car fan!

About a 1/4 mile from mile 20, I heard a bell tower ringing and got the first indication of my race time. Assuming it meant 9:00am, that put me a couple minutes over 3 hours, which meant there was still a chance I might finish under 4 hours. But, the sun was now out and I knew there were still some hills to come. I tried to find some motivation to pick up my pace but no watch and passing folks who were obviously slowing or walking didn't seem to do anything for me. I needed to find some folks who were still running strong!

Just before mile 24, I finally did. A young couple passed me and I threw an imaginary rope around them so they could pull me up the final hill. At mile 25, we passed the only other clock I saw on the course and that one said 3:50:53. I didn't know how long it took me to get across the start line but knew if I could run the next 1.2 miles in 9 flat I'd finish in under 4 hours. I gave it my best shot, and so did they.

We wove around a few half marathoners who were now on the course and were thankful to see some spectators cheering for us as we approached the Notre Dame stadium. I kept looking for mile marker 26 to release my final kick but then saw mile 13 for the half marathoners and knew I had to make my move NOW. I took off past the couple I'd been following and ran through a narrow tunnel to get to the football field.

Once on the turf, I heard the Notre Dame Victory March blaring and continued my sprint towards the finish at the 50 yard line. The clock was ticking 4:01:27 ... 28 ... 29 as I approached and crossed the finish line. Did I make it? Did I make it?

Well, it'd be hours until I'd find out later that night but, unfortunately, the answer was no.

Chip time: 4:01:32
Net race time: 4:01:10 (9:12 min/mile), 6/13 F45-49

But not bad considering the warm, humid conditions and running with no watch. I ran the last 1.2 miles at an 8:34 pace.

Another state bites the dust!


Spokane Al said...

Congratulations. considering the weather conditions, you definitely do not look the worse for wear.

Calyx Meredith said...

I have got to start paying better attention to your race calendar because you keep sneaking marathons in when I'm not looking. :D Yay for a well run race. Fantastic that you had enough juice for a kick like that at the end!

peter said...

We do what is required, but I can't imagine running a marathon w/o a watch. I liked your rope analogy, when I was flagging at WDWM 06 on that dreadful hiway after Animal Kingdom, anyone who went by I attached myself to for 100 yards and they pulled me along. I'd fall off, then someone else came by and I got another 100 yard charge. It got me home to my goal. Nice race! Nice report.

Wendy said...

Excellent watchless work out there Shirley! As usual your race report and pictures were great -- and I'd never have cottoned onto that #20 + orange remark either!

Runner's Anonymous said...

Great Job Shirley!!!!! It seems our pre-race rituals are the same. I need 2 hours prior to a race as well.

For your edification, Tony Stewart is from Indiana. Probably why you got the comment. For what it's worth, I didn't get the reference right off either.

I agree it's a bit disconcerting to be without your watch during a race. Once on a training run I accidentally hit the wrong button and stopped my stopwatch when I thought I was starting my run/walk alarms. Grrrrrrrr!!!!!!!! Then again, if I thought it would get me a 4:01 marathon I leave the sucker home! :-)

Runner's Anonymous said...

Great Job Shirley!!!!! It seems our pre-race rituals are the same. I need 2 hours prior to a race as well.

For your edification, Tony Stewart is from Indiana. Probably why you got the comment. For what it's worth, I didn't get the reference right off either.

I agree it's a bit disconcerting to be without your watch during a race. Once on a training run I accidentally hit the wrong button and stopped my stopwatch when I thought I was starting my run/walk alarms. Grrrrrrrr!!!!!!!! Then again, if I thought it would get me a 4:01 marathon I leave the sucker home! :-)

Katie said...

Ok, I did get the Stewart reference. My husband is a hick. At least you did better in the marathon than Stewart did at the race yesterday- he wrecked early in the race and finished 41st out of 43. :)

Kevin said...

Great job on the race. I always have to get up at least an hour early before my long runs to work things out. Nowadays, I have started taking immodium to prevent any unplanned pit stops

akshaye said...

Congratulations - close but a great race! The pictures were wonderful too. Yeah, I would have never got the #20 comment either! So where is the next one?

CewTwo said...

You are one amazing lady! What number marathon is this one.

I am fretting over running one, and you run them so casually!

Wow! No watch? I'd have fallen to the ground and curled up fetally. Bummer. What could you do except keep on keepin' on!

Great race report! Doesn't sound like the course was covered very well by those who held it.

Thanks for sharing!

Stef said...

Congratulations! I hear ya on the getting up early thing. I need about two hours before a race too just so I won't feel "rushed."

Great job out there it sounds like you were strong the whole way.

Maddy said...

I love the midwest this time of year. Sorry to hear that it was hot and humid!

Great race, in my dreams I'm as fast as your "slow" times.

RBR said...

Great race report! You look so great in your orange top and visor (I wouldn't have gotten the #20/orange thing either) I would have t-shirts made if I EVER ran a marathon in 4:01. And you did it in heat and humidity? You are a BEAST! Congrats!

Tammy said...

Great job, it is always nice to run a different course. Good idea with the rope I have to try it sometime. Keep up the great work

jen said...

Congrats! Great race report. It must have be interesting to run without a watch. You are very in tune with your body to run such a strong marathon with no pace information. :) Well done!!

lizzie lee said...

Shirley, what an awesome post... I loved the imaginary rope. I WILL USE IT!!!! You did awesome... I like to take pictures too, but they can distract you for seconds, and in marathon for minutes... So, you definitely were under 4!!! Congratulations.... Your race really inspired me... What a pace.. I am getting close to that pace but for 5K...

Another medal for the Xmas Tree!!!!!
Congratulations from the bottom of my heart!!!

lizzie lee

ShirleyPerly said...

Thanks everyone! I'd love to blame the camera on missing a sub-4 race time but think it was primarily the heat & humidity that did it. I actually don't slow down at all when taking photos, hence why a number of them turn out quite blurry or just all-around bad. Image stabilization can only do so much!

Brent Buckner said...

A good day - another pin in the map!

Iron Eric said...

Way cool! Sounds like a fun day...except for the watch thing. I hate it when I forget to press the start button.

Tri to Be Funny said...

Woo hoo!!! You're leaving these states in the dust :-) (or in the humidity!) Congrats on another one down.

Cliff said...

I think I will always be nervous about running marathons. Mile 20 give me the creeps.

Rural Girl said...

You are awesome! I don't know how you do it; marathon after marathon. Keep on truckin'.

Susan said...

EXCELLENT, Shirley! (sorry to just now be catching up -- moving bites!)

I am always impressed with your ability to "take it all in stride." Pardon the pun. I know I have decided to view my next marathon as merely a training run. I think I'd be less stressed and do much, much better! :)

And I thought of you on race day because I thought I saw on TV that there was going to be bad weather up there. I knew you'd fare!


MizFit said...

I found you through POM and am beyond impressed with your athleticism.

off to explore more than this one post :) as *I* need some motivation this morning.


jeanne said...

I'm late to the party too, but congratulations! what a terrific race report, and a well run race. I would have no idea what "orange and #20" meant either!

P.O.M. said...

Great job! That's awesome that you finished strong! Congrats.

Jade Lady said...

Great photos - I didn't get the NASCAR comment either! Wow, I don't know how you weathered thru 90% humidity - ugh..that's a tough haul.

Sorry to hear about your watch problem. I was thinking about it yesterday - my watch was my best friend on the course.

Yes, another state down! YAYA!

Sunshine said...

Am appreciating your comments. Thanks so much for stopping by. Glad you are having a great time!

Ellie Hamilton said...

Very, very cool. Very, very hot. You are cool, you are hot.... you ROCK!!