I’m going to Italy! And I’m going to run a marathon while I’m there!
My sister is in the Air Force, stationed at Aviano AFB. She’s been there for two (three?) years and is nearing retirement, at which point she’ll return to the states. Back in January, we were talking and I said I’d love to visit her before she left Aviano. And coincidentally, I had enough frequent flyer miles to get to Italy.
Her response: “Book it!” And so I did.
I looked for races around Italy, and found one in the city of Treviso. It a road marathon, and it’s point to point. I don’t think I’ve ever run a race that didn’t finish where it started. It’s great because maybe I’ll see more sights. And I plan to carry a small point and shoot camera, so I don’t plan on running it fast. Of course I say that now, but once I’m in the thick of the pack, the run may very well turn into a race.
I’m hopeful that I can run every day, but we’ll see. Apparently the weather is pretty crummy right now -cold and rainy, definitely not a good combination. Pizza and gelato sounds like a much better combination!
Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to take more photos when I’m out. Here are a few neat things from my last few runs.
It’s go time again. Nerves! Anxiety! Excitement! Fear! Giddiness! And Delirium
Tomorrow I am running the Cactus Rose 50 Miler, which will be my second 50. Under ten hours is my goal, which translates to a 12 min pace. That seems downright slow after running 7 minute miles in Chicago, but I have to remember that this is a trail race, there are steep hills. And it’s fifty freaking miles. I fully expect to cry at least once. If not tears of frustration, surely tears of joy once I cross the finish.
In order to avoid bonking at the end of the race like I did in Chicago, the past few days I’ve been gorging on carbohydrates in order to fully load my glycogen stores. I’ve also managed to avoid alcohol, and tried to avoid caffeine. I’ve manged to forgo my morning coffee, but had a Coke yesterday. I’ve eaten a lot of quinoa and bulghur, potatoes, rice, bread… and I think I’m going to have some pasta before I head out.
I’m going to leave today and go get a camping spot at the park where the race is. (Well, really a parking spot, as I’ll be car camping since I don’t have a tent.) The race starts at 5am, packet pickup is 4am if you pick it up the day of the race, the drive is 45 min, so that would make for one hell of an early morning if I chose to stay home. The last race I ran at this park, there was a traffic jam getting in. Luckily my dad had driven me, because I had to jump out of the car and run up to the start to get my bib and get to the start line. Not going to let that happen again, no sir!
I’m not sure if this race is considered “unsupported” or not, but there are no volunteers at the aid stations, and no food at the aid stations. The only thing provided is water, ice and, at two aid stations, a portajon. You have to bring your own food. Which in a way is good, because it has forced me to pay more attention to a crucial aspect of running a good race.
Reading from a couple sources, I’m figuring on 250 calories per hour, and about 30 oz of fluids per hour. The sources are pretty far apart in their recommendations, so I’m taking an average. I made “food bags,” for lack of a better term, that contain various gels, cookies, chips, snacks etc that total at least 500 calories. I will pick up a bag at every other aid station. There enough calories per bag to keep me chugging along, and hopefully enough variety that I don’t get sick of any particular thing. (If you’ve ever had more than 3 or 4 gels in a race, you know what I mean.)
On the back of each bag, I attached a print out of the splits from that aid station till the next food bag. I plan to hang and clip this bag around the sternum strap of my Camelbak. I like the idea of having all my food easily accessible right in front of my stupid face. But if that turns out to be annoying, I’ll shove it all into the pockets.
As far as hydration goes, I’ll be relying mainly on water, with a handheld with Hammer Perpetuem. I haven’t really tried the Perpetuem in training, and I KNOW YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO TRY NEW THINGS COME RACE DAY, but I’m going to anyway. I’m going to rely on my “food bags” for my calories, so the Perpetuem is more of a supplement. Also, It may help to have something to drink other than water.
So that’s the plan to get through the race. Watch my pace, hydrate, and consume calories. Keep a sense of humour, talk to people, and most of all, remember that no matter how terrible you feel, this is fun!
Two ten-mile loops. Easy peasy, right? Actually, it was super easy.
While it had rained the night before and the threat of mud was high, there was very little mud to speak of. The most mud we encountered was on the walk to the start. The course had a few tiny hills, but it was mostly flat and super runnable. Had I known how fast the course was, I definitely would have signed up for the 50K.
One of the worst parts of the day was when the 50K’ers took off. There was a huge crowd of people, then BANG! They take off and there’s like four other people left. It totally felt like the party just left me behind. And I would have to wait a whole freaking hour for my start.
More people eventually showed up and it seemed like we had our own little party ready to roll. The gun went off and the fun began. I wasn’t really trying, but I got ahead of the crowd pretty quick. However there were two guys ahead of me that were hauling. I tried to keep them in my sights. But the gap widened at mile 2.5 when I had to stop to take a sh*t. After that, I never saw the dudes again.
I cruised along, feeling good and strong. Even though I forgot my handheld in the car, it wasn’t a big deal since there were 4 aid stations per loop. I was totally fine without it and actually glad that I wasn’t carrying water.
For a several miles, it was like I was the only runner. The two dudes in front were just gone, and there didn’t seem to be anyone behind me. Finally, at about mile 5, a guy catches up to me. I slowed down because I was confused. The fence line I was following ran perpendicular right into another fence. I was like, “What the?!” But then I saw there was an ever so slight trail following this new fence line. And then a hundred feet later, the trail disappears behind some trees. Again I was unsure if I was still on trail. I expressed my doubts to the other guy, he seemed unconcerned. Eventually we saw a big sign with a big arrow, which was perfect.
Trail anxieties relieved, I started talking with the guy. Mike from Boston, just moved to Austin, doing the 10 Miler. It was nice talking to someone after running alone for what seemed like forever. Mike probably felt the same way. We ran for several miles, talking about -what else- running. About mile 8, he said he was taking off for the finish. I was sad to see him go because it was nice having company, and even nicer having another pair of eyes finding the trail.
When I got back to the start, I saw Mike. I asked how far out the two guys were. Turns out, one was a 10 miler, so there was only one guy ahead of me, although I had no idea how far ahead. But with 10 miles, there was still a chance. Mike had finished second in his race.
The second loop went by quickly. I started passing the slower 50K’ers. I was hustling along. One thing that struck me: I don’t push myself hard enough. Or more accurately, I’m not sure what I am actually capable of. I filed that away for a later training date. I’m nearing the finish and still feel like I have plenty of gas in the tank. Although I’m worried because I seemed to have missed that one section with the fence line business… Or did I just not pay attention?
My Garmin has my finish at 2:30:32. And only 19.52 miles. Oh $%^#!! I did miss part of the course. I tell the three people working the race. They seemed unconcerned and/or unsure what to do. I look at the tiny map on my Garmin and I can plainly see, yep, I missed that right turn. (Later, on Map My Run, I saw that I fudged up not once, but twice, and unintentionally cut off a half mile. A HALF MILE.) I told the lady who handling passing out the medals that I should be disqualified. While it would have been nice to place, it was a 20 mile race, not 19.52.
The more unsettling thing of all this was not having my name listed on the web page official results. No DQ, or even an asterisk. Nope, I was not part of that race. Oh well.
The next two days I redirected that bummer energy onto canvas. Finished two paintings in two days. Maybe I’ll sign up for a 5K and get lost…