On May 27 I finished my 10th full marathon. As with every race I wrote amazingly witty things in my head along the way. And with every post-race “brain melt” I forgot every last bit.
I wasn’t even planning to do the Bayshore Marathon this year. My daughter signed up, hoping for redemption from her first marathon last fall, and said “Momma, do it with me.” Let’s be clear, “with me” means doing the same race on the same day. It does not mean keeping each other company on the course. At all. I was already in training for an April half and a May 25K, and by early March was a little behind for 26.2 training, I could easily make it up. Or so I thought.
As winter moved into spring I had some recurring pains. The piriformis of my right tushy has been complaining since a late-night spasm after the marathon in October. By self diagnosis based on symptoms I am relieved my sciatic nerve *does not* run through the middle of that muscle. Then again if it did I would have taken time to properly rehab it. Another, new pain in my left foot in the joint of my little toe started in late-March, early April, and only became a bother after long runs. At first the hurt was a couple hours, then it hurt bad for a couple hours as the miles got longer.
Both of these were rearing their ugly heads during the 25K race. My tush spasm’d several times during that race, and my foot was so swollen it looked almost bruised later. I was glad to have two weeks to rest before the marathon. And rest I did. I didn’t run at all except for my scheduled long runs the rest of May. I would’ve been okay come race day if I had been more consistent with mid-week runs during training. You get out what you put in. And I hadn’t put in a whole lot.
I knew race day would be a challenge. The website calls the course “flat and fast.” It is flat for the area, but the truth is starting at Mile 6 the course starts a long, constant slow climb to the halfway turn around. Nine hundred feet of elevation change isn’t “flat.” My mountain trail running friends would laugh at that little bit of climbing. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I stalked the weather and the forecast changed daily right up to a few days out. It would end up partly cloudy and in the upper-50s (14C) to start, changing to full sun and low-70s (23C) by the time I finished.
The race doesn’t offer an early start and has a 6 hour cut off. I knew I would really have to push myself to make that. Spoiler: I did not. I decided to run the first mile or so to warm up, and to avoid getting run over. The start area is cramped due to some early curves and turns in the course. After that I switched to 2:00×1:00 minute run/walk intervals. I was able to keep to this plan for many miles and my confidence grew.
I saw my cousin, up from Virginia — who’s wife was also running, and a Sole Sister friend in the first few miles. I love seeing faces of people I know cheering on the sidelines. Their smiles always seem to carry me through a few more miles.
I kept a couple of my usual marathon traditions going during this race. It wouldn’t be Race Day without them. One: I stop and take selfies with people along the way. Two: I post distance and progress updates to Facebook. Three: I look for the best sign on the course. As you can see, I got selfies done. All my running friends knew this race was going to be a hard one because if my aches, pains and let’s be honest: injuries. I updated every 2 miles to FB, adding a word or three on how my body was holding up. I did find the best sign.
I keep saying I’m going to make myself a pair of upper arm cuffs for chafing, and never get around to it. I could have used some this day. No matter how much I lube my arms the very-short short sleeves always seem to be an issue. I know, wear longer short sleeves. Tell the shirt makers to fix that, okay? I tried to circumvent some of it by using some kinesiology tape on my inner bicep. Yeah, in theory this is smart. In reality: sweat + motion = peeling tape + chafing. I stopped by the only obvious medical personnel and around seed or some medical tape to tape over the kinesio tape. I say “obvious” because this was an ambulance around mile 7-ish. If there was other on-course medical support I don’t recall seeing it anywhere else. There might have been a couple guys on bikes with First Aid supplies in a trunk box on a bike rack. Maybe. I was disappointed by the lack of medical support on the course.
During the 25K I decided I would use my hydration pack for this race even though I look and feel like a pack mule. Once the sun came out I was very glad to have it. By race end it kept me from being severely dehydrated. The bladder holds 2L and it was FULL when I started, and had about 6 big swallows left when I finished. I carried drink mix powder, electrolyte tabs, and a gel flask in smaller pockets, and an 18 oz bottle for sport drink in the chest strap pocket. By the time I reached Mile 18 a truck was going around collecting the mile marker signs. I knew aid stations would be broken down soon too. I was right. At least the volunteers left some filled cups on the pavement. The neighbors were also a great! One woman was offering ice water for an igloo jug. I had her refill my 18 oz bottle. Another neighborhood worked their own aid station. On my return the people had all gone but they left some coolers at the roadside. There was one with just ice. Maybe it had something else in it earlier, but ice was fantastic. If I could have soaked my head in it I would have, and was really tempted to dunk my arms to the elbows. It was the only ice I found on the course all day.
And then there was this neighbor. Again, the only one offering a little sprinkle. I stood for a couple seconds and enjoyed. I thanked them for being thoughtful. Side note: they also had a giant stereo system blaring music all day. On my outbound I heard Rush’s Tom Sawyer. This made me very happy.
I reserved my “Special Sauce” for late in the race (see gel flask in Flat Runner photo above). At first I planned to save it for Mile 20, then had several muscle spasms early on and changed that to 17. I held off until 18 and drank half, and finished the rest at 22. What is my Special Sauce? In a 5 oz gel flask I put 1.5 shots of 80 proof vodka, sport drink mix powder and fill the rest with water. By 19 the ache in my tush was improving; at 23 it was gone. My 80 proof analgesic did not help my foot. Not even a little. The ibuprofen and tylenol helped for awhile, but didn’t last.
The race plan was 2×1 minute run/walk intervals. I held up through upper-teen mileage. It wasn’t long after that I was mostly walking. The last 10K was partnered as a Virtual Race to support mental health awareness. I set MapMyRun to track that separately from my Garmin. Apparently brain melt and phone apps don’t mix well and I ended up deleting it instead of saving. I did see my 10K time was about 1hr 34min. Soooo slow.
I did finish the course, and to me I finished the race. As you can see the timing mats had been pulled. If you try to look up my name or bib in the results online you won’t find either. I have my bib and my medal, and a picture crossing under the finish line arch thanks to a friend who came back after finishing the half marathon (after prob’ly showering and eating) to watch me finish. Below is the two of us.
She also took this picture of my daughter and me. (My girl did not get the redemption she was hoping for. After realizing her goal time was lost she decided to just have fun running, taking a few pictures, and drinking beer with the neighbors on the course. That’s her friend on the edge of the track. My girl persuaded her to do her first marathon.)
I had fun, in spite of my pains, and blisters, and sunburn. I don’t know that I would run the Bayshore 26.2 again. The course is beautiful. I’ll give them that. This race might just be a “one and done.”