Friday, April 3, 2015

Race Recap: State #5: Arkansas

Race: Hogeye Marathon
Date: March 29th, 2015
Result: 5:46:38
Charity: Jackson Graves Foundation
Amount Raised: $10

"Where I go, I just don't know, I've got to got to gotta take it slow"

The Chili Peppers did two things for me here in Fayetteville - they made a great song to run to and they gave me the mantra I needed to get Arkansas crossed off my list.

21 days ago on the weekend I was to run my 20-miler I got hit with the flu and didn't do it.  I spent the next two days in bed and the third at the doctor's office, where I found out I had fluid in my right lung.  On the way home I immediately started googling "pneumonia two weeks before marathon" and got some not-so-encouraging results.  Five days of Azithromycin and a week of chest pain later, I figured this would be my first DNS.  But the week of the race I had put in a 4 miler and felt good enough to give it a shot.

All-American Pasta!
We broke up the drive down to two legs and we made it to St. Louis without stopping once.  The next day was a different story - on the way in on one of those two lane county roads we hit a standstill where cars were backed up as far as we could see.  We had to make it to the Chancellor Hotel by 6pm for packet pickup and it was already 4:30pm and we were still 60 miles out.  After taking a 40 minute detour and with the car running on fumes and Maya desperately needing to go potty, we made it at 6:10pm where they were folding up the tables at the expo but I was still able to grab my bib, timing tags and shirt.

We ate at the Marketplace Grill, a restaurant next to our hotel where I carbed up on a huge bowl of pasta and went straight to bed.  The next morning I made it to the start line feeling exhausted, without breakfast and having left my coffee in the car.  It was a bad feeling. Mae dropped me off and I had half an hour to hang out in the hotel thankfully until the 7:30 start time where it was a chilly 41 degrees out.

Hills all day
The start line didn't have any corrals so runners were bunched all around the intersection of the start line and we just kind of funnelled our way through.  Man, the course was hillier than anything I've ever run on.  I didn't have much in my legs to begin with.  I just tried to take in the scenery and not think about anything.  Three and a half miles in I was already questioning the meaning of life.  It hurt to take deep breaths and the lack of oxygen I was taking in was really taking its effect - a 10 minute mile felt too hard.

The mile markers were so cute.  They were smaller than your average garage sale sign and I probably missed half of them.  There were no clocks on the course either but I didn't really care.  I was already in the back of the pack and the 5 hour pace guy passed me right at the halfway mark where I checked my watch at 2:27:00.

At mile 16 I came out of the park trail and finally saw the fam and started running a bit too hard.  That's where I found my wall.  I bumped my right foot into the ground and my toes immediately curled up and I couldn't walk.  I talked to Mae for a little bit and Marcus asked me, why aren't you running?  I needed about 3 minutes to loosen up the calf and felt a bit of despair when I realized I needed to still do 10 more miles.  But I gave the kids and Mae one last hug and carried on.

I struck up a conversation with a marathon maniac from Tulsa where I learned the details of what it takes to make it to the club - since I'm planning on running two within 16 days I would make the bronze level of their requirements.  I see these maniac shirts more often than any other running club - they help out with lodging and travel too so maybe one day I'll join their ranks.

At mile 19 as the sun continued to beat down in the afternoon where it was now in the mid 70's, I started getting depressed with how long I still had to run.  Normally with optimal health I can run a 7-miler in an hour but at my current pace it was going to take another hour and forty minutes!  I tried offering large sums of money to the EMTs who were patrolling the course for their bikes but no one thought I was serious.  I just had to keep going.  

Finally after five miles of gradual climbing followed by a steep up and down in the final stretch I was about 20 meters from the finish.  I could see Mae and the kids and as I tried one last dash my left calf locked up on me completely.  It became permanently flexed and another step caused me to grimace and stop.  I tried dragging my foot but couldn't put any weight on it at all.  Someone suggested I roll through the finish.  An old lady who was already wearing her medal offered to help me hop across.  I was like, no thanks - I just need my calf to relax.  A volunteer came by and said, I don't know you, but let me help massage it out.  Finally after five minutes of just standing there so close to the finish watching runner after runner finish ahead of me my calf loosened just enough to get me over and done with it.

I cramped badly at the stop sign back there... so close!
On one hand, it sucks to see that I finished near the bottom of my age group but on the other hand, it was a triumph just to finally cross that line to a light round of applause of everyone who saw what was going on and with my state of health.  The kids ran across the finish with me and I got my medal.  Being a dry county I was rewarded with a Pepsi and I didn't stick around long.  We jumped right into the car where Mae drove us back to the hotel and I started my recovery in the swimming pool.

Registration: $95 + $7.50
Flight: N/A
Hotel: Hampton Inn & Suites Springdale $93

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