Sunday, October 14, 2007

Marathon 2 Marathon

This weekend was my run to Marathon, Texas, the entrance to Big Bend. If you have never been to West Texas, you are missing one of the most beautiful parts of the country. The views define panoramic, as you can see forever in every direction. Wildlife abounds, with deer, elk, hawks and tarantulas being just a few of the critters we saw while touring the area. It was truly breathtaking.

As was the run. I really had not paid much attention to the course description (which was, frankly, kind of sparse on the website), so I missed the 1500 foot elvation gain at the start of the race. In fact, the first 15 miles were mostly uphill! We climbed from 4500 feet to 6000 feet by mile 15. What? This was a training run for Ultracentric. And there are no hills at Ultracentric. Throw in a nice headwind and a course that is run ENTIRELY on the shoulder of a two lane highway with 70 mile per hour traffic, and you have one not-so-fun marathon. Every time a truck would roar past, I had to grab my hat because the gale force wind would knock it off, and practically knock me over!

Anyway, I stayed true to my plan of running by feel and not pace, focusing on the effort. I needed to have a solid effort, but not one that required any tapering or recovery. I was a little concerned midway through that I was going to blow up no matter how conservative I was running, but then I hit mile 15 and things began to look up. Nothing like a downhill to improve your mood! This was also when my husband and sons started meeting me every two miles at the aid stations. There is nothing more uplifting than seeing your loved ones waiting for you. It always gives me so much energy. And the other runners were great! Everyone was cheering each other on because we all realized it was much more challenging than anticipated. There was so much good energy on the course!

The finish line was right in front of the Gage Hotel, which has to be one of the coolest hotels I have ever seen. We tried to get a room for the night, but they were completely booked. The management was so nice though, that they let me take a shower. How is that for hospitality? We decided it was well worth another trip to Marathon just to stay there. At lunch, we talked to some people who had just gone river rafting down at Big Bend and then were spending the weekend at the Gage. It sounded like a total blast!

The good news is that I came in second place overall female (first in my age group) and don't feel sore or tired today. You never really know until the day after, and with all the climbing, I was a little concerned I would need a few days to recover. My running buddy, Gilbert, is always telling me that climbing builds character. I guess I have some work to do!

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