(Note: Pictures will be posted later)
Gail always tells me "It's not a vacation if we are running a race." Well she has come a long way. She even referred to it as "our vacation" a couple of times on this trip. Maybe it was the run down to sun and fun in Phoenix that helped, or maybe the nice sunny weather we had on the this trip east. Whatever it was this was going to be a big test for both of us.
We had a great hotel in Lexington Park, the city near our next race, the Lower Potomac River Marathon. I got us a suite at the Hampton Inn because I thought it would really help us relax for the race. It was money well spent. We lost an hour before this race because of the switch over to Daylight Savings Time but it really wasn't too bad. Our drive to the start line only took about 20 minutes and it was easy to find. Which was a large school of Seamanship right on the Potomac River. It was great to be inside until right before race time. This race ended up only having about 150 runners (50 no shows) so it was the perfect size for me. Crowds cheering you on are nice, but less runners on the course are my choice.
We walked out to the driveway of the school and were given a quick briefing. No Ipods because this is a road marathon and the roads are not closed (Not happy but can see the RD's point). Easy not to get lost as it is a loop / out and back course. OK she is done. Now its 7:15 and off we go.
Ouch, oh...ugh...jeez....man...oh...am I moving? These were the sounds I made in the first few steps. I wasn't really sore but I was just so stiff and didn't feel like I was even moving. After about a half mile I looked at my watch, 11:43 pace! "I really am not moving! Wow!" Oh well this was to be expected. My legs hurt from the first stride in my first double. And yes Detour I was thinking "Maybe I shouldn't have done the marathon instead of the 32 miles the day before?".
For about 2 miles or so Gail and I ran together. I slowly started to get faster at that point so I said bye and went ahead on my own. I wish I would have been able to turn on my music to take my mind away from the pain in my legs, but it wasn't to be today. The course headed out to a little island that is accessed by a bridge. We do a loop down one side, back towards the bridge and do another loop down the other side before crossing back over the bridge to the mainland. At this point we are at about mile 5 or so and it feels like mile 22 in a normal marathon. Today was to be a constant battle but I was to make the best of it.
We passed back by the start area and then made a turn west to go out towards the Piney Point Creek area on a little peninsula. It was probably the most interesting viewing of the race as we went along some nice homes on one side and beach on the other. At the turnaround I felt I had a rock in my shoes or my blister that I had gotten on my big toe yesterday was acting up. (Please be a rock, please be a rock!) So I stopped and sat down and took off my shoe and sock and a little pebble came out. (Thank you, thank you!!) I got back on the course and lumbered along. By this time I was probably running just over a 10 minute pace but legs still felt the same. We came out back on the main highway and headed back north. The road is a rural 2 lane road with very wide shoulders. The problem is that in many parts the grade on the side of the road was very angled so it was a pain to run on and my knee did start to hurt here in this area. As soon as it flattened out the knee pain stopped.
On this long out back all I thought about was how slow the miles are going by today. I tried to just concentrate on the next mile but couldn't help myself from saying "you only have 13 more miles to go!" Which wasn't allot of fun. This is a very boring area to run in. Just cars, long straight aways and a few good hills to climb. Around mile 13 or so I saw the leader, Chuck Engle go by. I cheered on to him and he always answers by saying "Yes Sir!" Either I am old or it is just his way of responding but I have heard this from him in the past. Great guy if you ever meet him. His main competition was a kid who was 15 minutes late to the start and still came in second!!! He was just flying like this was a 10k and probably would have won the race if he was on time.
I finally hit the turnaround on this course which was around mile 18 or 19. I still had hills to climb and descend but it was nice to be heading back to the barn. At this point some guy passes me saying out loud "I ran 32 miles yesterday and now I am doing a marathon! Isn't that amazing!! I should be in the newspaper! Wow! Woo-hoo!!" I'm thinking, who is this guy? Buddy you are not alone out here. There are other stupid people like me doing a double too. Don't what his deal was but it was a tad strange.
The weather was great I started thinking. Sunny but high clouds so not too hot. Probably temp around 70 just like yesterday, with just a little breeze at times. I was getting fast the entire race. By now I was running 9:15 pace or so at mile 20. No one was passing me for the last 10 miles or so. My usual style of getting faster but today seemed more pronounced as the day progressed. I wasn't fast by any means but I was getting faster. My goal was just to be in somewhere around 5 hours. Just get it done and not get hurt.
At around mile 22 I saw Gail going the other direction. She didn't look too happy and yelled at me to "Come back and get me if you feel up to it." Oh I thought...yikes...she must be really having a rought day if she wants me to get the car and come get her. Maybe we I get back out on the course she will be doing better. What will I say to help her stay out on the course? Supportive but if she really wants to quit that is her choice. This is a tough thing to do. Not allot of folks have ever run 30 marathons let alone a double! Boy I love this woman!
We yell at each other across the road for 30 seconds or so and then press on. I continue to think about what she is going through. I wish I could help or at least know more of how she feels.
I hit mile 21 and run in to the port a potty, only second time this race even though I have been hydrating more than normal due to what I expect as more stress on my body and its need for extra fluids. I still gel every half hour but I am getting sick of all the but the chocolate ones as the fruit ones taste too sweet! Yuck!
The miles click off and I am getting faster. Some miles are actually under 9 minutes now. I can smell the finish. I pass more runners even though we are so spaced out on the course. By mile 24 I am still hurting but moving faster. Two miles to get this done, its in the bag now. Mile 25, I see a woman way ahead of me on this long straight road, I will never catch her as she is running. Mile 25.5 I see the woman running past a man walking. I am getting closer, I pass her and the man. Never thought I would do that. Funny how I don't make posts about the folks I pass but this one just stuck in my mind. I think it was that I was going faster each mile towards the end. Strange.
Mile 26, Yeah! I turn the corner back into the college area. I see the finish. I keep pushing but not a sprint. There are 25 or so people cheering as I cross the finish line, 4:36:40 the clock says. Boy am I happy with that! Much better than I expected to do. Yeah its slow for me on an easy course like this but I got her done.
A young girl puts a medal around my neck. I am not much for medals anymore but I do like the feeling of accomplishment for that moment when they give you your medal. It does feel good. I walk around for a bit, get some water and run into the winner Chuck Engle. We talk and I say "You finished in 2:38 I bet". He says "A tad over 2:39". I was close. Just some mental exercises I like to do on the course to keep my mind off the discomfort. We have a good talk about his race and running in Oregon. I then walk in to the building and they have an awesome buffet set up for us, white table cloth and all! I grab some pasta and drink as I am pretty hungry. My plan is to stall for a bit to give Gail some time to work through her discomfort. I felt like if I get out to her with 6 miles to go or so it would be easier for her to quit rather than hopefully she has only 3 miles or so to go. It sounds mean but it is like we all feel in Ultra's. You have your highs and your lows. I am hoping when I talked with her it was her low.
I jump in the car and get out to where she is. I think it was around mile 24 when I met up with her. She is yelling at me that she is fine. I don't need anything. I try to tell her she looks great and the end is near, and you got it made etc. But she doesn't seem to want to hear what I have to say so I leave her be and feel good that she is back running and will finish this double too.
I go back and park the car and head to the finish line. I lay in the sun and enjoy the day while waiting for Gail to finish. And here she comes running it in! Whoo hoo! She got it! "Go Detour!!!!!"
She crosses in 5:38, a great time for her first double. We chat and I find out how I screwed up. Well my brain wasn't working too good and when we crossed paths on the course at mile 17 (for her) she was trying to tell me to walk back out on the course if I felt up to it. That is to come meet her on foot, not with the car dummy! Oh...sorry...I misunderstood. Opps....I guess my brain was fried too. But it all worked out. We are done!
We went inside and had some of the great food they had for us. Then hoped in the car for the short 20 minute drive back to our hotel. It was nice not to have to drive to an airport and leave now but to be able to relax and enjoy our accomplishment.
We got back and took another ice bath, less screaming from both of us this time but still was pretty uncomfortable. We went out to eat and had some drinks and big dinners as we celebrated our double. It is strange is this sport. So many of my running friends that I talk to at these races have done many doubles, so at times I feel like what we just did was not really that big of a deal. But when you look at society we are a very very small percentage of the general population. I don't mean to be boastful but I think you need to pat yourself on the back with you do feats like this. It gives you self worth. Which in turn gives you the confidence to attempt something else that you never thought you could ever do. I am so proud of Gail, she had never run much over 4 miles until she was 39 and then we trained for our first marathon. Now at 48 she has done 31 marathons or longer, a few 50 milers and numerous 50k's. You know how special that is? How many 48 year old woman can claim to do that? Not many. A few people have told her and I how bad it is for your body to do this kind of stuff. Even nurses and Doctors who she works with. Well my response is "Yes you are right. This is not healthiest thing for me to do in my life. But you know what? It keeps me from sitting on my ass watching TV every day. It gives me a goal to shoot for. I am not stupid. I won't do doubles every month. I won't push hard to get my speed up. I know my legs will only last for so long. But I feel good after I do these races. I have a glow. I like this feeling. And yes Doctor you are right...it is not the perfect thing to do. But hopefully the strength I build from this will allow my muscles to help support my joints as I get older." Ok, OK, I am done!!! I like this blog cause I can rant like this and no one has to read it if they don't want to.
Well we are done, we headed home the next day to Portland via DC and Seattle. It was a long day but we just relaxed and watched some DVD's on the plane. It was good to be home and see the kids. I know they missed us but the sitter took good care of them.
Whats next? Well the Slugs are all doing the Shamrock 15k next Sunday March 15th. Speed...yikes I don't haz dat! Should be fun to try and run fast again. After that I think it will probably be Sean's 60k in Sisters. That race has kicked my butt the last two years. It is a great course, hopefully I am ready for it this year.