Sunday, November 1, 2015

Race report: 2015 El Maraton del Rio Grande

This morning, I ran El Maraton del Rio Grande.  This was the second race of the Day of the Dead Series.  As the name suggests, we were running alongside the Rio Grande.  Right now, the entire river bed is dry, so it’s not that “Grande.”  The growing season is over, so they’re keeping a dam upstream closed to conserve water for next year.

We set the clocks back today, but the start time of today’s race was also set back an hour.  Instead of starting at 7:00 MDT, we started at 6:00 MST, which is essentially the same.

I slept better, getting about six and a half hours sleep.  In particular, I didn’t wake up as often as I usually do.  I still felt pretty tired when I got up, though.

Today’s weather was similar to yesterday, but there was a wider temperature swing.  It was 39 degrees at the start, and it was close to 70 by the time I finished.  I again dressed for the cooler temperatures at the start.  Like yesterday, I wore tights and arm warmers.  Unlike yesterday, I didn’t wear a warm hat.

As I started running, my legs felt stiff.  That’s normal when you run on consecutive days.  I put some effort into working through the stiffness.  Within a minute or two, I was running smoothly.  Because of that extra effort, I started a little bit faster than yesterday.  My early laps reflected an average pace between 10 and 11 minutes per mile.

There was a light breeze.  Going out, it was at our backs.  Coming back, it was a headwind.  It wasn’t a strong enough wind to be tiring, but I definitely felt colder in the second half of each lap.

After three laps, I took off my gloves.  I considered taking off my arm warmers after four laps, but my arms still felt cold when I was running into the wind.  That persuaded me to wait one more lap.  It also persuaded me not to begin taking walking breaks.

Yesterday, I had bathroom stops, photo stops, and short walking breaks.  While they helped keep me fresh, they also kept me from getting into a consistent rhythm.  Today, I was running smoothly for the first four laps, and decided to keep that going.  I made the tentative decision to run until I got too hot and then walk the rest of the way.

After my fifth lap, I finally took off my arm warmers.  I continued running nonstop for a sixth lap.  I reached the halfway point in 2:27:31.  At that point, it seemed possible that I could walk the rest of the way and still break six hours.  I would need to maintain the same walking pace as my last three laps yesterday.  I also wouldn’t have time for a bathroom stop.  I still felt good, so I continued running for a seventh lap.

It was in my seventh lap that I started to get hot.  It was also in that lap that I felt soreness in my right leg for the first time.  It was time to switch to walking.

With five laps to go, I needed to average 37 minutes per lap to break six hours.  I was pretty confident I could do that.  Yesterday, I averaged 34 minutes per lap after I started walking.

Five laps sounded like a manageable distance until I reminded myself that I would be walking for roughly three hours.  That still wouldn’t sound bad if I was walking at a casual pace.  I intended to walk at the fastest pace I could maintain.

I got off to a good start.  My first walking lap took 33 minutes, including the time it took to eat a PBJ.  With four laps to go, I only needed to average 38 minutes per lap.  My next lap also took 33 minutes.  Now I just needed to average 39 minutes per lap.

In my 10th lap, I started getting hot.  The temperature was in the 60s by now, but it was a bright sunny day, which made it feel hotter.  Because I was wearing tights, even walking felt too hot.  Walking was slower and easier on my legs than running, but I was still putting quite a bit of effort into pushing the pace.

I could afford to back off on my pace, and I was tempted to do so.  I had three reasons to keep pushing the pace.

  1. This was good training for other races where I might need to walk a significant portion of the race.
  2. I wanted to put a little extra time in the bank for a bathroom stop.
  3. I had a good chance of beating yesterday’s time, and that became my new goal.

I kept pushing the pace.  At the turnaround, I could see I slowed down a little.  Once I had the cooling effect of the breeze, I was able to pick up the pace again.

After my 10th lap, I made a bathroom stop.  As I resumed walking, my legs were stiff.  It took some extra effort, but I got back into the same rhythm.  I knew by now I would beat yesterday’s time.  I could afford to back off, but I didn’t.

Toward the end of my 11th lap, I felt the hot sun on the back of my neck.  I regretted not packing a desert-style hat, which would cover my neck.  Now that I’m running at a slower pace, I’m spending more hours in the sun.

Before beginning my last lap, I ate another PBJ.  It was my fourth or fifth of the race.  I could see I would easily beat yesterday’s time.  In the first half of that lap, I slowed down a little.  After making the turn, I picked up the pace again.

I finished in 5:47:30.  That’s about four minutes faster than yesterday, despite doing about 30 additional minutes of walking.  I was happy with that.

The finisher medals for today’s race had a different design than the other races in this series.  It’s a pretty cool design.

In general, I felt better today than I did yesterday.  I had more energy, and I didn’t have as much discomfort in my right leg.  That changed when I got to the car.  As I moved my legs to climb into the driver’s seat, I had discomfort in my adductors.  Basically they were telling me they couldn’t do that motion without pain.  It’s similar to what I used to feel in my left leg when I would climb into bed the night after a race.  It was a similar feeling, but in my right leg.

Yesterday, I skipped taking an ice bath.  Today I didn’t have that luxury.  I couldn’t shortchange my recovery in any way.  I started with a 20 minute ice bath.  Then I did everything I did yesterday.

It’ll be interesting to see how I feel when I try to sleep tonight.  It’ll also be interesting to see how I feel in the morning.  That will affect my decision of whether to continue using KT tape or go back to wrapping my right leg.  It will also affect my goals and strategy for tomorrow’s race.  I may not know for sure how I’m going to feel until I start running.

I’m pleased with how the first two races went, but I still have two races to go in this series.  I haven’t attempted a quadzilla since the initial injury.  I still don’t know how this is going to go, so I’m still nervous.

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