Monday, May 15, 2017

2017 New England Series, Day 2

Today was day two of the Mainly Marathons New England Series.  Today’s race was in Greenfield, NH.  Tomorrow, I’ll be doing a marathon in Nashua.  That race is part of a different series called the New England Challenge.  It’s a bit confusing that there are two series of marathon in the New England states at the same time.

After not sleeping at all Saturday night and then getting so cold during yesterday’s race, I was worried about getting sick.  After dinner, I felt like I could go to sleep right away, so I did.

I’m a light sleeper, so I usually wake up about once an hour. That’s not a problem as long as I get back to sleep.  Last night, I slept for four hours before waking up.  When I woke up, I had a sore throat.  I think my throat got dry because I was sleeping with my mouth open and went so long without waking up.  I had a small drink of water and went back to bed.  After that, I woke up every two hours or so.  Each time, I had another small drink of water.

I slept for nine and a half hours.  By morning, the sore throat was gone, and I felt no worse than I did before the weekend.  My only new complaint was a tight Achilles tendon in my left ankle.  I did some extra stretching, and it wasn’t a problem.

I didn’t have anything to eat for breakfast.  When I’m doing races on consecutive days, I’ll usually stop at a grocery store to pick up food for my pre-race breakfasts.  I went to Whole Foods yesterday, but left without buying anything.  I was overwhelmed by the number of things that looked tempting, so I couldn’t make up my mind.  I saw a blueberry pie that looked good, but I thought that was too much food for two breakfasts.  I forgot that I would also need post-race snacks.

I’m staying in Nashua, so I had to drive about 30 miles to get to Greenfield.  I had to get up early to allow time for the drive, but I already had my race packet.  When you do one of these series, you wear the same race bib every day.

The drive to Greenfield took about 45 minutes.  It was a nice scenic drive through the hills of southern New Hampshire.  The race venue was a campground in Greenfield State Park.  The campground is closed at this time of year, so there wasn’t any traffic where we were running.

The weather at the start of today’s race was similar to yesterday.  It was in the 40s with light rain.  There was also some wind.  I was optimistic that conditions would get better during the race.  Unlike yesterday, when it rained all day, today we were just supposed to have intermittent showers.  I was also expecting the temperature to rise by a few degrees during the race.

My running clothes were similar to yesterday, but I made two changes.  First, I wore a pair of Gore-Tex mittens over my gloves.  I was skeptical that they were waterproof, but it gave me an extra layer on my hands.  I replaced the jacket I wore yesterday with a plastic rain poncho.  The jacket wasn’t waterproof.  The poncho was.  It also covered more of my body.  It didn’t cover my forearms, but it covered my legs from the knees up.  That meant my tights wouldn’t get as wet.  The disadvantage of the poncho is that it’s somewhat loose-fitting.  I gave up on trying to keep the hood in place.  Instead, I wore a waterproof hat with a brim.

Our course was an out-and-back along a paved road through the campground.  We made a large counterclockwise arc, with a few small bends.  Then we turned around and came back the way we came.  It was about 1.1 miles each way.  To complete a marathon, we needed to do 12 laps.

We were running through a heavily wooded park, so it was a fairly scenic course.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good day for taking pictures.

Most of the course was either flat or slightly rolling.  There was one big hill near the beginning of each lap.  I didn’t really notice it during the first lap, but I found it do be somewhat tiring in subsequent laps.

I started the race at a somewhat relaxed pace.  Because I stopped after a half marathon yesterday, I didn’t have any sore or stiff muscles today.  I didn’t need to rush back to the hotel today, so there was no reason to worry about my time.

Conditions during the early laps were cold and wet, but I was better dressed than yesterday, so I didn’t get as cold.  I was expecting the rain to stop, but it was still raining after an hour.  It was also still raining after two hours.  It didn’t seem like it was ever going to stop.  I’m not sure if the temperature was rising, but the wind gradually picked up.  That made it seem like it was getting colder.

I realized after a few laps that my mittens weren’t waterproof.  They gradually got soaked, as did the gloves I was wearing underneath.  I kept my hands clenched to retain as much heat as I could.  My forearms also got cold.

By my sixth lap, I was getting cold, but it wasn’t as bad as yesterday.  I knew I would finish today, but I also realized I would have to tough it out in the second half of the race.

After my sixth lap, I checked my watch.  My time for the first half was about a minute faster than yesterday. That surprised me, because my pace felt so relaxed.  It’s possible I was subconsciously picking up the pace because I was cold.

In the seventh lap, it finally seemed like the rain might be stopping.  It was hard to tell at first, because the wind was making drops fall from the trees.  It wasn’t until I reached the start/finish area that I could tell for sure.  That was a parking lot with no tree cover.  I didn’t see any drops hitting the puddles in the parking lot, so I knew the rain had really stopped.

It took another lap or two, but I started to feel more comfortable.  For the first time, I wasn’t cold.  My gloves and mittens were still damp, but they were no longer sopping wet.

After my eighth lap, I walked briefly, so I could eat a PBJ.  It was the only solid food I had eaten since waking up.  I wondered if I would regret that.  After the next lap, I ate another PBJ.

At some point, I heard a sound in the distance that might have been a crack of thunder.  Before long, it started raining again.  By my tenth lap, it was raining harder.  It also seemed like the wind was picking up.  I wasn’t comfortable any more.  Fortunately, it was getting late in the race.  I wouldn’t have to endure being cold for too long.

After that lap, I wanted to eat another PBJ, but I was too cold to take a walking break.  I had to keep running now.

In the second half of the race, I had two voices in my head.  One was telling me to hurry up, so I could get the race over with.  The other was telling me to take it easy and save my energy for tomorrow.  Which one I listened to depended on my mood at any given moment.  Because of that, my pace was somewhat erratic.  I couldn’t make up my mind.

During my last lap, the rain tapered off again.  I still had two voices in my headed.  “Pick up the pace and finish quickly.”  “No, just relax now that the rain has stopped.”  As I started to run down the hill near the end of the lap, I felt more temptation to go fast.  Then I heard a third voice say, “Why?  To save 30 seconds?  It’s doesn’t matter.  You’ll be done soon enough anyway.”

I finished in 4:27:16.  I didn’t realize I slowed down that much in the second half.  I guess I was mostly listening to voice that said, “slow down.”

As with most Mainly Marathon series, the finisher medals form a chain.  Today’s new piece was in the shape of New Hampshire.

After the race, I still had to drive back to Nashua, but I didn’t need to be in any rush.  Today, I didn’t need to check out.  Tomorrow’s race is in Nashua.

As I drove through Greenfield, I saw a sign that read, “Welcome Runners.”  This is a small race, and we weren’t running through town, so I didn’t realize anyone in town knew we were here.  I didn’t think about all the runners who spent the night at inns in Greenfield.  Even a small race can have a large footprint when it’s held in a small town.

If I’m racing again the next day, I usually try to refuel right away with a high-carb snack.  I didn’t have any snacks at the hotel.  Why didn’t I buy that blueberry pie at Whole Foods?  I wanted to take a whirlpool bath or try out the hotel’s saltwater pool, but first I needed to go to a restaurant to have some lunch.  After eating a late lunch, I’m not sure if I’ll have room for dinner.  I don’t want to be out too late, because I have to get up early again.  Maybe I’ll just go somewhere for dessert.

This was my third marathon in New Hampshire.  To finish my third circuit of 50 states, I just need to run marathons in Idaho, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.  I’ve scheduled races in two of those states.  The other two will have to wait until next year.

Race Statistics
Distance:  26.2 miles
Time:  4:27:16
Average Pace:  10:12
Lifetime Marathons/Ultras:  334

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