The MH marathon is a local Half and Full that is fairly popular here. It's held during the Columbus Day weekend but my family is usually out of town that weekend so it's rare that I can manage to run this race. I've ran the Half two times when travel plans fell through. MH allows bib transfers so that makes it easy to get in late since the race sells out in a few hours. The course is mostly flat but results in a net downhill elevation change so it's a good PR course. I registered because I've been chasing a sub-4 hour marathon and this race seemed like a good fit. The goal was 3:59.
One week prior to the race the weather looked perfect, for me anyway. A predicted 55 degrees at the start on a cloudy day with temps rising to around 60 by the end. But as time passed the predicted start temp rose every day during the last week of taper. By the time race day rolled around I was really stressing over the temperature. MH is a point to point course. Buses are available from the finish location to the starting location, or from the finish line back to the start if that's where you parked. Race morning turned out to be very humid. I parked near the finish and rode one of the buses to the start where I caught up with some runners from my LRG. We arrived an hour or so before the start time and the temp was already 66 degrees and expected to rise into the 70s as soon as the sun rose. Not what I was hoping for during an October marathon.
Time passed quickly as we sucked down some last minute fuel and used real bathrooms in the park. Soon it was time to line up. I found the 4 hour pacer and lined up. After the national anthem the gun sounded and we were off. The race started on some roads within the park and then we exited onto city streets which eventually led to an asphalt bike path along the Mohawk River. I think we reached the River at about mile 5. The view as we entered the river gorge was great. The next several miles were on the bike path with alternating views of trees and the river. The leaves were just starting to change. I was enjoying the scenery and sucking down water at every aid station. The pacer slowed down and fell behind. I didn't see him finish so I'm not sure what happened there. That was fine because I was holding the pace just fine and chatting with other runners as we made our way through the course.
I like warm temps, but this morning was much warmer than any runner wants to see for a marathon. It never occurred to me that my electrolyte pills would dissolve from sweat. Putting them in a baggie would have been so easy, duh. Seems like such a simple concept now, but it just didn't occur to me ahead of time since it's usually cool during fall races. Never been an issue before. As you've guessed by now, my electrolyte pills dissolved into a mess in the pocket of my hydration belt. I don't drink gatorade during long races because it upsets my stomach, but I tried sipping some around mile 15 to try to take in some electrolytes. Nope. My stomach let me know for the next few miles that gatorade wasn't going to happen.
Around mile 16 we left the bike path and exited onto streets again. The crowd of runners had thinned by this point so there was plenty of room to run. The down side was that we were out of the shade of the trees along the bike path so there was nothing to prevent the sun from heating us up even more. My running buddy / training partner was waiting for me at mile 20 to pace me in for the last 6 miles. Seeing her was a great pick me up which I definitely needed at that point. We ran a few blocks and then entered another bike path along the Hudson River. We chatted as we ran and it was just like we were finishing another hard run on a hot day like we had done all summer long. After mile 21 my quads started to cramp badly. I've never had cramps before. That's never been an issue for me during a marathon or any other race. Of course, my electrolyte pills had never dissolved before either. We stopped a few times so I could stretch. My quads were just too tight to hold the pace. RB had about half a bag of sport beans left over. I really didn't feel like more sugar at that point but I choked them down as fast as I could for the electrolytes. By mile 25 the cramps eased some and we were able to pick up the pace a bit. Sadly, it was too late. I had lost too much time between stopping to stretch and the slower pace. I crossed the finish line with a 4:04 instead of the 3:59 goal.
The 4:04 finish was a 3 minute PR, but I'm not happy about it. I know I should be. But I'm not. A 3:59 finish was in my hand with a few miles left to go and I would have had it if my electrolyte pills hadn't dissolved. That stings a little. But, no excuses. I ran a 4:04 and that's all. A lot can happen in 26.2 miles. Maybe that's one of the reasons why we try so hard to beat the marathon even though the marathon usually wins.
I'm far from finished with the marathon. At first I told myself that I was done chasing marathon PRs, but after thinking about it I realized that I won't have to do anything different to get that 3:59. Well, other than bring a baggie maybe. Seriously, if I follow the same training plan and run the same workouts I should be in the same position. I WAS prepared to break 4:00 which has been a barrier for me. I won't have to train any harder. I just have to bring a baggie or hope the temp isn't 70+ with high humidity on race day again. I haven't picked a 2019 fall marathon yet, but I know that the goal is 3:59. Guess I'm far from finished with chasing marathon PRs. Anyway, here's the bling:
Small medal this year. Is that a trend? It's... interesting.
Be well. Good luck with your fall race and bring a baggie.