December 8, 2007

Tecumseh Marathon, 2007 (#21)

December 1, 2007.
Me and Lesa

Recall: So much fun. (see below)
Overall: One of my favorite marathons.
Rating: 5/5 carbs

Around mile 2

Mile 4

Mile 5

Mile 6 aid station

Indian Hill about half-way.

Mile 11
Mile 19
At the finish in front of Lake Yellowwood.

...time for some soup!

Watching the weather channel on a large, HDTV may be a waste but it's Saturday morning before the Tecumseh marathon all I wanted to know is just how cold it is going to be. 27 degrees and on it's way to a high in the mid to low 40s, plus a little windy. I debate with myself how many layers to wear and after 10 minutes I make the decision to take the layers with me in the car. I make a final decision just before I get on the bus.

I get on the first bus and sit on the second to last row. A clean shaved, well groomed guy sits behind me on the very back row. The runners on the back four rows quickly engage in runners conversation. It turns out Mr. Very Backrow is from Orem, UT and is in Bloomington helping with some type of theater production. Next to him is a Chicago man whose daughter is attending EIU. The lady next to me, who did an Ironman triathlon earlier in the year, asks me about the 5:00 cut off time. "Are they really strict about the mile 22 cut of time?" Being the veteran Tecumseh runner, I told her I thought so just because the sun is long gone by 5:00 and running this trail is tricky enough in daylight with many of the rocks and stumps covered by fallen leaves.

We get to the start area early so I sit on the bus to stay warm. With 20 minutes to race time, I leave the bus to warm up, etc. As I walk around I hear the sound for frozen water droplets hitting the leaves! I look up but see no threatening clouds and just hope that the weather forecast calling for later afternoon rain is correct. Eventually, it's start time but that doesn't seem to matter for this marathon. The first year I ran it we were told, "the race will start when the last person is out of the Port-a-potty." This year is no exception with a 10:14 start time. I stay in the back not knowing if I'm completely over the cold I caught just before Thanksgiving. Besides, I reminded myself, it's better to pass people rather than be passed in last half.

We gather for final instructions which I can't hear so without warning the race starts and we're off. The races starts on an asphalt road but quickly turns into a dirt road. There are people running three a breast making it hard to pass, not that I'm passing a lot of people. The deer hunters don't pay us much attention. By the first aid station at mile 2.5, things thin out a bit just as we merge on to the single track trail. At the first major descent, I end up walking part of the way only because the line of runners ahead of me are "running" downhill at a snails pace. So I walk and try to be patient. We cross the levy and up a short, steep hill to the next aid station. Oh, pretzels!

The next section of the course is less flat but I'm starting to get more into the race. Every once in a while it smells like snow. I love it! I want to say I'm having fun but that doesn't really describe it. Fun is skiing uncut powder and this is not like that. I can't describe it but I am having a blast! I do wish I have brought some gloves since it doesn't seem to be warming up much. A hat might have been nice, too. After a few miles, I know an aid station is coming up so I eat half of a Payday candy bar so I can wash it down at the mile 6 aid station. I have some guy snap a picture of me just to prove I was actually there. I finished the Payday but choke on a peanut. Eventually, a few hundred yards down the trail I stop coughing and find myself behind Mr. Green vest. While walking up one of the hills I see a photographer up ahead. I decided to slow down and let Mr. Green vest get a head of me so I can be running by the time I'm in view of the camera. At the top of the hill I pass a lady dressed in purple walking with a man. I hear her asked the man if he'll be okay? With his assurance, she continues on behind me and eventually passes me. She tells me she got a second wind as she passes but I know she was being nice and walking with the man who was struggling. Another half a mile and I'm mostly alone on the trail. Eventually, see a younger lady who runs like a deer up ahead. I refer to her as Doe a Deer and try to keep up with her. It's a gradual downhill and I'm feeling great as I catch up to Doe a Deer just as we arrive at the mile 9 aid station.

After the aid station we are all walking up an asphalt road for a bit. I'm finishing my pretzels and Gatorade while Mrs. Plum is calling someone on her cell phone. Back on single tract trail, and still feeling great. Again I'm mostly alone except for Mrs. Plum who is 50 yards ahead of me. But then she's gone. A few second later I come over a small rise and out of the corner of my eye I see her "squating" off to the side of the trail. Quickly, eyes forward look straight ahead and never see the Plum lady again. The course is again mostly downhill and I'm loving it. I'm not cold but still rue not bringing gloves and a hat. The good news is the the small creek we cross near mile 12 is dry.

Trail runs into a road where we find the next aid station. One of the workers tells us it's lunch. Let's see candy, cookies, pretzels, bananas, and Gatroade. Sounds like lunch to me! I grab a banana and some pretzels and walk as I eat. I know there's a killer hill ahead so I eat fast and start running knowing I'll be walking once I get to Indian Hill. The triathlete lady on the bus asked how long Indian Hill was, I told her about a quarter of a mile. After a quarter mile and not at the top I think about her cursing me when she's realize what I just did. At the top there's a long-ish down hill but it's starting to rain. A hat. If only I had a hat, I'd be find. I wonder what I'll do if it rains really hard. I envision me finishing in a cold shiver that last the entire 2 hour drive home and into the next day. Nothing to do but keep going to the mile 16 aid station. A guy with an iPod around his neck is on my heals as we wind our way around the trees. I stop to take a picture and let iPod man pass. At the aid station one man is escorted into a mini-van. He looks cold but fine. Another runner tells the van driver to wait for another runner who may be in need of a ride. The food is covered in plastic to protect it from the rain but the rain seems to be letting up. I leave the aid station just after iPod man.

After a short distance on a road, we cross another dry stream and end up walking the switch backs up the hillside. On the other side is a valley we run down into, along a stream bed, and then walk up to a road that takes us to the mile 18 and half aid station. A light rain returns but this aid station has hot chocolate that is neither hot nor chocolate. No matter, I'm not cold, except my hands a little, and there are no more large uphills! The course takes us back on the trail but the last two times we stayed on a road so this part of the trail is new to me. I get behind two guys going slowly downhill. Finally, they let me pass but not until the bottom. Next is a tall lanky man from Cleveland who is going just a bit slower than I'd like but just as I want to pass we are going uphill! So I walk behind him until we get to the top of the ridge and the mile 20 aid station. Looking at the map now I see the road is a more direct route to the mile 20 aid station so I'm convinced this year the course was longer than last year. At least that would help explain my much slower time. I don't stay long at the aid station since I know a nice long downhill is next and I don't want to have to follow anyone down it. Running downhill at this point feels liberating. My tired legs get to stretch out a little and gravity helps move me along. Another aid station but I'm feeling good and know there is hot soup waiting for me in 4 miles. I'm feeling good as I catch up with runners who aren't. They are all good about letting me pass except one lady who is trying to keep up with her boy friend. Finally, she lets me by. A mile down the trail I see a group of runners on the trail. They are helping a lady who had fallen and cut open her leg just below her knee. I give her the Paoli Peaks bandana I found a few miles back. iPod man was the first see her after she feel. We decided to run forward to the next aid station 2 miles away and inform them of the fallen runner. A little further down the trail I see another group of people along the trail. Oh, no. Not another injured runner? No. Just a group of men who line both sides of the trail and raise their shovels over our heads and cheer as we run under. By the time we get to the next aid station we are off the trail and have 1 mile left on gravel road with a little uphill. We tell them of the injured runner and move on. iPod man tells me it's his 26th birthday so he decided to run 26 miles. I can't believe my legs still feel good compared to previous marathons. Every once in a while I feel a cramp in my right upper calf but I just rub it and it goes away for a while.

The last mile is on gravel road but it's tolerable knowing that it is the last mile. Lesa is waiting, as usual, for me at the finish line. I'm a little cold so we go inside the shelter-like lodge for some hot soup waiting and a tasty sandwich. along with chips, cookies, and warm fire. What a great run. 5 hours 44 minutes and worth every minute!