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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Louisiana Marathon race report

Here's the detailed recap of how Sunday went down:

We got up before 4 am to make it to the start by 6 am. I was meeting a friend who'd picked my packet up for me. Only - they couldn't find my packet! Eventually they issued me a new bib and a new number, but I was disappointed not to have a personalized bib, because I'd asked for it to say "Captain Slow" as a nod to James May from Top Gear (this drama resurfaced later in the race, as anyone tracking me was using my published race number. They were getting results for it, too, just not my results, so apparently someone else was out there running with a "Captain Slow" bib!).

Visibility nil.
The drive up was dreadfully foggy, and the starting line so humid and foggy that visibility was  seriously impaired. I was nervous waiting for my friend - parking was nuts, but she finally got to the start at 6:40, leaving me just twenty minutes for the bathrooms, warm up, and corrals.
That's the start at the state capitol. Yeah. You can barely make the tower out! Incredible fog! 

My friend, saving the day by getting me ANY race bib after the race gave mine away! 
I scratched the warm up, but since the corrals were closed already, I had to start all the way from the back and work my way up. At the gun, I took a gel. I've never done that before, but I read it on the Hanson's blog and decided to try it out. Conclusion: bad idea for me. My blood sugar peaked (ran too fast!) and then plummeted in the space of ten minutes. From then on, I was playing catch-up with fuel.

The race start. This is what running in 100% humidity looks like.
Miles 1 - 6: From the beginning, my Garmin was way off again. This meant that my early miles all show as much faster than they were, until I once again turned off autolap. I finished this race with 26.47 on my Garmin, the furthest I've ever been off the distance! I definitely think my 305 was more accurate. But anyway. I have little to say about this portion, except that it's a gentle downhill grade, and we were all still sorting out. I was too fast for some of the first miles: 7:03, 7:03, 7:00, 7:11, 7:05, 7:12. Even in the jumble, I realized I was either third or near third. And too fast or not, I definitely didn't want to give up a potential podium spot.

Miles 7 - 10: By mile seven, I was definitely being accompanied by a biker with a "2" on his sign. Well. This was interesting. Of course I started thinking about the possibility of being first. But I was also already going too fast! What to do? I decided to risk it and go for a win. Maybe I'd crash and burn. But maybe everyone else would, too! And then in moments, I was up on top of the first female. She was already feeling the humidity and dialing back expectations. Not that I wasn't feeling it, too. I was having trouble breathing! 7:06, 7:09, 6:54, 7:04.

Miles 11 - 13: A glance back told me that there was a very strong woman firmly making her way through the pack towards me. By now I was SO far off the mile splits that I switched to manual lap (and promptly forgot to hit lap). I was enjoying the company of a fellow runner who was doing the half. We'd been chatting for awhile and I was coaxing him along. But in reality, his presence was a help to me, too. I sorely missed him when the half split off. 15:07 (for two miles - notice how off my Garmin already was!), 7:13. Immediately my mile splits were more reasonable.

Miles 14 - 18: Feeling lonely on the suddenly-empty full course, I tried to turn on my ipod. I messed it up royally. I kept accidentally turning it off, unplugging my headphones, hitting pause - finally I stopped and fixed it. I was really feeling the humidity now, and my clothes were damp and heavy. Lady number two was just seconds behind me now - six seconds, as I verified at a turnaround point. I was starting to feel the early speed. 7:18, 7:09. 7:17, 7:07, 7:14.

Miles 19 - 21: Suddenly I could sense the wall approaching. There was no stopping it. I was trying to take in fuel, but I couldn't correct the damage I'd done, and I couldn't do anything about the suffocating conditions. The sun mercilessly came out. My six-second lead shrunk to one or two, and finally the second woman passed me, looking strong and offering encouragement. No way I could stay with her. 7:20, 7:19, 7:25.

Not smiling. That's a grimace.

Basically dead.

Feel like crap.

Miles 22 - 26: Demoralized, exhausted, overheated, and shaky, I trudged on. My mile splits grew worse and worse, especially for the overpass (the only real hill on the course). I took some salt I'd brought with me, but to my horror the next water stop was...missing. How that happened I, and other runners I talked to, never figured out! My mouth just burned for miles. My biker told me that the third female wasn't even in sight. Miles 24 and 25 were pathetic. Then I turned the corner, finally, and there was the finish. I could hear friends cheering and, in downright agony, finally crossed the line. And then my legs turned to jelly and I had to get help to walk! I was dehydrated, overheated, and miserable. 7:31, 7:33, 7:51, 8:25, 7:49.
My legs quit

After I was done, I ran over to give David a kiss. He was completely surprised to see me, since the race app showed the leaderboard, and I wasn't on it. I'd briefly popped up as twelfth, then back off -  that's because I was listed under my original number! So he didn't expect to see me finish second.

Then I gave two short interviews for local news stations, while trying not to fall over.
Sure, I'll stand here for 5 minutes.

I met the first-place woman in the stretching tent, and she was super sweet. She's obviously usually much faster than today, but was quite gracious and kind. I was especially impressed with how strong she ran because she is from Vermont! You know this heat was a surprise to her! I also stayed to talk to many friends who also ran. It was so nice to receive both their congratulations and their commiseration. A non-runner friend will tell you congrats, expect you to be thrilled; a runner friend will be like, "Sorry your time was no faster than last race"!


  1. Is this where I say "sorry your time was no faster than last race"? ;-) Really enjoyed reading the recap and LOVE seeing you back so strong (if slowly melting in ridiculous temps and humidity) after all your work to get back here!

    1. Thanks for the sympathy ;-) and thanks for the kind thoughts! Yes, it is actually amazing that I'm running at all and I am grateful for clever surgeons and patient recovery every single day!

  2. Hey, but news interviews! You're clearly a big deal now. ;)

  3. You did amazing in the race... but sorry your time was no faster than last race ;). Congrats to you on 2nd and a very strong race considering the conditions and the training that went into it. Hooray for news interviews too, that is awesome!

  4. Sounds like a tough race! I don't normally eat/fuel before I race.

  5. Sorry for the tough race, you put up such a fight! That last pic when your legs quit made me lose my breath a little bit. I had a missing water station once too and it was murder!