Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pushing Through the Hills of the Overgrown Fatass

I was unprepared going in to this one. I had ran plenty of miles, so distance wasn't the issue. What I wasn't prepared for was the massive elevation gain over long stretches. That being said I was ecstatic to finally see the finish and log in my first trail marathon.

Overgrown Fatass Marathon - 5:47:17 (12:40 pace; 13/15)

I had no expectations coming into this except to finish. I had ran 9 miles on Friday and a 10k on Saturday, in which I set a PR and strained my left hamstring, so I didn't expect anything. That being said I was hopeful to finish at around 5 hours. One of the beauties to this run was that it was 20 minutes from house, so I was able to sleep in again and get some good sleep.

2 bananas and a Gatorade later I was at the finish line listening with 25 or so others to Adam's last minute instructions. Away we went. I was keeping a good pace but wasn't optimistic at all to maintaining this pace. I knew that there were some pretty long and steep hills that would slow me down. I've never been good at running the hills, something I know I need to work at.

As I finally came to the top of the first peak, 2,800 feet and 7 miles later, I was happy to finally be running downhill. I set off at a great pace and just let gravity do the rest. The problem? These hills were even steeper with a ton of loose rocks. This, I knew, was going to be rough going on the way back up.

I finally hit the halfway mark in 2:28, and was happy to take a rest and refill my water bottles. What I wasn't happy about was the next five miles of hills. They did not disappoint. I completely hit the wall at around mile 16 and 17, and turned in my worst mile in 27 minutes. These hills were the worst, and it didn't help that I had ran out of energy. Taking many breaks I finally opened and ate a pack of Shot Bloks which buoyed my spirits and opened up the gateway to the energy my legs needed. Once to the top I knew I would enjoy the next 7 miles of downhill, despite legs not moving as fast as the beginning.

I am not sure how this happened but I missed a turn. I stopped where the water was stashed and couldn't find any, so I turned to the left and continued on down the trail. Apparently I was to turn right. Opps. My little mistake cost me .8 miles and about 9 minutes. Oh well, bonus miles I guess.

When i finally finished I was glad I was done. This was the hardest race I had ever ran, in large part due to the elevation gain. From one peak from 200 ft to 3,000 to another from 1,400 to 3,000, that puts the elevation gain to at least 4,400 ft, not counting the many ups and downs within each valley. This was comparable to many 50ks and yet it was all packed into less miles. Such an equation leads to a tough race.

Many thanks and congrats to Adum Blum for organizing such a great event, and to Pavan and Brian for volunteering at the aid station. A great event in the South Bay.


Nancy said...

I love your understatement. When I was done, I was glad I was finished. Hee hee. I would be dying. I can't believe this was so close to your house. How cool is that. Great job hanging in there even when you hit the wall. I don't know how you did it after that.

Brian Hawkinson said...

Well, this was my 7th marathon or longer distance now, so I've come to recognize the wall when I come to it, and I've started learning tricks around it. It almost always comes, without fail, at mile 18-19. At the Woodside 50k I came in to the 19 mile aid station and almost quit I had hit the wall so hard. At Pacifica 50k I came in to the 19 mile aid station and actually did stop (although I did find out that I was coming down with my second sickness in 2 weeks, so that helped as well). 2nd SF marathon I started cramping at mile 18. Overgrown Fatass Marathon I hit the wall at mile 18, and with the steep hills it really took a long time to finish that mile. SV Marathon I noticed at mile 18 that my 9:30 pace dropped to 11:30, with that mile coming in at 16 before I got some food in me. (I didn't mention SC 50k or my 1st SF marathon because they were both firsts and everything was new).

Point being, I had defining moments in all of them at mile 18-19 that, in hindsight, was most definitely the wall. More recently when I hit the wall, such as SV marathon, I downed a bag of Shot Bloks and immediately was able to feel a difference. Woodside 50k I downed almost 400-500 calories before continuing on back.

So to handle the wall, I've noticed that I need to have something to eat and to know that that was what was happening and push on till I was over the wall.

But I am still learning, and the wall almost always takes me by surprise. Hopefully I can learn to prepare for the wall by eating beforehand and preempting the inevitable crash.

Anyway, great bunch of pictures you have on your newest post. I've been around, I have just been much more quiet when I read everyone's blog, yours included.