This was meant to kick start my running. I had no intention of setting any goals or even expecting to finish feeling a sense of accomplishment. What I ended up learning was that muscle memory has a long life span.
Forest of Nisene Marks Marathon - 4:44:24 (10:51 pace; 47/69)
I slept well and woke up at 5:38 sans clock. I must have been keyed to the moment as I rolled over wide awake. Grab my breakfast and head out the door for the 1 hour drive, putting me arriving a little less than an hour before the race. This, of course, is one of my favorite aspects of this race, the 8:00 AM start time. The other is the course itself.
Set in Aptos you run 13.1 miles up to the top of the hill. You don't run in the sun until the last few miles because you are running under a lush canopy of trees. The gentle climb, a 2,500 ft ascent, is not too demanding but certainly takes a determination. Then you turn around and run 13.1 miles down. Your legs take a beating as you concentrate on the fire road, hoping you don't hit that stick or rock then sends you tumbling. Ultimately you reach the end exhausted because of the constant pounding and climbing.
The race started relatively uneventful. I took it slow. In fact I started at the back of the pack to force myself to run slow and take it easy. I was taking this as a fast hike instead of a run. At about mile 2-3 I realized I felt good so I opened up some. We hit the first steep portion of the trail at mile 5 and I was already feeling tired. Huh, it was gonna be one of those races. I knew, though, that I would get to the top easy enough, and then the only way to get back to my car was to run back down. No way to drop off or quit. So I felt safe.
At mile 6 I stopped and ate 6 shot bloks, my miracle food while running. A few minutes later I felt myself surging up the hill. It was unbelievable. I mean I was literally running hard up the trail and not feeling my legs slow down at all. My heart and lungs were a different story, of course. Not running more than 100 miles in 7 months has killed my endurance so I had to take short 10-30 second breaks, then let my legs carry the day. I reached the turn around in 2:23 and was ecstatic. I had hoped to be to this point by the 3 hour mark, and yet I knew now that I had a chance of running my 3rd fastest marathon ever. I surged on.
Ironically, the downhill portion is where I couldn't hit my stride. Add that I was tired and it wasn't a good combination. Other factors, of course, were my corn and my calves. The huge corn in the middle of my foot was killing me running downhill because of all the extra pressure. Rocks, branches, holes and so on just seemed to be there every step as each step practically shot pain up my leg. The calves, well there was no way around this one. Not running much has its side effects, and calves that tighten up and cramp is certainly tops on that list.
The time I felt I could reach slipped away, ultimately leaving me running my 6th fastest marathon out of 10! I ended up running a 2:23/2:21 split. I've never ran a marathon with both halves that close, leaving out the fact that one half was up and the other was down. For not having ran or trained, I could not have been more happy with how I felt and the time that I was able to run this tough trail marathon in. I look forward to resuming my training and getting ready for the San Francisco Marathon at the end of July.