Monday, October 20, 2014

MDI Marathon, why run 26.2 when 18.8 works just as well??

Last week, as the MDI marathon prep was wrapping up I tried to find time to drop a quick blog about my lead up to my favorite race of the year. Unfortunately I did not have time to do so, so here is a bullet point attempt to make up for that.

-Training took a backseat to working. This was a choice I made, not a misfortune!
-While my weekly mileage was not as consistent as I would have liked I managed a decent number of solid long runs.
-I had some of the worst runs of my running career
-I had some of the VERY BEST runs of my running career
-I was uninjured
-I was not burned out
-I seriously hurt my back 10 days prior to the race. Full recovery was made.
-I had a solid plan that had plenty of flexibility and I was prepared to go with the flow
-I had been assigned, with out a shadow of a doubt, the most incredible race bib EVER!!

This really happened. I was so damn excited!!!!
Eric and I headed up to MDI on Friday late afternoon and proceeded to have a lovely low key evening and Saturday.
Prior to the start of a lazy day I joined in the short AM shakeout run, a really fabulous idea since we all ran to breakfast! It was a really good meal, we had a good time chatting and then went right to the expo to pick up my amazing bib as well as some odds and ends. It was fun!

Post Breakfast: Bradlowski had arrived and was ready to run!!
I know that prior to both NYCM last year and Boston this year I was much too active the day before the race. Laziness was on the schedule for sure this time and we took advantage! We caught up with friends (we had a great lunch with Danielle, Sarah and the quite famous and delightfully down to earth Alexi Pappas), a bit of hiking (Eric) and getting race nails done (me) followed by dodging raindrops and having an amusingly challenging dinner date with a friend. (amusingly challenging for many reasons, the weather, the fact that something BAD has happened to Guinness & Porcelli's menu- as in it has been cut in half (we left), and the fact that due to our various dietary needs we had challenges finding a dining replacement. It was fantastically entertaining and quite the adventure.)
Despite these shenanigans it was a very restful and pleasant day and I made it to bed at a decent hour. And proceeded to sleep quite poorly, which is normal for me.

Race morning dawned cool (ideal) cloudy (ideal) and WINDY (not great but you can't have everything.)
I saw Danielle at breakfast and while discussing my profound dislike for Nunn I noticed that I was feeling nervous about the days events. I was able to rationalize this, as my previous marathon this year was Boston, and I had challenges there that I had not yet had the chance to overcome. Knowing that it was a completely different day I put my mind to work on productive matters, such as trying to figure out the best outfit to wear on order to take flight in the incredible wind.
I ate my normal breakfast.
I continued to hydrate- this was NOT going to turn into a repeat of Boston dehydration.
(I try to learn from my mistakes and not repeat the same errors twice! Just new errors!)
I went pee 4,968 times.

We all lined up and it was the coldest day of my life.

Not warm. But happy that I was not worried about overheating.
Actually, this is a slight exaggeration but I was teeth-chatteringly cold and my feet turned into little blocks of ice. Luckily, we were off in no time and with "Thunderstruck" fading off into the distance I settled into an easy pace. Truthfully, my legs and feet were so very cold that anything faster than easy would have been all but impossible.

I do not look at my watch much while marathoning, I turn off the auto lap and entertain myself by doing mental pace calculations. This takes my mind off all the running, lets me check in on my mental capacity. and there isn't much reason to check the pace 600 times as a watch can't tell you anything that your legs and brain don't already know. I was pleased to see that upon the occasional watch check, I was meeting my goal of running sensibly and not like a sprinting jackass of certain doom. The one time it is nice to have the watch on: when you need confirmation that you are not being stupid.

It was feeling like a really good day. The miles flew by, and before I knew it I was seeing Eric at mile 11.5. I had had an uneventful first part of the race (which I reported) and was maintaining well. I asked that he meet me at the next stop with arm warmers and snacks.
We met up again just before the half and had an amusing struggle to remove my long sleeve shirt and apply my armwarmers. It was quite a sight to behold as I was impossibly stuck, and as we were doing an outfit change we were keeping forward motion AND Eric was cramming potatoes into my mouth. The crowd cheered in appreciation, which we enjoyed.

I believe this is when Danielle and Sarah drove by me saying "whooo hooooo!!!"
 I ran thru the half in 1:45 and change and went thru my checklist:
Stomach: Good
Legs: Can feel the previous hills but still A-OK
Brain: Comprehending

With that in order I carried on.
The miles continued to tick right by and my pace was staying consistent. Between 14-15 there is a stretch of road by the water and the wind was incredible. I felt like I made very little forward progress in that area and it was quite taxing. However, there was an awesome boat driving all around and honking its horn at us, with people on the deck yelling and cheering. It was a good morale boost during a really tricky stretch of road.

I knew I was going to see Eric again sometime around 16- but as it turned out it was right around 18 that I saw him. He asked if I was hurting and at that time I was having some frustrating moments. I had had a few side stitches over the course of the race and had another one at that time,while that certainly isn't a deal breaker it's annoying as hell. (also, it's the drawback of focusing on staying fed and watered. I could choose to avoid that, avoid the side stitches and totally bonk- or suck it up and have to pause here and there to work them out...) Also and even more annoyingly I felt that there was something wrong with my sunglasses. I was having issues seeing clearly and had removed them to wipe them off a good half dozen times in the mile of so leading up to Eric. I simply could not figure out what was going on. Eric indicated that I was still running a good pace and that he would mosey off and see me at the finish which I acknowledged before heading back to the task at hand.

Very shortly after I moved along I pulled my glasses off in frustration, and when that exacerbated the issue I finally realized that there was nothing at all wrong with my glasses.
I was having an ocular migraine aura.
Within a few short moments my vision proceeded to go crap- anyone who experiences these knows what I refer to. Spots. Squiggles. and what I refer to as "lightning bolts" were completely messing with my day.
There was no need to ponder, I immediately pulled up, tried to cover my eyes and walked off to the side of the road. The nice thing about MDI is that EVERY runner who passes you asks if you are doing alright, and offers encouragement. I knew my day was done but was unsure of what to do next! It was much too far to walk and I knew that I was centrally located between 2 water stations, limiting my access to human contact.

Luckily, with only a short amount of walking I came across the nicest people ever! They wrapped me up in a blanket, gave me a drink, texted Eric and when I confessed that I didn't think my broken head and I could make it to the finish they drove me on over. They were fantastic people and they made my day so much better, it was nice and warm in their car and they pretended not to notice that I put my sunglasses on and hid my head under the blanket. We carried on a lovely conversation from my safe, dark place and in no time had reached the finish.
There was no Eric to be found.
Unfortunately, out of the two texts that we sent he only got the first one- the one that I said "I'm dropping at 18.8 FML!!" He did not get the second that said "I am getting a ride to the finish with nice strangers." The poor guy drove all around looking for me, unable to find me, growing increasingly worried when he finally got text #2- some 20ish minutes later.
I did get to see many friends at the finish which was nice, despite the fact that my brain was exploding out my ears and I was bone achingly freezing.
Luckily, Eric turned up as quickly as he could and put ALL my warm clothing on me. He really is the best kind of husband!
We skedaddled on out pretty fast since I needed about 300 Advil and some quiet time. UGH.

The next day I enjoyed a succinct review of the previous days events:  

Truer words were never spoken!!!!
I had anticipated that I might have some issues at this race, knowing that my training mileage had not been as high as I would have liked. This particular challenge was unexpected.
The good news: I had a hell of a good 18+ mile run, at pace, over hills, on my favorite course, with some fantastic people. (and my legs feel fine today. well, they feel like I ran 19 over hills at pace but it's a very different feeling that running a full at pace haha.... I also seem to have caught a cold. Possibly what the death headache was warning me of.)
While the outcome was not what I had hoped for, and as sad as I am not to have collected one of the beautiful finishers medals, I can still walk away from this feeling ok. There are more races and I'll run an issue free marathon soon. (please running Gods, PLEASE!!)

There is something so special about running on MDI. The miles fly by faster than you can imagine, there are always pretty things to look at, you meet new friends and see old friends, and there are many little touches that make this my favorite race ever. From the thoughtful personalized bibs, to the painted shout outs along the course (plus so many directional arrows that one could NEVER get lost!) the exciting start, the excellent pre race final instructions, and the fact that the race is small enough to feel like you "know" everyone- this race really is one of a kind. I loved it from the first time I ran it, and quite a few races later I appreciate it and enjoy it more and more. 
So, here's to another race, another day, and to MDI 2015 :-)

Even on a cloudy day it's beautiful!!!


  1. You made the best decision that you could! I'm so sorry that happened to you, but I know 2015 will bring great things! Now, I just have to convince Mike we need to be there too ;)

  2. What a bummer! Hope you are feeling better now.