Wednesday, November 5, 2014

LOCO Marathon, a damn good race.

At long, long last, a LOCO Marathon recap!

After MDI I was left feeling a little irked about the way my day had turned out.
I was pleased that I had run 19, at pace, over the mountains that we all have come to expect from that area with little to no residual crap feelings.
I was less than pleased to have picked up a head cold, but also felt that it explained my migraine issue.

I spent a few days pondering my options which were as follows:
-Say "screw it" and gain redemption, and hopefully a 2016 BQ in Boston next April. This was my least favorite option as Boston weather is a tricky beast, as is the Boston course.

-Hit up Myles Standish in a couple weeks. I was really "meh" on that option, the great thing about that race is that I get to visit my family which is good. Other than that there is very little to tempt me.

-Go to the Loco race in Newmarket. This was, at the time of pondering, 3 days away.

So, as most of you already know, I made a game time decision to head down to NH and take a crack at this new LOCO race. This basically flew under the radar on the internets because, literally, I made the choice to run as late as one possibly can.
(Danielle, you should take notes from me on how to run a *secret* race! Screw the training plan and just bust out and do one randomly.... I think that's the only way to pull it off, because even YOU don't know until you are at the start line!)

As last minute as this was I was feeling pretty decent about the whole situation. My legs had come off MDI feeling good, and since LOCO was marketed to be a fairly flat course I was confident that the "hill work" from MDI would not be something I would notice. As annoying as my cold had been, by Friday it seemed to be giving up, so I did not feel that sickness would be an issue either.
The weather looked ideal- low of 45 and high of 60 (yes, I was nervous seeing 60 but the race started at 7:30 so I wasn't particularly worried.)
Bottom line, by the time Saturday had rolled around I could see no reason not to go and take a crack at it.

So yeah. There I was at half past ass o'clock last Sunday morning, at the start line preparing to take my 2014 marathon issues by the balls and take care of some business. Yikes.

Yeah, I bring a Navajo blanket to races. NBD. #fashion
My master plan of excellence was to absolutely under no circumstances go off running like an asshole, only to blow up and have disaster strike. I kept repeating to myself "GO out EASY" KEEP IT EASY, IDIOT" (tough love.) I planned for a calm race, with a reasonable pace, NO heroics and NO chasing a PR. Calm and steady. Easy and peasey.

I really enjoyed the first half (this was a 2 loop course.) Rolling hills took us thru the first 5k, then there was a flat-ish section which went to mile 7 or so. After that there were some gentle hills and nice views until mile 10 when the road detoured onto a rail trail for 3 miles. I was worried about this stretch of road but it was not bad. The first pass was a piece of cake actually and some of the most fun of the race.

Apparently, this is my "happy, easy" running face. Also, WTF left foot?? Wonky leg.

I was lucky enough to fall in with a few guys around mile 4 who were holding the perfect pace (keep in mind that ass-hat me of the past would have blown by them.) But smart, keeping a sensible pace me knew that it was best to have friends so I stuck to them like white on rice. (I did mention to them around mile 10 that I was pretending that I was Shalane and that they were my pacers, they enjoyed that quite a bit.)

Horrifyingly, at mile 12 my pacer extraordinaire confessed that he would be dropping at the half due to a bad knee. Smart move. Luckily, I was feeling fantastic at this point, and when another guy confessed that he, quietly, had been pacing off us for 5 miles I had an immediate replacement! We chugged thru the half in 1:44 and change and I was feeling comfortable. It's good to know that you have a couple minutes in hand and I intended to use them.

Happy at the halfway point.
I ran happily along with my new pace buddy (who was trying to crack 3:30 and doing so, smash his PR by 15 minutes) I was quite happy to have a friend because, as much as I love running alone, there is a point in every marathon where lonileness becomes horribly demoralizing! Unfortunately at mile 19 I had to stop for a bathroom break and he went off into the distance (to finish in 3:32, yay!!)

 I did have a moment of concern that my potty break might be the start of yet another mile 19 epic breakdown of horror and vomiting and crapping my way to the finish.
It was not.
Once 19 was behind me I was basically like, "marathon, you are a basic bitch. I own you."
I AM LYING! I know better than to mock a marathon at any point, I did something more along the lines of having a brief moment of relief and then I got back to work.

And I got back to it quickly, figuring that I had used up about 2 minutes of my "spare" time (close, it was 90 seconds.) The weather had warmed up a little and since I had not had much to drink during the first half I planned to walk thru 2 water stations (I did.) I knew that to come in under 3:35 I would have to hit 20 right at 2:43 and I hit it on 2:40- which was comforting.

From 20 on I focused on staying on pace, I also focused on ignoring my whiny and complainey legs. Once you are at 20 you only have another 10k so go and I refuse to listen to the bitching and whining, my legs have one job and that is to do my bidding!!! Bwahahahah!!!

I had come upon a peloton of women most of whom said that they were chasing the sub 3:35 so this seemed like a wise place to stay. Just after 24 a few of them faded off and I found myself and another woman (Jaimie from somewhere close to Hopkington) running elbow to elbow.

At that point, as in all marathons things were slightly sucky but we both knew we could finish and finish with our magical 5 bonus minutes in hand. Seriously, we talked each other into it for those last few rail trail miles. I'm pleased to say that I was right on pace for the last miles, and while I did use my "free" minutes in the second half my pace hardly faltered. Knowing that we could walk the last mile and still qualify, we both put our heads down, sucked it up and ran our best. There was a moment of conversation: "it's like I'm having an out of body experience.... my legs are just running.... it's like I'm watching...."  that I'm sure we can all relate to.....

She had a kick at the end and I was like, yeah, go, no way!!! But I ran in in 3:32:59, thank the sweet 6 pound lord baby geezes. We sweatily hugged. I sweatily hugged Eric who might have been more excited than I was. I was really tired, sweaty, salty, disgusting and RELIEVED!!!!!!

I said things like this:
"YAY Boston 2016!"
"I do not suck as a runner!"
"Thank heavens that is OVER......" (because no matter how good it is. a marathon is best when done ;-))

Thank heavens.

It was a good day. It was a good race- lots of course support, a good number of runners, from what I saw really good pacers (real ones, although my self appointed ones were amazing.) They gave us these huge wood medals (woodals?!?) which were fantastic. Bottom line, it was a user friendly course with lots of nice and thoughtful amenities (well stocked aid stations, little "pace" signs at certain mileage points letting you know if you were on pace for a BQ, and from what I saw a good spread of food and beer after.) I definitely would suggest this race if you are BQ hunting, while no marathon is easy after a certain point, this race, on this particular day, eliminated some of the challenges that can mess up your attempt. I really enjoyed it (and actually prefer this course to the Hampton course which I liked!)

I'm really pleased to have managed a good marathon in 2014, there was a stretch of time this year when I wondered if it wasn't meant to be. I began my marathon career as a little speedster and am now just gaining the experience needed to get through a more challenging day.
I also have had a very different "training cycle" which I will talk more in depth about later- and I'm not at all unhappy with how it worked for me. 
Mostly, I'm pleased that MDI was a fluke and not a physical issue. While I did not PR on Sunday I certainly had a good race in a time that I am very happy with. I have also had a seamless recovery which I find very encouraging!

So, here's to Boston 2016. I'd say that is the year to get there- it will be the event of the season for sure!!


  1. Thanks for the recap. A friend and I are on a quest to run a marathon in each NE state. Maine marathon last year and targeting NH in 2015. LOCO is leading the pack but am concerned that there would be a lot of running alone, with such a small field. Would you consider this a flat, fast course? The recap will really help with our decision.