Sunday, June 2, 2013
As it turned out, this morning for the first 15 miles of the Casper Marathon I was asking myself that exact question, over and over again.
I suppose it was convenient, it was an inexpensive trip, just a three hour drive from home, a cheap hotel room, and a training run that would keep me honest. I was afraid that given the way I've been feeling lately, if I stayed home and did a long run by myself, that I'd wimp out and only run 20 miles. I needed a longer run and I needed to push myself a little harder than I would if I ran alone.
It was actually a very well-organized race and the aid stations were abundant, simple but well-stocked, and closely spaced. The volunteers were on top of it. I never had to wait for anything, they were always ready with what we needed. There were plenty of porta-potties along the course, which I needed, so it turned out good. The course was a little boring at times, but not too bad. It got a little warm and windy toward the end, but it's June in Wyoming, what else would you expect.
I left Fort Collins around 4 pm on Saturday and drove to Casper, which is a straight shot on I-25, exactly 3 hours. I used less than one tank of gas in each direction so I never had to stop. I'd never been north of the turnoff to Lusk, Wyoming, which is just south of Douglas. That's the way I go to the Black Hills. So this was uncharted territory for me. Another adventure. Typical Wyoming scenery, big open spaces, blue sky with fluffy clouds, lots of oil and gas drilling, cows, ranches, windmills, snow fences. I think it's really beautiful there.
I had reservations at the race hotel, the Ramada. I went inside, picked up my race packet, and checked into my room. I skipped the pre-race dinner since I ate a late lunch of Mexican food with Dennis before I left town. Dennis stayed home with the girls, he was going to see his mom in Denver on Sunday.
Walking into the hotel was an odd experience. The hallways felt institutional. I felt like I was in an asylum of some sort.
When I got into my room it looked clean enough, and outside, below my window, was the finish line area. That was convenient. I had to check out by noon and that gave me 5 1/2 hours to make it back, faster if I wanted a shower. I knew that even under the worst case scenario, I could walk most of it and still get back by noon.
I got my stuff ready for the morning and I had brought a bottle of Fat Tire Ale with me. I opened it and poured the contents bit by bit into the little cardboard coffee cups in the room.
Later I discovered some mystery hairs in the bathroom, someone's hair clippings, all over the lid to the toilet seat. But other than that the room was okay. At least there was nothing living in there or growing that I could see.
I went to bed at 10 pm, but didn't sleep very well. I woke up at midnight and was awake for a while, and then my alarm woke me up at 4:45.
I woke up feeling like my guts were protesting.
Ha-ha. Very funny.
My jokester body decided to play tricks on me again, even though I wasn't racing. My girl parts figured it out though. I thought maybe it was the Mexican food, but it was menstrual cramps. Killer ones. Surprise! Except I was prepared this time...essential part of my running supplies.
So that's why I've been the random perimenopausal bitch all week. I was tired and emotional, craving carbs, and bloated up like a blimp. I never thought it was the RPB rearing her ugly head. That's always the last thing I think of, but apparently my body isn't done with it yet. I'm still as regular as my races. Every other race since last October. How does that happen?
I made my morning coffee and took a shower, got dressed and ate a Lara Bar and a couple of rice cakes with almond butter, and then it was time to go downstairs and catch the shuttle to the start. I was on the last shuttle to arrive at the start so there wasn't any time to hit the bathrooms again, and I already had to go. It was cool at the start, but it felt a lot warmer than the 36 degrees that my phone claimed it was.
I saw the first porta-potty at mile 1, but it was occupied. I thought maybe I could find another one soon, or something to duck behind. As it turned out we did a loop and came back to the same porta potty at mile 4. One person dashed in ahead of me, so I waited. I got in and out of there and got back on the road. I had to stop again and again, by about 10 miles I had already been in 4 different portapotties. It was getting ridiculous. But I was still managing to average 11 minute miles plus change despite the frequent stops.
I was feeling awful until about halfway. At one point I saw this sign on a bridge over the North Platte River and I thought it sounded like a pretty good way to put myself out of my misery. I was running the whole way, but it was slow. I didn't feel the need to take any walk breaks except when I walked through the aid stations. My legs didn't feel bad at all, just slow, the same as they've been.
I had brought some ibuprofen with me as an afterthought, but I decided against taking it, since the day was going to heat up. My indoor plumbing was tying itself in knots, it felt like it was about to drop out from between my legs and fall on the asphalt. I was drinking adequate amounts of water and taking gels at most of the aid stations. I had S caps with me. I never had any problems with the heat.
After the halfway point, which I reached in 2:25, I decided I would run the last 10 miles harder than I went out. The cramps were easing up on their own by then.
I made one last portapotty stop just before the 16 mile mark, and came up on the aid station soon after that. As I walked away with my gels and cups of water, I saw a familiar face. It was Phil Rosenstein, my Badwater/Across the Years/Lost 118/instant mashed potato buddy who is now living in Wyoming. He was out there volunteering at the race, and was going to sweep the course after the runners came through. We walked together and talked, and Karla Holgers was also out there volunteering, and she caught us and we did about a half-mile walk before I took off to run the last 10.
After seeing Phil and Karla, I felt so much better. I picked it up and averaged somewhere around sub 10 minute miles the rest of the way without too much effort. I did throw in an 8 minute mile from miles 25 to 26. I wanted to git 'er done. I passed a total of 26 people between miles 21 and 26. I was counting, to keep myself moving. The temperature was in the mid-70s and the wind picked up in the last hour or two.
I crossed the finish line in 4:44:42. I made it with enough time to spare, to get a shower. All I wanted to do was drive home, so I got my shower, checked out of the room and got home by 3 pm.
Overall, it served its purpose for me. I got my training run in, I pushed myself a little harder than I would have alone, and the big unexpected bonus was I got to see Phil annd Karla. I don't think I'll do this one again unless it's out of convenience, but I think they did a good job of putting on a low-key, well-run event.
I ended up with 64 miles of running for the week, which boosts me back into the training range. I'm considering running the Estes Park marathon on June 16th, another training run with good hills and high altitude that's only an hour from home. Even though I swore I'd never do that one again. The older you get, the worse your memory is.