The long race weekend started with our trip down to Williamsburg. Things went much better this year with packet pick-up and the race expo. Signs were pretty clear as to where you needed to go to get your stuff. But maybe it was just my prior experience that helped. We got packets for Elizabeth and Yvonne who were running the 8k and for myself we got packets for both the 8k and the half marathon. I first learned about the Patriot's Challenge (running both races and getting a special third medal) last year after I finished my half. While I was upset, I was determined to correct that problem this year. And I did. I had no time goal for either race and was mostly intent on surviving the heat and finishing both. I wanted my damn special medal.
Some photos from the trip:
The 8k Race:
Elizabeth, Yvonne, and I started out together and ran past William and my father. After that, Elizabeth and I sped up a bit. We hung together taking breaks as needed and doing our best to enjoy ourselves despite the extreme heat. When we cleared the three and a half mile mark, I told her to go ahead and finish the race if she wanted. I managed to hang with her for another mile before she started to pick up her pace a bit. I was still able to keep her in sight but she still finished ahead of me. And yes, I did try to beat her but she was just too fast for me and out-kicked me at the end.
My little speed racer:
And while she may not be speedy, she's damned determined:
Start - 2:20
Mile 1 - 11:36
Mile 2 - 12:30
Mile 3 - 13:02
Mile 4 - 12:24
Finish - 59:37
The Half Marathon:
I made my merry way to the start line with the same warm-up walk I did last year. Except I didn't need a warm-up. The key to success on a race day where the temps are nearly as high as the humidity is to go slow and don't overheat. Once your body overheats, it takes extra energy to cool off, energy you don't want to waste getting to the finish line.
So I made my way to the start line with nothing but a little coffee in my belly. Coffee that eagerly wanted to get out of my belly. And about half way through my mile and a half walk, I began looking at each tree I passed wondering it this would be the one I used. Thankfully I was able to make it to the stadium, find the bathroom, and drop my load.
Now, this paragraph is going to be graphic so skip it if poop scares you. As many runners know, taking a dump in the woods isn't fun. But when you need to go, you need to go. You feel great after you go but your ass starts to chafe after a few miles. I've found in the past that a baby wipe helps prevent this but it doesn't cure it. Alcohol wipes make things worse. And paper towels will work in a pinch. So when I recently read a post by somebody who had found the magic cure for this type of chafe, I read it eagerly. Yes, I read about some dude wiping his ass with eager abandon. But it's only because I want to cure myself from this affliction. Anyway, he basically said: take a dump, wash your butt, dry your butt, apply A+D ointment. So I did everything but apply A+D (because I had none). And it worked. And yes, I followed his directions and washed my hands. No need to prevent butt chafe if I'm only going to make myself sick. It was tricky to squirt water with one hand and wash with the other, but through some twisting and turning, I was able to give myself a bit of a "combat bidet." Thankfully I was alone in the bathroom.
With that done, I made my way to the start line where I chilled out and chatted a bit with one of the military guys from Team Wounded Wear that did the "No Man Left Behind" drill in the 8k. They were amazing. I'm thinking they need to do an ultra though to show everyone how amazing they really are. Also at the start line was the guy advertising the Body exhibit at the local science museum. Not exactly what I want to see so early in the morning.
The Body guy:
And then it was time to line up and get to running. There were fewer people than I expected at the start, but I think the heat kept a few people away. I started as slow as I could and just did my best to take in the scenery. This being my third year, I knew the basics of the course and knew what to expect. So when somebody complained about a hill early on, I just chuckled and said there were more coming. As we cruised out of the historic district in Williamsburg, we made our way along side the railroad tracks. I felt a bit hot so I slowed down a little (or at least it felt like I slowed down) and I just took my time. The gravel portion near Mile 5 was super-smooth this year and felt just like pavement. Actually reminded me of a tar and chip job but without the tar. This is also the worst part of the course visually as you run behind a shopping center. Thankfully there are plenty of spectators and volunteers before and after to keep you going.
After the shopping center is what I call the Hill of Death. It's long, gradual, and not really that bad. But it'll sneak up on you if you aren't careful. And while this was my slowest running ever at this event, I know the heat played a huge factor. I mean, a 30 degree difference can really knock you down a notch. So anyway, the Hill of Death looks doable and can suck you in. It's what lies after it, the Colonial Parkway, that will grind you up and shit you out if you aren't careful. This was the first year I didn't turn my feet into hamburger on this road and the first year I managed every mile with cool efficiency. Notice I didn't say I was fast, I was just efficient. I walked up the hills and ran down the hills and ran as much of the flats as I could. I stopped for water and cooled off in the breeze when I could but generally just tried to keep my shit together.
Unfortunately for some runners, this is where the carnage began. Every year I've seen runners not able to handle the course, mostly due to heat or hydration. Well, the last two years the temps were about 65F and this year was about 90F. Yup, people didn't adjust accordingly. So I started to see medical teams helping out dehydrated and overheated runners along the side of the course. Some looked okay while others were getting a hasty ride to the medical tent. I kept grinding away and eventually made it to the beast of a hill at Mile 11. You come down a nice, gentle downhill where you can run the tangent while everyone else stays left. Silly runners. At the end of this down is a sharp up and around an on-ramp. I hate this part. It's killed me every year except for this year. this year, I somehow made it up just fine.
Well, shortly after this hill, I had to spring into action to help another runner. Okay, I didn't exactly spring into action, I just saw a guy in front of me make his way to the grass fairly quickly. I figured he had a rock in his shoe but he laid down with a pretty good grimace on his face. I got there, stopped, and asked if he needed anything. He said he was cramping up. So began my poor triage of the patient. It wasn't until I was a good half mile down the road that all the first aid training I've had came rushing back to me. As the guy was laying there, I massaged his calves and let him drink what was left of my Hammer Fizz. He was cramping pretty bad and no sooner did I start my treatment than a first responder arrived. The traffic cop didn't quite look comfortable in knowing what to do so I just kept doing my thing of massaging the guy's calves and trying to keep the mood light. I think he said his name was Kevin but it may have been Gavin. I think his bib number was # 5286. But I could be wrong. That's part of where I went wrong. Instead of getting his basic info, vitals, etc., I just rubbed the dudes legs. Anyway, the medical team arrived within minutes and took over so I went on my merry way.
Without any water. But I was fine with that, there was another aid station ahead and I saw my dad right before I got there. I was also on a bit of a high, probably something along the lines of survivor's guilt but more like survivor's euphoria. As I went through the ROTC kids, I gave one a high five and went to give the next kid one down low and pulled out the "too slow" on him. Gave us all a great laugh and helped me finish with a positive attitude. It was also near the end that somebody recognized me from the DRHT 50k last year which is always a little scary. I can never understand how people know who I am.
And that was it. I finished, met up with the rest of the family (who had quite the adventure trying to get to the finish to see me), got a chocolate milk, got a beer, and went back to the hotel for a shower and some food.
My race bling; (l to r) the Half Marathon, the Patriot's Challenge, and the 8k:
Temps were about 80F at the start but were easily 90F or 95F by the finish. Humidity was high. Wind was moderate. Sun was out but the course was mostly covered in shade.
Fluids and Fuel:
Before the run was half a coffee. During the run was water and Hammer Fizz. I think I had about three tablets of Hammer Fizz and used all but one water station. Only fuel was two shots of Hammer Gel, one at the start and one around Mile 10.
Aches and Pains:
My right knee hurt after I finished but everything else felt fine during the run.
No special gear but I did wear my Oil Creek 100k singlet.
Start - 2:06
Mile 1 - 11:39
Mile 2 - 12:08
Mile 3 - 11:28
Mile 4 - 12:22
Mile 5 - 11:32
Mile 6 - 12:39
Mile 7 - 12:07
Mile 8 - 13:18
Mile 9 - 14:11 (stopped to pee)
Mile 10 - 12:33
Mile 11 - 12:09
Mile 12 - 16:09 (stopped to help an injured runner)
Mile 13 - 13:20
Finish - 2:46:43
2011 Run For The Dream Race Report
2012 Run For The Dream Race Report