|Umstead Trail Marathon course map from my Garmin|
|Pint glasses for prior years (borrowed from Umstead Marathon website)|
|Best t-shirt that I can't wear around the kids|
I made an appointment for later that week and his advice was "do not run on it if you want to be able to run the race". Strike 2. Well that was new for me, I never got that advice before. So of course I followed it...oh wait, no I didn't. The race was just about 6 weeks away at that point and I planned to follow the advice, but one day as I was heading out to the gym to do spin class or the elliptical or something else that I like much less than running, I saw how warm it was out and decided to just run anyway. And it didn't feel bad, so I ran again a few more times, short runs of 3 to 5 miles. That gave me a false sense of security however because when I went to the Inside Out Sports Chase the Grape Run (a run followed by free wine tasting at Sip across the parking lot, first Wed of every month) in early February, they decided to do a hillier than usual route and my behind the knee thing was hurting again. Also my hamstring had been sore over the past few weeks and wasn't improving. Uggh, guessed I should follow the docs advice afterall. I tried water jogging classes a few times. It was mentally painful for me because I have no patience (that is why I run, because it's fast). Water running was slow and boring to me and when they mixed in some water aerobics I really felt I was being tortured as I am not a group class kind of girl. Not that water running is easy, it's not. I was the last one across the pool each time and women and men much older and much heavier than me were lapping me. It was a good alternative to running, but one that I'd only do if I was forced to again due to injury. Same with the elliptical. I am not a fan. But I was heading out for a week long business trip and so did the elliptical every day before my meetings. By the time I returned home, I couldn't stand it anymore and after 1.5 weeks of this I decided to try to run again. The race was less than 5 weeks away and if things weren't better I'd rather know and drop now. I was not comfortable just doing water running and elliptical and then showing up on the starting line as my doctor indicated some of his patients had successfully done.
I was also going to PT 2x per week and that seemed to help. I decided to try a short run one chilly but sunny Saturday, sticking to the ATT which is softer than the road and flatter than Umstead. That was a great run. I did 6 miles (probably more than I should have) at sub 8 mm pace (faster than I should have) because I was so happy to be running again I just couldn't help it. I did 10 miles at Umstead the next day and it went well. Things seemed to be on the mend. I ran a 6 mile and 4 mile run that week on the road but this only aggravated the injury again. So the next weekend I went back to ATT on Saturday and did 10 miles and to Umstead on Sunday and did 18. Both felt pretty good. I didn't want to risk running on the road at all now, so I joined Daren and his group for the earliest Umstead runs I've ever done. 5:30 am start (so I got up at 4:30 am) in the dark with headlamps, 2 days in a row, 10 miles each day, around 10 mm pace. Those runs really helped to finish off my training. They were followed by a Saturday 10 mile single track run of Company Mill and Sycamore (part of the race course) with Stephane and then a 10 mile Sunday run at Old Reedy Creek, to round out the weekend before the race. I had my last PT appointment on Monday and I ran only once during the week before the race, 4 miles on the road on Wednesday. That was pretty much it for my training and either I was ready or not. I decided I'd rather DNF than DNS, so made up my mind that I'd just do my best and see what happened.
Work was crazy busy that week as were kid activities (tae kwon do, swimming, book fair, etc) so I didn't get much rest that week and didn't eat very smartly (chili, burritos, sushi, chick fil a, etc). So this would be strike 3 and 4 I guess. But wait, there's more...
My marathon experience is quite limited relative to many runners I know. I had run 3 of them before this one, Marine Corp in DC, NYC and Boston. All three were very large road races that had water/gatorade stops at every mile and the weather turned out to be perfect for all 3 of them (probably because John Williamson did not enter them!). Well I suspect that John secretly did enter the Umstead Marathon at some point because as the week wore on the weather forecast got more grim. Lightening, thunder, strong winds, heavy rain, etc. Strike 5 (I think I lost count now). And it went from 50%, to 70%, down to 60% and back up to 80% chance of rain in a few days. Hmm, looks like I'd better learn to swim. I feared (and a small part of me, just a small part, hoped for) a cancellation. I was at Myrtle Beach in 2010 for the half marathon when they cancelled for snow and I was not prepared for that race so was totally ok with it being cancelled. Plus my inlaws live there so it's not like I shelled out a bunch of cash to travel there only to have the race cancelled. But this time I really did want to run, so figured I'd do it anyway if it was cancelled but others would unofficially run it (depending on the lightening situation).
On Friday late afternoon I picked up the kids from school and we went to pick up my race packet. We were all excited to see what the Umstead mascot would be this year. That's another pretty fun thing about this race. The mascot, which is on the t-shirt, pint glass and award plaque, is kept a secret until the race packet pick up time. I had put in my guess a few months prior, coyote. I have never seen one there but know others have seen and heard them. Other cool choices, as mentioned on the Running Down blog, were copperhead, opossum, bat, and of course the elusive stegosaurus (well just because you haven't seen one yet doesn't mean there isn't one!) Duck, while kind of lame, would have actually been most appropriate given the weather conditions. Well that or whale, which was my daughter Grace's guess. But now she says she was only kidding. As we sat in the car outside the Great Outdoor Company, my son Owen's final choices were coyote or water snake (also appropriate) and Grace chose bat or deer. I stuck with coyote. And the winner....bat! A totally cool t-shirt and the blue color was awesome too.
|Cool bat shirt!|
I am sure I was nervous for my other marathons and half marathons, but I was actually physically feeling sick a little about this one on and leading up to race morning. I woke up at 5am most mornings feeling anxious that week before. And even on the drive to the park that morning, I think my hands were shaking. I felt under prepared already but with the weather conditions combined with not being a really savvy single track runner, I was pretty scared. Once I got there and parked (in a mud pit that I wasn't sure I'd be able to get back out of), saw a few familiar faces (Jim, Shannon, Heiko, Michael, Charles, etc) and was introduced to some other runners I knew of but had never formally met, I felt a bit better. In fact I almost lost track of time and then realized I'd better figure out what I was wearing (I settled on tank top and shorts, no long sleeves or arm warmers) and do a last minute potty stop. I did that (ah the beauty of Umstead is you don't really need to wait on the potty line) and was on the starting line just in time. It was the calmest starting line area of a marathon ever. No one clammering to get up front, no one jumping into faster corrals (there were none of course) and everyone was still chatting calmly until the start. This was no NYC or Boston, for sure.
My Umstead race experience - continued in part II.