Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Planet Adventure Night Trail Marathon Recap

Ok, where do I start?  I had been looking forward to the Planet Adventure Night Trail Marathon.  It is always my first marathon to kick off the new year.  A trail marathon, in Indiana, at night, in the winter time.  You never know what kind of conditions you will end up getting thus the adventure in it.  This year was the most adventurous one yet.  This marathon had been postponed from the original date because of sub zero temperatures(which I've trained in all winter).  It was for the safety of all those involved which was understandable.  The new date of Feb 15th had been set for the race.  We had gotten about a foot of snow the weeks leading up to it.  The day before, guess what?  More snow.  About another 4 inches.  Now I was expecting snow for this run but nothing like I could have pictured.

Start of the race was at 6pm est so it would get dark shortly after the start of the race which meant you would only have your headlamp to light the way for the entire race.  19 degrees and around a foot of snow to deal with. Conditions were so bad they gave all the runners the option to step down to the half marathon or the quarter marathon during the race depending on how they felt and they would just put them in that category.  My only gripe with this is that the one's that got to step down from lets say the marathon to the half marathon and they decided to do this during the race shouldn't have been eligible for awards for that category.  Not really fair to the other runners.

The marathon consists of 4-6.55 mile loops.  I get started and it's slow going at the start trying to get around people but there really isn't anywhere to go.  Little path and the snow is around a foot deep.  I think to myself, surely the snow will get better and this is just a bad section.  Well, it never does get better. It is this deep for the entire loop.  I brought 5 gu's with me which will usually be plenty for a marathon but for one where I can barely move and not go very fast I don't know if 5 will be enough.  I usually try to take them every 35-40 minutes but because I will be running for much longer because of the snow I decided to conserve them for the end where I'll need them most. With every step my body is twisting and ankles are turning.  Yaktrax are doing no good at this point and are more of a nusence than anything else.  I am having to stop about every 2 miles to readjust them as they keep riding up on the top of my foot. I would have been better off without them.  The snow is deep and powdery and hard to run through.  Not able to get any traction whatsoever.  I finish the first loop in 1:20:11 (12:15 pace),  I did not take any gu the first lap as I'm trying to conserve it for later in the race.  I see alot of people dropping out after just 1 lap so I think to myself if I just finish this thing I have a shot at placing.  That keeps me going and the fact I have never had a DNF in a race before keep me going.

The field has really thinned out now but the snow is taking a tole on my legs.  It already feels like I've run a marathon and I'm not even half way done.  I finish the 2nd lap in 1:22:04 (12:32 pace).  By this point most everyone has dropped out.  Only around 37 end up finishing the full marathon out of the almost 100 registered for it.  I think to myself, keep moving.  Think back to that 100 miler you did.  You can do this.  I keep going.  About 14 miles in I take my first gu.  It gives me some energy I need and I'm starting to feel great again.  I take the next one at mile 18 and before you know it I'm done with my 3rd lap.  3rd lap completed in 1:24:24 (12:53 pace). I took a bathroom break on this lap for about 3 minutes.
Start of my final lap and I am really starting to feel good.  So good in fact I stop paying attention to where I'm going and take a wrong turn on the trail.  Before I realize it I've went a 1/4 mile the wrong way so by the time I get back on course I've run 1/2 mile extra.  One of the course markers got taken down for some reason.  Probably just fell down but that really wasn't the extra mileage I wanted to be putting in.  I take another gu around mile 20 and stop for the restroom again.  At this point I really start to flying and come up on people and passing them left and right.  My last several marathons I've
done I've been able to kick it in another gear and finish strong not hitting any kind of wall.  At mile 24 I fly by 2 guys and a girl.  I later find out the girl I passed was the lead female and the 2 guys were both in my age group.  I made up 30 minutes on the last lap on one of those guys and 15 minutes on the last lap on the other.  I see the finish and cross the line feeling great.  I actually ask them if I can run another lap and they look at me like I'm crazy.  Well I am, they don't know me and I most definitely could have done it as good as I was feeling.  Last lap finished in 1:15:31 (11:32 pace).  My fastest lap of the whole race.  I ended up finishing in 5:22:11.  Good enough for 12th place overall and 2nd in my age group.  I was extremely happy with my performance considering the conditions.  People ask me why I train in the cold and the snow.  This is why.  You never know what kind of
conditions you will be dealt with on race day and I like to be prepared for all conditions. 

Marathon #19 complete!! Night trail marathon in a foot of snow and I got it done!! Worst conditions I've ever run in for a marathon. These conditions even topped the Indiana Trail 100 conditions. No traction and felt like I was running through quicksand. Kicked it in beast mode the last lap. My last lap was my fastest lap. Started snowing about half way in and it was almost like a whiteout as my headlamp was reflecting off the falling snow making it difficult to see.  Was it fun?  Heck yes it was fun!!  Would I do it again?  In a minute without even thinking I would do it!!  It was awesome!!  Can't wait till next year.  Hope there is even more snow!!