Sunday, August 5, 2012

Extraterrestrial Full Moon Midnight Marathon Race Report

Riding the bus back to Mailbox Road, I was sure glad that this race started at midnight and that we couldn't see the course until the sun came up.

If I had had to have constantly stared at the elevation that we were going to run up, I'm thinking that I might have been discouraged - even though the temperatures were perfect for a middle-of-the-night run.

I had wanted to run the Extraterrestrial Full Moon Midnight Marathon either last year or the year before, but couldn't pull the timing off with work.  Probably last year when I was working in California.

As I've mentioned before about chasing a marathon finish in every state, I take what the calendar gives me.  Many times, and this race was the same way, I won't even look at the course map, elevation profile, etc. too much.

To me, it is about the following questions:  Can I get there, can I get my packet picked up in time and can I make it home in time without it affecting my full-time career?

This race definitely fit the bill.

I landed in Las Vegas Saturday afternoon, picked my packet up at the Convention Center connected to the Hard Rock Cafe (just off the Strip) and made it to the hotel by 5:30 p.m.  The race started at midnight and it would be at least a two-hour drive.  Therefore, I needed to leave the hotel in North Las Vegas by 8:30 p.m.

Even though I really didn't eat what I wanted at about 1:30 p.m. Central time at Houston's Intercontinental Airport, I knew I needed to get something else in me -- and hope to get maybe a little sleep.  I ate, but no sleep.

Well, at least, not until I got my car parked on Mailbox Road, just 20 miles south of Rachel, Nevada. 

On the way, I stopped to get a couple of bottles of water to carry with me during the race and then made a final stop on the way in Alamo to top off with gas.  It wasn't plentiful on the route to Rachel.

The alarm was set for 11:40 p.m.  I woke up, affixed my timing chip and car key to my shoe (yes, better than the episode in Sioux Falls, South Dakota last September when I lost it) and made it to the edge of the road where pre-race instructions were going on.

I knew he was going to be there, but Dave Mari from Chicago was taking pictures.  (Yes, he ran too.)  He started the year at the Texas Marathon in Kingwood - where I do finish line announcing and help out Steve and Paula Boone -- and he said to me, "Weren't you in Springfield, Missouri last weekend?"  Indeed I was.  That's the way it is with people chasing states:  you see many folks around the country at many of the same races.

We got started right about on-time and it was just surreal to see all of these people running 26.2 miles - or some that were doing 51K -- in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere.

Mile 1 -- 9:36.00
Mile 2 -- 11:53.79
Mile 3 -- 12:04.06
Mile 4 -- 12:34.98

It was in here after I got some fluids at the water station that -- (Heed sucks, by the way, but I forced it down to get the electrolytes in me) -- I started thinking about the first TIR where Bill Dwyer and I had a team and I came up behind and passed him on leg 23.  However, it was a night leg where I had turned my lamp off to not let him know that I was coming up on him.  I thought back to that moment -- a very good, fun memory.

The aid stations were spaced about every four (4) miles.  I never really went to the water bottles until mile 17 or 18 because I didn't want to dehyrdate and cramp late in the race.

The other thing that I did around this time was to begin to process the miles - given that I had been up all day except for sleeping on the flight and racing early the previous morning - was to think of them as mile 64, mile 65, mile 66 for Rocky Raccoon 100 in February.

Mile 5 -- 12:34.86
Mile 6 -- 13:11.73
Mile 7 -- 14:19.80
Mile 8 -- 12:12.94
Mile 9 -- 14:06.81
Mile 10 -- 14:10.83

2:06 at mile 10.  It was here where I started to do the math -- 16 miles times 16 minutes per mile equals 256 minutes or 4:16.  2:06 and 4:16 makes 6:22.  And I rationalized to myself, "I can accept this.  I'm running my second marathon in eight days."
But that was at sea level and here we started at 4,523 feet and hit the high point at mile 12.8 - according to course certification map -- which was 5,617 feet.  The total course elevation gain was 1,225 feet.

Mile 11 -- 13:20.11
Mile 12 -- 14:18.45
Mile 13 -- 15:01.58
Mile 14 -- 14:35.78

Somewhere after the mile 14 mark and coming out of the aid station near there, I saw Clear Lake Fitness Club's Susan Bell.  An experienced ultrarunner, Susan is like a metronome when she runs.  She just metes the miles out nice and steady with a short, quick foot turnover.

I tried to run with her a little bit, but her turnover made it hard to stay with her for long.  I let her go. 

Sometime later, around mile 17, Susan must have stepped off the road because I had caught up with her, but not for long.  Everyone, including the runners doing the 51 kilometers, had an 8-hour cutoff.

Mile 15 -- 12:08.14
Mile 16 -- 11:42.58
Mile 17 -- 12:10.74
Mile 18 -- 11:57.78
Mile 19 -- 12:24.80
Mile 20 -- 13:11.70

By here, the equation said that I could power walk it and finish in 5:53.  And I decided to follow suit. 

The trick here, though, is that this was a 5K out-and-back past the finish line.

You could see off into the horizon where the police car was flashing its lights at the 51K turnaround and on this morning, I'm thankful that I wasn't tackling that distance.

Mile 21 -- 16:42.33
Mile 22 -- 16:23.16
Mile 23 -- 16:23.38
Mile 24 -- 16:50.29

I pretty much kept to the pattern until I realized that I might be able to run a little more.  On the way back to the finish, I saw San Antonio's Larry Macon.  I realized that things had gotten better for me recently with the work that I've been doing.  In Kansas, where I tried to do a marathon on nothing (after Rocky Raccoon two months before), Larry beat me, I think, for the first time.  Not today.  Larry has crossed off the states, though, 14 times and has run over a 100 marathons in a year two or three times.  Incredible.

Mile 25 -- 14:05.60
Mile 26 -- 13:22.88
Last .2 -- 2:35.05

All in all, I'll take the 5:54.  It isn't sexy, but it is a finish.  Sea level one Saturday; at altitude, the following Sunday.  It is something that I'm really happy with - especially with my non-standard training, which included 80 minutes on the bike Thursday night, an hour on the treadmill early Friday evening and a 5K race on Saturday morning.

One final note:  When I updated my master list, this race is the sixth worst of my 43 marathon finishes.  Yet I feel good about it.  The five below it I had no business of doing, which includes finishes in four different states, but I'm content with my effort knowing where my fitness level is and the course difficulty.

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