My first marathon
Beat, crazy man that he is, opted for the 60K distance. His race started at 7 a.m. and mine started at 8:30, so I had an hour and a half to kill after the ultramarathoners left. I went to my car to slather my entire body in chamois butter, followed by multiple layers of SPF 50. I started reading my Kindle to kill time and accidentally dozed off, waking up about 15 minutes later when the car temperature had risen to at least 160 degrees. Have you ever taken a nap in a hot car with all the windows closed? I stumbled out of the vehicle in a flu-like haze, soaked in sweat, nausea, and what felt like a high fever. Fresh 85-degree air and several bottles full of water helped cool my core temperature just enough that I changed my mind about hiding in the shade until I had safely avoided starting this ill-advised race.
My GPS said I had traveled 26.1 miles when I reached another intersection. The arrow sign had blown over but pointed distinctively to the left, and all of the pink ribbons went that way. When I looked down the dirt road, I could not see any ribbons. I figured I had to be really close to the finish, but GPS watches can be wrong, course distances vary, and I had traveled a small amount of extra mileage. I turned left and soon began climbing up a steep slope.
The trail just kept on climbing. I was convinced this couldn't be right, but there were still pink ribbons, and in trail racing, you don't question the ribbons. When my GPS registered 27 miles I was at nearly 1,500 feet elevation, which didn't seem right at all given the race finish was closer to 500 feet. A quarter mile later I reached a ridge and finally understood where I was — right back where I had started, climbing Mount Diablo. I idiotically managed to turn off course right at the very end — and consequently beginning — which is why there were still ribbons and signs on the trail.
Since I had already botched the race, I briefly considered just running another mile and half up the trail to register a solid 50K. But I knew I'd have to climb another 1,000 feet in the process, plus I was already out of water and nearly out of electrolyte drink. So I turned around, laughing at myself because out of all of the confusing intersections, this mistake really was my fault.
fifth overall of 18 finishers (probably about 20-22 starters. There were definitely a few drops.) Although Strava placed my marathon finishing time at 6:32, my actual finishing time was 6:58. A seven-hour marathon. I think Pearl Izumi would agree that's a pillar of excellence. Beat finished the 60K in 9:31, coming in sixth.
I am happy with how it went, because I managed all of these challenges that are really difficult for me — heat, technical descending, feeling horribly lost — quite well. I kept a solid but sustainable pace so I didn't screw up my taper for the big test next weekend. I ended up fueling solely on Clif Shot Bloks and the mysterious pink electrolyte drink. My fueling strategy for supported (and unsupported) races is usually just to pick the first thing that looks good to me and stick with it for the duration of the race. The surprise of what food that might be is a fun bonus, but as an actual fueling technique, it seems to work well for me. And I only fell five times! Oh, and I won the race. Even though it was a small race, that was a nice reward for the brutal beatdown of the Devil Mountain.