Saturday, September 15, 2007

Timberline marathon

Overall it was a really good time at the Timberline Marathon. I accomplished what I wanted, mainly to see if I still had it (or at least hadn't totally lost it!) after two months of minimal training. I didn't have a serious time goal, although I knew I'd probably be disappointed if I came in over 5:30.

We drove up with Olga and now I know all her secrets. Well, maybe not all of them. But, whatever, I'm not revealing any of them! Up at Timberline we saw some other maniacs and a few other ultra-types. They started us out by our expected finish time and I went with the 5 hr group. I was fairly sure that I'd come in between 5-5:30. After a small uphill, we had a pretty steady downhill for about 5 miles. I was very conscious about not hitting this too hard since this was a test for my right hip and legs. I felt a twinge from my right ITB but nothing to cause concern. Anyway, after about 2 miles I had other things to worry about. My lower back was wet and I knew it was too cold and too soon for me to be sweating that much. I was pretty certain that my pack bladder was leaking. After another mile or so I stopped and the pool of sports drink in the bottom of my pack confirmed that. I took off my coat and stuffed it in the bottom to help sop up the liquid and continued on my way. There really wasn't anything I could do about it until I arrived at the aid station. A girl who passed me and then I passed again offered that her dad would be there and he had duct tape, so that gave me some hope that a solution could be found.

I arrived at the aid station, and since that girl was still behind me, asked if they had some duct tape. No, but that was okay, because after thinking some more I realized the best scenario was to just leave the bladder. Trying to find the leak and taping it up would take too long. I asked the aid station captain if she had an extra bottle. No, so I turned to the 6 or 7 spectators and asked them. They looked at me like I was asking for their first born. Something in your car, anything? More blank stares with a few mumbles of no. I couldn't help thinking that if this were an ultra, there would be scads of people jumping to help me. Finally, one woman gave me her bottled water bottle. It was a smaller size and fit perfectly in the front of my pack. I thanked her profusely, filled up and then thanked her again as I left. And I thanked her again when I saw her at the next aid station. Since the stations were 5-8 miles apart, she really did save my day.

After this aid station we soon had a longer uphill. It wasn't too steep, but long. I walked some and ran some. I was feeling pretty good. There were a lot of yellow-jackets along this section and runners were getting stung. I managed to get through unscathed, but I did get stung on my back earlier in the first section. Once we reached the turn-off to twin lakes (which is the turn-around spot for the Mt Hood PCT 50k), I was back on familiar territory. I enjoyed the downhill to the Frog Lake aid station, where I proceeded to spend entirely too much time.



Marc and the little guy enjoyed the mountain while we ran

The next section, which I call the ridge section since on a clear day you get a glorious view of Mt. Hood, went well. I was consistently running the flats, downhills and less steep hills. No one passed me and I passed quite a few people. I felt fine and while I didn't feel like I was setting any speed records, I was keeping a steady pace and just generally enjoying myself. So the middle section was the highlight for me. I had solved my water problem and I was running like I could keep chugging along forever.

I'm not exactly sure when things started to go south, but somewhere around the Crater Lake turn-off (mile 18-19-20?) I realized that I was getting nauseous, which was worse when I expended any effort. It was unfortunate because my body otherwise felt fine and even energetic. But I guess I'm a wimp because I didn't want to push myself to that edge where I felt like I would really lose my cookies. So this last section I walked a lot and really only consistently ran the downhills. Despite my slow pace I still passed people (mainly guys!) who were doing the mall walk. I concentrated on walking with purpose and just imagined myself on an enjoyable hike. I was really very happy to be out there! I blame my stomach problems on the gatorade served (yuck!) and the lack of solid food. I should remember to bring my own when I know there won't be any at the aid stations. My lack of training probably had something to do with it too. And since I only had gatorade on me this section, I took only the tiniest sips when absolutely necessary. So I'm sure becoming dehydrated added to my sick feeling.

Finally we reached the road, with the final aid station where I could get some plain water. I knew that we'd continue on straight across the road instead of turning right down the road for a few 100 yards like at the Mt Hood PCT 50/50. But I was expecting only 2 miles or so and was very disappointed to hear that it was 3 to go. Fortunately, there were a lot of downhills and I got some of my spark back as I realized the end was really near. Watch finish time: 5:22. It was my first trail marathon so I'm calling it a pr! Which will stand for awhile. Except for Portland coming up in 3 weeks, I'm swearing off marathons and sticking to ultras!

17 comments:

Kim said...

Well, at least you finished!
I learned at my last road marathon to carry any food with me, I like to eat too much out there on the run. And you're right, another ultra runner would have just given you their extra bottle!

olga said...

What goes on trail stays on trail:) Thanks again for a ride and a great talk! Mall walk was a good name, boohoo on testosteron. Good solid run, Sarah, stomach problems and all!

Bob Gentile said...

Sarah Said:I'm swearing off marathons and sticking to ultras!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
LOL I am canceling my marathon in Jan.(ok kidding I want to experience the pain:-)

Way to Go Sarah & fight through the stomach issues...U done Good!!

robtherunner said...

Way to go, Sarah! You give me hope that I will still have it for Portland and Autumn Leaves and beyond. I hope you can get the bladder problems fixed. Atleast you do not have to see a doctor for that kind of bladder problem.

Backofpack said...

Nice one Sarah! Too bad about feeling sick - gatorade does that to me too. I always bring food and drink to a marathon - when you are out there for over five hours, you need something to keep you going besides gu!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

yay! it's totally a PR!

I can't wait to do my own first marathon.

Journey to a Centum said...

Trail marathons can certainly spoil you. Just so much more variety and nice low key mood at the start and finish.

I don't think I've ever heard of a hydration bladder springing a leak during a race. I like the water bottles because I use them as "airbags" when I crash. Glad you were able to find a generous person with a spare bottle. Did you flashback to all the water bottles you have in your cupboard at home?

Will probably see you at Portland. I'm not running but I'll be doing support for Michelle.

psbowe said...

Congratulations on the finish even with these issues that kept arising. That's sounds like an awesome event though, maybe i can get in on it next year.

Joe said...

Good race, Sarah, I was wondering all weekend how it went for you. Fascinating how wierd things can go wrong in a hurry, eh?? Sorry about the nausea...no fun at all. Glad you persevered.

And, yes, you still "have it"!!

rick said...

What a hardy looking bunch, you maniacs are everywhere! Great job on the marathon despite all the problems on the race and the injuries you had to deal with leading up to the event.

Bret said...

Nice job Sarah! Good to see you back at it. Yeah I got stung at 0730 am on the PCT. I still get some stomach problems but I am much better since I quit drinking all sports drinks. I just do water, E-caps and Gels.(Plus food on ultras) I feel so much better later in the race and afterwards. See you at Portland. We are going to meet up at the start with some friends that are around our pace. Run the first few miles together, I will post where on the blog so join us if you want.

Sarah Elaine said...

Well done, Sarah! I love how you kept your purpose and stayed strong when you were nauseous. You're tough - and you've got a PR to show it, too!

christine said...

thanks for the inspiration! i'll be making my marathon debut at golden hills here in the eastbay. minimal describes my training over the past 2 months so it should be interesting.

Bret said...

Wow Sarah you are famous!! You made the front page of the Maniacs web site!!!

Addy said...

amazing job! With the bee sting, bladder leaking, and stomach issues, still coming in under your goal is awesome!!!

Sounds like you did a great job out there. The whole hiking with a purpose thing is something I'm learning, and really does make such a difference when you can't run.

Congrats again on the awesome job!

Darrell said...

Swearing off marathons? What? Aren't there plenty of trail marathons up there in the PNW? Good luck at Portland and the rest of your fall racing schedule.

Gretchen said...

I love it when I swear things off and then mention the exceptions in the very same sentence. No more marathons? Ha! Yeah, right. Swearing off Gatorade however, would be a great idea I think, it always makes me sick too.
Great job on the race, have fun in Portland!