Here’s the skinny on my attempt at another Rocket City Marathon (26.2 miles).
From the start…
If you read my snafu from the 2015 Dizzy Ultra 31 miler then you know I got sick mid race.
So, for this one, my last meal was at 4pm on Friday..
Clock is set for 4:10am. I get up at 4 pm., figures when I’m getting up mega early I’d get up even earlier than I needed.
Laid out all my gear the night before. Car packed night before. Like getting to a race one hour before. Normally takes me about 40 to 45 minutes to drive to the VBCC in Huntsville. WRONG! Get there way to early! At first can’t find where I need to park. The deck I thought was to be open was blocked off. Finally find a top secret entrance to the parking deck. No one else is parking there. I start to wonder if my car will get towed. Then, the super power of common sense kicks in – I don’t even care, I’ve got a great parking spot – for now!
Because I’m too early I decide to recline my seat in my awesome 1999 Ford Explorer with over 300,000 miles – more on that later as it comes into play before I get back home! With my Ford it can start with a drive and end with a hike!
With about 45 minutes before the start I go into the VBCC. Wouldn’t ya know it, all the skinny people have shown up – again. While all the superstars are stretching and jogging, I find a seat and try to get some sleep! I never stretch before a long race anyway. I just usually get out of my car and go run 26 – 35 miles – HARDCORE! Today I’ve decided to look like a marathon superstar and race without a handheld water bottle or my usual hydration backpack – in retrospect I can sum this up for you… Didn’t take long for my thirst to remind me I’m no superstar! They did have aid stations fairly close to each other so it wasn’t so bad!
The announcer then told all runners to find their way to the starting line. A TV station had their drone flying above for the start. I have already found my Pacer. I decided on a pacer as I was hoping to finish in under 5 hours. The pacer would assure me that I would finish in 4:55 or less! If I can keep an 11 minute pace for 26.2 miles and 5 hours.
Started off well but let’s cut through the chase. I held on to the pacer for over 13 miles stopping only long enough at each aid station to drink a cup of water. Now what’s awesome for the Rocket City is that they have a spirit trophy for teams alongside the road that show the most spirit. There were HS drum lines. HS cheerleaders… Full classic rock bands, etc… Somewhere around 13 miles I started to slow a little. Just enough that I started to see my pacer start to pull away.
Over time I started to realize that with the heat I was not going to make my goal of under 5 hours. It was at that point I started to really enjoy the race – using that term liberally. Once you reach a certain point in the race you realize that just running a slow and steady pace will not be far behind the time accomplished going all out. So I now set another time goal and start trying to make that time. That was 5:30. Not too far behind my original goal.
The course takes you all throughout Huntsville. Old historic downtown, little five points and out to and through the Space and Rocket Center. You actually get to run under the Rockets that you see from the street. Best part is the Huntsville Police Department stops ALL traffic for the race. So you never have to stop for traffic! WoooooHOOOOO! It’s awesome.
Awesome except for the pain! Seriously, running on pavement for long periods of time just beats you down. Your legs just ache. Since I’m a running hack, my legs begin to hurt early in races then It becomes a head game of how much suffering I can stand and for how long.
As with the majority of Ultra and Marathon runners there comes a time where you will start a walk/run strategy. Since I ran the majority of the first 13 miles I needed to start a walk run to maximize my potential for a good finish. Now, when employing this strategy your walking portion has to be a power walk, not a mall walk pace! Toward the end I was starting to just pick a point to run to hoping I could trick my mind into running more than my body wanted to. The superstars don’t have to do this but again, I’m no superstar!
When I reached the 25.2 mile marker something interesting happened. Part of the race takes you through a rough part of Huntsville. In the morning when we past the government assisted housing there was a man just sick at his stomach throwing up everywhere. Lovely. But this time, in the same area, something more was taking place. I run by there two men… Standing nose to nose while one screams at the other. Apparently the smaller of the two had the “f bomb” as one of his spelling list flash cards as a child, as he kept using it in as many sentences as he could. He really knew that word and wanted to let others now too! It did not take much to realize this wasn’t going to end well as they were about to fight. Luckily there were police nearby and I told them about the altercation that was taking place and they sent a car to take care of the issue.
Now I’m running in a group. I now decide that I want to race with just over a mile to go. I pick out a few people that I decide will not beat me! So the race begins for 1000th place and a mile to go! I begin to actually pass quite a few people then get on the shoulder of another man who has no clue I’m about to blow past him. But I decide to do it strategically to beat him down and break his will. Cause I’m racin’. So the finish line is inside the VBCC and it’s awesome as you come from outside to inside with people cheering and clapping and you get your finish line picture. So I get on his shoulder and he’s not even aware – stealthy I am. Not fast but stealthy – I’ll take stealthy over speed any day – Ninja like! So, as we make the last turn from outside to inside, finish line in sight, the crowd is roaring as I begin to pass with incredible speed to beat him at the line! Awesome!
Time? 5:26. Accomplished my plan B goal!
After the race, I get my hat and my metal and drink 3 cartons of chocolate milk! It was the greatest! But all I was really craving were the 4 Mountain Dews (Real Men drink the Dew and not Sundrop, which is only a Mountain Dew wanna be).
Another Rocket City is in the books and now there’s nothing left but the drive home. I walk up to the deck. I notice that it’s now half full (half because the all finished before me!). I open my door, go to sit down and all but get a hernia as I forgot that when I arrived I had reclined the seat and I fell backwards. Wonder I hadn’t pulled something. That would be my luck, run a 26.2 mile race and pull something getting into the car.
That’s my story of the 2015 Rocket City, Altercation and Huntsville PD, and I’m sticking to it!
Next race? Probably the Recover – 31 mile ultra in a few weeks.
I don’t have time to write anymore on this a I need to go running!