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Up Topic Training / Marathons / Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon
- - By PuddleThumper Date 2017-06-12 1:38 PM Edited 2017-06-12 1:42 PM
4:23 with a lot of walking the last 8 miles. I had multiple goals for this race but the most basic one was definitely to "just finish" after the DNF at last fall's marathon.

After that DNF, I knew i'd aim for a spring marathon and decided to go ahead and try to get into the Light at the End of the Tunnel (LET) marathon. it sells out usually the day it opens for registration in january. It's a point to point course that starts at a mountain pass (but low elevation) and goes through a pitch black tunnel for 2 miles. Then it's a very gradual downhill for 23 miles on packed gravel surface of a former railroad track. it's got a reputation as a nice local, small race with very high BQ potential. But there was a lot of confusion about registration so i waited a while. the confusion ended up being squabbling business buddies doing stupid possibly illegal things.  The marathon investigation website posted this article about this issue last week!  It really was a crazy situation and runners on FB didn't know what was going on except obviously there had been some sort of fall out. After much searching, i knew the race i wanted (the original race) was on a sunday in June and had a local race director. I did register as soon as i felt confident that i had the right race. There was going to be the same race with the other race director on teh saturday before ours. :wtf:  Having read this article and knowing what i know now about the current race director, i'm not sure I'd register again. But more later about that...

After i signed up, i realized that i was going to have to go back to full time working during the last 6 weeks of training. Ok, that's fine. But then the coaching group that i also work with ended up getting a new gig where we were a free training group if you bought a registration for a local half marathon. We bid on this and got it in mid-march. it was going to require group runs twice a week plus a weekly email and blog. I do all the email/blog stuff plus we'd have to rearrange group runs to accommodate this group. how the heck was i supposed to get in any long runs if i'm working more than full time, have to still commute in to my regular job every day and cover the group run on saturday? So, i decided to go with an advanced hanson marathon training plan. The long run was just 16 which i was able to get done before the group run on the weekend. And the last couple training cycles, i just didn't seem to recover well after long runs. i got slower and slower on them plus then started running slower and slower on my easy runs. i've started a hanson training program before but had never really completed the cycle.  I did modify it by adding in a couple rest weeks and tapered more than they advise.

Training went great. I was very successful on the workouts and able to hit goal paces. I felt very strong. My overall training place stayed at a consistent pace instead of death slog. Everything was feeling fine too even hitting 60 mpw a couple of times. I'd wanted to do a couple races and i was signed up for disney races but they just aren't all that conducive to actually racing. I couldn't fit in anything else with being so booked up. That's my one regret as i think race effort can really help me during a training cycle. 

This course is on a packed gravel bed. Now i knew that could be an issue race day as the gravel used to really bother me. Was i past this issue? I did the last two training workouts on the last few miles of the race course (so downhill and on gravel). it went fine but then the last few weeks started getting this odd sacrum feeling. is that related to gravel? is it from last few weeks of training and was i overreaching? I cut back way more and everything seemed to settle down. I felt pretty crappy during taper but then i always do. I felt very ready and kept reminding myself that i was very well trained.

There was hardly any communication from the race director. Then 5 days before the race, the race start was changed from 8 to 7 am. GREAT! it can really be warmer by noon here rather than 11 and i thought that would really help me. People were freaking out a bit about it online though. Then i talk to my running partner and it turns out the reason the race start changed was because my former coach was taking on volunteer/race coordinator duties for this race. What? So he's great for a lot of reasons and really knows racing but he can have a hard time coordinating all the little details (as in, we can't always read your mind!).  There was also a call out for more volunteers and he texted my husband the day before asking him to volunteer. I said no. :laugh: They had promised a lot but i just knew i had to be self-sufficient on the run so i planned on carrying my water and gels and not planning on needing anything from the race besides official timing. :wink:

it was great weather. 40 at the start and probably about high-50s at the end. Mostly cloudy with sun breaking through. It was a bit windy at times on the race to the point that i worried a bit about it. The former coach had arranged for heated tents for runners to loiter in before the race. We had to bused there and this was much appreciated and i told him so!  Turns out they'd forgotten drop bags. :laugh: I'd grabbed an extra trash bag from home to either sit on or use for warmth and it was good that i did so i could have a bag to give to bag drop. A lot of runners were just using tape to mark their clothes.

We started on time and ran about half a mile on flat gravel and very crowded before we entered the tunnel. the tunnel really is impressive but having run and biked through it before i know you don't get satellite coverage (ie no pace info) and its so dark i can get claustrophobic. fortunately with all the runners and their headlamps around, that wasn't an issue. it was a little slow but overall it's a good surface. With no pace info, i felt like i was going a little hard and backed off pace. I ended up running those first 4 miles in about 9:20 pace. Then i started speeding up to goal mp of 8:40-8:45 which is what i'd trained.  Remember that it's a gradual downhill so you get a little bit of a boost or "like you are having a really good day" is how someone put it. 

I'd hoped to BQ with enough cushion to get in the race (3:50), i'd hoped to PR (under 3:53), i'd hoped to BQ (3:54:XX), i'd hoped to finish under 4 hours and finally i just wanted to finish.  I hit the half in 1:56 and was feeling pretty good. I carried 35 ounces of water in my race pack and was taking gels every 4 miles.  Good call to carry water as the aid stations every 2-3 miles were minimally staffed plus they just felt rather far apart. it was only crowded feeling the first few miles but after that there was plenty of room. We had spectacular views looking around off of the trail.  At mile 17, all of a sudden i just was walking. Everything hurt. I ended up walking in most of the way to finish 4:23. I had a lot of different goals and a lot of fear about the marathon, just finishing was going to be and is fine. i can't really say what the issue was except things like i shouldn't run marathons and the pace must've been too aggressive etc etc. It's very telling to me that i have been completely missing doing shorter races and so my focus will change to that for the rest of the year. This was marathon #10 and i don't have much desire to do another but running has definitely taught me not to say never. 

The medal was really nice. they had excellent vegetarian chili at the finish along with watermelon and strawberries. Very tasty. it's a small marathon with just 500 finishers or so and the party atmosphere at the end with so many people BQ-ing (:mutmad::roll:) was really fun. The course logistics of being bused to the start and then from the finish to our cars worked very smoothly.

I expected issues with the race. Between no bags, no photos on course (this was mentioned as a perk), it did have issues. Whatever. those are pretty minor imo. I have more issues with some of the business practices of the director trying to force races off the course and just some stuff which makes me uncomfortable in general. I'm glad i did the race as I have always wanted to run this course but I'm not sure i'd run with this race director (and certainly NOT the other race director who'd hijacked the FB account) again. In her defense, i do believe this is her first race directing by herself and she's not a runner.  It's a great course for BQ potential with stunning views and an interesting twist with that tunnel so i'd definitely recommend the course! 

thanks for reading. :happy:
Parent - - By Xtreme Taper Date 2017-06-12 2:39 PM
I am glad you got your finish but puzzling what happened around mile 17. Just to be hurting all over, sort of at your long run distance? I guess I've felt it before but typically in the later miles, or it's something specific. Not sure I would care for that tunnel, but probably get over it unless it was super narrow, like in a coal mine. Shudder. Wish you best in the shorter races this year. Seems you train well enough for the marathon and wish I could help you figure out what's going on there.
Parent - By PuddleThumper Date 2017-06-12 3:10 PM
I'm very respectful of the distance because i just never know how my body will respond. So no idea either and i don't really think i could've done anything differently.  I'm very sore in my quads. it's a downhill course so i figured that would be an issue. I did train for that however as i'd run commute into work and usually do MP runs that way. It's a 3 mile gradual downhill from my house in towards work so i feel like i did what i could to be ready for that. 

the tunnel is not narrow. it was wide and tall enough for trains to run through. So runners can go three across with no problems although the surface is crowned a bit. it's definitely good to get it out of the way the first miles and i do think it's better to have more people going through all at once.
Parent - - By Ed [us] Date 2017-06-12 4:11 PM
Congratulations on completing marathon #10!  Sorry it didn't go the way you planned, stuff happens in marathons.
Parent - By PuddleThumper Date 2017-06-13 1:28 PM
it's ridiculously far!  :grin::laugh:
Parent - - By indie [us] Date 2017-06-12 5:29 PM
Woah complete craziness about the race. Whoever knew there were so many intrigues in race directing.

Sorry about the issues at mile 17, the only time I've felt like that has been salt issues, where I feel like everything hurts. Was on a nice cool day too, 50's.  Good job sticking with it.  Kind of suck though that our bodies just decide race day is the time to act up. :meh:

I loved the medal, really pretty.
Parent - By PuddleThumper Date 2017-06-13 1:28 PM
hmm. that's interesting. I was worried about the wind and not because of it slowing me but because i've had problems before with wind drying me out. I did take an electrolyte capsule at about 90 minutes but never did another one. everything hurts is a pretty common issue for me during a marathon and by hurt i mean i can barely move.  :wtf:

it really was craziness with this race.
Parent - - By Beastie Girl [us] Date 2017-06-13 8:55 AM
Congrats on #10! Sounds like a really interesting race. Sorry to hear that things went south at mile 17, I hope you get that figured out. In the meantime, shorter races await! :grin:
Parent - By PuddleThumper Date 2017-06-13 1:26 PM
i'd have to run another one to figure it out. :meh:: pbbt:

Besides all the drama with it, it really is a fantastic course. I liked it just as much as any of the other marathons i've run.
Parent - By Eric1970 Date 2017-06-13 8:18 PM
Congrats on the finish of#10!!:cool: The concept of running through a dark tunnel toward the light was really fun when I read about this race. I'm glad that you were able to tick that off your list.:cool: Can't say much about the sudden achiness at mile 17. I've run mostly down hill marathons but the only one that I remember being significantly downhill the whole way was St George and that just wrecked me, even before my calf started to give me problems. Long downhills with significant pitch are hard to find out east. Even training on them a few miles doesn't prepare for 26miles of quad pounding.
Parent - By Spingoddess [us] Date 2017-06-14 7:00 AM
Well, sticking with it even after things go south deserves a lot of credit! That's what keeps you in the game.:cool:  I love that you set really high goals for yourself, but perhaps with your work schedule it wasn't realistic? Just an observation based on my own running, not scientific at all, but without higher weekly volume, the long runs need to be longer than Hanson's and more frequent, otherwise that bonk comes earlier in the race. But the gravel trail may have contributed as well. Both Beast of Burden and C&O Canal were towpaths with a lot of gravel on them, and they really did a number on my legs.:meh:  Maybe you would have felt a lot better on asphalt? Anyway, that thing with the race directors sounds nuts.:shocker!:

Congrats on another marathon!
Parent - By Cristen [us] Date 2017-06-14 7:11 AM
Congratulations on the finish. It's never not a big deal to run 26 miles, even though it doesn't always work out the way we want it to. It's frustrating about the issues late in the race. Could just be the uncertainty of long distance running. Sometimes even when all the external factors line up, things still end up hitting the fan, for whatever reason.

Btw, the race sounds really cool.
Parent - - By Schantzie [us] Date 2017-06-14 10:28 AM
Thank you for the report and congratulations on the finish in spite of the issues.  Talk about a non-reassuring pre-race :shocker!:  who needs more drama than just actually running 26.2 miles? :wtf:

I know all too well that feeling of surprise when you suddenly fine yourself :sad:  Just making yourself start running again takes a lot of mental effort.  Way to soldier through and get your finish.  I don't blame you at all for being :meh: about missing the goal time, but I hope you'll try again -- perhaps at a better-organized event, and get the finish time that better reflects your preparation and ability :hug:
Parent - By Schantzie [us] Date 2017-06-14 1:07 PM
I know all too well that feeling of surprise when you suddenly fine yourself  ack!  I'm sorry.  I was writing in a hurry and did not proof read :roll:  What I meant to say was how awful it feels to suddenly find yourself walking -- no anticipation, no bargaining, like "just get to X and give yourself a break."  Nothing.  You are just walking. :cry:  A lot of my last miles in Oregon were like that.  I remember how baffling it felt.  Sorry it happened to you.  All I can do is commiserate.  No advice to offer at all :meh:
Parent - By blazer85 [us] Date 2017-06-15 10:06 AM
Sorry it didn't go as planned. For me, some days, my body can feel horrible like that on just a 5 mile run......I am optimistic it was just a "thing" and the next one will go closer to plan.  I know I always race better if I do incorporate shorter races into the training cycle.  You have just motivated me to find something to stick into my current cycle.....Thanks Coach!
Up Topic Training / Marathons / Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon

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