Monday, January 23, 2012

Ocala Marathon

Thursday was a GREAT day to escape the winter weather here in the north country (-7 air temp when I arrived at MSP) ... and land on Clearwater Beach, FL (air temp 78 degrees).

I can't seem to get rid of the spots on my camera lens : (

With a big 'ol ice cream cone for lunch. : )

Friday brought a wonderful lunch with dad and Ada at Texas Roadhouse hear Tampa, and Saturday, the wildlife at Silver Springs east of Ocala.

You won't believe this ... just before this photo was taken, the alligator twitched/flipped and jumped and ... I dropped it. Yes. I dropped a 2 1/2 year old alligator. The little gal doing the "show" (which wasn't really a show as she was brand new and wasn't authorized to do anything but hold a little gator) didn't know how to correctly hold the gator and she was doing a football hold. So I did something similar and the thing flipped out of my grasp. The official trainer came over and told us how to properly hold a gator (right behind the head/front legs and the tail ... and tightly). I felt awful. But I guess no harm was done. She said that gators experience much worse in the wild. :-\

Then it was time for some pasta ...

and thinking about running another 26.2 mile footrace on Sunday morning. Yikes. I get SO psyched out by marathons. I know they will always involve leg cramps and that never ceases to get me all worked up. Sunday would prove no different. Everyone was mentioning the hills and the forecast was for heat. I do a lot of training on hills, so that didn't bother me too much (though I'd prefer not to run too many of them during a marathon) but the heat I knew would do me in. I am not a hot weather runner. The forecast high for the day kept going up, and ending up being 80 degrees, exactly what it was at the finish line. But back to the start line. We lined up on the perimeter road of the Paddock Mall and within a couple of miles were out of town in the beautiful horse country that surrounds Ocala. Beautiful homes. Beautiful horses. Beautiful pastures. Abundant sunshine, which meant that it heated up quickly as the sun rose. The course was mostly two loops, though there was an out-and-back section in the early miles. There were also a lot of turns on the course. The early miles felt good. The temps were pleasant and my legs were fresh. : ) My miles were right around 8:00 minute pace. But at 6 miles I'd already felt twinges of cramps. YIKES. Way too early. So after my first bathroom break between miles 8 and 9 (I drank at every water stop, and they were every 1 to 2 miles), I backed off the pace as it would only get hotter and the cramps more severe. By about 16 miles I really had to back off. I ran through the cramps, but "ran" is like you see, in quotes. Lots of late miles at 10:00 pace, or slower. But for the most part I was able to keep "running" and that was certainly better than walking or stopping. When I got back to the mall, in the final mile, we turned off a busy road where there were two police officers and onto the mall property. About 1/8 mile later there was a tent sign with an arrow on it, so I turned. Then I second guessed my decision as I couldn't see a soul up ahead. So ... I turned around and ran back to the corner to double check the sign. Hey ... my brain was tired, there was no volunteer at the corner, ... At the finish, 26.42 miles on my GPS. Bottom line ... my time was 4:04:39. I'd really like to run a sub-4:00, but it didn't happen. Too many hills, too much heat, poor training. I did finish first in my age group (second place was a minute behind ... glad I didn't take more than 2 bathroom breaks!). The finisher's medals were great, the shirts were great, the bibs were personalized and the trophies were certainly unique. I'd certainly recommend this one, especially on a cooler day. Beautiful course. (Even the locals said that the temps were unusually warm for January. Last year it was 26 degrees!)

So. Marathon number 24 is in the books. Next up, for number 25? Napa Valley in March.

Good night friends.


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