Marathon Write-Up (LOOONG)

The Stone Cat Marathon

I started out strong. I was slapping people’s hands and shouting “Wooo!!!!!”, until people said, “Quit that. What are you doing? I can’t hear the race director.” Then, the guy said “go.” Trust me, if it wasn’t snowing, I wouldn’t have had a clue where to go. Luckily, at the back of the pack, I had plenty of people to follow.

We did this little duck shuffle for the first five or so miles. Basically, even though the path was big enough for most American-made SUVs, all these little runners had only left a single track worth of trail, and people willing to lunge into the snow drifts to carve their own course were few and far between. I didn’t mind. Talk about the ultimate pacing tool. It was this way until the first aid station. Everyone else seemed to linger. I blew by the first one. But let me tell you what I missed at that first station, but never again throughout the race.

You street runners will shortly faint. The aid stations had fully stocked liquor selections. (For those law enforcement types reading, it was just “for display purposes only”. Yeah!) I mean everything! Sambuca, Crown Royal, and lots of Stone Cat. They had a selection of hot homemade soups, grilled cheese and ham sandwiches, pb&j, muffins, chips, m&ms, something I’m forgetting, and oh yeah, water and Gatorade. Yep, I was at a roving tailgate party with the occasional running in between.

So I ran along, and ran, and ran some more. Beautiful, you see, because this is in a forest, and there’s all this snow falling, and dogs are howling here and there in the distance. My friend has run off past me, because he is typically a 3 hour marathonner, and I’m aiming for 5 to 5:30. No problem. I’m enjoying the solitude.

What I did mostly on the trails: told jokes to myself. Made up funny things to say. Laughed at myself. Oh, and ran.

After the mile 9 station (which had the BEST food in the world– I almost turned around to go back for more, because it was so good, and did I mention they were playing Irish jig music?), I had a problem 200 yards out. My shoelace broke. Now, these aren’t normal shoelaces. They’re special nifty one-pull lacing “systems” that come attached rather permanently to my Salomon XA Comp trail running shoes. So what the fred could I do about that? I limped along in a half-run until the 1/2 marathon station, which was, conveniently, also the parking lot where my car awaited.

Now here’s a moment. I’m sitting in the back seat of my wagon with my shoes and socks off, looking at a black toenail, a monster blister, a spot where one toenail is sawing through the flesh of another nearby toe, and I’m thinking, “What the fred can I do about that shoelace?” Duct tape? No. Turns out I had my (old, nearly spent) street running shoes in the back seat under my gym bag. Well, okey doke. I threw on clean socks, laced those up, and off I went.

The first five or more miles after this point SUCKED, because think about it: I’d been training in completely different shoes for 200 miles. I have all these calluses in different places, you know the drill. So man. Oh, and these are “street” shoes and I’m running on a trail, and that means lots of oddly-figured lateral movement. Not one real fall, by the way. I did do an “oh Jesus” slip and grab on a downhill segment, but I just thought, “Hey fun!” and rubbed my hamstring a while.

Somewhere around the first station and the second, I realized that I was running for the food. It was mile 20, and there was no wall. I was just wondering what type of soup they’d have. And honestly, I was thinking a lot about those dense chocolate chip muffins they had at that station. I started making jokes to myself about what I’d say to them when I showed up. “I’ve been thinking about you for the last twelve miles. Sure, I visited other aid stations, but I swear, baby, they didn’t mean a thing to me.” I said the first sentence to the nice people at Mile 9 (now 24 or whatever after the first loop). I spared them the last.

It was *really* cool to hear that there were only 2 or so miles left. I borrowed someone else’s cell phone because my battery died in the cold, and called my wife to let her know I wasn’t far off. By this point, I was managing a decent little shuffle, and I just kept on trucking along.

You know it’s the perfect race when there’s not even a big red time clock around. I ran to the finish, slapped hands with a guy dressed in a big furry cat costume, and saw some other guy check his watch and write down my time. As times went, if I split my result in half, I’d have run a fairly decent Boston twice. It was just under 7 hours. My friend, who did two marathons this year and who did 3-something and 4 hours got a minute under 5 hours on this one. Someone at an aid station said people were mostly adding one hour on to what they’d expected to get. Works for me. At the end, this race wasn’t about time for me. It was about endurance. Running for 7 hours (give or take the shoelace, and stops at aid stations) was the longest physical endurance challenge I’ve ever taken.

At the finish, a guy I’d met once before spent some time talking with me about the race, and then said I should come back for the Fat Ass 50K. That meant a lot to me. It seemed to me like someone saying, “Okay. You seem competent. You’re in.” Something like that.

My evening after and the next day went well. I hydrated and kept moving, advice from my friend who ran with me. We hung out at his house and had soup, talking about the race, politics, religion, and Darwinism, all while listening to Prairie Home Companion and him pulling ticks from one of his dogs.

I got a killer massage from my wife last night. She gave me back my body, because for a while there, I thought someone had rented me out to a karate class for practice. Kat also put up my daily 4:30 AM training trips, which meant she’d have to get up with our 2 year old every morning instead of sleeping in. She has been the strength behind my training all this time.

So, that’s the end of my 2004 racing season. I did around 10 races, all first time distances, and felt really good about how they all went. I look forward to 2005, and am training hard all winter. I hope to arrive at racing season 30 pounds lighter, a bit faster, and ready as all hell for more fun in trail races.

[email]

ChrisBrogan.com runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Theme Framework

The Genesis Framework empowers you to quickly and easily build incredible websites with WordPress. Whether you're a novice or advanced developer, Genesis provides you with the secure and search-engine-optimized foundation that takes WordPress to places you never thought it could go.

With automatic theme updates and world-class support included, Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress website or blog.

Become a StudioPress Affiliate

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/3289492 Richard

    Ready as hell for more? That rocks. Awesome. And that Fat Ass 50K? Sounds like fun. And that food! Maybe after my street season wraps up this time I should think about a little trail cross-training. Too cool. And again, congratulations!

    Think you’ll be sticking to the mud in the future, or is there a traditional 26.2 up ahead somewhere?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/3289492 Richard

    Ready as hell for more? That rocks. Awesome. And that Fat Ass 50K? Sounds like fun. And that food! Maybe after my street season wraps up this time I should think about a little trail cross-training. Too cool. And again, congratulations!

    Think you’ll be sticking to the mud in the future, or is there a traditional 26.2 up ahead somewhere?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/5235946 jeff

    fantastic!

    man, running a trail marathon in the snow sounds like such an awesome adventure. thanks for sharing, and again, congratulations, chris!

    the food? wow, yeah, i think i would have lingered too…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/5235946 jeff

    fantastic!

    man, running a trail marathon in the snow sounds like such an awesome adventure. thanks for sharing, and again, congratulations, chris!

    the food? wow, yeah, i think i would have lingered too…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/1039324 Megan

    Sounds like a excellent run. I’m glad that you had such a postive experience, fueled no doubt by your positive perspective. Awesome!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/1039324 Megan

    Sounds like a excellent run. I’m glad that you had such a postive experience, fueled no doubt by your positive perspective. Awesome!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/5203092 susan

    Wild man Chris! What an adventure….you inspire me in so many ways:) I don’t know how you dragged yourself out of the car and back on the trail….great photos, too!! Congrats:)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/5203092 susan

    Wild man Chris! What an adventure….you inspire me in so many ways:) I don’t know how you dragged yourself out of the car and back on the trail….great photos, too!! Congrats:)

  • Anonymous

    My heart is fixin’ to burst! Great report and great great race run!!

    ~ Lara

  • Anonymous

    My heart is fixin’ to burst! Great report and great great race run!!

    ~ Lara

  • Anonymous

    I’m howling man! This is hysterical.. everything from the licquor at the stops, you stopping and running to your car for another pair of shoes all the way to your friend relaxing while picking ticks off his dog. Come to think of it, my dad had some pretty weird post-marathon traditions… Mainly, the celebratory glass of port, a cigar and a sterile needle to drain the blood from his toenails. I watched in horrified awe. But I did learn how to blow smoke rings.

    You rock!!! I sent you vibes, man. I thought about you this weekend and put some good runners’ juu-juu out into the cosmos for you… and I’m so happy to see pictures!!! Hoo Ray! Now go have some port!

    tracy
    http://durteemartini.blogs.com

  • Anonymous

    I’m howling man! This is hysterical.. everything from the licquor at the stops, you stopping and running to your car for another pair of shoes all the way to your friend relaxing while picking ticks off his dog. Come to think of it, my dad had some pretty weird post-marathon traditions… Mainly, the celebratory glass of port, a cigar and a sterile needle to drain the blood from his toenails. I watched in horrified awe. But I did learn how to blow smoke rings.

    You rock!!! I sent you vibes, man. I thought about you this weekend and put some good runners’ juu-juu out into the cosmos for you… and I’m so happy to see pictures!!! Hoo Ray! Now go have some port!

    tracy
    http://durteemartini.blogs.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/1585719 brent

    i can’t believe you ran for 7 hours, thats quite an accomplishment. good luck at the 50k in advance!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/1585719 brent

    i can’t believe you ran for 7 hours, thats quite an accomplishment. good luck at the 50k in advance!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/4664844 Mike Paus

    Chris, you are the warrior! Congratulations on sticking it out. Not too many people can switch shoes in the middle of a run like that. On a trail no less! GREAT JOB!!!!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/4664844 Mike Paus

    Chris, you are the warrior! Congratulations on sticking it out. Not too many people can switch shoes in the middle of a run like that. On a trail no less! GREAT JOB!!!!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/3690259 Mia Goddess

    Awesome! Awesome race, awesome report, awesome pictures, awesome you. I still can’t believe you were in the back of your car and then *actually went back out again*. Super hero, you are. – Mia

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/3690259 Mia Goddess

    Awesome! Awesome race, awesome report, awesome pictures, awesome you. I still can’t believe you were in the back of your car and then *actually went back out again*. Super hero, you are. – Mia

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/2848575 Pamalamadingdong

    you are my hero!! 7 hours? HOLY CRAP! (soup? muffins? booze?) huh?
    Well done Chris you did awesome!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/2848575 Pamalamadingdong

    you are my hero!! 7 hours? HOLY CRAP! (soup? muffins? booze?) huh?
    Well done Chris you did awesome!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/3183921 Running Chick

    You ARE a superhero! Bustin’ with pride for you and still trying to scoop my jaw up off the ground. Now, about that Nipmuck Trail Marathon….my offer of lodging still stands. And I have dogs too. They’d be happy to let YOU pick the ticks off of them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/3183921 Running Chick

    You ARE a superhero! Bustin’ with pride for you and still trying to scoop my jaw up off the ground. Now, about that Nipmuck Trail Marathon….my offer of lodging still stands. And I have dogs too. They’d be happy to let YOU pick the ticks off of them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/3289492 Richard

    By the way: I have heard that you can pick up :02/mile for each discarded pound. So losing 30 could gain you a minute in pace with no extra effort! Something to think about…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/3289492 Richard

    By the way: I have heard that you can pick up :02/mile for each discarded pound. So losing 30 could gain you a minute in pace with no extra effort! Something to think about…

  • Pingback: Five Tools for Your Success Toolbox

  • Pingback: You’re Racing- I’m Improving | chrisbrogan.com

  • http://www.afhill.com Andrea Hill (afhill)

    See what happens when you refer back to a post you wrote years ago? You get fresh comments :)

    Chris, I had no idea you’d run a marathon. Sounds like a doozy, too! Trail runs are just different, and I give you props for it! You can’t even begin to compare your time to a road race.

    I’ve run a few trail marathons and 50Ks, and the aid stations are certainly part of the experience. I don’t know about romancing them as you did, but hey, whatever works!

    I cant believe you threw on street shoes to finish the race. I guess you didnt have much of a choice, but that’s pretty dedicated.. to be at your car, with a broken shoelace.. and decide to keep going!

  • http://www.afhill.com/gothedistance Andrea Hill

    See what happens when you refer back to a post you wrote years ago? You get fresh comments :)

    Chris, I had no idea you’d run a marathon. Sounds like a doozy, too! Trail runs are just different, and I give you props for it! You can’t even begin to compare your time to a road race.

    I’ve run a few trail marathons and 50Ks, and the aid stations are certainly part of the experience. I don’t know about romancing them as you did, but hey, whatever works!

    I cant believe you threw on street shoes to finish the race. I guess you didnt have much of a choice, but that’s pretty dedicated.. to be at your car, with a broken shoelace.. and decide to keep going!

  • Pingback: Gloomers » Blog Archive » You’re Racing- I’m Improving