I still can't believe I'm doing this - I finished my second marathon this weekend. I beat my prior time by about 7 minutes, which was great! I had fun and finished injury-free. Yippee!
There were lots of things to like about this race. The scenery was beautiful and interesting. Desert landscape with Joshua trees, cacti, and a surprising number of flowers blooming. Snow-capped mountains in the distance. Red rock canyons.
Weatherwise - couldn't have asked for better. 50s and overcast to sunny, but not too hot. No wind or dust.
The hotel (Casablanca) and food were very good, especially for the price. I liked that this was a small race, so we never had to contend with crowds or lines. I noticed several people (usually older men) stopping by the wayside to pee during the race - made me smile a little - but I totally understood as there was really nowhere to hide - the open landscape just didn't allow for privacy. Luckily for me I did not over-hydrate, but even so I probably could have- and would have- made it to the next porta-potty.
I changed two things about this marathon compared to my first one. First, I decided not to carry water. I relied on the aid stations. That worked fine and it felt good not to have that water belt on. I did carry gel, shot blocks and jelly beans but ended up mostly fueling on the free stuff along the way - bananas, gummy bears, pretzels, M&Ms, and Hammer gel. Great variety and wonderful volunteers at the aid stations!
The other change was my run-walk ratio: this time I tried running 4 minutes, walking 30 seconds (instead of running 4, walking 1 minute). This worked well, especially on the downhill part. On the uphills (of which there were several) I added in some extra walk breaks. I didn't allow myself to push too hard, and I think I did well on the hills. I know I felt stronger going into mile 21-22 than I had at Top of Utah.
Between miles 22 and 26, though, I suffered. I developed a persistent pain in my front left thigh and it steadily increased to become pretty severe at the end. (My smart friend Tammy diagnosed it as a psoas muscle spasm). I was a little worried about a possible stress fracture, but I'd felt this pain before at the end of my first half marathon. I slowed down and unhappily watched 3-4 people pass me in the last mile. I debated walking the rest of the way, but I still hoped to beat my prior time so I gutted it out. At the 25.5 mile aid station, the volunteers must have seen my pain because they looked concerned and asked me if I was all right. I gratefully accepted their offer of ibuprofen and shuffled as triumphantly as possible to the finish. Total time: 4:51:31. Yay!
Walking was very slow and painful for 5-10 minutes until I stretched, rested, drank a lot of water and ate a donut. My psoas muscle let loose its death grip and since then I've been FINE - just the normal post-long-run muscle soreness. Tammy and I blissfully reveled in long showers, a delicious lunch, gentle recovery walk (to get M&Ms - very important, you know!) and a buffet dinner with lots of dessert. It was so nice to have that relaxing evening - and champagne buffet breakfast next morning! - with new and old friends and good food and conversation.
So all in all, a very satisfying weekend. Now I am going to enjoy a few weeks of recovery - shorter, lighter workouts and time with family at Thanksgiving. I am blessed and grateful.