Monday, May 9, 2011

Rock and Roll, er, Country Music

I know I haven’t written since Disney, and I was going to talk about where I’ve been and what’s coming up (Savannah Marathon, Disney Goofy Challenge), but Jo just did a marathon this weekend so I figured a write up is a good way to jump back into it.

After Disney Johane and I were going to do a marathon together for our anniversary. Of course I messed up my IT band, so things didn't look good. Myrtle Beach came and went. So did shamrock. So finally Jo decided to sign up for the country music marathon.  

Yes, Tennessee is definitely the South

I spent a lot of time going back and forth on whether or not I was going to do the 1/2.  I debated even up until the expo. I knew I really wasn't ready and I might've messed up my knee, and I've got 2 other marathons to do this year, including the goofy challenge, which will be crazy, but just being there at the expo was driving me crazy. Plus the medals were awesome. The $145 price tag for the 1/2 pretty much killed it for me. That's crazy. So we went back to our original plan, I'd try to jump in with Jo at mile 20 and do the last 6 with her.

We hit the expo on Friday and it was pretty large as far as expo’s go.  We took the opportunity to sign up for the Savannah marathon, even though I’ve got some misgivings about the course. 

Jo at the expo

Nissan brought the new Leaf with them - I want one

Someone pee'd on the seat in the fitting room!

After the expo we headed back to our hotel to check in and get Johane some dinner.  Since it was the night before a marathon she wanted pasta.  No problem, I typed “Italian” into the GPS, found a rainforest café and a Macaroni grill and we were off.  We drove a couple of miles away to the Opry Mills Mall, the mall that was built on the site where Opryland used to be.  The first sign of trouble was as we pulled around the corner and saw no cars in the parking lot, zero, nada, nil, none.  Hmmmm.  Then we saw the fence.  What the?  I’ve never seen an entire mall closed with a fence around it before.  I found out later that the river next to the mall had overflowed during the Tennessee floods in May 2010, and the entire place was shut down.  But we were stuck.  Luckily, we went back to the hotel, and they were able to direct us to a couple of nearby places.  The only place without a huge line was a mediocre Friday’s (are any of them NOT mediocre?), and we were good.  Back to the room to attempt to sleep.

We woke up at 4 the next morning so that I could drive Jo to the bus at a nearby hotel.  A lot of the roads were closed so I didn’t think I’d be able to get her to the start, plus the round trip bus ticket had we covered in case we didn’t meet at the end, since it was supposed to be a really crowded marathon.  (more on that soon)

Marathon starting line, conveniently located next to a funeral home

After dropping her off, I of course couldn’t get back to sleep, so I sat at the hotel, read, showered, and put my running gear on.  I had been told that the parking lot at LP stadium where the Titans play would be full, and I’d have to wind my way around certain highways to get to downtown, and then walk back to the finish line, and then find my way to the 20 mile mark.  I figured that whole operation would take a while so I wanted to head in early.  Also, it was about 45 degrees at this point with expected cloudy skies and temps not about 62 until the afternoon.  Perfect running weather.

I used the instructions that they gave us to head downtown, and wound up getting off the highway at…the stadium.  I figured I’d give it a shot and was told the lot was full.  I begged the guardwoman to let me at least go in and look and she gave me the go ahead.  I found a spot 10 feet from the entrance.  

Finish line at LP stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans "A team in disarray"

Organizing the finisher medals
At 7Am and 52 degrees I was wondering what all the towels at the finish line were for.  At 9AM and 78 degrees, I stopped wondering.

Sweet, though at this point I was hours early.  So I wandered over to the finish line for a while, checked out the medals, was there in time to see the ½ marathon finisher come across the line, and then go back to the car and hang out and read for a bit.  Around this point, I started getting hot and noticed the temp at 9 was higher than they said it would be all day.  Not a good sign.  I was getting texts with Jo’s times across the 5K, 10K, 10 mile and half marathon mark, and she was on target to be around a BQ time of 4 hours.  Her average time was decreasing at every checkpoint.  Once she hit the halfway point, I started off for the 20 mile mark.  I had a map to guide me and got to where I thought the road was, but then got confused.  There was no one there, and I mean no one.  Granted the road seemed to be in what I’ll nicely describe as “not the nicest” area, but still, where was everyone.  Then I saw a runner go by.  I stopped someone (a spectator, not a runner) and asked if this was the right place and where the 20 mile mark was.  I was told just up the road a bit.  So I headed for the 20 mile mark and stopped right there.  At the 20 mile mark there was one other family waiting.  And that was all there was.  
The standing-room-only crowd at the 20 mile mark

3 minutes before a guy passed out in from of me

Considering how large the field was, I was shocked at how small the crowd was.  I wound up talking to a cop who told me you can never tell.  Some years the road is 10 deep with spectators, some years it’s empty.  We got to talking, and he was telling me how the Nashville course is a lot harder than people think.  He told me the hills are worse and as we could both tell it was pretty hot.  Almost as soon as he said that we watched a guy stumble across the 20 mile mark and go to his knees.  I confess, that I thought maybe he was tired and taking a break.  Until he tried to stand up.  His legs went in opposite directions like he had no control, and his eyes rolled back in his head, and he started to go down.  Hard.  Luckily the dad from the family next to me was already on his feet, and he made it there just barely to prevent this guy from smacking his head on the ground.  The guy was out.  I tried to talk to him, and got nothing that sounded like a comprehensible sentence.  The cop called an ambulance.  But we sat there.  He wasn’t sweating at all, which I was pretty sure was dehydration, having hit it myself at the Marine Corps Marathon in 2000.  We gave him some water (when he was lucid), poured water on him, put water on his shirt and put it on his head.  He came around a little bit and I asked him how much water he had.  His answer was none.  Not a good plan.  I looked at his attire and decided he wasn’t a seasoned marathoner at all.  Basketball shorts, a cotton t-shirt and shoes that could only loosely be described as running shoes.  On the other hand, he was at the 20 mile mark in about 2:28.  Not a bad pace.  But he was definitely burned out.  All this time I was expecting Jo to come by.  We got him more water, shaded him from the sun, tried to check his vitals, and keep him awake and semi-lucid.  After about 15 minutes the ambulance finally came.  I seemed like hours later.  They finally got him loaded up and headed for the hospital.  That was a relief.  He really looked pretty bad.  Around this time, Jo called me and said she was at 18 and hurting.  I was really surprised since she was kicking it through 13.  She said the hills were making her calves hurt and the heat was baking.  Anyways, I waited and then she got to 20.  I started running with her, and the next couple of miles were an unintentional use of the Galloway system (walk/run/walk/run).  As we got to around mile 23 we entered a park.  There was a medical tent, with LOTS of people laying on the ground with bags of ice on them.  A lot of dehydration going around.  As we made our way around the small lake and up a slight hill we saw a man lying face down on the side of the road.  Just face down, half on and half off the road.  He was out of it, and everyone was just going right on by.  Jo and I and 2 other women stopped to try and take care of him.  I sacrificed my water bottles, Johane got his head off the ground, and the other women picked up his feet.  I tried to call 911, and was met with 101 unanswerable questions.  Unfortunately we were in the middle of a park, and no one seemed to know where.  After going back and forth with the dispatcher for 10 minutes, a photographer on a bike came by and we sent him off to find medical help.  10 more long minutes went by with until finally someone showed up.  They got him ice and more water, and he seemed to be reviving a bit.  We were back on our way.  At this point I was getting hot, so I broke my rule of not taking water from the race.  I figured since I had given mine up for a good cause I could get some more.

The last few miles ticked along slowly.  I felt by the end like I had run a marathon.  At mile 25 they were handing out salt packets.  I’ve never seen that before.  As we approached the finish line I split off and went around to the spectator side, since I didn’t want to cross the line.  I got to see Jo cross the line (from a distance), and then get sheparded off through the extremely long finish corral.  After that there were a few frantic minutes with Jo and I calling each other and trying to figure out where each other was, only to realize that somehow we wound up on opposite ends of the stadium.  Got Jo back to the car, and got her the post race Smoothie King she was dying for.  Overall she finished in 4:48.  Considering the hills, heat, and 20 minute stop to help someone, I guess it was ok.  She told me after that she had 2 goals.  The first was 5 hours which she easily beat.  The second was 4 hours, which she was heading towards, but just got hot, tired and sore.  Overall, I think it’s pretty good considering all that.  Better than any marathon I’ve ever done!

She's done
Finishers Medal

After back to the hotel for a nap, and then honky-tonking in Nashville.

Jo's reward - a cowboy hat
Thank you, Thank you very much

1 comment:

  1. Well done, Jo (and Marc). You two are selfless, helping those passed-out runners. That's miles better than a four-hour marathon.