You don’t know until you know was the theme for yesterday’s End of the World Marathon. What was supposed to be a triumphant beginning to my holiday vacation, instead became a work of perseverance.
Ready to roll.
Just before the start I was calm and steady; strategy in hand; ready roll through 26.2 miles of forest roads. Over six hours later I was a physical wreck and knew I would not be coming back for the second of what was supposed to be back-to-back marathons.
“This is harder than most 50 milers I have done” – Marathon Maniac
“This course is NOT what I expected” – just about every runner out there
“What the heck were they thinking” – random runner
“I will not be back tomorrow” – Josh, whom I ran the last mile with
I am not sure how to describe the course. I want to say trail run, but Lady J informed me that a friend of ours (who quit after 18 miles due to turning her ankle three times) says that on a trail run you can at least see where you are stepping.
This almost seems like a course that was designed for a Warrior Dash, without the man-made obstacles and you have to do it four separate times.
Dirt, grass, sand, mud, rocks and clay. The so called forest roads were given back to nature long ago. Did I mention that some parts were carved out with a bull dozer? Dozer tracks, not fun to run on…
I guess I could say it was nice to have two tracks to choose from in many places, except that in most cases, neither was desirable.
The Start Signals What is to Come
The start is on several hundred yards of lumpy field grass. Grass that should have been mowed. Note, after four laps of runners it still wasn’t beaten down enough to see where you were stepping. After that it’s really just a series of can this get any worse? Yes, yes it can.
I think parts of the course were included specifically for their “features.” For example, there is a camels hump of two mini hills, both about 45 degree climbs. When it was all said and done, this did not need to be included, it could have easily been skipped. More on that in a moment.
With the exception of about a tenth of a mile on some asphalt, there is no part of the course that is really stable; nothing has been worn enough. There are a couple of small stretches that could be stable, but the number and size of the rocks make it all the more tricky.
Why is My Watch Beeping for the Seventh Time?
As I neared the end of the first loop, my Garmin beeped to alert me that I had already run seven miles. What the… Lady J reported that it was a major topic of conversation among the finishers and I can say that it spread quickly among the runners during the second loop.
I spent the second loop mentally telling myself I was running 28 miles and trying not to dwell on it. I began ignoring all the mile markers and started counting down from 28 instead of 26. It was frustrating, but it helped.
It was also frustrating that it was obvious that several tenths could have easily been cut off of each loop.
Maniacs and 50 Staters
There were a high percentage of Marathon Maniacs and 50 Staters on the course. And I have to say, they are a hearty, sociable bunch. Many of them know how to do a race slow, which is not an easy thing to do. I tried.
But that being said, while there are many doing the double, many others, like myself, are opting to forego another four loops on the that particular course.
Day Two Running Togs. All set out with no place to go.
I Definitely Earned It
The course beat me up and considering I have done zero training on trails, it was all the worse. Thankfully Lady J was there to keep me going. I seriously considered stopping after the second loop and the third loop. Heck, I would have gotten the same giant medal either way.
In fact, there appeared to be a good contingent of marathoners who made the call to pack it in early and still get the medal.
This thing weighs over a pound!
What I am most proud of, besides not giving up, is that I didn’t fall. Lost my balance plenty of times, had plenty of missteps, and rolled my ankle numerous times, but never went down.
On the last loop, there was a runner about 30-40 yards in front of me who almost went down. It was obvious she had stepped in a hole or something. Unfortunately, even though I knew it was there and was specifically looking for it, I stepped in the same spot and almost went down. The grass was so thick and tall, you couldn’t see the ground.
Giving the medal some perspective. Obnoxiously giant.
An opportunity to run back-to-back marathons presented itself and I was not able to take advantage. The course surely beat the heck out of me and I am sure the pain will take a while to subside. When I went in to see my Sports Doc I asked if I could just circle my whole body. I wasn’t joking.
Technically, I probably could have gone out and walked the course in the allotted time (8 hours), but I would not have been able to look at that medal and say “I did it” and felt like I really did it.
In the end, I tamed a 28 mile course, ran my longest run ever, and did not surpass my slowest marathon time. I also have a giant medal I can wear to a disco bar.