Each month, I usually choose a few different races because of the scheduling and logistical issues that can pop-up last minute. With the kids having sports and activities, my work schedule, and everything else that goes into being a grown-up, my schedule can change at the last minute, so I try to have contingencies in place just in case. April was just one of those months. The race I initially set out to do, happened to fall during a weekend where some previously cancelled soccer games were rescheduled to, so I had to be a little flexible.
In the past, I have talked about how to include your family in with your positive lifestyle/behavior changes. To this date, my youngest kids have not been to any of the races that I've been in because they are young and races are usually out in the middle of no-where and they take me a work day of time to complete...not a great recipe for fun for kids. Initially, this would have been the same for this race, but fate intervened.
My kids are pretty fortunate to go to a school that gets involved in a lot of great community activities. One of the things that the physical education department there does is gives the students the option to run a kids marathon during the Martian Marathon. This was scheduled a week before my race, so I figured that I could run the half marathon for a training run and then I would be able to run the kids race with them. It would be an awesome opportunity to get in some good training and have my kids see what I've been doing with the races and then run one with them.
A couple of weeks prior to my race, fate intervened and the gods of rescheduled soccer games showed their ugly faces and it looked like I was not going to be able to do an ultra in April....not being one to give up easily, I started thinking and I remembered that an ultra marathon is technically any distance greater than a marathon...they just normally begin at 50k. So I started to look at the race details and the kids race began at 11. With the half marathon starting at 9, I had ample time to run that and do the kids race. The marathon began at 730, so I would need to finish in four and a half hours in order to be able to run with them in their race. So my plan was to run the marathon and then run their race with them, which would put me a little over 28 miles for the day...so in my mind, that would be my ultra for the month. Technically speaking, I will be running an ultra, just not in the traditional sense.
So here's the down side, I have run all 50k's to this point. My fastest time to date being seven and a half hours, which if you do the math is a little over 31 miles, which is only about five miles farther than a regular marathon. So in order to get to my kids race in time, I would have to run a 4:30, which would be a personal best...by a very large margin.
I was a little concerned, but I did have a few things on my side. The main factors being that I have continued to lose weight and get faster through the training and the second being that the race is where I run a lot, so I'm familiar with the course. There wasn't going to be a lot of mud or bad road conditions to deal with. The weather was also supposed to be nice...mostly sunny and in the 50's, which would be a pleasant change as well.
So race day approaches and I feel confident that I can complete it in four and a half hours. I had a lot of things going in my favor, plus I just got a new race vest, courtesy of FBomb and some sweet new merino wool compression socks from CEP. I prepared for the race the same as the other ones, but I didn't have to stay in a hotel, so I thought the home field advantage would be a help....it did not.
So on Friday night before the race, Mother Nature decided to play a joke on me and storm in the middle of the night. This woke up the dogs and the kids...the whole idea of sleeping comfortably in my own bed was just a myth. Mother Nature continued her games all through the morning as well...in an effort to add fuel to the fire, she thought she would drop the temperature as well.
What she didn't take into account was the fact that I have run races in negative temperatures and she would need to do more than 30 degree temperatures, rain, and the occasional wind gust to stop me...does she not listen to the podcast, I am armed head to toe with Merino wool.
The Martian Marathon is normally a pretty full event, but the weather conditions more than likely effected that. My goal for the race was to finish in time to get to the kids race to run with them....so sub 4:30. I also wanted to push myself and I didn't want to stop for fuel or to refill for at least half marathon. Those were my two goals for the race.
I didn't factor in that this wasn't like a trail race where you would have an aid station 3-7 miles, this was more of a road race and there were water tables pretty much every two miles. So I carried around a liter and a half in my vest, but I didn't really need to use it much because I could just run by a table and grab a cup without stopping. The other nice surprise was the race vest itself. I could easily stash my gloves and get to my FBomb packets without slowing down or stopping, like I have had to with the UD vest I wore in my first three races and a few others that I have tested. For me, that made a big difference. In fact, the first time I actually stopped, was to go to the bathroom and refill my bottles was almost 18 miles in. Another first for me.
For this race, I pretty much prepared the same as I did for the previous three races. The big caveat was that I only brought FBombs with me...I didn't bring pickles or pickle juice, which I normally do. I really started to feel it around mile 20...I was getting really tight...specifically my hamstrings. In terms of energy, I felt pretty good, but my muscles were starting to get really tight. I normally would have some exogenous ketones/BHB salts, but they were in my drop bag, which was in my car because I didnt' need a drop bag for this race. I think that would've made a difference if I would have had that in place of the pickles.
My pace did slow after mile 19, but as I got closer to the finish, I started to pick it up again. My wife had called me around mile 23 and was asking me where she should park. That boosted my spirits and provided me with a little boost. I knew that if I picked up the pace a little, I might be able to see them at the finish line. Because I run in that area a lot, I knew how long it would take me to finish. When I made the second to last turn I could hear the music from the tents and that boosted me a bit...when I turned the last corner to take me to the finish line, something came over me and I ran that last 400m as fast as I could (in hindsight, it felt a lot faster than it looked on the video). As I crossed the finish line, I saw my wife and kids at the fence to the left of the finish line. I leaned over the rails and hugged them. I ended up finishing the race in 3:51...almost 40 minutes faster than my goal.
It meant so much to me to have them there and share to share in that moment. We had a little time before their race...in hindsight, I probably should've run a little slower because that half an hour or so between my finish and the start of their race was brutal. All of my muscles seized up. Because I'm only fueling for these races with fat or keto macro rations, there was nothing that I could really eat from the race venue and I had given away all of my FBombs to people I had met before and during the race, so I was in pretty rough shape. I was also freezing. I didn't factor in the time between races for layers so all I had was another merino base layer to in my car. Not the best planning on my part.
By the time the kids race had started, the race organizers did not plan for the conditions. The kid race was went trails, through the park, some sidewalks, and then back through more muddy trails...all of which was one giant puddle. I thought my youngest son and daughter would be going pretty slow, so it wouldn't be too painful to jog with them...I guess wrong. When it was time to start, they all took off like a shot. Fortunately for me, my daughter couldn't maintain their break neck pace and slowed down...unfortunately for me, she wanted me to carry her for about a mile of their race, which I gladly did. We did run the last quarter of a mile together holding hands...it's probably my favorite memory of my racing adventures so far. I finished the races with just over 28 miles, technically, an ultra...