Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Brief Interview with a First-Time Marathoner: A Medoc Trail Marathon Race Report

Note: This is not a real interview. I decided to have a little fun with the format of this race report. So, I composed it as if I were being interviewed by a running magazine.

After completing his first marathon at Medoc State Park in Hollister, NC, on October 16, 2010; AshwynGray (Ash) discusses his experience with Imaginary Running Magazine (IRM).

photo by Ron FlemingIRM: So, a trail marathon. What made you choose the Medoc Trail Run as your first marathon?

Ash: Since getting serious about running this past spring, I realized that I like running on trails more than roads. So, it seemed logical to choose my preferred terrain for my first marathon. I knew I wouldn’t be running a fast race. So, why not run a trail where I’d have fun navigating the rocks, roots, and hills?

IRM: Did the course meet your expectations?

Ash: The Medoc course is fantastic. The marathon consisted of three loops on a relatively runnable trail. I’d thought the course might consist of one big hill surrounded by flat terrain, since the park is called Medoc Mountain State Park. But, there were quite a few more hills than I anticipated, which proved more challenging and painful in the end. However, there were some very decent, flat portions that offered relief from the climbing. There were stairs, too. And, the loose, rocky areas didn’t disappoint.

IRM: And, for our gear junkies out there, what were your weapons of choice?

Ash: Ah, well, I ran in my Inov-8 Roclite 285s.Inov-8 Roclite 285 They were perfect: Lightweight, excellent traction...And, I didn’t suffer a single blister. I wore a Puma tech shirt and shorts, both lightweight and comfortable items, and a standard type of running hat to keep a little warmth in my head.

For hydration and holding my Clif Shot Bloks, I carried an Upward Direction 20oz bottle in a Nathan handheld strap, because the Nathan bottle tends to leak.

IRM: What was your frame of mind just before the race?

Ash: Well, of course, I was incredibly anxious. I’m just that way anytime I do something unpredictable for the first time. I’d spent the previous five days being very conscious of my nutrition, eating more carbs and protein per serving than I normally would, avoiding high-fat foods, etc. And, I thought I was sufficiently carb-loaded. Also, the weather was perfect (mid forties), and the atmosphere around the starting line was relaxed. So, I felt good. I was excited.

‘Course, my penchant for lateness caused me to have to run to the finish line from the parking lot, because I took forever when pinning my bib to my shirt. I took my place in line just eleven seconds before we were told to go. That made the start interesting for me.

starting the race

IRM: And your feelings afterward?

Ash: I was happy and disappointed at the same time. I mean, I’d secretly hoped to finish the race in four hours. I had no factual information on which to base this wish. I just thought that four was a nice round finish time for a first marathon. So, finishing in 4:55:xx was a bit upsetting. But, the timing aspect was secondary to the experience. So, I was ecstatic over the fact that I’d just completed my first marathon. I didn’t walk, shuffle, or hobble across the finish line. I ran! Then the nausea set in.

IRM: Ah, yes, your blood sugar was low. How long did it take for you to feel less nauseous after the race?

Ash: I ate some beans and rice, a banana, and drank a coke with water while resting in the grass for a while--maybe half an hour. Once I’d finished the coke and started driving home, my stomach felt better.

IRM: You trained for this marathon by using the Higdon Novice II plan, right? How did that go? And, how well do you think the training plan prepared you to run a race of this distance?

Ash: The plan seemed like a good one for someone who’d never run more than ten miles before. So, I definitely think it’s a great plan for a beginner. I bonked a couple of the long runs during the hot summer. But, I also had some very successful long runs, too. I figured that kind of imperfect training was normal. So, I didn’t let it get me down.

I’ve read comments by others about the Higdon plans being designed only to get a runner to the finish line. And, I agree with this. If I’d had a greater base and more endurance, I think I would have had a better time. The peak week in the Higdon plan was 35 or 36 miles. That’s really not much when training for a marathon. In the future, I’ll definitely base my training on a program with higher requisite milage.

IRM: Do you have any specific marathons on your calendar right now?

Ash: No, not really. The amount of time I needed away from the family on Saturday mornings was not ideal. Plus, at some point around mile 21 of this race, I thought to myself that it would be nice to just be done. I was hurting, tired, and thinking I’d been out there far too long. Those last five miles were the longest I’ve ever run.

I think that, if I had the ability to cover the distance more quickly and confidently, I would be more enthusiastic about the full marathon distance. So, I want to get a better handle on my endurance level and speed before planning to run another marathon.
Of course, that could all be done within a year’s time.

IRM: Would you run Medoc again?

Medoc 2010 Marathon SwagAsh: Yes, absolutely, even if it was the 10 mile race instead of the marathon. The race directors were really great about communicating with the runners prior to the race. Aid stations and race swag were top-notch, too. (There were boiled potatoes at the aid stations. And, I loved them!)

The finishers of the marathon received a nice medal and running vest in addition to the spiffy long-sleeve tech shirt.

IRM: Before you go, do you have any specific memories from this race that stand out in your mind?

photo by Ron FlemingAsh: Well, I ran with a couple of awesome ladies for the first several miles. This was their first marathon, too. And, they really helped me to remain conservative with my pace. When I ran ahead of them in the latter third of the race, I felt a little selfish. But, that changed when one of them chicked me in the last three miles and finished around four minutes ahead of me.

Also, while I was resting in the sun after the race, I was cheering other runners on as they ran toward the finish line. And, I saw one guy running to the finish as his two young kids (around 5 and 7, I’d say) came bounding over to him saying that they wanted to run with him. He gave each of them a high five, and the three of them ran to the finish line together. It was touching. I missed my family a lot at that point.

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