A Note from Fatty to Winners in the Weight Loss Challenge: If you beat me in the weight loss challenge (i.e., you lost more than 3.47% of your body weight during the challenge), click here to fill in the form to claim your 100 Miles of Nowhere prize.
Note that I need to order the t-shirts by Friday, so you must take care of this by Noon MT Friday.
Another Note from Fatty: I had posted a while back that I would be posting a review of Bike Snob NYC’s new book today, as well as doing a live Q&A with him here on the blog. BSNYC had schedule conflicts, however, so we’re going to do the review and Q&A another day. I’ll keep you posted.
One Last Note from Fatty: You’ll find Part I of today’s story here.
I could tell the day was going to be hot, right from the beginning of the race. Here’s how — and try to follow my logic, because it’s pretty complex: the day was hot when we began the race.
But heat wasn’t my first concern when we started running. I can tell, right from the first few steps, whether I’m going to be OK during any given run. If my back’s going to hurt, it hurts immediately. If my knee’s going to hurt, it starts hurting within the first two or three steps.
But neither happened. The half-tube or so of Ben-Gay I had rubbed into my lower back, hip, and right knee seemed to have done the trick.
I felt OK.
So we started running faster.
I actually felt good.
We did the first few miles in the sub-9’s, which was definitely a best-case scenario for me.
“If we can keep this pace, we’re going to have a great race,” The Hammer noted.
Aloud, I agreed. But I also knew that I didn’t have the endurance to hang on at that speed for the whole race.
Aid Station Salvation
Because of the unusual heat, starting at mile 2, there was an aid station every single mile, on both sides of the road, staggered by 0.2 miles. So, in effect, there were close to 50 aid stations on this course.
Which means that the race organizers had to do some scrambling before the race, and the racers owe the organizers a very big “thank you.”
My racing strategy settled in pretty quickly. Slow to a walk at the left-side aid station (I chose left because fewer people seemed to go to them, since they came after the right-side stations), drink the offered cup of Gatorade, drop the cup, take the offered cup of water, and pour it over my head.
I tell you, on a hot day, a cup of cold water over your head feels fantastic.
Now, because I have no hair to speak of, the water would quickly make its way down my shirt and shorts, so I ran soaked for a good chunk of the day.
But — amazingly — by the time I’d get to the next aid station, I’d be about dried off and ready for another good dunking.
Which leads to an interesting little side fact: During this race, I drank 24 cups of gatorade and about 10 cups of water, as well as a full can of Coke (more on that in a bit). And I did not pee (or feel the need to pee) even once.
Yeah, it was that hot. around ninety degrees, it felt like.
Slow Down, No Sound
At around mile 10 or so, The Hammer turned to me and said, “We just ran a 10:20 mile.”
“I’m sorry, Hon,” I replied. “I’m giving what I got, when I have to give it.”
I decided maybe it was time to turn on my iPod, which I had clipped to the back of my shirt collar.
As it turns out, ten or so dunkings with water hadn’t done the electronics much good at all. My iPod was dead.
I’d be running this marathon a cappella.
The Pain Begins
By mile 12 or so, I was slowing down. A lot. I could feel it. Taking shorter steps. Taking slower steps. Barely lifting my feet.
The Hammer was having a very hard time staying with me. My pace was uneven and slow; her pace was rock solid and fast.
Slowly, but surely, she kept pulling ahead.
I tried to make a joke. “You never ever get to complain again about me half wheeling you,” I said.
It didn’t come out funny. It came out whiny.
“I’m sorry,” The Hammer said, feeling bad that she kept dropping me, but wishing I could keep up.
“It’s OK,” I said, also wishing I could keep up, and thinking that there’s probably a valuable lesson to be learned from being the slow guy. But at the moment, I couldn’t figure out what that lesson might be, unless maybe it was, “Try to stop being the slow guy.”
My soaked shorts started chafing (I walk funny today — I mean, funnier than usual).
My feet were blistering.
I saw a guy run by with a shirt that said, “Pain is just weakness leaving the body,” and I started thinking about what a stupid slogan that is.
I revised it, mentally, to this:
Pain is just your nerve endings telling your brain that your body’s doing something stupid.
I’m pretty sure I’m going to ask the Twin Six guys to put that on a t-shirt for me.
Countdown from 10
I made it to mile 16, which was significant to me, because it meant I could stop counting up in miles, and start counting down from ten.
The crowds kept me going. Awesome crowds. I gave high-fives to countless people. A little kid gave me an Otter Pop — the most delicious Otter Pop in the history of the world, by the way.
And then, at mile 20 — another important milestone, because it meant that all I had left to run was the distance of a normal training run — I got to the bottom of the famous “Heartbreak Hill.”
“I want to run this,” said The Hammer, and took off.
“I suppose I should run it too,” I thought, and took off at a much slower pace.
And there, at the top, was Team Fatty, with a heaven-sent Coke (for me) and a Mountain Dew (for Lisa).
More important than the cold drinks, though (and the cold drinks were very important indeed), was seeing friends again.
Thank you for being there, guys. That gave me an indescribable boost.
At around mile 21, I had a new problem: cramps. My calves started cramping, pretty much non-stop. Here I am, trying to stretch out of them:
Coincidentally, the cramps struck hard right at a medical tent, and one of the workers there asked me if I wanted to sit down for a minute.
“There’s no possible way I’ll get back up if I sit down,” I answered, completely truthfully.
Aaah. Sweet relief. For a moment, anyway.
A Farewell to The Hammer
At around mile 22, The Hammer broke the news to me. “I just can’t stay at your pace. I’m going to go on ahead for a bit, then I’ll walk and see you at the next aid station.”
“That’s fine,” I said. Actually, it was better than fine. I already felt bad about holding her up; this way she’d at least be able to get a little bit of a workout in that day.
And then somewhere in that mile, she ducked into a restroom. When she came out, she assumed that I’d have passed her by then, and took off running to catch me.
Of course, I had not caught her by then.
The nice thing is, though, this meant that — finally — The Hammer would be taking a few pictures of herself that day.
Here she is, at the one mile to go mark:
She looks astonishingly fresh-faced and well-rested, no?
And here she is with the finish line right behind her:
As The Hammer cruised to the finish line, I struggled on. From mile 23 — just three miles to go! — I resolved to take shorter walks and do my best to finish strong.
All things considered, I didn’t do too badly at this. This was due, in large part, to the increasingly enormous crowds shouting and cheering. Energy is incredibly contagious, and I found myself able to start running, where before I felt only barely able to walk.
I got to the finish line, and stopped my watch. 4:49. I beat the 5 hour mark.
So let’s call it a victory.
I found The Hammer, and we walked — oh so slowly — back to our hotel. I was glad to hear her say that she was sore and tired too.
I peeled off my shoes. My feet were wrinkly from running through so many misting tunnels, getting hosed down by spectators, and dumping water over my head (some of which would inevitably make it to my shoes).
Oh, and there were blisters, too:
We spent the evening talking about the run, and we agreed: in spite of the fact that I’ve now done several marathons with The Hammer (Death Valley, Ironman, NYC, Ogden, Boston), I’m just not ready for marathons. They crack me. They break me.
I’m going to keep doing some running — partially for bone density, partially to mix things up, and mostly because I like to do stuff with The Hammer — but for the next few years at least, my target events are going to be half-marathons.
Or at least, that’s my plan ’til The Hammer starts getting the itch to check off another item on her bucket list.