Thursday, January 13, 2011

Race Report - First Light Mobile Marathon

Why does one decide to run 2 marathons on 2 days in a row? I think it has something to do with having a screw loose upstairs. But then again, we can't trust what I say as I was one of the fools to do it.

Once we left the Mississippi Blues Marathon and showered up, we headed on the 3 hour drive across Mississippi and into Alabama to Mobile. It was an easy drive though a little hard to get in and out of the car when we needed to gas up. We even wore our Elvis sunglasses some of the time. I wonder what people thought as we either passed them or they passed us.

We arrived in Mobile and checked into our hotel which very conveniently was located just next door to where the Expo was and even better, was right at the start line. So close that we could leave the door of the hotel and walk maybe 100 feet to the start line.

The expo was small but had a few vendors with some good stuff. Some running jewelry for the ladies and other items for all. I was able to buy myself another 26.2 magnet for my car like the one stolen off my van when I was in Albany, GA for their marathon. Being one of the runners who signed up for both races, we received a small artistic board made with the 2 marathon logos on it. On the back was a picture and notes about the artist. All the artists were people with special needs so this was extra cool. After the Expo, we headed next door for the Pasta dinner included in our entry. We got there a toward the end so the pasta was starting to cool off but it was OK. At the Expo (and at the finish line) there were some girls dressed in pastel colored Southern Belle dresses. They were having runners and other take pictures with them so we obliged.

Being a bit tired for the marathon earlier that day, we hit bed early. I ended up waking 2 hours before the start time as I usually do to let body do what it needs to do but Mike and Paul stayed in bed until maybe a half hour before the start time. No need to travel, the start line was 100 feet away!
It was cold out again but this day it was cloudy and there was some wind. I barely heard the National Anthem as their speakers were very quiet but then the race started. There were no chips or a timing map to go over so I ended up starting my watch where I thought the start line was, maybe 15 seconds after the horn. For the first time in a marathon, I actually ran with Mike for a bit, maybe a whole quarter to a half mile before he took off. My legs felt tired but my first 2 miles were not too bad (9:19 & 9:28). After those miles, my legs remembered what I did the day before and I slowed some. The streets did not have the high camber that they did in Jackson but they has more larger cracks and lots of speed humps to watch out for and not trip over. I made it the whole race on my feet!

Paul passed me somewhere between 2 and 3 miles and I didn't see him again. For some reason, the water stop near mile 3 had warm water?!?! It did not taste good and I tossed it. Warm may be good for the volunteers, but as a runner, it just sucked. I continued on. Finally at mile 6, my legs said something to the effect of, "Oh, I guess you really do want to run long again, OK, let's make the best of this" and I was able to clip off 3 straight sub 10 minutes miles. They half marathoners turned off around mile 8 or so and after that, it got very open. In fact, after the turn off, I turned around and there wasn't a runner 200 meters in front or behind me. This was OK and I found plenty runners later.

About mile 9, I met Brian on the course and we talked a bit. He ran in Jackson the day before also and was close to my age so we talked about all sorts of stuff to make the time pass. Others would join us and then leave. We took walk breaks together and paced together well. I am sure we helped each other out. We passed the half mark at about 2:13:30ish. Right after that was a somewhat longer hill most of the runners around us walked up. We walked about half of it. This was the part of the course where we ran over rolling hills which took a toll on me.
At mile 17, I tried something I never tried in a marathon before. They handed me a small cup of M&M's and I gobbled them up like they were candy! I made sure I chewed them thoroughly though, I was worried about choking. Not long after this was a steep hill and Brian wanted to walk up so I said I was continuing on. I made it up a little over half before I started to walk but that was the last I ran with him. I passed a lady who was running her first marathon so I encouraged he and she looked OK. By mile 20, my mile splits were over 11 minutes (for miles 20, 21, & 22). At this time, I knew I would finish, but didn't know what it could take or what time I would finish in. I ran past another guy from Wisconsin and was actually passing people more than were passing me. Miles 22 & 23 were under 11 each but I had sucked downs some Gu's to try to get any energy I could. At this time I didn't want to get a PW (personal worst) marathon time which was 4:43 in Austin, the second marathon in 2 days as well.
Suddenly, I was able to find some energy to pick up my pace. Either that or I was just so sick of running and I just wanted to be done. I ran mile 25 in 9:56 and then mile 26 in 9:10. I have to be honest with you, there was a pretty lady ahead of me I was using to pull me along and I wanted to catch up to her and see if I could catch her. The problem was I caught her over a half mile from the finish but I kept going. The final stretch was on a long straight road the was somewhat narrow from the building going into the downtown area which made it fun to run down. I had a great finishing pace and crossed the line in an official (not chip time) of 4:37:10. So my "chip time", if they had chips that is, would have been about 4:36:55. I was pretty happy with that time since it was 52.5 miles in about 29 hours.

Another cool thing the race did was have the people with special needs putting the finishers medals over our necks. They seems very happy to be helping out. The medal was no where nearly as big as the one from MS. This one is made from wood, painted and has a marathon logo sticker on it. I was able to walk pretty well so I ended up walking back on the course some and cheering on the runners I was running with along the way including the lady who was running her first marathon and also Brian. Right after the race, they did have some hot chocolate to drink which was very nice as it was pretty cold out once my body stopped sweating. Paul and Mike found me, they had been done for awhile, and then I headed back to the room to clean up. Mike ended up running a little too fast for the first half and crashed and burned but still finished in 4:04. Paul was pretty steady and finished in 4:11. All of us very happy to be done.
After cleaning up, we headed for the free lunch given to all runners. I again got there pretty late and the meat for the sandwiches was already somewhat cold but still welcome.

After the results for both races were posted on Marathon Guide, we copied them into Excel and did a little work to find out that there were 94 runners who (were crazy?) ran both marathon like we did. Adding the times for both races, ends up I 28th out of 94. Mike was 12th and Paul 14th. And once again, we took 1st, 2nd, & 4th place for Wisconsin runners in Alabama. I guess we are pretty consistent, at least on that.
Pros and Cons from this race: The Pros were the nice course with smaller rolling hills though nice neighborhood. The weather was cool which I like and the people who braved to cold to cheer on runners were great. A local biker club were helping with course direction and traffic control and they did a great job. Getting a medal from someone with special needs was really cool and to see their smile was awesome. Hot chocolate at the end was very welcome in the cold air. The cons were too many speed humps along the course and were tripping hazards. The wood medal was very cheap but then again, so was the entry fee. The food was a little cold once we got to it but we got there in the later times for both. No chip time was a big con as well.

The 2 races (Mississippi Blues and First Light) were night and day different but both fun to run. Would I do them again? Maybe the Mississippi Blues if I was in the area but most likely not the First Light Mobile.

After cleaning up, we drove to New Orleans where we were staying the night and flying out the next day. Half way there the rain started and the winds picked up. It got pretty raw out. We were listening to the Green Bay Packers game on the radio and got to out hotel just before half time. We stayed at a place 1 block off Bourbon Street and watched the second half of the game from a small bar on Bourbon Street call Fritzel's which claimed on line to be a "Packer Bar" but had no signs of being such a place. Even the bartender didn't seem to know anything about that. But they did have the game on and we watched the Pack beat the Eagles.

After the game, we ate dinner close by and I had a huge plate of seafood platter that I could not finish. This place ended up having a ton of Packer fans in it. Guess we picked the wrong place. After dinner, the rain finally stopped and we were able to walk up and down Bourbon Street some and see what that was all about. No, there were no bead being distributed nor did I see any being given either. Lots of interesting places along that street and I can see how it would be crazy during Mardi Gras. After a few beers, I was done and Mike and Paul were pretty much done too.

Bourbon Street

The flight home the next day was uneventful though I did sit next to a lady who was going home to see her daughter who had a birthday that day. I told her it was my daughter's birthday as well.

So the double is now over. If you would have asked me Sunday morning if I would so this again, my answer would have been "NO WAY". At mile 22, the answer would not have changed. But if you asked me now, I would say perhaps, depends on the circumstances. Maybe to run in 2 different far away states. Tat would save another trip out. I am planning on running the Disney World Goof again but that is not quite the same. I have learned that personally, it does not matter how hard I run the first race, the second one will be slow no matter what. I have run them slow conserving energy the first race and ran slow anyways the next day.

View from our hotel room of the docks of Mobile.

I saw this car in Mobile. Do you think they run a lot of marathons? I did notice the Flying Monkey!


misszippy said...

Wow. Just wow! Congrats on such a big achievement!

Bonnie said...

That's great. I ran 2 within 8 days and thought I was going to die. You should check out Marathon Maniacs you definitely qualify and it's a great group.

Running Diva Mom said...

Congrats on another fantastic journey! Just love your race reports and recaps on all the events related to it!! M&MS?! Sounds yummy, but dangerous - I definitely would choke. Coongrats on another one down!

Mark said...

Great accomplishment, Bill!

Beth said...

You did it! You ranked so high in your group that did both. That is something to be proud of. You had two extremes in medals which is pretty funny. Congrats on your races and getting two states done in one weekend!