Monday, September 01, 2008

Downhill is overrated at the New Mexico Marathon: A Race Report.

I'd have posted this sooner but I was out for a Labor day swim with the Outlaws. True to our creed, motto, whatever: we don't just go hang out on a beach somewhere: one of us gets a kayak and a bunch of us swim the 2 miles across Cochiti and back. Three of us (me included) swam only swam the one mile because we ran yesterday.

I wore mySpeedo Zoomer flippers, gambling that they would make for a nice relaxing swim and also loosen up my post-marathon muscles, and I was right: my legs felt awesome when I came out of the water. After that I kicked off the flipper and went out and back again to get another half mile in. I noticed that my ankles were much floppier, something I find to be useful and plan to experiment with soon: fins= flexible ankles. Hmm.

so, anyway, I ran the New Mexico marathon yesterday, my ninth marathon in my ninth state. It's the first one I've done in New Mexico. As Baboo was off on a manly camping trip with his brothers, my peeps took good care of me.
my choices were:

1) Get up before 3 am, drive myself to downtown Albuquerque and catch a shuttle at 4 am that drops me off at the start line at 5 am...or,

2) Spend the night at SW TriGal's house, which was just a couple miles from the start line, and get personally dropped off at the start line, after which Pirate and her mom took me to lunch and then drove me to my car.

Soooooo, which would you choose? yeah, me too. I have awesome friends.

Now, before I went to bed last night SW TriGal told me that it was supposed to rain all day. I brushed that off, because it never, I mean almost never, rains all day in Albuquerque.

SO of course, I woke to a morning in which it was sprinkling continuously. It continued to do that until right before the start, and then stayed dry until I was about halfway through the marathon, and then it just sprinkled a little. I had my usual pre-long race event power breakfast (CupNoodle Souper Meal, fake chicken flavor) and then we headed out.

In case you don't know, running in the rain is not delightful or refreshing, particularly in 80% humidity. It's wet and sticky.

I was excited about this race because there was a long downhill (after a long, gradual uphill) and I wanted to see how well I'd do. I'll be honest and say that my training for this race was crappy, but I had practiced a few downhills, especially after the group run a couple weeks ago.

I also only brought three gels, which is crazy stupid. There weren't any on the course. In fact, I have two complaints, but they are biggies:
1: They provided only gatorade and water
2: a startling lack of potties - one around mile 7, some more at 13, and that was it for the rest of the course.

I hung with Cindy at the race start, and then she took off and I never saw her again. The first 7 or 8 miles of this marathon is a gradual uphill, but it's not too bad. I'm not too certain, however, how much it took out of me that I might have needed later on. I rounded the curve with a 12:17 pace and headed into the downhill.

At one time I was playing leapfrog with a girl in a blue/black shorts and shirt combo, and her husband kept showing up and handing her stuff from the car. He accompanied her throughout most of the first 8 miles of the course) and we were running side-by-side, and I'm pretty sure he yelled, "go on! get her!" I knew I couldn't live with myself if I didn't beat blue/black outfit girl, so I took off and never saw her again until after I finished.

So here's the problem with the downhill. First off, I was far more excited about going downhill than I should have been. That said, I did very well, no quad problems at all. I flew down all 6 or so miles of it at about a 10 minute pace (don't laugh; for me that's flying) and skipped all my walk breaks. My average pace at the bottom of the hill, when I turned on 4th street, was 12:09, and I was STOKED.

But, then...skipping the walk breaks was a mistake, because I blew out completely and when I got to the bottom, where it's flat, I didn't have much left. And, I was out of gels. So I did my usual 1-minute walk, 1-minute run thing, getting slower and slower, and I also had to leave the course and jog about a quarter mile round trip to the portapotties that were off the course in another location, which sucked up more time.

I should have known from my Ogden experience that a downhill course doesn't necessarily mean an easy time!

So for the last 11 miles, I got slower and slower and watched my average pace inch upward to where it was when I finished.

Results: My average pace (according to Garmin) over a total of 26.57 miles was 12:44, for a finishing time of 5:37. That's actually pretty good for me. I'm still hoping to break 5:30 some day, and I'm inching closer. I PRd, and must grudgingly admit that the torture Pirate inflicted on me two weeks ago helped prepare me for this race.
Meanwhile, the usual top three finishers in my age group (3rd place finished it in 3:40) are safe from me. I was 18/20 in my age group, and 115/138 female, and 361/411 overall (I think).

As usual, the volunteers were wonderful, helpful and encouraging.

Recommendations: There's over 4300 feet of climbing, and over 5000 feet of descent. Welcome to New Mexico! Good course, be careful not to blow out on the downhill. Make sure you train on some downhills. Bring your own nutrition; it will not be provided, but there's plenty of water and gatorade. Take some TP, and a trowel and WEAR A TWO-PIECE. There are very few places to go off the trail on 4th street, the downhill part of tramway, or Rio Grand; it's too inhabited and/or there's no vegetation large enough to hide you.

Seriously, don't wear a one-piece, so that you can squat behind a bush if you need to without stipping naked. that's all I'm gonna say about that.



  1. Good job!

    My late & dearly beloved swimming teacher Doug Stern had an obsession with ankle flexibility and made very heavy use of zoomers in his triathlete-oriented swim workouts - I think it is worth attending to, and certainly ankle flexibility can be greatly increased (he recommended just stretching your ankles as far as you could a couple times a day under the desk at work or whatever)...

  2. I'm reading the whole thing and it sounds all negative, icky, and awful and then at the bottom I realize that you PR'd. Wooot for the PR!!

  3. Thanks for the race report. This race has long been on my "wanna do" list, with the timing of it being the biggest problem. (I work in public higher ed. Start of school year. Start of fiscal year. Yeah.)

    I think the rain you had was the remnants of a tropical system that hit Mexico and moved up. I remember watching the storm track and thinking how nice it was that my Dad would get rain in Bosque.

    Good job on your PR!

  4. A- you do have awesomest friends.
    B- Congrats on the PR.
    C- Love Zoomers myself, and nice swim. I for one sat on my big fat ass and avoided Laboring on Labor Day.
    D- I love to run in the rain, as long as it is not too warm. I nice mist on a lukewarm-to-cool day is perfect.
    E- I want to hear the one-piece potty story. Seriously. Inquiring minds want to know.

  5. AWESOME JOB! PR! Woo hoo! I am glad you dropped blue/black outfit girl. I know a lot of first timers don;t know they are breaking the rules, but it still bugs me to see someone get outside assistance. Especially if that 'outside assistance' is going to do negative cheering. Rude!

    Great race and good information on the zoomers. I need all the help I can get on the swim.

    Yeah, the getting naked thing is why I don't wear my one piece tri suit anymore. I am small enough up top to not need a jog bra under one. Enough said.

  6. Congratulations!

    You are getting very speedy indeed!

  7. Loved reading about your race! Congrats on the pr!!


  8. Congratulations on your 9th marathon and a PR! I'm completely impressed with the long open water swim you did the next day!

  9. Anonymous8:27 AM

    Nice PR girl!! You looked really good coming into the finish. I had fun hanging with you before the race :)

  10. Hi Misty, fisrt time posting and I havent had the pleasure of meeting you yet but I love your blog. I had the pleasure of meeting your great husband and fellow outlaws when they were here in Vegas for the rage (Formulaic/Izaac is my husband).

    Fantastic race in my mind. 9 Marathons is amazing!

  11. I did that race several years ago and there were NO potties along the course. I saw one woman squatting at the side of the trail (while runners and cyclists whizzed by) and a couple people ran off the course to gas stations.

    Congrats on the PR!


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 I'm no longer involved in multisport or endurance sports. I've started my own business, a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety d...