POST BIG SKY MONTANA MARATHON
POST BIG SKY MONTANA MARATHON
Well, yesterday was an incredibly long day.
It was definitely one of the most difficult marathons I’ve ever run. More hills (ok…they are mountains in Montana!) and a trail run which was new to me as well. I’ve only ever run races on the road. Yesterday was like running on a cattle road…. oh yeah…it WAS a cattle road!
Sometimes twenty-six point two miles seems longer than others.
I struggled with oxygen at that altitude and incline. And here I was, back on the same mountain range. Just a few miles further down that same road we had to push cows out of the way with the car. This morning they hauled us up on the school bus. Now that made me nervous. Not as nervous as riding with Regaina driving up yesterday. Two race marathons back to back.
Sure I’ve done it before. A few times. However, they were all on relatively flat courses. Yesterday and today’s race will be the toughest back to back races that I have ever done.
And why am I doing it? Well, I need to get ready for Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. And that is branded as the “most difficult race in the world”.
This one though had an advantage over the previous day…I guess.
It was going to be entirely downhill.
Are you sure? Well, we are about to find out.
Both races were probably some of the smallest races I’ve run too. However, today was a big surprise. I looked around and there were only about 35 runners. The director said that a lot of the other runners decided to jump ship and not run today. Whether they were already signed up for both like I did, or just this one, so we were now in my smallest race ever. I looked around and figured as I had joked previously, “I’m going to be the last one to finish.”
I have nine hours to finish. What would my time be today? Good grief! This could be bad. The start gun sounded and off we went.
Within a half mile, yep…I’m in last. That’s okay. Focus on my race. I know what feels comfortable and what I can accomplish. Don’t get flustered Eugene!
I was hoping that I’ll perform better in this second race. It has happened before!
I can dream!
After a few miles, the road crew drove past and checked on me. I knew what they were thinking. Or at least it was running through my mind. “What the heck was this old dude thinking? Signing up for two marathons? Didn’t he realize how slow he was yesterday?” LOL!
Okay, they didn’t say that….I was just thinking that.
Run your race! Far ahead I could see some stragglers. I kept my plan, just run. Little by little I gained on the runner ahead of me. By mile seven, I passed him. Yeah…..I’m second to last! I see more ahead. Mile eight, two more are now in my rearview mirror. Mile ten comes up and a big downhill. I go past five in one giant leap. Metamorphically that is! Don’t get too excited Eugene, just run your race! By mile eighteen, I have now passed seventeen people. Mile 18 is the bridge, where the drop-off was before the race and where we got on the buses. This is also the finish line.
We have to go out four miles and run back four. It’s relatively flat from what I understand. However, I really don’t like out-and-back races. As I cross the bridge, I see other runners finish their races. That’s tough to see. They are done and I have yet a third of the race to go. The last eight miles are always difficult. You always have to dig deep to find out what you are made of. More runners pass me heading into the finish line.
Hey, there is a hill. Okay not bad but I trudge up. It’s like running on the section-line roads back in Oklahoma. It’s flat, it’s boring….flies are chasing me! Dude…getaway!
I even pick up my pace to try and outrun those giant horseflies. Ahhhhh! All the bug spray I have has worn off. My stink is attractive to them I guess. I think they followed me for about a mile. I stop often now to refill my water. This was another challenge like yesterday. Carry your own gear. Water, food whatever. Finally, mile twenty-two and now I’m headed back.
Now I get to be in the lead with all those other runners. They can see me and are envious of where I am. They get to ask me ”Is it much further?”
Just as I counted all the runners I passed before the bridge, I now count each of them that I’m ahead. Mile after mile. It’s getting difficult. I have to shift to run/walk again. However, my time is looking much better than yesterday.
Now Eugene, don’t count your chicks before they hatch! Just keep moving forward.
Get to that spot where the flies were swarming before and guess what? They are still there!
I run faster to get away from them. Ahhhh. It looks like about a mile ahead and I see the bridge. My finish line! Come on! Push! You are almost there! I close in and Regaina sees me and heads my way. It’s been a long two days. She knows I am exhausted. She questioned whether I could do it. She questioned whether I was up for Machu Picchu. Was I? This was tough but could possibly be harder. I pick up my pace as I see her. We meet. Pushing. It’s now a quarter of a mile. She jogs a little alongside. I’m drained. With about the distance of two football fields remaining. I tell her I’m going to push. Whatever is left in the tank….I’m going to use it up. So I begin the kick. Dig it out. The remaining few spectators and race officials see me and start cheering me on. RUN! RUN! I cross the line in complete exhaustion and have finished the race. The second toughest marathon within two days. So happy to be done. I really want to go down to the river beneath the bridge and get in the water. But I’m too sore, tired, and honestly…I’m done! Let’s go home. Truth be told, I had originally signed up for only one race but added the second only later. We pushed our flight to a later departure time …near midnight… which would have given me only 10 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours. The time change gives us only a five-hour flight. I slept maybe three.
But I had done it! I felt victorious.
I also have Regaina with me – giving me the confidence that if I could do these two races back to back - I could handle Peru. We will see.