Sunday, April 13, 2014

Grasslands Marathon - Blood, Sweat, and a Chupacabra

A few weeks now have passed since Susan and I ran the Grasslands Trail Run near Decatur, and we have both been taking a nice few days of easier workouts to recover. As usual the flow of life took up any extra time we had, but at least we were able to do a few other things besides workouts.

So the last time you heard from me I was talking about trying to find inspiration. Well I think that my mind was on that post instead of actually running a marathon. After  posting that last post Susan and I went and had a nice pizza dinner, and then went back and chilled at the hotel. It was finally around 9 when I thought about actually setting up my stuff for the next day. Normally I have set it all out that afternoon, and have gone through it 14 times to make sure that I didn't forget anything. I even had a new nutrition plan from Dr. Cooper, of Competitive Nutrition Systems, that I was trying out for this race (I will fill you in more later on her company). Needless to say I really didn't have my mind or spirit in this race. I can't tell you why that is, but it was not normal for me. I was actually not even thinking about the fact that I was going to run a marathon the next day.

After a great night of sleep, because I am pretty sure I still haven't realized at this point that I am going to run for several hours nor did I seem to care. I think I was just ready to start and see what happens. Either way we were prepared for cold and rainy and instead we woke up to cool and no rain. The actual weather app said that the temp was 61 and the high for the day was 56! Never trust weather apps. I need to make sure you understand this whole morning was just going too smooth all the way to the point of actually standing on the start line.

Many of you will not be surprised by this next statement, but by the time the race was about to go off I had made a new friend, a veteran Grassland marathoner, by the name of Jay. Well he was at the front so when I went to say good luck to him the race started, and the next thing I knew I was starting off the race with the front group. Now here is the point where someone that has done this for a few years realizes that they are going out too hard, and wisely pulls off to let the group go by. That person is not writing this blog.

The first few miles of trails were very sandy and somewhat technical, but other than that it was at a pretty fun pace just harder than I should have gone out. After the first water stop I knew that I was going to have to go for a "nature break" soon, and yes this is actually going to be important in a little bit. The biggest problem was that I didn't want to lose the group I was in just to go pee. As soon as I could I dropped off the trail and jumped back in as quick as I could, but I still lost sight of the group I was with before.

Over the next few miles I started running with a guy named Dan. Then as we start approaching a nice little hill we see the group that was ahead of us coming back towards us. This will be the first of two times that we are lost on this fine day, but at least we were all one big happy group. During this break I look down to find blood running down my leg. Somehow during my "nature break" I scratch the hell out of my knee. As much as it was bleeding you would have thought I had taken a spill.

There was a lot of drama on this first loop with getting lost and trying to bleed out, but the truth was that for the first time in a year I felt perfectly at peace with what I physically could or couldn't do. I was just running and enjoying the fact that on this day I was blessed with being able to run.

During this first loop I never once looked at my watch as it ticked down the mile splits. I knew I was going harder than I needed to and harder than I had been training. I mainly just broke it down to the simple things: trying to take in some calories every thirty minutes (more like 45), and do everything I could do to keep hydrated.

At the end of the first loop I ran into the water stop and the lady says, "What happened to your leg?"

My response: "A Chupacabra bit me."

Her: "Seriously?"

Me: "You never know what will happen when you go pee in the woods." ;)

I was very fortunate to be able to run with Dan and this girl named Beth for the first several miles of the second loop. It was really nice to have a small group of folks to share the pain with for at least a little while.

When I reached the water stop around mile 18 I knew I was low on calories and I had a headache starting from dehydration. I tried to take in some extra water at this stop, but that just ended up making me feel bloated.

Out of this did come another funny conversation,
Water stop lady: "Your leg looks bad. You fell? Do you want me to try to clean it up?"

Me: "Thanks, I'm Fine. I got bit by a Chupacabra when I went in the woods to pee."

Water Stop lady: She smiles and says, "If you have a your phone I should take a picture. It looks awesome!"

After this water stop I really hit the wall and for the rest of the race I had times where I had to run/walk some, but as rough as I was feeling I knew that I felt different than I had for the last year. I knew that this wasn't an all consuming pain, but it was pain that was endurable. It was pain that you have to go through to reach the finish. It was pain that you could smile about and keep going. It was pain that might have knocked you down, but it wasn't going to keep you down. Sometimes through pain we find happiness. Sometimes through pain you find inspiration.

Finish Time: 4:25:59 22nd Overall

This is what I got from Tim after running the race. Still makes me laugh!

Susan and our cousins Alyson and Greg. I'm already out running at this point, and they are about to start.

Up close shot of the Chupacabra bite.

Susan, Keebler, and Alyson at the finish!

I have to end this post with a picture of something that has been harder to find this year than a Chupacabra. 

A man sweating, bleeding, in pain, smiling and named Keebler.