Lithia Loop Marathon race report

Or shall I title this A Bad Day For the Blanchards…?

I kid, I kid. No. Anyway. Joe and I decided to do Lithia Loop Marathon over the hill for fun as a long run. We decide this 2.5 weeks after the 50 mile race. I broke my rule and started running three days after the race, but only jogging around the block with the dog. Hey, I was a furloughed government employee! The legs felt fine (besides general fatigue and my typical peroneus brevis/outside foot tendonitis after every ultra). So, a marathon on trails was just what we needed to ‘jump start’ the long runs again.

In classic Jo&Joe fashion, we left late and I successfully navigated the rainy back roads to Ashland without speeding too much or hitting a deer on the way. Jeremy was kind enough to pick up our packets and shirt while we found a place to park far away and ran over. A nicely-tanned RD Hal started us off and it started raining [again] immediately.

We all started slogging uphill right away. I looked at the profile of the race, so I was prepared for the 7-8 mile climb (4,500 ft?) and wasn’t too worried. I began at 9 minute pace, which crept as slow as 11 minute pace, until I found a grove around 4 miles in. I was running with the same people it seemed and no one was talking. Joe left me about 1 mile in, seemingly feeling good.

Here’s where I make my mistake: as soon as we stopped going up, I decide I felt great, and took off! I charged ahead, gaining speed, passing people left and right, and running sub-8:00 pace. I passed my Klamath friends and kept going and going, barely considering that I still had 16 miles left. Making sure to eat at regular intervals and drink at every aid station, I decided I would be fine for the last half because I just ran a 50 mile race. Hmph!

So. Somewhere around 14-15 miles in, I had to pee. [i did chug a coffee on the 1:15 hr drive over the mountain]. In an ultra, NBD. Stop and pee. This course, surprisingly, was almost all dirt road and on a cut bank. This was terrible for a woman to have to pee in the woods because the upslope side was so incredibly steep and I’d have to hike pretty far to get cover uphill… And the downslope side looked treacherous with no brush to cover either. I held it for a while before Amber came up on me. I told her my dilemma. Pee now and get it over with or hold it for over an hour. I went with plan A and finally came to a spot where I could go. 30 seconds later I was back running and caught up with my friend, only that she suddenly felt incredible and took off. I backed off the pace and just ran for a while, my legs getting fairly stiff and lactic-y. Also, my hands started freezing solid from the dampness. I did not enjoy that pain at all. Around mile 20, I went through an aid station and ran into my hubby, walking down the hill. He wasn’t feeling very well so we walked together. I stated aloud that we were only going to run this as a training run, and how dare we think we could race a marathon after spotty running, recovering from being terribly ill, and running a 50 mile.

We did our best to hold our place, but almost every single person that I passed in the middle of the race passed me right back (probably snickering as they went by!) as we hobbled down the hill. Ugh- those last 6 miles were cruel! I was peg-legging down those switchbacks.

Anyway, lesson learned. We would not have run 26 mi had we not done the race, but we could have taken it a little lighter / ran a more even race. Then we may have felt better! Anyway, we came home after enjoying a beer and some food with friends and took a nap.

I will probably take some downtime to regroup and see what’s in store for 2014!

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