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E.T. Full Moon Midnight Marathon...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Well after a long and hot training session, it is done. The ET marathon is behind me but it will never be forgotten. This is a race report that I don't even know where to start. While the memories are still very painful and beautiful, I will tell you a little bit about it.

For starters here is a glimpse at the marathon profile that I knowingly subjected myself too I also subjected myself to the dry desert heat (more on the effects of this later). I heard it was 87 at the start but it felt much cooler. I know the reported low was 69 which I image came in the very early morning hours as I was finishing. Humidity was fabulous at less than 20% with winds from 6-19mph. Considering what I had trained it, it felt almost refreshing.

It was a long day leading up to the marathon. I never really adjusted to Vegas time so I was up on Saturday morning at 7am. I ate a good breakfast, planned out the rest of my meals for the day and went out to lay by the pool. for a couple of hours. That was one of my many mistakes looking back. Although I tried to catch a cat nap in the afternoon, I really couldn't sleep. Our room was located above the famous "Rehab" pool and the music was pumping ALL DAY. I was able to lay in bed and rest but I never slept.

We boarded the bus that would take us out to the ET highway at 845pm. As we turned onto the ET highway, the window blind across the aisle from us flew up unexpectedly. Everybody jumped. What a way to get us into the "supernatural" spirit. The excitement continued as we pulled up to the race start. This is what the crowd looked like from the bus window The excitement lifted my spirits as I was disheartened. I had left my iPod back at the hotel. How was I to ever run in the middle of the night, in the middle of the desert, no spectators and nothing to look at without music?

When I got off the bus I was actually able to hook up with my friend Jennifer. Here are some pics of the two of us waiting at the start We didn't have much time to wait around. The official start was at the "black" mailbox. I never actually saw it that night but here is a picture I snapped of it from the bus on the way back.

The start was no frills. There was no timing mat, there was no gun. Instead at midnight we simply began running to the sound of a cow bell. The cow bell must have stirred the local livestock as for the first couple miles, I heard their protests. I could never see them but they were definitely there.

I knew quickly that I was getting blisters. Although I developed two pretty nasty blisters (ironically from some mole skin I had put on to prevent blistering), they really didn't bother too much during the race. I stopped a couple times and applied glide to the areas which I think helped. I also stopped very early in the race (and a couple times there after) to apply petroleum jelly to my lips. I was very happy that some of the aid stations were stocked with this as I had forgotten mine. This should have been my first clue that I was not as hydrated as I thought.

The uphill for the first 9 miles was not challenging. I felt the dramatic difference beginning at about mile 9 1/2. I had done hill training and I was thankful. It wasn't easy but it was manageable. I am not sure if I hadn't been doing run/walk intervals how I would have done. However using that method allowed me to totally kick that hill a**. My pace was right where I wanted it to be. I knew I had run smart. Almost immediately into the downhill portion of the race, I recovered. I was able to shorten my walking intervals and increase my speed. I felt like I was flying. I was running 10 min/miles (this included the 0.15 of each mile that I walked). The next 7 miles made for the most exhilarating run of my life.

I was thankful that I had forgotten my iPod. I think it would have changed the whole experience. I was completely lost in the beauty of the mountains. My eyes had adjusted to the night. As I reached the peak of the mountain, the moon was bright and it looked so close that I could almost touch it. I tried to photograph it but the camera could not capture it's reflection on the mountainside. I did get a couple shots as the sun was coming up. They don't do it justice This a photos taken at about mile 24. It is of the ET highway sign and the mountains in the distance. As strange as it sounds, I felt connected to the place I was running. It suddenly wasn't a race. It was about the love of running and the ability to lose yourself. I think this is a race that every true runner should experience.

This above portion is the beauty of the race. The following portion is about the pain of the race.

My first twinge of cramps came at mile 17. I was running along and felt my left calf begin to ache. It became increasingly worse. I stopped and rubbed it out. I continued running for about another 1/2 mile when my right calf did the same thing. I took plenty of time and massaged and stretched both of the legs. By mile 18, I was back in full stride. There was a fully stocked aid station at mile 20. I knew some of the stations were stocked with electrolyte (salt) tablets. I guess I should have realized that maybe they knew something about running in dry desert heat that I didn't. I actually had an entire bottle at home that I had never even tried. However, the cramps were gone and I didn't even give it a second thought that maybe I should grab some and take with me.

The dehydration cramps came on with a vengeance between mile 22-23. I was stopping frequently to stretch and massage. I was only able to run about .2-.3 of a mile between each episode. The cramping was so bad that I knew I could no longer run. I was nauseous. I just prayed that I would make it to the finish.

Leading up to this race, I never considered that I would not be able to finish a marathon. I can honestly tell you, had there been another aid station between mile 23 and the finish, I am not sure what I would have done. I hate to think that I might have told them to call someone to come get me but I think I might have. Instead I felt strained out in the desert. There was no aid station. There was no place to sit. I contemplated just plopping down on the side of the road but I knew that would only prolong my agony. Instead I just kept walking. Looking back, I am thankful I had no way out. I will NEVER take finishing a marathon for granted ever again. It will always be my #1 goal. Everything else will just be icing on the cake.

As every runner knows, we are stubborn creatures. Even though I had been walking for 3+ miles, I was still hoping that I would be able to finish strong. I just wanted to run across that finish line. I knew I would not be able to run far so I waited and waited. I rounded the corner. I saw the timing mat and the clock . I started running. This was my fatal error.

Both calves seized up at once. I am talking full blown "charlie horse" cramps. I doubled over on myself, grabbing my calves and crying. I was probably 10 ft from the finishing line. People came running. People started cheering for me to just finish. I couldn't move. I was in complete agony. I was offered assistance to get over the line. I was embarrassed, disappointed, humbled yet determined. I refused assistance. I told them I would somehow make it. I massaged the calves. and when I felt ready I tried walking. Again, I was forced to stop. It seemed like I was hunched over and crying forever. In reality it was only about 1 minute. I stood up and walked across the finishing line. After that, it was a flurry of activity. Someone helping me to a chair, someone getting me ice, the medic coming to assist.

Going into the race, I thought it might take between 5-6 hours to complete. I had looked over previous race results and knew the times for this race were slow. I won't lie and say that I wasn't truly hoping for under 5. I was on target for a 5 hour finish but it wasn't meant to be. I still made my original goal even with walking the last 3+ miles. My finishing time was 5:38:13. I got a funky medal and I learned some valuable lessons. I guess in the end the lessons that you learn make you a smarter and better runner. At least that is what I am telling myself emoticon
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Wow! Congrats on finishing this!
    1881 days ago
    Wow! I stopped by to give you a goodie and I saw a blog about your latest Marathon and all I have to say is I enjoyed reading it so much. I am humbled to be your friend! This blog shows me your determination and that inspires me! I know that every race I have run - I was able to finish! I know my last half it was hard in that last mile and telling myself I can make it. Keep running Mike that is what my brain and heart is saying to my legs! After I cross the the finish line - I almost forget how hard that last mile was. Your blog was great and thanks for sharing such a personal trumiph with your spark family.

    Hugs to you!

    3058 days ago
    Wow. Just wow!

    A marathon blog unlike any I have read.

    I plan to run my first is May. Mile 23 is a block from my house. If it's too much I can always just go home.

    But I plan to cross the finish line first. That's my number one goal.
    3103 days ago
    Great job!
    3111 days ago
    This is an amazing and certainly one of the most decriptive marathon blogs I've seen..I felt I was there reading it and looking at the pics. WTG on the race, the extreme efforts, and thanks so much for sharing this..it's turly inspirational!

    3111 days ago
  • no profile photo JMCHARRIS
    Molly, I'm so proud of you! C
    3117 days ago
    I am glad you persevered. Wow, gutsy girl. I'm glad there wasn't an aid station after 23. Would have been real tempting I bet. What an experience. So, what's in your future? Another run through New York City?
    3127 days ago
  • AMCG2002
    Holy smokes!! Because we are stubborn creatures, we do tend to assumes that we will finish everything we start. Your experience was a great reminder to all of us that we should be grateful to finish each event, maybe even just to have the ability to start in the first place. The humidity, or lack thereof, can really make a huge difference in our performance. I hope you are recovering well. I'm assuming you aren't interested in meeting me at 5:30 Saturday... lol
    3132 days ago
    Molly--again, you just totally amaze and inspire me! Woo hoo for YOU! Another marathon under your belt! Doesn't matter how you finished just that you did. And I think your time was FANTASTIC!

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    3133 days ago
  • AUNTIE65
    Wow Molly - what an inspiration! So awed by your determination to finish on your own - even with those awful cramps!

    3133 days ago
    I am so sorry for all that you went through but I'm so happy you were able to see past it. That sounds like such a cool experience, when I run my first marathon I hope I am absolutely going to pick a unique one like that!
    3133 days ago

    That sounds like one of the most amazing reports I've ever read. You deserve a second medal for pushing yourself to the edge and finishing.

    What ever doesn't kill you...
    3133 days ago
    Wow, you are one amazing, strong and inspirational gal! Sounds like a beautiful race.
    3133 days ago
    Molly, you are my hero! You did it! You finished! I'm sorry to hear about the cramps and the trouble you had in finishing but you did not quit, you did not give up. Some people might have but not you. At least with the trials you encountered during the race, you learned valuable lessons, and should you ever do this again( and I know you definitely will) you will be that much wiser. You should be proud of yourself for what you accomplished and for your time despite the problems. emoticon
    3133 days ago
  • TRICIA0623
    As always, I am proud, inspired & awed by you.
    3133 days ago
    Molly, you are simply amazing! I'm very sorry you had such awful cramps. I probably would have bailed at mile 17, but you are so awesome! I almost cried when I read about your finish. Had I been there to see it, I'm sure I would have been a blubbering baby! Have a great recovery!
    3133 days ago
    What a cool race and great report. Like the medal!
    3133 days ago
    Molly, so glad you finished and lived to tell about it (or at the very least weren't abducted!) I am SO PROUD OF YOU!!. I hope to see you at the Thursday night gang hang out, I want even more details!!!!!!!!!!!!
    As Glaze always says to me, sometimes you just have to keep on keep'n on and you did just that. Now...on to Disneyworld :)
    3133 days ago
    emoticon I cried tears as you got your charlie horse's in both legs. Your writing is so real, I felt I was there. Bless you for letting us "run" with you through words.
    3133 days ago
    I am so proud of you for finishing. What an incredible experience! I thought about you Sunday morning as I went from my "long" distance run. Figuring time difference, we were probably running together. Congratulations on starting and finishing. I would ask what's next, but I already know! :D Our race in October is going to be a piece of cake for you compared to this!
    3133 days ago
  • SARA_ANN12
    Gosh, what a play by play! I'm sorry to hear that you had struggles but so so so (soooo) stoked that you were able to finish there at the end. No matter how far I run these day, I'm always just happy to finish. I seem to look less and less at the time and instead, finish up and smile. I hope, at the end, you were able to get those leggies feeling better and have a big ol grin going- just reading that you finished sure put a smile on my face!

    Big congrats to you!!!
    3133 days ago
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