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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Puking And My Last Great Race!

In the over 500 races that I have run in my career, I have only thrown up twice. I have a pretty solid gut, and was always meticulous about what I ate and drank before and during races. Now in many races, your drinking options are not in your control, and I always alternated water and whatever energy drink was available, and never put down more than about 4 ounces at any one time. Now the first time I puked in a race was shortly after turning 40. I was doing more longer races in preparation for a coming Boston qualifying attempt, and I chose to do a long very hilly race, called the ultimate challenge, in Cadiz Ohio. It was purported to a be very hilly 15 miler, so for two months before the race I did a weekly training session of repeats on a half mile aggressive hill. It turned out to be adequate preparation, but not optimal. The race left the center of town and immediately dropped a very quick 3/4 mile, and then just rolled up and down for 6 3/4 miles until you turned and reversed course. I felt pretty good thru 11 miles, and then started to struggle the rest of the way in. I was about 10th overall in the race, and felt pretty sure that I was going to place in my age group. As I got to the base of the final 3/4 mile climb I had caught a friend from the Northeast running club who was in the age group above me (45-49) who I had never ever beaten. I started the climb about 20 yards behind him and just hammered like a maniac and closed it to about 5 yards, but I just died at the very end. When I finished, he was leaning on a wall of a building trying to get air, and I came up to thank him for pulling me up the hill and proceeded to puke on his shoes. He took it very well and I walked with him to find a faucet to clean his shoes. He won his age group and I was 2nd in mine.
The last time I puked was at the Huntsman World Senior Games half marathon in 2003. I had trained all summer in the mesquite nevada heat, doing two hour runs weekly at sundown in the 100 degree heat, and doing long intervals and tempo runs at the track on alternate weeks. The race was in September and I got lucky with a cool day. The course is a double loop that just climbs for 3 1/4 miles, circles back down, and then does it again. There were about 45 men and 15 women, and since everyone was old, it is kind of hard to know what age everyone is. Anyway, within the first mile of the climb, I was in 6th place. 1 guy was out like a maniac, then there were 3 guys running together, then a guy I knew was in my age group from races I had run in St. George who I had never beaten, and then me. After the 6 of us, the rest of the group was already pretty far back. I had my work cut out for me. Once you got out of this park, you were on some side streets at the top of the climb, with lots of turns. I could not see any of those other 5 guys. On the way back down, I felt strong and didn't feel too beaten up bye the first climb. As I came the the halfway turn, Deb gave me my drink and a gel, and my friends sarah and stan laidlaw who had run the 5k were there cheering me on. Stan said I was a minute back from 5th place. As I started up the 2nd climb, I saw that the leader was almost a half mile ahead, followed closely bye one other guy, and that the other two had been caught bye my friend and were running as a new group of three. When I got to the top of the park and onto the side streets, one of the guys was dying and I was able to pass him. That left 4. As I turned to start to head down, I still couldn't see anyone else. Not knowing anyone's age but my buddy, I knew that to medal for certain, I would have to catch two guys. The last two miles of the course runs primarily thru pine trees on a bike path, and it twists and turns so you don't see your competitors. At twelve miles, I crossed a short bridge and there, about 20 feet ahead of me were my friend and some other guy. I knew I had to go, and As I passed them I tried to do it convincingly, breathing as easily as possible, to try and make it look like I wasn't dying. My friend looked pretty wasted, and he just couldn't respond, but the other guy was on my back wheezing like a locomotive. The last third mile was wide open and you could see the finish, and Stan started screaming at me that I just had to go. So I wound up my sprint imitation and just went full tilt. I crossed the line about 5 feet in front of the other guy, staggered about 10 feet and threw up two loads of fluid. I then went to my knees cause my stomach muscles were cramping. Stan thought that was pretty funny, but it scared deb a good bit. It was my last great race. I ran a 7:17 pace, equal to my marathon PR pace on a pancake flat course from 9 years before. I ended up third in the race, but was the silver medalist. The guy who won the race, and beat me by 9 minutes, was the gold medalist, and my friend was bronze. Turned out the guy in 2nd, and the guy 5 feet behind me were in the 55-59 age group. So there you go.....my last ever great race ends in a projectile fashion and is followed up in the next two years with a couple of back surgeries....Oh, the guy in the picture with me was the gold medalist, and yes, that was sort of a sun and peroxide blond summer.....

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