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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Icenado Revenge Marathon: The 13th Run of 2013

Our unseasonable ice storm in Dallas last weekend did more than knock out our power (we were one of 500,000 in the metro area!). The ice storm also cancelled the Dallas Marathon.

Runners are a crazy breed - cold, rain, heat, early mornings are all in a day's work (run?). We'd actually looked forward to the cold temps predicted for marathon weekend. But the ice? Even the organizers thought it would be too dangerous.

Cancelling a marathon is a big deal. We had bad weather, y'all.

Anyway, we were bummed out. All trained up and no place to go run. Plus I was now one run short of making my Run 13 in '13 goal.

Bummer indeed!

Then I saw that a local running store in Fort Worth decided to throw together a replacement marathon. Even better - it was just $25. Then they threw in a goofy shirt and medal (literally a plastic medal with an acrylic nugget hot glued on). We were in.

That's how we ended up in Fort Worth yesterday morning. It was another cold day. The 40F temp was perfect for running. Or so it seemed.

Cold is one thing. You warm up quickly while running. Cold and mist isn't quite as awesome because the humidity can impact breathing - but still bearable.

Cold and mist, with ice and tons of mud - yet another. We ran a significant part of the marathon (nearly half) on muddy dirt trails (the levees).

The photo above was the last moment I felt warm while running. This was mile 10.

From this one we headed up onto the Trinity River levees. And that's when we encountered the wind.

Not just any wind. I'm talking 29-34 mph, 30F wind chill wind.

AKA - pure torture. Wind so strong it could blow your hat off. Wind so strong that it was almost impossible to run at points. Wind so cold you didn't want to stop running because you were afraid you might get frostbite. Wind so cold that eventually I couldn't see out of my left eye because it was coated with frozen goop. Wind so strong and so cold that I thought about quitting multiple times, but there was nowhere to bail off the trail.

I considered asking volunteers (who were also miserably cold) if they would take me to the start line. I wondered if I should flag down a car - none to be seen. I would have cried if I could have produced more than frozen tears.


Low moment #1: Realizing that I'd forgotten my running watch after we were halfway to Fort Worth. Realizing during the run that my temporary solution of running and checking my interval times on my cell phone meant I couldn't keep either hand warm.

Low moment #2: During the transition from feeling warm in wind-free areas to freezing cold in the gusting winds and realizing that I definitely should have brought gloves. But didn't.

Low moment #3: Passing Kelly was he was on the way back in from the turnaround and him telling me that I hadn't seen bad wind yet - after I'd been running head-into the wind for an hour.

Low moment #4: Mile 14 when I really needed to pee and had to run down off the levee, behind maintenance piles of sand and then was too cold to pee.

Low moment #5: 500 feet from the turnaround at mile 16.5. (Thank goodness for the runner who passed me coming back and said the turnaround was just ahead!)

Low moments #6, #7 and #8: Asking the water stop volunteers (now extremely miserably cold) for a mileage update and realizing that I was only at mile 18, 20 and 22.

The rest of the time was spent focusing on finding "My happy pace in a happy place." That was only possible when the wind wasn't hitting me (about 15 miles of the 26.2). I ran like a madwoman during those times and walked, hunched/huddled/half-dead for the rest.

But I finished. And, oddly, I finished out the last three miles with a co-worker. The Icenado Revenge was her first-ever marathon.

I told her it will definitely improve from here.

And even more oddly, despite the walking, I had another PR. Update: My final time was 5:24:54.

Now I'm tortured wondering how much better I would have done without the wind. I'm also somewhat wondering if my running watch helps me with intervals but hinders me by showing my pace. Perhaps I run to meet the pace, rather than running the happy pace that my body naturally wants to run? That's something to think about for the next race.

In the meantime, Kelly and I are exhausted today and sore in strange places - probably because of running like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

But I did finish, even though I didn't want to. And more importantly, I finished my 13th run of 2013.

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