The Mesquite Tri State Marathon was on Saturday morning November 17th. Bulleted summary with results:
- Last minute decision to run this race (signed up Nov 2 when I found out NYC was canceled).
- It is a very small marathon, only 133 marathoners.
- It is not a very organized race (no emails, not a lot of info on the blog-website).
- It is located in the middle of the desert. It is a point to point course and goes through 3 states (Utah, Arizona, Nevada). No crowd support and the roads are not closed to traffic.
- It is a mostly downhill course. Neither Jeff nor I had trained to run downhills (or uphills for that matter).
- The weather was almost perfect for a marathon; in the 50s, partly cloudy, and only a slight headwind for approx. 6 of the middle miles.
- Jeff and I started pretty fast, each coming in at the half point around 1:30.
- There was a noticeable headwind from mile 10-16, hills started at mile 13. There were 3 major hills that were 1/2 mile to a mile in length, long and annoying. Plus our muscles were not ready for the uphills after all the downhill action.
- Aid stations were every 2-3 miles, they had water and orange Gatorade in plastic cups. We have not trained with Gatorade, it was gross and didn’t settle well for either of us. They only had GU available at mile 18 (I was glad I had my own and took a GU at miles 7, 14, and 20).
- We both died in the second half and hated every step from mile 16 to the finish. Jeff knew he wasn’t going to BQ by mile 16 and just took it “easy” the last 10. Mentally and physically, this race was tough.
- Neither of us were happy with our performances.
- Our legs, specifically our quads, are completely trashed from the 13 miles of downhill. In fact, our whole bodies hurt worse then they ever have after a marathon.
- Jeff puked his brains out for several hours after the race. It looked just like the orange Gatorade. Fun fact, Jeff is the loudest most dramatic puker. When he pukes it sounds like the world is ending for him.
- They didn’t have cash awards for the top 3 men/women like they did last year (last year 1st- $800, 2nd- $400, 3rd- $200). This year they gave cow bells for awards?! I was robbed. I did not accept the cow bell in protest.
Ok, here is a more detailed account of the race:
Jeff and I got up before 5:00 AM, ate some food (bagel, Greek yogurt, Clif Bar), drank some coffee, and got dressed.
We both had to wear shorts with lots of pockets to stash all of our GU (4 each) and brought bottles to carry electrolytes because we didn’t know what support would be like on the course. I also brought a roll of toilet paper because I was unsure if they would have porta potties at the start.
The course was point to point so we took a bus to the start. The buses were nice and we left the host casino at 5:30 AM to get to the start. We ate some more food during the ride (Honey Stinger waffle and chews). The bus ride took about 45 minutes and we were at the start line at 6:15 AM.
There were only 3 porta potties, it was cold (they made us get off the bus), and the race didn’t start until 7:00 AM; it was not an ideal start area. We waited in line for the porta potty for 30 minutes before I decided to go find myself a nice desert toilet and took a glorious pre-marathon dump behind a bush (good thing I brought my toilet paper!). Jeff jogged around to keep warm. Last minute we decided not to carry our electrolytes and “checked” a bag in the back of the race director’s car (WRONG decision, should have bought our own electrolytes to drink).
Soon it was time to start, the “announcer” said “Ready, set, go!” and everyone started running. Small races are so strangely uneventful. Here are my splits and in red next to the associated split is how I felt:
(And THAT, my friends, is how NOT to run a marathon. But I will take my PR and all the lessons that I learned.)
The last 4 miles I was all alone, no other runners in sight ahead of me, no fans cheering me on, and was running on the side of a road that was not closed to traffic (it was like a very bad end to a horrible training run). It was VERY hard mentally to push through to the finish. Plus I was second guessing whether I was still on the course. I finally saw the finish line, crossed it in a very pissed off mood, grabbed my metal and collapsed on the ground in a ridiculously dramatic fashion. And nobody said “Great Job!” or even went up to me to see if I was ok; it was such a weird race, atmosphere and experience.
Jeff finished a little later, was also very pissed off, and went to the car where he started his dramatic pukefest. We returned to the hotel where the pukefest continued for Jeff and I had to nurse him back to health. My legs hurt but I sucked it up and catered to Jeff, even going as far as walking to the cafe across the street to get him crackers and 7UP to ease his tummy. Poor Jeff.
Finally I was able to prepare myself an ice bath where I sat in the amazingly cold water which numbed my trashed legs. Oh and when I finally took off my socks, I saw my bloody disgusting feet covered in blisters. Owwwwwww! Those downhills KILLED me. And just for reference, here is the elevation grade profile again.
(All that green = OUCH, especially if you don’t train for it. HERE is an article that describes how we SHOULD have trained for this downhill marathon and why things went so wrong for us.)
Not every marathon is ideal, and really no marathon ever feels good. I made the best of a canceled marathon and a last minute decision to run this one adding another 2 weeks of taper. I still got a PR, but was still frustrated because I KNOW I could have ran 5-10 minutes faster in NYC and probably would have felt better as well.
It was hard to pass Jeff at mile 18 knowing he wouldn’t make his goal, but everyone has to run their own race. I probably would have stayed with him (and done a lot more walking) if I wouldn’t have had that 3rd place woman just in sight of me (I really wanted to pass her and get in the top 3) and being so close to getting a PR. I am very proud of myself for pushing myself at the end and am glad I have learned how to tough things out mentally when situations are not ideal.
I learned a lot from this marathon and will do another post on the lessons I learned.
Until next time…..