Friday, July 8, 2016

Angel Fire Adventure Marathon (Race Recap)

Angel Fire, New Mexico
Sunday, July 3
Marathon #29
Weather - Sunny/windy/warm

With a pretty big race coming at the end of summer, I knew I would need some longer runs. At the time I registered for the Angel Fire Adventure marathon I didn't yet have my training plan and decided, sure, why not. Well, I actually was looking for something close by when I didn't already have something planned, preferably on a Sunday so I could also do a longer run with Runners' Edge. I was having trouble finding a race until I expanded my search to surrounding states, and since I hadn't run a marathon in New Mexico, it was the "obvious" choice.

I registered right after I finished Revel, before I knew the hip was all jacked up. As race day approached I was apprehensive about what to do. I had already booked the hotel, and since the "easy four" and week of trail running had been "OK" - I figured I would head out and hope for the best.

As far as I could tell, the course was a double out and back, and figured I could ask the race director about dropping at the halfway point if I felt really awful.

Race Day

I had slept fairly well. I had mapped how far it was to Angel Fire from the hotel, and it was about an hour and a half, so I was up just after 4 am for the 6:45 start. I was checked out of the hotel by 4:15, and drove around town for longer than I would have liked looking for coffee. Finally found an open gas station, got a coffee and diet Pepsi, then started the drive.

Highway 64 into Angel Fire is a two lane highway, super straight until you near the hills, then  it is pretty curvy. I saw jillions of deer on the side of the road, so I was paying extra close attention, as dawn is when they really seem to be out. I was driving over the speed limit and it was STILL taking longer than mapquest had said. Shit.

There was no actual address for the race start, but when I started to get close I saw that there were markers on  the side of the road so I just followed those until I got to the parking lot at the entrance to the resort. The website had said it was a 1/4 mile walk to the start/finish area where I would need to get my bib. I was parked by 6:10 - only 35 minutes until the race start. I call shenanigans that it was a 1/4 mile. It took almost 10 minutes to walk over, then the same to get back - and I was walking pretty fast.
View from the start line. Wish the race would have been in those hills!
By the time I got back to the car it was 6:35, I still had to apply sunscreen, shove my gel in my pockets and get my sunglasses. I was halfway to the start when I realized I had left my handheld in my car. Crap. And then I still had to use the bathroom - I hadn't used one since I left the hotel! Got in line with 3 minutes to the start, but there were only two port-o-potties. I ran into Dave Bell in the line and we chatted until he headed off, while I still waited. The race is not chip timed and I was the very last marathon runner to cross the start line - 8 minutes late, snatching a bottle of water on my way out. That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the race...

The race set out on the shoulder of the road... where we would remain the entire race. I was minutes behind everyone else and stupidly started out faster than I should have. Within a half a mile, my calves seized up. Tried to run through it, but I pushed too hard and by the time I gave up and started walking I had to go super slow and was limping. At this point, I was thinking, the calf issues are nothing new, if that is the only issue I have this will be fine.

When I say I was running super slow, I'm not kidding. Normally (at least in the last few years), in a road race I'm moving around an 11 minute pace. I was at a 13 minute pace for most of the first half. I was taking lots of walk breaks. Angel Fire is at 8400' and for whatever reason, the altitude was making me a little queasy, although some of that could have been the heat and sun.

The aid stations were about 2 miles apart, having ONLY Gatorade (various flavors) and water. I had brought enough gels for the entire race, but for the first time, the sweetness was really bothering  me. I had also forgotten my Base salt, and I was sweating like crazy.

I got passed by the first half marathon runner before I was even at the first aid station. I caught up to the first marathon runner shortly after that. I was NOT enjoying myself. Even though my hip was feeling all right at this point, I just felt overly fatigued and not into it.

Not much else to say about the first half. It wasn't great, but I figured I might as well just go for the full marathon. I caught up to Dave just after the half marathon runners turned off. He wasn't having a great time either. Then, I realized where we were...
Focus on the SIDE of the highway. Pretty trees!
When I had gone out last year for Ragnar, there was a section of trail that ran near the road, going UP. That's what we were on. So for about 2 miles, I pretty much just walked. It was steep enough that running wasn't even worth it. Just past mile 15 we had some downhill. I started running, slow still, but the hip was holding up. That is, until I was running across a gravel driveway and I caught my toe on a rut. I lurched forward to catch myself from falling on my face and the impact of stepping (of COURSE with my "bad" leg) jarred my hip. I yelled out and tried to keep running and couldn't. This was around mile 17. I basically walked the remainder of the race.
The only marker that made me feel almost as good as the finish line
At the turnaround, I noticed I wasn't alone in my misery. All the people at my pace were walking. I would walk for 3-4 minutes and then try to jog, but the way back was about a four mile climb, into a headwind. AWESOME. My kidneys were "hurting" like I needed to pee but there were no bathrooms on the course and nowhere I could go without risking public indecency. Since the race was on the road, there were a few Sheriffs cruising up and down the race course to ensure people weren't driving like maniacs.

I tried REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY hard to not hate every single second of this race. Pictures like THIS made me feel a tad better (this was the side of the road, maybe around mile 22?)

To top it all off, I was getting eaten alive by deer flies. URG. I was in  bad place and cursing my stupidity for "needing" to run the full marathon.

Random sightings on my run back... (I did NOT take a picture of the decapitated owl):
The long long long long long road - but yay for the pretty mountain in the distance!
Deer leg. Just one.
Deer body. Down the road from the aforementioned leg.
Caped ninjas on horseback?
I passed maybe a half dozen people in the last 6 miles. Caught up to a guy I seen pacing earlier. He had to quit his pace leading duties after getting incredibly sick. We ran/walked together for most of the last two miles.

At the finish I collected my medal, was given a bottle of water, and then I headed to the "finisher tent" for my shirt. Not surprisingly, the size I had ordered (men's size XS, since no women's size) was not available. There was no food at the finish other than pretzels, granola bars, orange and banana slices. After a hundred thousand miles on the road, I really needed something more. "Luckily," I was still nauseous so I was fine for the time being. I hung around at the finish to wait for Dave and Stacy. I chatted with the race directors for a few minutes and let them know that they need more potties and that the walk from the lot to the start is NOT a quarter mile. The race director offered to adjust my time to my Garmin time since I started so late, which was nice.

Official Time - 6:08:46 (slowest road marathon, by quite a bit)
Overall Place - 64/78
Gender Place - 35/44
Division Place - 7/7
Mile 1 - 13:19
Mile 2 - 13:09
Mile 3 - 12:52
Mile 4 - 13:34
Mile 5 - 13:00
Mile 6 - 12:56
Mile 7 - 13:01
Mile 8 - 13:42
Mile 9 - 13:29
Mile 10 - 13:10
Mile 11 - 13:34
Mile 12 - 13:22
Mile 13 - 13:52
Mile 14 - 13:58
Mile 15 - 16:11
Mile 16 - 12:39
Mile 17 - 13:49
Mile 18 - 15:11
Mile 19 - 16:08
Mile 20 - 17:03
Mile 21 - 16:36
Mile 22 - 16:20
Mile 23 - 15:39
Mile 24 - 13:21
Mile 25 - 13:3
Mile 26 - 13:54
Mile 26.11 - 12:55

Back half = NOT FUN
  • This was the third year of the event and there are still some kinks that need to be worked out. The parking lot situation/time to walk to the start needs to be adjusted to a realistic time. The inaccurate info caused me to misjudge my morning and got me off to a rough start.
  • The aid stations were well stocked with fluids, but NOTHING else...  I know better than to rely on aid stations for food, but for a $100 fee, something with salt would have been appreciated.
  • The course was marked. But incredibly inaccurately. The only mile markers that were right on for me were 1 and 13. For example, the 26 mile marker was about .6 away from the finish. WTF! If I was someone who had a kick at the end I would have lost my mind.
  • The race isn't chip timed, which is fine, but there needs to be more bathrooms at the start (and on the course) and the half should maybe start 30 minutes after (instead of 15) to ease up on the crowded start area.
  • The race did start right on time, which would have been nice if I could have started on time.
  • The post-race was not great - need more food for sure!
  • The unisex shirts. Boo, hiss. Everyone knows how I feel about this.
  • I do love the medal!
  • The course itself is not great. I knew it was road, but it was all on the shoulder and most of the shoulder was gravelly and uneven. But! If I looked to my left or right, it was really pretty! Angel Fire is a gorgeous resort town, and running on the trails there is pretty fantastic. Sadly, I didn't get to do that (again, not the fault of the race, it's not like they mislead anyone into thinking it would be trail). I also realized, when writing my recap, that I did not take any pictures on the first half of the course when we ran through "town" and on not nearly a "pretty" road.
  • Would I run this again? No.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting write-up. Gosh I've had some of those feelings of despair late in a marathon but never so early. I do what you mean about wanting to run a marathon when realistically it probably wasn't the wisest thing to do. For the marathon, I definitely try to respect the distance. Cool pictures!


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