Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Swan Lake Race Report (Long version)

We headed over to Viborg, SD around noon on Saturday, the plan was to get their around 5 and have spaghetti, check out the course and get to bed and await the 6:00 am start.

The race is held at the Swan Lake Christian Camp and is used as a fundraiser for the camp and as a way of reaching out to folks. They have an interesting story on how the race got started, check it out "Swan Lake Marathon History". We hit some traffic so we didn't get there until around 5:45. We were quickly checked in by Judi (Office Manager), got our packets, confirmed the cabin and proceeded to the spaghetti. Judi is who we worked with to get a room at their camp and as it worked out we ended up in brand new cabin. Everyone was friendly and the spaghetti was real good. The director of the camp, Jerry, stopped by our table and asked us where we from, why we chose Swan lake? He sure made us feel welcome. We met a couple of other runners, one guy from Dallas who was working on completing his 50 states, this would be number 48 and a guy from Minneapolis who was doing the same thing but I can't remember where he was on his quest but he was ahead of me. I felt like a rookie.

We woke around 4:00 am and began the process of getting ready for our races. Karyn was running the 1/2 and I was doing the full. I munched down a banana which was all I was able to get down, hopefully it would be enough. I made my decision to wear the Nathan, my plan was to drink Clif Shot electrolyte again, take S Caps as needed and to try and eat some Clif Shot Bloks early and to wash them down with water. I made the final choice on shoes by choosing my Vasque Velocity VST's. I figured with 2/3 of the course being on gravel they would be the best choice especially since they are my lowest miles shoes. The tape on my achilles and on my plantar fascia seemed to make it through the night so it was going to be interesting to see how I held together and how much the tape bugged me during the race. On to the start line.

Swan Lake start line

Karyn and I decided to start together but we discussed that her pace was probably going to be too fast for me so we agreed early on to part ways. She was planning on running 11 something miles and I was thinking 12's. We ended up parting shortly after mile 1 or 2. I was able to keep her in sight for the first 6 or 7 miles but finally lost touch with her as we made it into Viborg. The course loops around Swan Lake (~5 miles) then you head towards Viborg where you run on highway 19. The course is basically a figure 8 with a couple of side jaunts at the start and then later into something they call the keyhole (basically running into a cul de sac, it was different so it was ok). Back to highway 19, the highway is open but there wasn't a whole bunch of traffic. I choose to run on the right side of the road as did most runners, I noticed Karyn ran on the left side. We were on highway 19 for about 3 miles and the slant of the road got to be bothersome. I had ignored the early pain as it was pretty much ok, just the occasional jolt when I stepped funny or caught a rock wrong. By the time I made it into Viborg, my left hip had started to hurt, I tried to compensate which made the achilles hurt, compensated for that which caused left foot pain. It was shaping up to be an interesting day. I continued out of Viborg thinking you only got 17 miles to go. The pain got worse but more importantly my pace was slowing down but the effort seemed to be increasing, not a good sign. Around mile 10, it seemed to be getting hot, by 11, I was having doubts. I started down my normal path of beating myself up over how I could be struggling like this and I continued this internal berating for the next few miles.

Around mile 12 and 1/2 the marathoners go straight and the 1/2 marathoners head back into the camp. I was thinking I should abort as I didn't think I was going to make it. I thought about driving back and running it next year, I thought about how I would feel if I dropped, I thought about how could I get through it? Then two things popped in my head - they have a 7 hour time limit and what would Steve do? The bottom line is I knew I had enough time to walk it in and I knew what Steve would do, he would finish which is the choice I made. Decision made, time to figure out Plan B. So I slowed down going up a hill and amazingly enough the achilles pain went away, I ran - got pain, I walked - no pain. Now I didn't want to walk it in but I had made the choice so I needed to keep going. Mile 13, 14, 15 passed and I was somewhat holding a 13 minute pace. Mile 16 we turned north, wind out our back, sun shining, it was hot. No trees, just gravel roads and South Dakota farmland.

South Dakota farmland

I walked more, I ran less, another issue came up when I tried to run, my left hamstring was tightening up and starting to throb. Ignored it. We turned at mile 19 east, a breeze, tried to run, bad, walk, run, walk, mile 20 was approaching when I noticed two guys walking. I was going to catch them.

I started running again, I would catch them soon. I noticed that the gap wasn't closing. I had thought earlier that I wasn't getting much forward momentum while running. Turns out I wasn't so I power walked. The gap started closing, tried to run, gap stayed the same, power walk gap closing. Even I was starting to figure this out if you can walk faster than you can run, swallow the ego and walk. I caught them, they were both real friendly, one guy whose name was Larry asked me how I was doing? I said I had better days and I had had worse, he said it was a great day, what a wonderful day to be out there. He oozed positive energy and he reminded me of why I was there, to have fun, so I smiled and continued on but with a new attitude, I was going to do this smiling as Larry had it right. We were caught by a woman named Nancy who was one of many runners who had run Marathon 2 Marathon the day before. She said she had been trying to catch me for a while and noted that I walked real fast. We talked for a mile or so and separated shortly after mile 22, she had a plane to catch and I had a plan to not hurt myself worse.

Leaving the mile 22 aid station, you can see the kinesio tape .

I tried to keep her in sight, thinking that it would help me get to the finish, I lost track of her after mile 24 when I had a bit more foot pain. I was forced to walk slower, I also was developing a blister on my right forefoot. The last few miles were going to be a bit bothersome but I knew I had it made.

Coming into the finish

Ringing the bell a Swan Lake tradition.

So with the marathon completed, I assessed myself for damage, I felt mostly ok, some achilles pain, left foot pain, a half dollar size blister, a sore hip and a tight hamstring but I think I made it through without any major issues. The tape on the achilles and on the plantar did not cause any blisters nor bug me during the race. Did it help, don't know. Did the PT work help, again I don't know but I made it so it didn't hurt. I had no nausea after the race so the hydration - S Caps seemed to work so that was good news. I had eaten the Bloks with water and that seemed to not cause any issues. Anytime my stomach even twinged I took an S Cap if it was at least a 1/2 hour since the last one. Bottom line is I was able to eat a couple hours afterwards which is good for me.

Overall, I felt pretty good and I was actually pretty happy with the effort. I entered a bit banged up but I got through it without any more significant damage.

One thing I did notice was my left foot was hurting more than I had hoped but it wasn't in the plantar area so as we drove back home I was flexing it and then I noticed a bump on top of my foot. I am thinking that might be the remnants of the sprained ankle from Chippewa or maybe it's something else, the bump is where I do have pain so I am thinking that there may be a connection. I did check the right ankle and I have no bump on it.

Oh a couple of other notes on this marathon, that guy named Larry who made me re-think my day, turns out to be Larry Macon, the world record holder for number of marathons in a year. He did 105 in 2008. You can check out a pretty good post on him at Wayne Joseph's Blog. Something for others to shoot for. Another guy I was talking with after the race was asking which states I had run, then he asked about Michigan? I said I hadn't done it, he said I should run Grand Rapids as it is a great race. I commented that I had exchanged emails with the race director and he seemed like a real nice guy. He said good answer, his name is Don Kern and I am that race director. Check out his website - Don's Really Cool Adventures.

This marathon seemed like it had a high number of maniacs and 50 Stater's. The neat thing was that when we talked with them they sure made us feel welcome and like we belonged. The good news for me is with this race completed I have met the minimum requirement for joining the 50 states club, I just may have to sign up.


Londell said...

I think I will print this report and read it a few times Friday and before Grandmas Sunday. It just reminds me it pays not to quit, even if the fat lady is singing. Congrats. PS: your 50 state talk has got me thinking? I wonder what is next after Grandmas goal? Hmmmmm

Wayne said...

Mike, Congrats on another marathon finish and another state! Ringing the bell seems like a pretty cool deal. See you at Afton...

SteveQ said...

I've always thought of myself more as a cautionary example, but if my follies are inspiring, well, I'm flattered. Congrats on finishing and being able to function afterward.

RunWesty said...

Steve you do provide the cautionary example along with the fact that you keep going through things I don't think I would. Thank you for posting it. It helps me maintain perspective.

Joel said...

Just added you to my blog site.
Can't believe I hadn't seen your posts before this.
We'll have to greet each other at Afton. I won't be running very fast.
Did a 10 miler this morning that was tough. Legs still weak from FANS.


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