Dr. J on Running

9 The Oz Marathon, Olathe, KS

Saturday 16 April 2011

The race expo at the Bass Pro Shop disappointed me. The exhibits consisted of real estate, car insurance and diet pill franchise nestled among fishing boats for sale. No running shoes, no running apparel, no running stickers. The seafood pizza tasted good.

Race morning started with temperatures in the thirties and stiff northwest wind of 30-40 mph. I arrived early to Garmin World Headquarters, and parked 50 feet from the start line. I waited in the warmth of the car and the comfort of KLOVE. I ate a Harvest Powerbar 20 minutes before the start. I noted a pick-up truck towing a canon to the start.

I walked to the start line five minutes before the gun. I wore New Balance shorts, a blue long-sleeve New Balance technical shirt, my Phil 4:13 yellow shirt, a wind breaker and a pair of socks on my hands. It felt as if the entire field of runners shivered in unison. Oh say can you see, a loud bang, and off we went. I ran the first 1.5 miles, then walked 0.5 mile, and repeated the interval.

By mile eight, I felt barely warm enough to shed my wind breaker. I did not dare throw it out, lest I needed it for a contingency walk home later on. I tied it around my waste, and put up with its annoying rub against my legs. At mile 10, I ingested a second Powerbar and two 200mg Ibuprofen pills. I repeated this spiked refueling at mile 20. The aid stations used large cups, so I alternated between water and Gatorade.

I went off course around mile 11, but rejoined quickly the field of runners. I ran in uncertainty for several minutes, wondering where the half split from the full. I had that same sinking feeling of going off course twice more during the race, once around mile 23 and once near the finish. It would have been nice if the entire course ran over a yellow brick road, or at was least marked with a continuous colorful line of paint.

My left butt became sore around mile 12. The pain in the butt persisted the rest of the way, varying in intensity between 3 and 5. Bursitis pain in my left hip appeared around mile 18, and the two distinct pains alternated at times, and merged into a continuum other times, messing with my mind but not my gate. I ran on grass whenever practical, and sunk in mud where the heavy rains of the week had settled.

Miles 13 through 24 followed an out-and-back paved trail, and allowed us to see the entire field of Marathon runners. I met the leader at Mile 13, and felt a boost of energy over the next few miles as I turned into spectator and cheerleader for the fast and fit among us. I saw Dan of AFRL around Mile 16 – certainly a pleasant surprise since I did not expect to see anyone I knew. I had seen Dan at Green Mountain Marathon in Vermont in 2007 as well.

I alternated 1.5 miles of running with 0.5 mile of walking all the way to the finish line. My running pace dropped gradually in the last 6 miles, but my walking pace compensated for the slowdown, resulting in almost uniform 2-mile splits. My right calf threatened to cramp around mile 22, but yielded eventually to slowing pace. Finish line in sight, I battled a 74-year old lady and a stiff headwind to cross the timing mats in 5:08 – chip time 5:07:23.

The spoils of victory included a medal, a second T-shirt and a grilled chicken-product sandwich that tasted heavenly. I celebrated with a hot bath, more Ibuprofen, a restless nap and a massive ingestion of protein at Wei’s Chinese Buffet. Nine states done – VA NY VT PA NH AL SC NC KS. Olympia, here I come.

Dr Kamal Jabbour looks forward to mailing his application to join the 50 States Marathon Club right after finishing the Capital City Marathon in May. Dr. J's RUNNING Column appears in Cyberspace whenever endorphines call.

© 2011 Dr Kamal Jabbour