Dr. J on Running

49 Bass Pro Shops Conservation Marathon

2 November 2014

Number 49 proved uneventful on all grounds. Delta flew me first class to ATL, and got me on time to Springfield after I passed up a $1,300 voucher for my seat to SGF. Flight attendant Jerry entertained us with his wit from ATL to SGF, and sent us off with a quote from P.T. Forsyth: "Unless there is within us that which is above us, we shall soon yield to that which is about us."

I drove directly from the airport to the expo, and picked up my packet and beautiful long-sleeve shirt. Then, I proceeded to the Candlewood Suites for an early check-in and the first of many naps. For dinner, I walked across the parking lot to Cracker Barrel, and I enjoyed a light broiled catfish dinner.

I slept well Friday night. I returned to Cracker Barrel for ham and eggs breakfast, then drove to Bass Pro to verify race morning route and revisit the expo. I purchased a yellow Maniacs headband-hat from Ray, and spent the rest of the morning exploring the Bass Pro Shops flagship store.

The store was huge, a city within a building, complete with gardens, waterfalls, a huge turtle and shark fish in a tank, and lots of hunting and fishing stuff. I walked around the various departments, sampled store-made fudge, and laughed at a witty doormat - "Due to ammo shortage, there will be no warning shots. We regret the inconvenience."

I spent quite a bit of time at the NRA National Sporting Arms Museum. In addition to the era exhibits of hunting artifacts, I enjoyed the collection of guns with serial number one. I ended my visit to Bass Pro with lunch at Hemingway's. The buffet featured a rich selection of proteins from fish and shrimp to chicken, beef and pork. I ate a lot more than prerace lunch permitted, and topped it off with bread pudding and rum sauce.

Cracker Barrel was a zoo Saturday evening, so I drove to Ruby Tuesday’s for a steak, potatoes and salad bar. I retired early, and rose early after a good night’s sleep. I ate a PowerBar and a banana, and washed them down with a cup of coffee. Then I drove through the sleepy streets of Springfield to the Start Line in the Bass Pro Shops parking lot.

Chris Gillepsie of 413 Ministries led a pre-race worship and music service in the Conservation Building at Bass Pro, then we walked around the building to the start line. I missed the Maniacs photo, and there were quite a few of us. The weather was cold and windy, but a lot nicer than the blizzard on the Eastern Seaboard. I took off my wind pants at the Start, but kept on the windbreaker and hand-socks.

A prayer blessing and the National Anthem sent us on our way at 0700 in 40-degree temperature and 20 mph wind. I programmed my Timex for 12-minute intervals. I planned to run to the next mile marker, then walk to the next 12-minute timer beep, and repeat for 26 intervals. I reached the Start Line in 2:10, and reached Mile 1 in 12:40 where we lost the thirteeners. I decided to forego walking at Mile 1, and ran to Mile 2 - 23:15 gave me a 45-second walk. I tossed out my windbreaker, leaving me in shorts, long-sleeve 50-States technical shirt, hand-socks and a brand-new Maniacs headband hat.

Maniac Joe from Oklahoma recognized me and remembered me from Charlevoix. We ran together briefly, but he left me behind as he followed the 4:45 pace group. The urban course traveled through nice neighborhoods, on a short trail along a pond, and crossed numerous well-policed intersections. One could not miss the mile markers, 8ftx6ft banners propped on sturdy pipe scaffolding, although the wind knocked down some of the later markers. I noticed early that my GPS was off by a fraction of a mile compared to the course markings. Compounded with the wind in my ears that prevented me from hearing the beeps, I decided to run to the course mile markers instead of the GPS mile beeps.

Aid station volunteers greeted us every two miles with Powerade and water. Various community and neighborhood groups sponsored the stations, and local pride came across loud and clear. I applauded the race director for placing exactly the water stations at even mile markers. This allowed me to synchronize my hydration and nutrition with my walks. Despite the cold weather, I drank 4 ounces of water and 4 ounces of Powerade every 2 miles, and I ate half-a-Powerbar every 10 miles with no gastrointestinal distress.

I reached a run-walk equilibrium by Mile 6, walking about a third of each mile. I crossed the half in 2:31 gun time or 2:29 chip time, and projected a 5:08 finish. My aches and pains were sporadic, and I felt good. I tossed out the hand-socks at Mile 14, and stretched out my stiff fingers. The Maniacs headband hat fit snuggly over my head, oblivious to the wind gusts that would have blown away other hats.

I ran briefly with two ladies from neighboring states who compared notes on the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in their parents. They quipped that forgetting where you put the keys was a sign of old age, but not recognizing what the keys were for was a sign of Alzheimer’s. Their discussion reminded me of a recent experimental medical study that credited a grain-free and dairy-free diet with slowing down, and in some cases stopping, Alzheimer’s. I wondered if a Paleo diet would help.

Around Mile 16, I joined three young women on their run-2-minutes then walk-1-minute plan. I abandoned them at 17.5 miles and resumed my 12-minute plan. My left ITB complained shortly after Mile 20, so I hopped on the shoulder of the road and ran on grass whenever safe. The pain turned soon into discomfort, and the discomfort dissipated eventually.

In the final few miles, I passed many runners when I walked, and I passed even more walkers when I ran. I crossed the Finish Line in 5:08:10, a gun time that translated into a 5:06:00 chip time. Isaiah 40:31 was engraved on the back of the substantial medal, the first medal with a Bible verse in my 49 marathons. I celebrated with a hot cup of coffee, and a bowl of barbecue chicken. All in all, Bass Pro Shops put on an extremely well-organized race, complete with a stunning shirt and a stand-out medal.

Dr Kamal Jabbour completed the penultimate marathon in his 50 states quest feeling very good. Texas, here I come. Dr. J's RUNNING Column appears in Cyberspace whenever endorphins call.

© 2014 Dr Kamal Jabbour