Sunday, February 28, 2016

Gusher Marathon 2016 - Redemption!

DNF! DID NOT FINISH... That's what happened to me last year. Although some may say I finished 13.1 miles and completed the half marathon, the half marathon was not what I had signed up for and that is not what I had in my mind that morning to complete. In 2015 I had set out to do 26.2 miles at the Gusher Marathon but because of a lack of training, doing a 50 miler 3 months before, pacing a marathon the the week before the 2015 race, my feet just couldn't take the pounding and I took a DNF. But before I took that DNF I told myself that I would be back in 2016 to tow the line at the Gusher Marathon and finish all 26.2 miles.

My training for this race was going well I had run a good amount miles with Ana leading up to the race and I felt that we were ready to take on the Gusher. I even set out a plan to run the race in 4:39:00 which I believed was achievable based on our training.

It was also Lent which meant I was going to give up something until Easter. Both Ana and I decided to give up sugar. THAT MEANT NO GU!!! This had me worried as I'm not a small guy at a weight of 225 lbs to 230 lbs I need those calories and energy that Gu provides me. I made a concoction of honey, chia seeds, salt, and calamansi juice (a filipino citrus fruit) with the hopes of that providing me with the calories needed to finish my race.


It's a chilly and in the 40's, we park, set up the GTS tent, and welcome all the members of the GTS group that came out to do the race. I'm pretty loaded down with a fuel belt full of the chia seed concoction, 5 packs of applesauce in my backpack, and my gopro with extra batteries. I love filming my races but this may have been a little too much for me to carry.

The strategy that I had was to do progressive splits throughout the race. For this I used the MARCO racing calculator where you input your time and it gives you the splits to get you there. So the plan looked like this.

  • Miles 1-2: 11:09 pace
  • Miles 3-9: 10:53 pace
  • Miles 10- 17: 10:41 pace
  • Miles 18-26.2: 10:25 pace

START OF RACE: MILES 1-2 (11:08, 11:03)

These miles were the fun easy miles at at 11:09 it felt really easy. Just enjoying the race and people passing us by. There were a lot of aid stations at this race and we hit 2 by the time we reached the end of mile 2.

MILES 3-9 (10:48, 10:48, 10:35, 10:53, 10:43, 10:48, 10:44)

Spencer and his brother Ben have joined us and we are now a group of 4 running my planned pace of 10:53. The pace is still relatively easy but with the water stops we have to speed up at times to remain on pace. There are still plenty of hydration stations where Ana and I are only drinking water, eating oranges, and sipping on the chia fuel.

Ben, Spencer, Ana, and myself during the first loop

Feeling good during that first loop.

MILES 10 - 13.1 (10:57, 10:56, 10:46, 10:40)

The miles are flying by as we get back to the Montagne center to finish the first loop. At this point all of our feet are starting to feel the pain from the pounding of 13.1 miles. While my feet did hurt this was in no way the amount of pain I felt last year that stopped me. As we cross the halfway point, the point where I stopped last year, I remember the promise I made to myself that I would be back to finish this race and I knew that today I would.

Crossing the halfway point feeling good!

MILES 14 - 17 (11:31, 11:19, 13:19, 11:23)

Things are starting to hurt a little more and we start walking more, at this time I realize that our goal of 4:39 was not going to happen so I let go of the plan and decide to just run at the pace that we were comfortable with. I tell Spencer and Ana that the rest of these miles are going to suck but we are just going to have to bear down and embrace it. Spencer and Ana are running strong and at this point I'm feeling the weight of my backpack and fuel belt dreading running with them for the rest of the way. Everyone is in pain from the waist down as we go on our journey to get to one aid station to the next. With all the water we are drinking I start to worry about hyponatremia as we need to replace our electrolytes and ask for salt packets but no aid station had any, only gu to offer. At least I still had my chia concoction and I would rely on that for the rest of the race.

Heading out on MLK

MILES 18 - 23 (11:57, 14:10, 11:44, 12:15, 13:24, 17:03) 

Around this point of the race we see Aimee driving around on the course to check on the runner's and she stops and gives us vaseline for some chaffing spots. I'm also able to unload all the gear I have on me including my gopro. I had to think twice about unloading my GoPro since I love recording my races but I knew that it would only hinder my time, so I left it.

It was so good to see Aimee on the course as there is nobody for us marathoners on the 2nd loop. Where we had aid stations every mile for the first half, the second loop we are presented with just about every other aid station abandoned with warm water and gatorade set on tables that have been sitting on the sun for who knows long.

We get out of downtown Beaumont and onto MLK where things are slowing down drastically. Mile 23 was a tough mile for Ana starts having some sort of piriformis pain and is hurting with every step. At this point I tell Spencer that he can go ahead and go without us if he wants as he is still going strong. Ana and I walk for a good portion of mile 23 and then she finds the strength to dig deep and start running again. Determination, grit, and pure awesomeness was what I saw in her.

MILES 24 - 26.2 (14:51, 12:56)

Ana is running strong again but now I'm really starting to feel the effects of running for 24 miles sans GU. I'm struggling to keep up with her and ask her if we can walk for a bit. She's motivating me to keep going and I know that she has pain so I focus on positive thoughts to get through the Lamar campus.

As we past mile 26, Ana and I are both so relieved and so ready to be done. We pick up our pace and run together to the finish line to the cheers of our fellow Golden Triangle Strutters group. Medal's, hug's and congrats were given.

Finishing up the Marathon together!

The marathon is no joke and reminds me why it deserves my respect each and every time I run the 26.2 miles. The 2nd loop for the Gusher can be a lonely one but I was lucky enough to run it with Ana and Spencer.

Thank you to Ana for running with me and helping me get my redemption. I struggled towards the end but knowing that she was next to me feeling just about the same way got me moving forward. Thanks also to Spencer for filling the run with laughter. His attitude to finish really was inspiring and I thank him for that. Thanks you all for taking the time to read this. I hope you enjoy.