|Nearly life sized at 5"! TWSS|
Place: 13 / 77 M30-34 - Top 17%
Age Group Place: 59/536 - Top 11%
I honestly had no idea what to expect from Montana. I knew that it was a big state, and everyone knows that bigger is better, so I had high hopes. I really hoped that it would offer the mind clearing, soul cleansing, and colon evacuating that only 3 days alone can provide.
As my flight landed I immediately noticed the 40 degree cooler air from the blistering heat of Phoenix. It was heavenly. Also of note was none other than Trisha Drobeck meeting me at the security checkpoint! (Check out my elite runner page for a pic) She is not only a 2:49 marathoner, but is super cool and nice, on the Run Wild Missoula board, and from what I can tell, Mrs. Missoula. We chit chatted, made some plans, and I was sent on my way with lots of fun things to do.
Oh, but there would be no naked song singing around a roaring fire to "find one's self" on this solo-man vacation (dang). No, there was a marathon to run! So, I immediately stocked up on all of the bare essentials that a runner needs: Water, gatorade, wine, and energy bars. Either I was going to run a marathon or make the shittiest sangria you had ever tasted.
Could easily be a stock photo of my basket EVERY time
Having been busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest over the past
year week, I didn't get a chance to do a TON of research on what to do in Missoula prior to the race. Thankfully between Trisha and a few other friends, I found a firepit, guitar, and tube sock more than enough things to keep me busy. First up, climb Mt Sentiel to the big "M". There are a bunch of letters on mountains in Missoula. I assume this is to remember where you parked your car around town like in the mall parking lot. Fortunately, there are fun trails heading to them and beyond. I imagine that one of the bucket list things for kids to do is to get drunk and have sex on the M, right?
M is for Achilles busting incline
Anyway, after having been in Missoula for less than 2 hours, I stripped down and climbed up. It wasn't high at 700 feet, but at just under a mile, it was really steep in places. Since I knew that I was just running the Missoula Marathon as a training run, I didn't see TOO much issue with wasting my legs on something that would provide such great views of the city.
Let that be a lesson, ladies. It isn't how long it is that matters. What matters is that in the end it was fun.
Step 1: Get naked. Step 2: Who cares, you're naked!
I really hate how you can't tell how steep this is, but it was!!
Montana is known as Big Sky country. I'm really surprised Texas hasn't declared war on Montana to try to steal this designation. Anyway, I found that the label holds true and really amazing views were everywhere to be seen.
Hopefully clicking this will make it bigger. If not, just google it.
Ok, enough "vacation with Adam", on to the running part. I ran a beer run with the locals on Friday night and will post a "race / run" report very soon. I met so many great people!! It was really fun to get to know some of the local Missoula runners. Later Saturday morning I headed down to the Expo to pick up my bib and see what all could be seen.
The Loose Caboose. I'm going to let you make your own Middle School maturity level joke about that one. Too Easy
Jeff Galloway and I! Took this pic after running 10 seconds, walking 3 seconds, and running 10 seconds to grab him
The expo was good and about what you would expect for a race this size (1500 marathoners, 3500 half marathoners). Jeff Galloway was all over the place giving all sorts of keynote speeches, running at the beer run, etc. I ran into more than a few of the people that I met at the beer run and spoke more about beer and running. In the morning, there was actually a farmers market going on which was really fun to walk through.
Other than Trisha, I honestly couldn't find a ton of people that I knew who were running the race. (Of course, I soon met a bunch of people...Tim, Carol, etc) It is a huge 50 stater and a marathon maniac race, but it seemed like a ton of locals were also running. I did have one person reach out to me - and I saw her at the expo! Becca was trying to BQ at the race. I need to look up her results to see if she did but I won't because I'm too lazy, so I'll just assume yes since I'm a positive guy. Congrats Becca!
Me, Becca, Becca's BQ Friend
The night before the race I had dinner with my friend Trisha, her husband Andy, and a blog fan/crazy fast Missoula runner Tim and his very nice wife. There really seems to be something in the water in Missoula. Not only is everyone super fast, but everyone is really fit! I'm not sure I could move there - I'd really need to set up my game. Anyway, the food was awesome, the cats were friendly, and the ice cream was delicious.
Super fast (nearly-pro) triathlete Andy Drobeck and I. In keeping with all other people from Missoula, really cool/nice. They must make people who move there take a test to make sure they're not an ass
The morning of the race was fairly standard. Get up at some crazy ass hour, lube all my pointy bits, coffee, poop, shuttle bus, poop again, race. The only issue? NO POOP! I'm not sure what was off with my game (beer? no veggies? who knows) but the coffee wasn't helping. However, since it was a training run I wasn't TOO worried about it (and I didn't want to blow out an O-Ring) so I shrugged it off and got to the start line. If I lost a few minutes squatting in someone's front yard, so be it.
Miles 1-5: Burrrrrrrrrrr
The plan for this race from even before when I signed up was to run it as a training run with Trisha who was pacing 3:20. That is 7:37/mile and my long run pace is around 7:30. Easy! I could basically treat it like a training run and tack on the extra 6 miles "for fun". So, that is exactly what I did.
The first group of miles went by okay, but I had a hard time finding a good groove. I honestly think that it was because the temps were 35-40 degrees cooler than I was used to. The effort felt a lot harder than it should have - like was running 20 sec/mile faster. I'll admit that I got a BIT concerned at how my legs felt heavy, but tried not to panic. We picked up a few seconds a mile each time in prep for the one and only hill later to come and were averaging around 7:30s each and every mile.
Miles 6-13: Finally warmed up, finally found a groove!
Once the sun came up, I warmed up a bit and became a bit more chatty (Read: this is my long run pace, so I'm going to be annoying). I met a runner from Huston that I stuck with through mile 22 who was also running his first MT marathon. Another runner had lost 80 (!!) pounds and had just started running 2 years back. Yes, he was running a 3:20 marathon and had only been running for 2 years.
The course is super scenic. You run through what seemed like a valley with mountains on either side. Since it is the middle of summer, everything was green and lush. There weren't too many spectators, but that is just fine by me as I had plenty of people to talk to as we were running along.
By this time the pace group had somewhat figured itself out and was 12 or so runners strong. Just enough to tell that it was a pace group but not enough to be annoying at water stops. We stopped banking time at this point and held 7:33-7:35/mile.
Miles 14-20: Whoa, a hill!! No really, the only hill! Oh shit, this is steep!
The Missoula marathon is essentially flat with one exception - a hill at mile 13. It isn't a long hill at all, honestly it wasn't even all that high up, but it was JUST steep enough to force you to pull your pace back 45-60 sec/mile and take note. We made it up the hill and only used 45 seconds of our banked time. Right where we wanted to be. Some runners I think struggled up the hill a bit and fell off the pace, but for the most part we were still 10 or so runners strong.
I still felt pretty good during this time. Although, I was starting to feel the fatigue in my legs. Even at training pace, 18+ miles is still a really long run. Unfortunately, we had started to drop some runners and were down to 6 or so in our "core" group. To be honest, I feel off at one point around mile 19 as I was refilling my handheld water bottle all the way up. Fortunately, I still had the power in my legs to catch up in short order. Pace during these miles was around 7:45.
Miles 20-26.2: So, which would slow me down more, shitting my pants or barfing? Is this what that Loose Caboose vendor at the expo was talking about!?
At mile 20, it seemed as if my body decided "welp, this is all I go during training runs, time to stop! Wait, we're not stopping? OH YES WE ARE!!" The lack of pre-race poo I think was probably playing a bit of a mental trick on me. My stomach slowly started to feel more and more sour. I got a bit sloshy and thought that I might throw up at one point.
So, right around mile 20 or 21, I decided to put in my headphones. They really helped me take my mind off of the gurgling and continue to put one foot in front of the other. I'm glad I decided to carry them with.
I actually walked through the aid stations as 22 and 23 to see if that would help settle things down and it honestly did to a certain extent. That really makes me wonder how much of it was real vs all in my head. Either way, I had plenty of legs (but was certainly breathing hard) so I was able to keep on pace in spite of the walking and actually caught up to the pace group again by mile 24.
These miles are when pace groups are key. We had peeled off all runners but 3-4 of us so the pace leader, Trisha, could encourage us one on one. It was really nice. Of course, I was rocking out to One Direction, but I assumed that when she looked over at me and said something while smiling it was very nice. (Kidding, I could totally hear her)
Anyway, I continued to plug away and crossed within a minute of my goal and really close to training run pace. I'll take it!
Post race, icing my legs, drinking a beer (and worrying a stranger would drop my phone into the river). Does it get any better than that?
I don't always drink beer at 9:30 in the morning. But when I do, I always take a picture
Took a picture of my feet to make sure they were still there. NUMB! Either that or this was totally a screwed up crotch shot
In closing, I really loved my trip to Missoula as well as the race. I hadn't ran a race on my own for fun in far too long. My focus had been too much on Boston that I had always put extreme pressure on myself to go all out. The nice thing about doing a race for fun is that you can do things that you wouldn't normally do before a key race (another beer? SURE! Ice cream?! YES!). But, alas, play time is over and my focus is now laser pointed at the NYC Marathon. As I sit here with a slightly sore Achilles and an extra 5 pounds, the 16 weeks before the race doesn't seem like long enough!