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2014 Eau Claire Marathon Recap

My daughters met me at the finish line and crossed with me--best finish ever!
I wasn't exactly sure how the Eau Claire Marathon was going to go considering I'd run the Chippewa 50k the week before.  Actually when I say "run" I'm being generous since I mostly walked it.  I guess my logic was that I was trying to conserve something for the EC Marathon...but you really can't do a 50k trail run and conserve anything no matter how slow you go.

Honestly, I would never have signed up to do marathons on consecutive weekends if it weren't for Eric T. Olson.  He was going in to the EC Marathon after having done Nashville the week before.  He kept saying things like, "it will be fine," and "I think you'll surprise yourself."  It's a little easier to take Eric at face value since he's always out there actually running marathons on consecutive weekends.  The guy's even done marathons on consecutive days, so at least I was going to have a week to recover.  The most succinct way Eric put it was to say, "doing marathons on consecutive weekends is great because you don't have to train for the second one!"

For those of you who are curious, I didn't do all that much training in the week between Chippewa and EC.  I was too stiff to move around on Sunday and Monday (plus it rained all week).  By Tuesday I couldn't take it anymore and went on a :40 minute bike ride.  Then it cleared up enough so I was able to take my girls on a ride in the Burley on Wednesday for :50 minutes.  I rested on Thursday, rode :50 on Friday (with the girls), and had a nice 1:30 group ride down River Road on Saturday.  I thought that last might have been pushing it a little bit, but honestly by the time the marathon came around, there was no superficial soreness in my legs at all.  Keep in mind, none of these rides were "hammer fests" (they rarely are these days).  Eric told me that he did a four mile run around Wednesday or so in between the two events.

I felt really good marathon morning and was excited to get out there and run.  Back when I was younger, I used to get stressed out at these events because I wanted to "do good."  Looking back, it's kind of silly to have your day ruined because you thought you could run a 3:44 and you ran a 3:51.  These days I just see marathons as big training days.  It's nice to sign up for one because I wouldn't be running otherwise, and it's a lot more fun to run 26.2 miles with company than alone.

Our plan was to do the first half of the marathon fast and then run/walk the second half.  Last year we did the first 13.1 in about 2:02, which surprised me at the time because it's been years since I have done a half marathon in close to 2 hours.  But that first half of the Eau Claire marathon goes by quickly, and as the mile markers clicked off, I was surprised to see that we were going to be hitting the half way point at close to two hours once again.  Eric kept telling me that I was going too fast (he was right, I'd pay for it later), but I really wanted to hit that halfway point at 1:59.  At mile 11, I spontaneously felt good on a hill and decided to start hammering.  Eric was too smart to stay with me (he knew I'd be waiting for him at the 13.1 marker, so he let me go).

I did the best I could, moving from group to group, but as the minutes ticked away, I realized the 2 hr half wasn't going to happen.  Still, I kept on and crossed the midway line at 2:04.  The second I hit the marker I started walking, resolved to walk a whole mile or so.  Eric caught up pretty quickly and he was only too happy to start striding along beside me.

"Ok, we did our work for the day," I said, "I'm happy to walk the rest of the way."

"Fine with me," Eric replied.

After halfway, it's all down hill and it was fun to chill out and enjoy the day.  We ran/walked for a couple miles, but about mile 17 I started to notice the deep soreness that was left over from the Chippewa 50k.  That was fine though.  Eric kept saying, "I'm really out of shape," which made me laugh.  Finally I had to remind him that he was in the middle of doing two marathons in 8 days, so I think that qualifies as "in shape."

At one point we pulled into an aid station.  I was kind of looking for a GU packet, but they didn't appear to have any.

"We've got some doughnuts though," one of the workers said.

"Yes!" I replied, grabbing a big powdered sugar doughnut.  As I crossed the street stuffing my face with powdered sugar doughnut, I looked up at some spectators and said, "I do all these marathons and I can't lose any weight!"  Then I scarfed down the rest of the doughnut...they didn't seem to know what to think.  

The miles clicked away as we headed in to the finish.  Every now and then we'd look at our watches and calculate our finish time, but then we got smart and remembered that we were only out there to have fun.  It was a beautiful day with just enough sun to keep you warm, but not so much to burn you or make you sweat.

At the finish line, I looked up and was surprised to see my daughter Sofia running towards me with tears in her eyes.  I stopped and picked her up.  She told me later that she cried a little bit because she missed me.  Ariel was a little farther on, but she had a big bag of baby carrots to munch on so she was doing OK.  The two of them walked with me across the finish line which was nice.
Ariel at Casa Mexicana afterwards
We got our free brat and beer, which was enough to tide us over until we got to Casa Mexicana for a big plate of food.  Frankly, I'm glad that I don't have to run a marathon for a while, but I'm excited about Grandma's coming up this summer.

It's pretty fun running the first half hard and then jogging in.  I think with that tactic just about anyone can do a marathon, and it allows you to finish well within the cut off times.  I'm enjoying these events a lot more than I did when I was younger.  There's enough in life to make you stress out, these days I run marathons to relax!  Honestly, if you're one of those people who says, "you know, I've always wanted to run a marathon" my advice is to just sign up and do it.  I think you'll surprise yourself.  Oh, and there's plenty of time to train for the upcoming inaugural Gandy Dancer Marathon!

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