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"MadCity Marathon Race Report" or "How not to run at 90 degrees F" (Read 780 times)

vicentefrijole


    I ran the MadCity marathon in Madison Wisconsin on May 28th... and it turned out to be the most difficult race I've ever run. This was my second marathon, my first was Chicago last October where I was very pleased to push out a 3:13 on that flat course in cool weather. Training this spring for Madison, I had set my sights on 3:10 or better. The course has more hills, but I figured I might be able to improve enough to compensate for that. I started the race a little too fast (nerves), but soon brought myself down to a reasonable pace that I thought I could manage for the long haul. Even through the hilly portions in the first half I managed to maintain, although I was really starting to feel the heat. By mile 13, however, I realized that something was wrong... I was overheating, feeling nauseous, and losing energy fast. I decided I had better pull back significantly or I wouldn't make it. I considered dropping out entirely, but convinced myself that it's more about finishing than about any arbitrary time. So I abandoned my 3:10 goal and focused instead on keeping hydrated and keeping running. By the high teens, however, I was having trouble even keeping my legs going. I started to walk/run alternatingly, walking mostly in the shade in order to maximize my time out of the sun (it's amazing how different the sun can feel when its become your worst enemy). This was perhaps the worst part of the race, as the course wound through an arboretum (which is usually quite lovely), where the humidity was particularly intense due to evaporation from recent rainstorms. Also, Madison is a relatively small field of runners so there were very few around for company (or commiseration). At times, I couldn't see another runner in either direction. Finally I came upon another runner (Pete?) and we stayed together, partly to keep an eye on each other, as we soon passed an unfortunate runner who was being loaded into an ambulance (presumably for heat shock). Pete and I stuck together for the next 5 or so miles, walking and running. However, I had to let him go after I started feeling particularly nauseous after each waterstop. It probably should have dawned on me that I was consuming too much fluids but I was exhausted, not thinking clearly, and felt desperately that I needed to avoid dehydration. The last few miles are a blur. I drank often and was particularly careful to watch out for any dizziness or other signs that I might be in bad shape. I ran and walked, passing family and friends who cheered me on. I hit quite a few garden hoses and sprinklers, which probably account for one particularly large blister I discovered later on, but which also were the only things keeping me going. Interestinly, many of the guys I started out with (at a fast pace) were right there among me, struggling to keep it going. At mile 26, I threw up all the liquid which had been filling up in my stomach (I wasn't absorbing it as fast as I consumed it) which was an awful lot! Tight lipped With only that last stretch to go, I managed to run through the final straight and across the finish. My final time was 3:48. I learned later that even the top finishers were 15 minutes behind last years leading times (The top 4 were the only ones who broke 3 hours at all) and the officials eventually closed the course early (at 5:15) because a number of people were needing medical attention. I suspect we were all caught a little off guard as it has been a particularly cool spring in the upper midwest and this was literally the first hot weekend of the year. Amazingly, my recovery has gone rather smoothly. My stomach settled relatively quickly (losing all that volume must have helped) and, though quite sore, I'm not as exausted as I was after my first. This wasn't my fastest marathon, but it might be my most memorable one... and my most educational. I'll certainly never again underestimate the dangers of heat and humidity, and the need to adjust my pace accordingly. I'm also determined to work harder on learning the balance between liquids consumed and liquids absorbed/used up. In any case, I look forward resting for at least a couple weeks and then getting started again on the slow buildup toward Chicago again this fall. Big grin
      Boy, am I glad I read your post. I ran last week on a horribly hot day & was very nauseated. I drank & I drank & I drank, feeling sure it must have been dehydration. I even stopped in a friend's yard to fill up my bottle w/ the garden hose. It never occurred to my overheated brain that I could have been drinking too much?!!! I'm sorry you had such a crappy run, but kudos to you for sticking with it & finishing!! I'm glad recovery has went well. Chalk that one up to the learning experience!! Good luck in Chicago. Eryn
      So do not get tired and stop trying. - Hebrews 12:3


      Needs more cowbell!

        WTG--I know it can get VERY hot in Madison, as there's nothing but cornfields surrounding that awesome little city (Go Badgers!). I am very impressed that anyone can run in that weather...I felt really weak and a bit chilled running this past Sunday--and that was a mere 4 mile jog, not a marathon at race pace. My hat is off to you for finishing! Smile k

        I shoot pretty things! ~

        '14 Goals:

        • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

        • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

        vicentefrijole


          Boy, am I glad I read your post. I ran last week on a horribly hot day & was very nauseated. I drank & I drank & I drank, feeling sure it must have been dehydration. I even stopped in a friend's yard to fill up my bottle w/ the garden hose. It never occurred to my overheated brain that I could have been drinking too much?!!!
          Thanks for the encouragement! Yeah, balancing liquids like this is difficult (the other variable is you don't want to drink so much you have to pee every few miles!). I think we're both smart to err on the side of drinking too much in the heat... the side effects of an upset stomach are much better than the side effects of heat exhaustion/stroke. I also wonder if I should look into "salt pills" or some other electrolyte replacement (besides just gatorade which can upset my stomach, obviously). Most of the books say water alone is not enough on those hot days.
          Mile Collector


          Abs of Flabs

            vicentefrijole, I can commiserate with you when it comes to running a marathon in high temperatures. The 2004 Boston Marathon was in 87 degree temperature. It was one of the 4 hottest days for the entire year! The spectators opened up their sprinklers and the kids handed out ice cubes all along the way. My legs locked up by mile 17 and I resorted to run/walk the rest of the way in. Congratulations on completing in such tough conditions. On the bright side, it's one of those races that you'll never forget, that you can always brag about. And good luck with your training for Chicago!


            Needs more cowbell!

              Oh, those electrolyte/salt pills sound like a great idea! I can remember as a kid my folks kept those on hand for when we would go to the races at Road America (Elkhart Lake, WI) and sit in the heat. Something like that might be good to haul along in my Camelbak pack. But I wonder how fast they work compared to an electrolyte sports beverage. k

              I shoot pretty things! ~

              '14 Goals:

              • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

              • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

              Mile Collector


              Abs of Flabs

                I used to take one or two salt tablets during my marathons, and my legs locked up by mile 18. For the last two marathons, I upped the dosage. I would take 1 salt tablet an hour into the marathon, then one every 45 minutes after that. That seemed to have helped a lot. My legs still cramped a little, but never locked up. When compared to the previous marathons where I would stand completely motionless in the middle of the road because every muscle in my leg locked up, I say the salt tablets worked great. The sports drinks do not contain enough electrolytes to replace what you lose in sweat. If you're a heavy sweater, you should weigh yourself before and after a long run on a hot day, and determine how much water you lose. Be sure to factor in how much you took in during the run. I need to dig up the amount of salt you lose per unit of sweat. I have it in my log some place. Once you get that, then you can determine if you need salt tablets.
                Mile Collector


                Abs of Flabs

                  I found the entry. It said that 16 oz of sweat contains about 500 mg of salt. I got this value from an article written by Nancy Clark (the nutritionist) in an issue of New England Runner last year.


                  Needs more cowbell!

                    Oh, that is great information! Now I'm curious as to how it would be to make my own electrolyte drink mix. I would think I could use sugar-free Kool-Aid or even just a really low-sugar version (maybe something like half sugar, half Splenda). Perhaps running potassium tablets and other minerals through the blender or crushing them with a mortar/pestle. That would probably be cheaper than Gatorade, too....

                    I shoot pretty things! ~

                    '14 Goals:

                    • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

                    • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

                      I was also at the Mad City Marathon. I decided to use it as a last training run for Grandma's Marathon in three weeks. Boy, what a mistake. I felt great through the first half, but by mile 18 started suffering from leg cramping and had to start walking through water stations and up the hills. By mile 20 i was 3 hours in and was hoping just to finish. At mile 24, I started to feel sick and had to stop in the shade to rest. That was as far as I got. My legs locked up and they loaded me in a van and took me to the finish. Another lesson learned! I thought I had enough to drink prior to and during the race, but obviously I didn't and paid the price. Hopefully for Grandma's it'll cool down a little.
                        Vincente and Mike, Congratulations on running 26.2 (and 24) under very difficult conditions! You guys have proven you're worth your salt (pun intended - sorry). Good luck as you prepare for Chicago and Grandma's.


                        You'll ruin your knees!

                          Oh, that is great information! Now I'm curious as to how it would be to make my own electrolyte drink mix. I would think I could use sugar-free Kool-Aid or even just a really low-sugar version (maybe something like half sugar, half Splenda). Perhaps running potassium tablets and other minerals through the blender or crushing them with a mortar/pestle. That would probably be cheaper than Gatorade, too....
                          There are lots of great products out there than can provide what you're looking for. Hammer Nutrition (NFI) makes capsules called Endurolytes, which have been quite effective for me (North Texas summers can be double high 90's, you know... heat/humidity). Electrolytes are essential in helping your stomach process the fluids you pump in there...you definitely don't want to reduce your intake, but to help your body absorb the fluids, which will help reduce/eliminate the nausea and cramping! There are also lots of drinks that can be benificial. Cytomax (found in bike stores) is something that I have had good luck with, along with some of the mixes from Hammer (Perpetuem, Succeed, etc). You should not try something new during a race, but rather train with it...use those long runs to try new things and stick with what works on race day. Your slow marathon time is still better than my PR, but I'm mainly running trail races now, so speed doesn't get in the way too often (unless it's on a mammoth technical downhill Shocked). Lynn B

                          ""...the truth that someday, you will go for your last run. But not today—today you got to run." - Matt Crownover (after Western States)

                          vicentefrijole


                            I was also at the Mad City Marathon.... Hopefully for Grandma's it'll cool down a little.
                            WOW! Small world! By time, it looks like we were pretty close together. I wonder if we stumbled past each other at some point. Big grin Are you living/running in the Madison area Mike? (Wait, I see that you're from Indiana) I'm down in Chicago but I grew up in Madison and I love to visit/run there. It sure would have been a beautiful course, too, on any other day. Be glad you didn't make it to mile 26 to see the mess I left behind. Tight lipped Best of luck at Grandma's.


                            Needs more cowbell!

                              There are lots of great products out there than can provide what you're looking for. Hammer Nutrition (NFI) makes capsules called Endurolytes, which have been quite effective for me Lynn B
                              Oh, thanks for that info--I definitely want to check those out. Smile k

                              I shoot pretty things! ~

                              '14 Goals:

                              • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

                              • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

                                Yeah, it is a small world. We probably did cross paths at some point. The later it got in the race, the less anyone would look familiar to me, though. My parents live in Milwaukee, so I thought this would be a good way to break the monotny of the long run. I figured I'd run the first 20 as my training run and finish in whatever time. I really never thought I wouldn't finish. Oh well, it's not the first and I'm sure it won't be the last time I'm humbled running a marathon. They always seem to have a way to bring you back to earth when you start feeling good about your fitness level and running ability. Your post at least let me know I wasn't alone. Good luck in Chicago!
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