Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence Marathon, Rockland Lake State Park, NY, August 25, 2015.

It is about time I ran another marathon. I like this race.  But it is not an easy event. It is late August. It is 9 laps.  Some parts of the course are very open in the hot sun.  It starts at 7 am so the first hour is ok, but after that it just gets hotter and hotter.

The race is small, maybe only 300-400 runners. The event is directed by the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team.  This is the same group responsible for the World's Longest Race (3100 miles around 1 half mile block in Queens) and the 6/10 days races.  Despite its small size, runners from all over the world attend it.

Here is some information about Sri Chinmoy:
"Chinmoy Kumar Ghose, better known as Sri Chinmoy (27 August 1931 – 11 October 2007), was an Indian spiritual master who taught meditation in the West after moving to New York City in 1964. Chinmoy established his first meditation center in Queens, New York, and eventually had thousands of students in 60 countries. A prolific author, artist, poet, and musician, he also held public events such as concerts and meditations on the theme of inner peace. Chinmoy also advocated athleticism to achieve spiritual enlightenment, including distance running, swimming, and weightlifting. He organized marathons and other races, and was an active runner and, following a knee injury, weightlifter."(
This year was special for few reasons. This would be Kim's second marathon ever and this time she was running it only as a long run (with the option to stop at 20-22 miles) as part of a bigger training cycle.  It is really a wonderful thing to be so fit that you run marathons just for fun! :)  Alanna was back again this year. She was the person who reminded me about the event.  But most impressively, to me at least, was that Elizabeth was coming along. First, I can't believe she got up at 3 am for this! She only recently became motivated to run long distance. The amount of dedication she has demonstrated, despite some major obstacles is impressive.  None of us had grandiose goals. No one expected an August marathon to yield fast times, but we all just wanted to see what we could do and have fun.

I started towards the front. I wasn't sure if I could even finish this, seeing my back has been giving me a lot of problems lately.  But I was able to race a 5k well, just a few days prior, so I thought I had a chance.  If not, I would like to get as far as I could, at a decent pace, and count this as a good marathon training Long Run.  

photo by Elizabeth Jimenez
As we reach the first bridge, I hear someone say "You're first female!" But of course I think he is either mistaken or talking to someone else.  As I cross the bridge a tall thin man jumps on his bike and starts riding along the edge of the runners.

The park is open to the public so people can do anything they want out there.  I believe it is our job as runners to be courteous and share the path. I expected him to ride in the wave of runners until the path opened up for him and then he would be gone and out of the foot traffic.  But he didn't take off.  He stayed just a few yards ahead of me. It took me few minutes to realize that he was for me!  In all of my races, I have never been behind the guy on the bike!

I was a little shocked because I was not running very fast, as far as lead runner pace goes, maybe a 7:30 pace at this point.  I felt great but I did not think I would hold 7:30s for the entire race. I was sure some other female could.  I picked up my pace slightly, and he looked back. I asked him "Are you for me?"  He smiled.  I said "I think I might cry."

He said, "You never won one?" I have won ultras, and podiumed at marathons, but off the top of my head I cant recall winning a marathon.  In ultras, you don't get a bike escort and usually, it seems, in marathons, the race leader only (usually a guy) has a bike escort.  This made me like this race even more.

I said "No, I have never won one. And I won't today. But I will enjoy this while it lasts!" I led for just over 4 miles before she pulled past me, allowing me to finally relax my pace a bit and settle into my long run.

And then a bee flew under the strap of my sports bra, (a bizarrely timed incident that would unlikely ever happen again) and stung me.   I started spewing profanities and then realized others were near me, so I started apologizing. This event has a very spiritual feel to it, so cursing like a drunken sailor seem to be in bad form.

But I was a bit panicked about this. My father is very allergic to bees, needing resuscitation twice from stings. I passed Eliot and he said "Hey, you are in second place!"  I replied like a crazy person,  "ELIOT!!!!  I GOT STUNG BY A BEEEEEEE!!!!"and then I ran on as I heard him ask "Are you ok?" I called back "If you see me passed out, that's why!"

The loop was small, I knew that stopping would not get me to the med tent faster. If I had trouble there were people everywhere to help me.  I could stop at an aid station. Someone would tell me to sit down and stop running.  I watched the area for swelling.  There was a little.

After a few miles, I seemed fine. A few laps later, I saw Eliot again and he asked if I was doing better.  He is a very nice man.  I told him he was looking good out there and that I was ok now.

Fortunately the bee distracted for much of the first 10 miles.  The weather was warming up, I had settled into a 8:15 pace and felt very comfortable there.  My average pace was still sub-8 as I has a great first 4 miles.  I passed the half way mark at 1:43 and felt like I could hold on for another 13.

I was very surprised to not have yet been passed by another female.  But the race was young and the sun was getting hotter.  Heat crushes my soul.  As I finished that lap, I realized I had "Only 4 more laps to go!"  This seemed not too bad.  

I was drinking at every aid station and pouring water over me.  I had pinned some salt to my shorts, but did not anticipate running while soaking wet.  All the packet had fallen off at some point.  No sodium for me today.  I could have used a little, but it wasn't the end of the world.

As I came around again, I realized ok "Three More Laps to go"  Only in marathon running can "Three Lap to Go!"can seem longer and more difficult to do accomplish than "Four Laps to Go!"  But it does.  At four laps to go, a good race seemed possible, but at three laps to go I was not so sure.

The asphalt path was heating up. The sun was strong. The shade was humid.  My fingers were swelling. My arms were swelling. I wish I had some salt.  I loosened my watch a notch because it was starting to feel too tight.

As I ran, glanced at the ground under my feet and said to myself "I will only need to see you two more times and then we are done here!"  I was working three to go, but thinking about 2 more laps only helped.  Even thought tired, I still had a sense that I could pick up the pace in the last 6 miles.

At 7 mile to go, I could not believe how ok I still felt.  I was not running anywhere near my best pace, but as a training run, I felt awesome.  It was hot, I was tired, I was swollen, but I was running still about 8:15 without a fade.  I was confident I could hammer home something descent.

But then at 6 miles to go, everything suddenly changed. Without warning, I started getting dizzy.  Whoa, where did that come from.  I wondered about the bee sting.  Nah, that happened hours ago.  As soon as I saw the 21 mile mark, I broke stride and walked. Ugh! So close.  I was so close to a good run, but now I am falling apart

As I reached an aid station, I grabbed a slice of watermelon and just walked.  This is just training.  It doesnt matter that much.  I looked around me and most of us were zombies.  I wasn't alone.  It was August. It was hot.

A man in an orange T-shirt connected with me with saying anything.  This happens.  Side by side we commiserated.  He walked near by.  When he decided to run again, he motioned to me to come along.  I did.

For the next 5 miles we alternated run with some walking and pulled each other along. Sometimes I would start the run park… other times he did.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do at "One lap to go".  I wasn't sure I could go on.

photo by Elizabeth Jimenez
How can "ONE... LAP... TO... GO…" feel like an impossible task when just ran 8 laps?  I stopped looking at my watch.  I was sure I was walking backwards in time.  But once I started that final lap,  I knew I would finish.

As I made that final lap, saying good-bye to the hot asphalt beneath my feet and thanked it all for holding me up for the duration, it occurred to me that I had not yet been passed by another female. Could it be possible that I am still in second?  I was not certain and if it was not true, I would not be surprised, but I should have noticed if I was passed.

photo by Elizabeth Jimenez
As the man in orange and I reached a half mile to go, he told me to "Finish it off!" I encouraged him to come. I was so very happy to see that grass shoot to the finish line!  I had no kick.  I did not care.  I was just so proud that I did not drop out!

Elizabeth was at the finish line, taking photos.  I immediate told her that I wanted to see the med tent people for some benedryl.  I have this weird idea that the adrenaline from running might have kept the bee sting from affecting me but now that I stopped I would have a reaction.

I was over heating and feeling woozy again.  At the med tent I meet a lovely women who advised me the my whole world would change for the better if I got in the big green garbage can of cold water, and I believed her.  And she was right!

The event was wonderful for all of us. Elizabeth ran the longest run of 15km.  Kim managed to finish a marathon as a training run with an actual kick.  Alanna was close behind with a strong finish in the heat.  We stayed for some Vegetarian food and left after the awards ceremony.

Time 3:43
Gender place 2nd
Back Pain - NONE.  

1 comment:

  1. I have been meaning to read this for so long! Finally just finished it up. This was such a fun race, the 4 of us need to do a repeat next year here!!