Leg 1: The first leg of the relay is 7.8 miles and starts at Palmer Lake in Monument. Palmer Lake was pretty much a dried up hole last year (hoping the rainy last month has helped it out this year), but it is a great start for the marathon, being as you run on a dirt trail that is flat for the first mile so you can get your legs warmed up rather than start burning them up running downhill right off the bat. This part of the ADT trail is called the New Santa Fe Regional Trail. It is all on loose gravel and downhill! There is only one real uphill during this portion around Mile 3.75. I tend to run my uphills with little effort of late and feel like the few people I am running close with will lose some ground here. There are some other minor ups, but it's mostly steady downhill starting elevation of 7254 and drop to 6700. This leg of the run is scenic and very open with tree-lined areas and subdivisions occasionally but some wide open space through much of it. At the end of Leg 1, there is some up and downs. This is where there is a sizeable uphill at the transition zone.
Leg 2: The second leg is 9.3 miles and this is probably the best part of the marathon in my opinion. The scenes are amazing through this leg and most of it is running through Air Force Academy property. While I only got to see the last mile of this leg waiting to run with my Uncle until he transitioned to my cousin (last year they had you trek up a mile from Woodmen Rd for a last minute change due to AFA rules) this area had a nice little uphill at Mile 16.5 and was heavily treed. Based off just driving by this area of I-25 and touring the academy as a kid, this is one of the most beautiful areas of Colorado Springs and while I've never seen a game there, I have always loved the view of the stadium from the highway. Still this leg has a max elevation of around 6800 and drops to around 6300 so there is a lot more steep downhills I've been told with some nice uphills to re-awaken the legs. I am excited most for this leg because I will be able to relax and this is where I will probably be at my strongest.
Leg 3: The third leg is 4.9 miles and starts at Edmonson Trailhead. This is where the loose gravel/dirt trail of the first two legs gives way to concrete paths the remainder of the marathon. It appears this transition zone is closer to the Woodmen Rd exit and the trek is much shorter for the 3rd leg runner. This is where we will finally cross I-25 to the east side around Nevada Ave. We will also finally transition to the Pikes Peak Trail after the New Santa Fe ends. This area nears I-25 and goes under quite a few main roads off I-25. It is very industrial/commercial and I am sure this will be where I have to face the wall at some point. I am hoping it is when I get closer to Goose Gossage Park and where I will have a cheering section in Andi, Sophie, cousin Emily and my Aunt D IF I am not 20 minutes behind my Uncle and cousin Katee. If that is the case, they will have to wait at the finish for them 2 and I will have crashed big time. About a 200 foot elevation drop from 6300 to 6100.
Leg 4: The fourth leg is the last 4.2 miles. I will be looking left a lot or East, because to the right/West is I-25 and more businesses. The other direction has some beautiful neighborhoods and tree lined area. This is an area where I will get to see my Uncle Tim's alma mater in Colorado College. Unfortunately the idiot administrators got rid of the football team my Uncle started 4 years on but I have many memories of Harrington in the secondary as a young kid. I've also done some work to the Art museum near the campus and this will hopefully hold me over until I am gutting out the last Mile and a half into the open and BEAUTIFUL America the Beautiful Park. I think I emphasize beautiful because I will be done at this point. Drop from 6100 to just under 6000.
Even with this knowledge of the course, there are a lot of questions running through my head I need to point out first:
- Did I get enough miles in?
- How will the warming day affect me?
- Will my knee hold up that made me take a few months off from getting any significant mileage?
- Will I cramp in my calves again like I did for Myrtle Beach the last 4+ miles?
- Am I going to have stomach or need to use restroom issues like I did for my half marathon in July?
- How will my legs feel averaging 200 feet of downhill every 4 miles, 1280 total? Will this cause cramping in other areas I haven't had issues with before?
- Can I beat the Relay team of my Uncle Tim, Aunt D and Cousins Emily and Katee; aka the Harrington Harriers?
- Did I get enough miles in? I looked at Myrtle Beach training plan and while I didn't have a 50 week base built up to it, I noticed that I have ran as many miles as I did the last 15 weeks of that marathon. Additionally, I have ran more days of 6+ mile runs than I did throughout my training for Myrtle Beach.
- Warming Day? Usually on Labor Day, the high is about 80 in Colorado Springs area and fortunately that wouldn't hit until later but it has got up to 90 for this race. Last year my leg was perfect with clouds and 50s to low 60s temps. By the time my cousin Katee had finished it was probably high 70s to low 80s. I don't think heat will be an issue. I have ran many long runs and intermediate runs in 90 degree temps.
- Will my knee hold up? I had a scare actually yesterday when I felt soreness for the first time in this training cycle (after I had finally healed from Marathon #1). My bothersome left knee was tight. I ran 4 miles anyway, because I am a marathon runner and I must run.
- Calf cramping? Not sure, but I believe I need to take gels high in Potassium and will take some quinine leg cramp medicine at the halfway point and Mile 18. My calves cramped the last mile of the Dog Days Half. I think this can be attributed to two things; 1. Dehydration from using the port-a-poo twice and 2. The OTC2.0 Injinji calf compression socks. I like them and they felt good to wear after my long run but actually running in them restricted my calves too much. I think if I am going to do compression gear on my calves, I will need to be sized for them and use sleeves instead.
- Stomach Issues? I am someone that needs to use the restroom regularly or too often probably. Somehow the world came together for my full marathon that I didn't have to use the restroom at all during the race. I ran a 20 miler a couple weeks ago and didn't have to go either. There is hope. I will be getting up 2.5 hours before the start and consume all chia, coffee and food within the first 45 minutes. This was my biggest downfall for the half I believe. I didn't give my body long enough to process and had a full sloshy stomach because of it. Additionally, I will eat smart the night before. I had too much red sauce and sugars the day before I believe. I ate a ton the night before the marathon but gave myself adequate time to let it process the next morning.
- Legs after going downhill 200 feet over every 4 miles on average? I have ran a downhill half, GTIS in 2012 and ran training runs with a lot of downhill that average more than 200 feet in a 4-mile range. I seem to do really well and not have leg issues later in the run. Hope this stays a pattern.
- The Harrington Harrier Relay vs Ventura solo? This is a competition because my Uncle and I are competitive. I was almost dumb enough to bet him I could run within 30 minutes of his time for Myrtle Beach but being a rookie and learning from him, decided it was a bad idea. We don't have a bet other than pride currently. I am not sure on this either. My Aunt D has been kicking ass this year since e-mailing me in March how she was going to get back to the person she wanted to. She has got faster and thus made her leg of 7.8 miles a challenge to get a lead on her. My Uncle Tim is a machine and even though he just ran a marathon this past weekend his legs will be pretty much normal on Labor Day and I will have at least a 1:30/mi disadvantage over his 9.3 mile leg. My cousins are active and if their heads are in it, they could really just stay in front of me the whole time and I never catch up during their 4.9 and 4.2 mile legs.
- Around 10-12: Drop Sophie off with The Harrington's
- Around 1: Arrive at Mile High Stadium... oops, Sports Authority Field and enjoy tailgate with Kunkel Family for next 3 hours awaiting the Buffs starting the Mike MacIntyre era of CU Buffs football with a win over the Lambs of CSU. This is where while most every one else will be enjoying drinks and fattening foods, I will be consuming water and Gatorade constantly. This I do not look forward to since the bathroom lines are long and I will need to use them often.
- After game around 7:30 or 8:00: Head down to Monument and meet up with the Harrington's and Sophie! I don't know whether I will try to sneak in a bowl of spaghetti for the game or if I will have to eat a late dinner, but I prefer to not eat after 8 so maybe Andi & I will stop for a quick dinner. Will have to figure this out with her and discuss this with my Uncle since a late dinner may spell similar issues to what I had on my half.
- 10 p.m: Need to be in bed. I will have all needed items out and ready to go for following morning.
- 4:00 a.m: Wake up and be as quiet as possible. Shower and consume liquids. Yes, I like to shower before I make myself smell putrid and it wakes me up. Get dressed quickly and head out to lobby of Inn at Palmer Divide where I will eat. Rice most likely since I am reading (thanks Scott Jurek for Eat and Run) and seeing the benefits of rice more and more.
- 5:00 a.m.: Will have all liquids and food taken in. I will watch some TV, sip some liquids and spend the next hour relaxing. Relieve myself many times and hopefully fully by departure.
- 6:10 a.m.: Head to start with Aunt D. We will have to figure if we are going to be taking a separate car or if Tim will be dropping us off or what. Consume another banana to help get more potassium in. Drink some Gatorade.
- 6:20 a.m.: Last minute port-a-potty/poo chance and be ready to go by 6:30.
Line up near 3:45 pacer and maybe talk to them a little. I can't let a pacer dictate how I run but I will use him to determine how close or far away I am from my goal. I am hoping they start off a little fast, so I can pass them before Leg 2. I am excited for a 3:45 pacer. Myrtle Beach had the 3:05, 3:35, 4:00 and then like every 30 minutes. There is a large group between these areas and it's nice to see the ADT realizes this. (Note: Since this is such a heavy BQ, I think maybe a 3:05 guy to go with their 3:30 and above would help but thanks for the 3:45 pacer for sure.)
I will run the first mile and a half at about 30-45 seconds slower than my marathon pace of 8:35/mi. I will naturally be running a tad bit faster after that until the Relay Transition at Mi 7.8. I am going to try to be smart about it and not completely destroy my legs and have lactic acid build-up and hose my chances. I plan on being at about 1:07 at this time. I believe my Aunt D will be around 1:11 assuming she runs 9 minute miles. She may be faster, I am not sure.
After a hello and high five from the wife, kid and I am sure shit talk from my Uncle, I will have anywhere from a 2 minute lead to 5 minute lead over the Harrington Harriers. Though I wish my Aunt the best run possible, I am hoping I have saved a lot in the tank and have closer to 5 minutes. My Uncle Tim I have to assume will be running 7:00/mi. I will be picking it up and hopefully gain ground on the downhills and stay around pace on the uphills. I am assuming I run this leg around 8:00/mi. I am assuming my Uncle passes me by Mile 10 if I only have a 2 minute lead and no later than Mile 13 if I have a 5 minute lead. I am really hoping it's the halfway point so I know I only have 4 miles where I am losing ground to him by 75 seconds or so a mile. This would put me at 2:22 and the Harrington Harriers at 2:16.
At this transition zone, I will try to take a gu or chew and maybe a leg cramp pill just to try to keep it from happening. I will then become the hunter after being the hunted. My cousin Emily is tall for a 13 year old and is a decent runner for her age. I saw her gut out an 8:15/mi 5k with my Uncle. My guess is she is a tad slower than this and closer to my marathon pace of 8:35. I will be running just over 8:00 still at this time. This would put me at 3:02ish with 4.2 to go. I will take another gu, get some energy and positive vibes from the family and hopefully see a winded Emily because they are only 4 minutes ahead max and are at a 2:58.
This is where I will answer a lot of questions. Katee is shorter than her sister and 12. She has gotten faster in the last year. She ran under a 9:00/mi in the 5k we all did running on her own. I assume with my Uncle and wanting to beat me, should be about 9:35/mi. This would put the Harriers at around 3:38 and me at the same time. I honestly would be happy to lose and get 3:45, but the competitive side makes me hope that the weather conditions are right and my legs hold up and I don't lose my pace at the end.
I will eat a ton of the free food, put on my compression socks and be in misery until draft nigh.
Goal Time is 3:45, Time to Beat is probably 3:38 and I honestly think if I don't have any issues I can hit that but I could have issues galore and be lucky to break 4:00. That is the power of the marathon, you can never be prepared for everything.