Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon Race Report - 2010

My fourth Bataan Marathon in a row! An annual trek for me now. I love this race.

After running my OP50 two weeks ago (and having my highest mileage week ever - 64 miles!), I kept the mileage low, doing about 25 miles the week afterwards, and only 4 miles the week of the marathon. Basically, it was a combo recover/taper period.

I had no real problems after my first 50 mile race, except a little soreness on the arch of my right foot. I've never had many foot problems and just figured it was par for the course (I had a sore left foot - the ball - after my 60k in October, but I chalked that up to 37.2 miles of pavement, which I'll never do again, thank you!)

So, all systems are go and I drive over to NM for the marathon the day before. My brother in law pulled his trailer on base for me again, so all I had to do was get up on race morning and walk 10 minutes to the start line. Thank you Gary!!! My temporary casa on base:

The Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon was created to commemorate those soldiers that were captured in 1942 and were forced to march long distances without food or water through the Philippine jungles. They did the usual pre-race ceremony, which starts at 6:35am, recognizing the soldiers that were still alive and those that had passed on in the previous year. It is always emotional. If this isn't your thing - go to some other marathon - this is why I come here. A flag the size of a house is flown from a large crane.

The sun started to peek over the mountains before the race started. I found Boone and John from Tucson, but didn't find my other Tucson friends (record crowds this year!)

At the end of the ceremony, F-22 fighter jets flew over before the start of the race - woosh!!! Wow!!!
The amputees go out first, a little after 7am, and then the rest of us. I got to shake a lot of the survivors' hands on the way to the start line and thank them for their service. It won't be long before there will be none left - many are in their 90's.
It was very cold at the start - below freezing - and I was in a skirt. I was wrapped up in a blanket until race start, at which time I discarded it. Good idea!

I wore a tank and sleeves and a 'throwaway' sweat jacket, which I ditched around mile 9.

This race warmed up, but this year, not as hot as previous years. Nice!

Time: 4:19:48
Last year's time: 4:19:21
Not bad for doing a 50 mile race 2 weeks ago!
Distance: 26.2 miles (I calculated 25.9 on the Garmin, like last year)
For all 'light' category women (civilian and military), I came in 17th out of 637 finishers. Most people 'march' this marathon. Maybe one year, I'll do the 'heavy' category, which is to carry a 35 lb. pack for 26.2 miles. Impressive!
Elevation, start of race: 4,368 feet
Cumulative elevation gain/(loss): 2,426/(2,404) feet
Highest elevation: 5,423 feet

Here's the scoop:
The race is on pavement for about 2 miles, transitioning to dirt/sand road (which they appear to have graded nicely this year!) and is basically slightly downhill for the first 6 miles.
It then goes uphill until around mile 13. Part of this section is pavement from around mile 9-12. Then, after mile 13 or so, the glorious downhill starts. The views are awesome.
The problem for me was this - around mile 5, the arch on my right foot started bothering me. By mile 10, it was excruciating. I took 2 Aleve and considered dropping out. I did a lot of walking between miles 11 and 13. I felt a little better when the downhills started, but decided it wasn't getting any worse, so I pressed on (nothing's broken and you aren't puking, so get going - something overheard in many ultras!!) I wanted to finish the race. My gait was affected by it, but so be it. It was manageable, but pretty painful. This race was very mental for me, and the music from the iPod could not drown out much of this. Tenacity is the word that comes to mind. Having nice scenery helps, too!
After passing mile 13, and the decision to stay in the race was made, I started the second half of the race. It goes around a small mountain, and the rolling hills start, but mostly it is downhill and fast running! The pavement picks back up again around mile 18 and that is when the wall of marchers becomes visible!
One of the best parts of the race. They are cheering on the few of us runners heading downhill, and they are hauling the heavy packs!

And yes, I'm taking pictures while I'm running! I do this a lot!!!

One of the aid stations I pass is starting to look like a M.A.S.H. unit!!!
Around mile 21, the race veers off pavement to dirt/sand road, to the infamous 'sandpit', aka sandy wash (about a mile long). This part of the race will tire you out and leave you with not much left in the tank for the few hills which occur right afterwards!

The last couple miles of the race, I got my motivation by following two young military men traveling at a good pace. Can you blame me?
I finally passed them in the last mile and whisked into the final .2 of the race through the chute and to the finish line and the cheering crowds! One more Bataan conquered! Woohoo!
I saw Wayne from my trail running group come in (he and his wife Patricia did the race because I talked it up!) and he was feeling good - he had done OP50, too.  Another guy from TTR, Chase, did the 'heavy' division.
I was starving, so I then headed over for my annual Bratwurst (another reason for doing this race!). Yummy! This race has real food afterwards! I'm all about the food. :)
I hung out for a bit with Boone and John from Tucson, who were pretty wrung out from their speedy finishes.
Good lyrics for this race from a song that I listened to on my iPod:

'I got soul, but I'm not a soldier...'
'While everyone's lost, the battle is won
With all these things that I've done
All these things that I've done
If you can hold on
If you can hold on...'

~ The Killers

To experience some pain today was nothing compared to what those soldiers endured. I walked away this year with a lot of respect for the man willing to risk his life for his country. The courage of these men amazes me.

Courage: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear.
Have courage in your life. Today.

After getting sufficiently sunburned sitting out in the sun after the race, I returned limped to the trailer and showered (right foot, ouch! left calf from overcompensating gait, ouch!) I drove back to Tucson the same day, stiffening up hour after hour. But, driving alone is always a time to reflect in my life. I sure have a lot to reflect on right now in my life. Past, present and future. Changes. Letting go. Embracing new. All good stuff. Life. Life!


Sarah said...

I hope your foot is okay! That's an excellent time for not being at your best and finishing a 50 miler 2 weeks prior.

What camera do you have? I'm in the market for a new one that's compact.

Lisa said...

You know sis, I've come to realize that God only gives us what we can handle. We Lehmann's are a strong bunch. Love ya, Lisa

Dave said...

got here via Endurance Buzz...great report, great performance, great pics...just an overall great event. I ran it Heavy and it was my first time to run it as well.