Marathon #21 was in the great state of Iowa, in Marion, just north of Cedar Rapids. It was the Marion Rotary For Shoes Marathon. And it was hot. And hilly. But I had a great group of friends who made the trip with me. From left, meet Lindsay (Glitter Girl on the Run), Judy F, Amanda W (Get to Goal), Derek, Julie M & myself.
We also met Kim from Running on the Fly and her friend, Barb (not pictured).
The 2015 Marathon for Shoes was held in June for the first time. The first two years were held the third week in April and apparently the weather both years was crazy cold with either snow or wind/rain/sleet. So the 2015 edition was pushed out til June and cold it was not. In fact it was hot. So hot that most of us would have done a choreographed rain dance had we thought it would produce a cloud or drop of rain from that beautiful blue but steamy sky. But alas, no rain.
Packet pickup was at a local school gymnasium and there were a handful of vendors. Nice, friendly people. Easy packet pick up. Free parking. Nike tech shirt as the SWAG. You could have been in and out with your shirt & number in less than 10 minutes. But you had to get your packet the night before the race or there was a late pickup fee the morning of the race.
The race started in front of a local high school at 7am. Easy, free parking. A handful of port-o-potties. Chip timing. Beautiful blue skies. The race started on time without much of a production. We were across the timing mat in less than 30 seconds, along with the half marathoners and a handful of relay runners. Not a huge race, less than 500 people at the start.
Then came the hills. One right after another. Then a few more. And the never really stopped. The temps that were in the mid 70s at the start climbed to mid 80s by the finish. The course was mainly on country roads with some neighborhoods. There were a couple sections where we ran along busy highways separated from the zooming cars by orange cones. Highlights were an old cemetery and a small park. The coolest thing we saw was a piece of art in the form of corn stalks just before mile 7.
Around mile 7, the half marathoners turned off and it got pretty lonely. I’ll be honest, I was so thankful to have friends running this race! We mostly stuck together and just dealt with the
hills heat as it came. Very slowly. With lots of walking. Aid stations were every 1.5 miles or so apart. They offered warm water & watermelon AdvoCare Rehydrate (tasty and way better than traditional sugar laden sport drinks for your body!). There were lots of people on bikes offering bike support, asking us if we were okay, calling SAG for those who needed a ride and calling 911 for those who dropped. There were a handful of spectators scattered throughout the 26.2 miles. The best spectator award goes to a nice couple who put out their sprinkler as we ran thru one of the last neighborhoods. We were super thankful for that sprinkler and ran thru it like a bunch of 5 year olds. I think I even squealed with delight!
Running in high heat and 100% humidity is pretty dangerous. I wouldn’t recommend it. However, weather for pre-registered events is an absolute unknown. There is no way to predict what the day will bring but only what we can do to make our chances to survive the elements a bit better.
Tips for running in the heat:
- Wear a hat or visor
- Wear sunscreen to keep your skin from frying
- Dump water on your head and body to keep yourself as cool as possible
- Wear light colored clothing
- Use ice or cold water to increase the rate of cooling
- Run thru sprinklers or open hydrants, if available
- Use sponges or cooling towels if the event offers these things
- Take your time, decrease your pace, and WALK to keep your body temp as even as possible
- Replace lost salt with salt tablets, electrolyte drinks/gels or by eating salty foods
Bottom line, even if you do all of the above, your rate of success will depend on how your body can ultimately deal with the heat. Some people handle it much better than others. Some people can’t handle it at all. One of my friends still has a headache from the heat and dehydration suffered on Sunday. Another friend had no idea why we struggled so much because she “loves running in the heat”. It’s all about your body and how it can adapt to the conditions and that is super hard to predict.
Ultimately, everyone in my group finished, most of us with bragging rights over our new “personal worst” time. But we finished under our own power because we did what was necessary for us and that meant slowing WAY down to endure the weather. Here is Judy and I running around the track toward the finish line. We were two happy campers to have finished another marathon in yet another new state.
Being safe always trumps running fast. It’s certainly not fun but something we all learn over time. If you ran in Marion on Sunday and are feeling bad about your race, know that only 124 people FINISHED the full, only 243 FINISHED the half and there were only 9 relay teams that crossed that finish line. Finishing really was winning in Marion IA on Sunday. Be proud.
Amanda – TooTallFritz