Well anyone who knows me understands how I feel about the so-called "elite" of the world who run the show and sit pretty on top of the sheeple pyramid scheme. So to say it simply I want nothing to do with being one of those people. The reason I mention this is after completing a a full-marathon two weeks ago at Avenue of the Giants, I am considered an elite runner. I think that is enough elitism for me. According to the website StatisticsBrain.com only .5% of people run a marathon. That is even more elite than the 1%!
It was pretty epic. Apparently the Avenue of the Giants is considered one of the most beautiful and badass marathons in the world. Weaving through giant redwood trees is definitely more up my alley than running through some concrete jungle. I honestly prefer trail running to asphalt. I've heard of people complaining at the end of the McKenzie River Half Marathon which finished with a stretch of trail. I wouldn't base my ability to run on roads paved with the suffering of the oil industry. I would prefer doing something more trail based for my next physical challenge.
The preparation I did for the marathon consisted of multiple short runs every week, from 3-7 miles with one longer run on the weekend. I spiked gradually from 10, 13.1, 15, 16 and 20, then back down to short runs in the two weeks prior to Avenue of the Giants. Most of my runs were on trails with some intermittent road segments. My longest run, the 20, was about half and half. Otherwise I just weaving around nearby trails in lovely Blue Lake. I used no energy gels nor did I drink anything on my runs except the 20.
For gear I ran in a pair of New Balance Minimus shoe with Vibram soles. I wanted to get a pair of organic handcrafted leather shoes from SoftStar but I wanted to try them on and couldn't make it to their only storefront in Corvalis, Oregon. The Minimus pair was only $30 bucks on clearance and actually in my size at Pacific Outfitters in Eureka. I got a pair of loose fit Tasc bamboo shorts, bamboo compression socks and bamboo compression boxer briefs. Last year I ran the half in a pair of cargo shorts and a pair of running shoes that I barely ran in and ordered last minute. This year I was better prepared.
Physical issues were pretty limited during training and at the actual marathon. I was initially training in a pair of mid-sized hiking books made with hemp from Wicked. I had some rubbing on the inside of my right foots arch in particular that caused some blisters. It got pretty big at a point and was hard to get rid of since each run would agitate it. When I got the Minimus shoes and broke them in it got better. I actually ran barefoot from Solana Beach to La Jolla and back. I believe it was in the teens of miles but hard to measure. I had a pretty fat blister under the pad of my right foots big toe, but that didn't bother me much. I had some tendon issue on my right foot on the top inside area. It likely came from running on too rocky of a trail a few times. That took about a month to wear off but it was early in my training so I just stopped running mostly and stuck to flat ground. My Achilles tendon, where it connects to the heel, got a bit tender so I had to do stretches to help with that. Switching to a minimalist style shoe without much heel support is what likely caused that issue. I seem to have adapted ok. I thought my knees were going to be more of a problem since I have had issues in the past. They got a bit tender at times but never got bad. I never saw any swelling.
As for the actual marathon, I just kept a steady pace the whole time. I was 512th of 636 finishers and finished at 5:18:47, with a 12:10 per mile pace. I figured I would do maybe an eleven minute mile pace but there were a couple factors that dragged me down. My digestive system was the number one drag on my time. I had to piss three times and do a number two three times. The first bathroom I reached was not closed to the start line and had a line of like three people. I tried to keep track of time but I guess I lost about a half hour tops from all these pit stops. In the end of the race I walked through the last few aid stations. Though I never took anything from them.
I despise processed inorganic food and fluids. All they had to offer was Gatorade and some fruit that was not organic. I cringed at the thousands of Gatorade cups strewn about the road. I brought my own organic lemon Recharge and seven organic Stinger energy gel packets. They flopped a bit in my pockets so I stashed a few of them here and there. The Avenue of the Giants Marathon's first half brings you down a kinda curvy road with lots of potholes. That got annoying. But I stuck my drink at a couple aid stations that I knew I would double back to in a few miles. Nothing was ever stolen, thankfully. I drank about half of it on the first half and the other half was finished by the time I had three or four miles to go. I used the energy packets every 3 or 4 miles and had two left when I finished. I used on that had caffeine form Yerba Mate in it towards the end. I could definitely feel the boost. I'd post a link to that but can't seem to find it. The flavor was some kind of coffee espresso maybe with chocolate that I didn't enjoy to much. I would like to mix those in, alternating perhaps at my next endurance event. Hopefully a better flavor that is fully organic. The Stingers were delicious and taste like cake frosting. They had me thinking "Give me the jizz" as Louis C.K. said about Cinnabon frosting.
I definitely could have used another caffeine laced energy gel for the last few miles. My feet hurt more than anything. When I did the half in 2013 some muscles in my right leg got tough and tender. This time it was both feet. When I would slow to walk it hurt more which made me trot. That was an odd motivation. But my pace was dismally slow. Some people seemed to be walking briskly just as fast. All in all it was a hell of a challenge. I passed a handful of people but definitely got passed a lot more in the last few miles. I didn't chat much with anyone until the end. Some girl wearing a tree costume did a better time than me, which I though was funny. My bitter opinion on other people sporting Nike and Under Armour sweatshop gear doesn't exactly make me a social butterfly to people sporting those brands. I am likely to say something about my bamboo gear at least to try and plant a seed. Perhaps I say "the swoosh symbols nothing but a whip in mid swing" from Sage Francis' track Narcissist.
Maybe some day there can be a legit sustainable style marathon. I did it more of a challenge but it wasn't necessary to take part in the charade with thousands of people. Apparently the marathon at Avenue of the Giants started as a qualifier for the U.S. Olympics, and I have my own views about the Olympics being a sham too. The t-shirts they give out were not organic and likely had the screenprint of the Otter and redwoods done using toxic chemicals and Plastisol that would ironically pollute the lifeforms habitat, let alone the freshly sweaty flesh of the runners. If I had my way I would help coordinate a more sustainable array of products, or even an entire new marathon. Perhaps sponsored by all the earth-conscious manufacturers and a registration fee that includes all the gear, shoes and all, or at least resources for them in the packet. Something with no corporate brands possibly? Oh well, I'm a dreamer.
At the finish I ran straight for the car. Luckily my running partners mom who drove with us had disability tags so it was not far. I drank a Lower de Boom barleywine from 21st Amendment brewery while chugging another Recharge. I rubbed some medicinal balm into my calves and feet. I felt like a baby deer with my legs on fire sorta, but the pain subsided faster than I expected. I was tender for a day but felt like I could move pretty good. Sitting down and going down stairs was brutal. When I took a crap I used the door knob to lower myself down onto the seat.
Well that about covers it. I will focus more on cross training now, doing trail running and hiking, biking and kayaking. Maybe get into some swimming too when the river warms up. Actually about to go on my first big run, a hilly hike in Trinidad, 6.5 miles. I did an uphill and downhill at Strawberry Rock in Trinidad a week and a half after The Ave and felt fine. Hill training is supposed to be legit for endurance and distance running so better stay on it to keep my fitness level up. Hope somebody out there finds this useful and good luck to you. Hopefully you can similarly keep it revolutionary style too with eco-friendly gear, fluid and energy gels.