Monday, November 21, 2011

Curitiba Marathon Report

While I was in Switzerland, I messed around for a long time figuring out hotel locations and the race course and trying to get a place close enough to the start that I could walk.  Well, the place I ended up with was only about 2K away, so I guess that's not bad.

The morning was cool but not cold as I headed out to the race.  I had to get there early to pick up my timing chip, as the chips weren't distributed until that morning.  It was nice to be early and be relaxed.  I even found a few people who could speak a little English to talk to before the race.  One guy I met had run Space Coast a couple years ago.  That's where I'll be this coming Sunday.

This race had a six hour time limit, so I'd be able to relax a little more.  Good thing too, with about 2900 feet of elevation and LOTS of hills, I'd need it.  Pacing myself for the whole adventure--thinking RECOVERY from the start to the finish is key to making the whole adventure work.

Kilometers go by a lot faster than miles, so even on a slow day, I was hitting the bench marks a lot quicker.  As I got to the first aid station, around 3K, they handed me a plastic cup full of water, sealed on top with foil.  I tried to peal the foil off.  That doesn't work.  Finally I jammed my finger through it, splashing water all over the place.  It got better as I learned the technique of just puncturing it enough to drink.  It was also good because I could carry an extra cup along and drink whenever I wanted.  Gatorade in small portions was served at about every-other aid station.

Curitiba is known as a garden city, and like many other things in Brazil, the gardens are kept very nicely trimmed.  Buildings and houses are built touching each other, so all along the streets it's hard to find a place to discretely make a pit stop.

I fell into a steady, while not to speedy, pace, and was feeling pretty good all day.  At about 18K or so, I had fallen in with the same people I would go back and forth with for the rest of the day.  Guiseppe, a friendly guy with a camouflage hat passed me right around there.  And a girl in an orange shirt with a bicycle escort.  I ran with a couple young guys for a while too, but for the most part I was by myself.  As I got through the first half at about 2:43, I knew I was slowing down a bit, but so were the people ahead of me.  The second half was a "pick my next victim" time.  It seemed like I could see somebody in front of me all the time who was moving just a little slower.  I used them to keep myself on pace, picking them off, one by one. The girl in the orange, however, stayed just about the same distance ahead of me all the time.

The course got quieter, as we approached 30K, and I saw Guiseppe ahead of me as we headed out on a little out-and-back portion of the course.  Finally at around 32K I caught up with him.  We ran pretty close together to the next aid station, and after we went through, I found that elusive spot for a pit-stop.  I never could catch him again after that.  He was picking it up a little bit.  I watched him catch a few more people in front of us, and soon I would pass them too.  Still, at 39K, I hadn't caught the girl in orange.  40K - almost 25 miles.  I was feeling the finish line now, with the BS levels in my blood elevating slightly.  Marathon #3 finish line was in site.  At about 40.5K I finally caught her and her escort, who somehow had ditched the bicycle and was now running with here.  "I've been chasing you for a long time" I said as I passed her.  Both she and her friend laughed, maybe because they understood me (few people do in this country) or maybe just because I look funny or something.  Anyway, we turned the corner and made the final push for the finish line.

It's one of those aggravating finish lines, because you could see it from the 41K mark.  That's still 1195 meters to go.  As I approached the finish, more and more people wearing orange shirts were coming out and yelling for their friend who was just behind me.  It was her first marathon, and her running club was there to share the celebration.  I picked it up to finish in front of her, rather than being run over by her entourage.  Finished in about 5:48, marathon #3 of 7.  I turned around to congratulate my new friend on her first marathon, then went to get my medal and some food.

I sat with Guiseppe and we had a conversation that didn't leave either of us much smarter, since he speaks Portuguese and Italian and I don't.  Still, we were comrades at that point, eating some watermelon and celebrating our finish.

A few hours rest, packing, and getting to the airport.  It's feeling pretty intense right now.  Japan on Wednesday!

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