This weekend, my long race was the Larnaca Marathon. In an effort to keep my training up, I signed up for this race about a month ago and figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. For the most part, it wasn’t too bad. I knew my “trail legs” wouldn’t give me a fast road time, which I am fine with, but man did I feel like the tin man out there. I don’t know what was going on, but after about 10 miles I was already in the dumps and feeling sore. It didn’t help that the route was a half marathon out-and-back, which meant that those of us doing the marathon had to pass by every place four times. A lot of it was done on a two-lane road heading out to the middle of nowhere, so it was incredibly and mind-numbingly boring. I was ready to call it quits after the half, especially after the temperature was creeping into the high 80s, but instead I shook off the doubt and kept pushing. By the end, I was pretty spent and ready to be done. With a time of 4:53, it was about 40 minutes slower than my first-ever marathon back in 2014 (which I trained months for – on the road, too!). However, I was not out there looking for a PR, but simply to keep my training up. For that, this race served its purpose. I don’t think I would do it again, if it were even an option.
While I was out there, I started listing all the reasons I like trailrunning better than roads. This could probably be a blog post in itself, but here’s a couple of things I came up with:
- Less crowded. Maybe I’m getting “too old for this”, but the overcrowding at big road races annoys me. People tripping over each other, creating choke points at the aid stations, and, almost as importantly, making it impossible to park anywhere near the start line are all things I haven’t missed since starting on the trails. At trail races and Ultras, at least the ones I have attended, the runners are few but strong, and crowding is never an issue. I’m usually quite far away from the next runner and have no risk of anyone getting knocked over or sweat on. I like that.
- Aid Station Buffets. Comparing the aid stations of road races and trail races are like night and day. At road races, they basically only have water. If you’re lucky, they’ll have some gatorade and a banana, but otherwise the options are extremely limited. In contrast, trail races have extremely generous spreads including all kinds of drinks, snacks, and sometimes even whole meals. This both keeps participant morale high and fuel stores full. During this race I kept to gels and water, which I hate doing. I’d much rather have a PB&J sandwich and take my time at the aid stations.
- Scenery. Have I mentioned how boring road races are? Since that first road marathon in 2014, I have only run a couple of marathon distances on the road, and every time I start wondering “why?” about halfway in. This has literally never crossed my mind on the trail. Out there, nature answers that question and there’s no need to ask.
- Pace. I feel bad for walking during a road race. Everyone is so hyped up and blasting out of the gate – sometimes I get caught up in it and then end up petering out towards the end. When the terrain is flat, walking doesn’t feel right. This is completely flipped upside-down on the trail, though, where walking is not only acceptable but required in many places due to the technical terrain. While this certainly makes the route tougher, it also takes a lot of pressure off the participants, especially those of us that aren’t out there to win anyway.
Just a few thoughts while I sit here rubbing my feet and wondering what I did to deserve 26 miles on the road. Anyway, here are a couple pics from the day (I didn’t take many – too bored!):
And here are my stats and map. Nothing to be proud of, but something for the books.
- Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Shoes
- Suunto Ambit3 Peak GPS Sport Watch
- Patagonia Fore Runner Vest 10L
- Black Diamond Distance Z poles **NEW**
- Outdoor Research Sun Runner Cap
- Under Armour Men’s UA Igniter 2.0 Sunglasses
- Icebreaker Men’s Strike Lite Shorts
- 2XU Compression Calf Guards
- Drymax Trail Run 1/4 Crew Socks w/ Turndown
- Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-TX10 16.2 MP Waterproof Digital Camera
- CLIF SHOT Energy Gels
- Thermotabs Salt Tablets (electrolytes)
I think I may have posted this one before, but it deserves a repost. I usually put this song on during the last few minutes of a race to get me pumped for the finish. It’s wonderful in so many ways and the drums are my favorite ever. Sadly, there wasn’t much it could do for me on the race this weekend, but I’ll keep using it nevertheless!
The weekly training was fine, but the marathon wasn’t great. Not sure if I am still recovering from the Ultra or what, but it kicked my ass more than expected. Despite that, I recently heard rumor that another 50k Ultramarathon is being scheduled here in Cyprus in February, which is fantastic news! This will be awesome training for my Appalachian Trail hike, which starts about one month later. So happy to hear that news!
Also, I’m very much looking forward to our trip to Hawaii next week – we’ll take off just after Thanksgiving and be there for two weeks. Can’t wait to explore some of their awesome trails.
Until next week!
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Brandon Chase is a writer, endurance athlete, and guide based in Maine. He is a former Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State and spent nearly a decade overseas serving at embassies in Egypt, Cyprus, and Pakistan.
Along with a 98-day thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, he has summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, hiked the West Highland Way, fastpacked in the Himalayas, and trekked around New Zealand and South Africa. He also regularly competes in ultramarathons at the 50k, 50-mile, and 100-mile distances.