1995 WAVA
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1995 WAVA Marathon Championship - Skylon Course

Friday, July 21, 1995

I met Tom Homeyer and John Hanna at the XI World Veteransí Championships this morning in Buffalo to watch John compete in the Menís 85+ 5000 meter racewalk.  It was raining lightly as I got there, and the race was to go off about 9:00.  Tom introduced us, and we went to Tomís car so John could get ready.

The race went off, with all age groups 75+, including 75, 80, 85 and 90+.  There was one competitor in the 90+ race, a 98 year old Japanese.

With Tom taking pictures and me as official stuff-holder, John took off at the gun and walked the first lap in about 2:48, which was under his 3:00 target pace.  He was in second place most of the way, as we could tell who was in which race by the age group designator on the bib number.  Tom and I walked around the track several times to watch from different points, and John hung right in there.

For the last three laps, the first three in Johnís group were within 10 feet of each other, with John in 2nd place.  On the gun lap, we were over at the start for a photo, and with 200 meters to go, John was still in second by a few paces, with third place right behind him.  Tom and I ran around the track the opposite direction to get to the finish line, and what a surprise to see John coming down the stretch ahead of both the other men in his race.  He took the lead in the last 200 meters and held on to win the world championship.  It was a very close race, with the top 3 places finishing within 5 seconds of each other.

John didnít know he was first, and thought Tom was kidding when we congratulated him for his world championship.  When the results were posted, John finally acknowledged his victory.

Saturday, July 22, 1995

We had agreed to meet in the grandstand to see John get his gold medal.  Then we would appear before Canadian customs officials for clearance to run the marathon.  There was a massive line at the customs check-in at 1:45, so I went back to the stadium to watch the medals being presented in the menís and womenís 5000 meter race walk.  I was to meet Tom and Eva there to see our friend John receive his gold medal for the menís 85-89 age group in the 5000 meter race walk.  When Johnís category came up, they skipped over it.  But they had his group up on the scoreboard, and he was the gold medallist.

I then started watching the womenís 400 meter finals, beginning with 85+ and working down in  age.  After a few races, I went back to the arena to check in with customs.  While in line there I  saw Eva, and Tom was in line.  So we got through the line, and John had his medal.  Apparently  the third place winner was trying to protest and get the gold, but they didnít give it to him.  When John got there, Tom vouched for him and they gave him the gold. So John got the gold medal.  Very inspiring, as he is the only world champion Iíve known.  People donít seem to realize that these championships are of the same caliber and accomplishment as medals in the Olympics.  The Olympics are for younger people, while these are for us veterans.

I went to dinner with my in-laws because it was my mother in lawís birthday.  I had spaghetti, but didnít eat the meatballs.  I also finished Mandyís spaghetti, and was really gorged when we left.  We got home about 10, and Tom called shortly afterwards.  We arranged that I would pick him up at the Canadian customs office on the Peace Bridge.  They stayed at a hotel in Fort Erie.  We were to meet at 4:30, so I asked Cathy to wake me a three.  Then I slept well through the night, getting up only a few times to pee.

Sunday, July 23, 1995

Getting up at three may have been a mistake, as I had originally planned to get up at two.  When I ate my croissants, banana and got my coffee I felt very rushed.  Anyway, I got in the car, on the Thruway, and headed down the road.  I got to the Peace Bridge about 4:15, and the customs people told me how I could turn around when Tom showed.  I then used their bathroom, details omitted. Tom arrived and we got to the convention center with plenty of time.

We parked about 3 blocks from the convention center and went in.  We ran into Karen Stopyra and Terry Heany.  Then we went through the customs line, which we breezed through.  We just had to show them our driverís licenses again.  We got our numbers, and pinned them on.  Then we went back to the car, and decided to leave our stuff in the car rather than send it to Canada on a bus.  It was still dark, and we got ready, found a place to purge, and it started to rain softly.  That was unexpected - the weather report I had heard said a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon.  It was extremely humid.  We moved over to the start area and stretched.  They started the race on time, if not a little early.  We were with Rich Rima and Terry at the start.

Tom went by me at about a half mile.  My first mile was 7:37, and I was having trouble breathing.  I think that was from the humidity, or as they say in New Orleans, ďit ainít the heat, itís the stupidity.Ē  Anyway, the strategy was like in Houston.  Five blocks of five miles each, each at a pace dictated by perceived effort, measured by breathing rate.  I wanted to breathe 3-3, and it took a concerted, constant effort to hold back to be able to do that.  Even so, the first 5 miles went by at a 7:48 pace, about 39:00.

I decided to keep the same effort for the second 5 miles.  At about 6 miles you get to the Peace Bridge.  Thereís  a little uphill before you actually get on the bridge, and I ended up running with a guy from Australia who I had talked with at the arena on Saturday, quite a coincidence.  Anyway, we talked going across the bridge, and I didnít even notice the hill of the bridge.  It was still raining, and I welcomed the Australian into Canada when we went by the flags indicating the border.  Then you make three rights and go back under the Peace Bridge.  By this time, since I was talking with this guy, I realized I hadnít seen Eva and John at the customs area.  I thought Iíd missed them.  But up ahead, they saw me coming just as I saw them.  That was just before 7 miles, I think.  This made Eva and John my second and third marathon fans - Bob Brenner had cheered me on at Houston after he finished.

Then we met the leaders, just before getting to what must have been the 7 mile water table.  There was water at every mile, and some kind of sports drink at most of them, and sponges.  At every mile except two they had plenty of volunteers handing stuff out.  At mile number two, there was only one guy filling cups on the table, and it was self service.

I think at 10 miles I was still on a 7:48 pace - 78:00.  I was thinking that would be about 3:28 or 3:30 if maintained, with a little cushion to round it out to 8:00 pace.  Anyway, Tom dropped out a little past the 15K mark, I think.  He was there to cheer me on.  Eva and John were on the other side of the road across from Tom.

About the 12 mile mark I started feeling very uncomfortable.  I felt I was bloated, almost like a stomach ache.  I thought about stopping to pee several times.  I didnít do that until I had run through the halfway mark.  That was in 1:43, on a pace of 7:52 for a 3:26 marathon, but not to be.  About 14 miles I was very uncomfortable, and I ran off course over to a tree by the river shore and peed.  I tried to push anything else out, but to no avail.  At 15 I think I was still on pace.

I was getting very discouraged now.  I was feeling sick, and I didnít want to finish and I didnít want to quit.  All I could think about was I hoped somebody would throw me in the river and Iíd go over the falls.  I really felt like it would be better to be dead.  My feet hurt, my legs hurt, my stomach hurt, and I had lost my mental focus.  I think I lost that about 14 miles, when I first let my breathing go to 2-2 ahead of plan, then I stopped even thinking about my breathing.  I was just trying to keep running, because it was way too far to walk.

I struggled through miles 16-18, and Tom was at the 19 mile mark, taking pictures.  As I ran by him I told him I didnít think I could finish.  He said I could.  Then he ran across the street and gave Eva the camera and got me some ERG and caught up with me, in his street clothes, and gave me a glass.  He ran with me for awhile, and said I was still on pace for 3:30, and maybe I should just back off for a little and see if that felt better.  And he said this was the tough part of the race.  100% encouragement, just like always.  Anyway, I said Iíd take the bus back if they didnít want to wait at the finish, and he said theyíd wait.

It also had stopped raining about 14 miles, and was starting to get warmer.  I took off my bandanna and wrist band and gave them to Tom, because I was hot and they werenít helping.  I decided that having run the 20th mile very slow (at least I thought so) but not feeling any better, I would walk at 20 miles.  I got myself to run to the 20 mark by using this promise, and I kept it.  I decided to walk for 5 minutes and then run again and see how it felt.  That was the fastest 5 minutes of the race for me.

I tried to run when the time was up, and I started getting cramps.  Calf, quad, hams, even my forearms when I scratched the back of my head.  I wasnít even able to walk for several minutes.  Then a guy, Gary something from Hamburg, NY, who was also walking (there were many people walking here) said to try walking backwards.  That helped a little, and he invited me to walk with him.  He said he was going to walk to the finish, because he was cramping and dizzy.  He said having company would help.  There was another guy who was also cramping, and cussing about it, and the three of us walked for awhile.  At about 21.5, I decided to try trotting, and it was okay.  Then I decided to keep going, because I was afraid to walk again.  By keeping my stride just so, I was able to avoid prolonged cramps.  I did some straight-legged running when my hams cramped, but I kept going.

Tom was at about 25.5 taking pictures.  It started raining again at about 22 miles, and that felt a little better.  But by now everything hurt.  I decided I just had to gut it out and be patient and keep running because that would diminish the time I had to keep going.  At about 25.8 I saw Terry, Karen, Rich and two other guys walking along the side - they had finished and were going back to their car.  Karen told me 26 was straight ahead.

When I got to 26 there was a jog to the right on the park driveway.  I heard footsteps behind me, and some guy yelled ďGo Martha you can beat that guy.Ē  I realized he meant me, and I thought no way.  I sprinted the last .2 and nobody passed me in the last several miles.  I finished in 3:55:18.90 by my watch; I have no idea what my official time was.  The clock at 40 kilometers was about 12 seconds higher than my watch.  I think that clock was off.  I turned around in the chute and congratulated the woman behind me.  She could only complain that she missed her Boston time by two minutes.  I donít think that could be a surprise at that point.

When I got in the chute they took my tear strip.  No finisherís anything.  There was some water, and I took two bottles but the thought of drinking or eating anything made me nauseous.  I sat on the back step of a nearby ambulance and tried to feel better.  But nothing doing.  Another runner sat on the other side of the ambulance and talked a little.  I still felt really bad, so I decided to lay down for awhile.  It was still raining lightly, and I moved over to the lawn, and there was a slope, so I laid down with my head below my feet.  As soon as I did this, the sky opened and it started to pour.  I laid there for awhile, but it was raining hard now, and I was getting cold.  I decided to walk back to where I had seen Tom, and I tried to get a garbage bag, but they were either full of garbage or too small.

I walked about .5 miles to the corner where Tom and John were, but they were gone, and I decided they were probably looking for me at the finish area.  It was really pouring and had been for 15 minutes.  I was warm now from walking around.  Anyway, I started back, and Tom saw me.  He had dry clothes and a towel.  We went into a pavilion, and I dried off and changed.  Then we went to the car where Eva and John were avoiding the downpour.

Tom drove us to the Falls, and we got some views from the car.  The traffic on that bridge was really plugged up, so Tom drove back to Fort Erie and across the Peace Bridge.  We got back downtown, and I had been drinking ERG.  Tom gave me two liter bottle of it and we said our good-byes.  I got on the Skyway and headed back to Dunkirk on Route 5 along the lake shore.  I went through another downpour on the way home, but that passed.

When I got back, Paul and I went for a 30 minute walk.  This was Johnís suggestion that it might help alleviate the cramping.  It did.

Eva thinks I may be suffering calcium as well as potassium deficiency.  I am taking potassium supplements, since thatís been suggested before.  But this is the first time someone has suggested a calcium deficiency.  She said I have all the symptoms, and that my body may be taking calcium from my bones during the race.

I also think I ate all wrong for this race.  John suggested trying to run on an empty stomach.  Iíve done that before and I think Iíll go back to it.  I also ate too much yesterday, and too late in the day.

I walked for 30 minutes when I got back to Dunkirk (about an hour drive).  That didnít feel too bad, and I even felt like eating after that.  I tried taking a nap, but my feet were cramping continually, and I couldnít sleep.  So we took the kids to a movie, and after dinner, I went to sleep and slept soundly all night.

Post-race report

The next day I walked for an hour in the morning, quite briskly. I went by the field at Fredonia State College where the Buffalo Bills are having their training camp.  They had more spectators at that than were at the WAVA games.  A fast hourís walk felt fine.  I was walking much faster than I was walking in the marathon.

We took the kids to the fair that night, and I strolled, but it was not a fast walk.  I started having knee-lock problems, and it was hard to sit down, stand up or walk down a grade.

On Tuesday, we drove back to Roanoke - about 12 hours in the car.  My joints didnít seem to ache like they did driving home from Boston the day after that race, but my muscles were very sore.  I tried massaging them a little, but that was very painful.

I also started getting discouraged about my performance or lack thereof.  I guess on reflection this will be a learning experience in the big picture of things, and I should wait a little longer before condemning my race.

On Wednesday the soreness was mostly gone from my legs, and I felt I had a little bounce in them.  I may have been able to run, but fortunately wisdom prevailed and I went home and slept instead after work.

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