Nope, this is the insane part.
Yes....I did it. I signed up for the Bar Nothin' Marathon that is a part of the A2A Race for Mercy on April Fools Day, 35 days after my first marathon, and only 25 days from today. I don't know if I "have the marathon bug", I'm just riding high on the last one, or (and this is more likely), I'm just crazy. Hopefully the whole April Fools Day thing is not a bit of foreshadowing.
This one will be MUCH different than Cowtown in many respects:
A2A has been run 2 times.
Cowtown had 1421 total finishers this year.
A2A had 137 total finishers last year.
Cowtown had 922 men finish.
A2A had 93 men finish.
Cowtown had 114 men in my age group.
A2A had 16 men in my age group.
Cowtown is run through the streets of a major US city (16th largest in 2010, pop. 730,000)
A2A is run from Turner Falls to Ardmore, OK (1,391st largest in 2010, pop. ~ 25,000 people)
Cowtown is roughly a loop course.
A2A is roughly a point-to-point course.
Cowtown therefore had people, houses, and buildings lining the course throughout.
A2A has a few people, but mostly cows, horses, and fields.
So if I wanted some "perspective" added to my marathon experience, this should just about do it. It will be challenging in new ways to be sure.
The morning of the race, we all meet at Noble stadium, which is the football stadium for the local high school in Ardmore, OK.
There will be a small group of buses that will depart from there between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. to shuttle the marathon runners the 18 miles up to the starting line at Turner Falls Park in the Arbuckle Mountains (well, they pass for mountains if you are from Oklahoma ;-), which is near Davis, OK.
The race officially starts at 8:00 a.m. and is what they call a rolling hills course on old Highway 77 that goes downhill (for the most part...see the elevation charts below) through the scenic countryside of the foothills of the Arbuckles until about the 7 mile mark.
At that point there is a roughly 3.8 mile out-and-back leg that goes through the Bar Nothin' Horse Ranch near Springer, OK. This will be a very pastural setting, and might even bring along some interesting smells if the wind is just right. :-)
From there, the marathoners return to Highway 77 for a long (about 9 miles), straight stretch into Ardmore. At roughly the 16.3 mile mark, a "shallow elevation climb" begins, which continues up until the runners turn west at the 20 mile mark.
This part of the course takes the runners on another out-and-back leg to the lake inside the Ardmore Regional Park.
At about the 21.7 mile mark, there is a final slow elevation climb to the finish line inside of Noble Stadium (about 60 feet...not much). The runners enter Noble Stadium, and make a single loop around the track before crossing the finish line.
It looks like we will basically be starting on an uphill section for about the first 3.6 miles which rises about 100 feet, then the course will continue mostly downhill...
...to about the 16.3 mile mark.
From there we will have a rise of about 155 feet to the 20.1 mile mark. After a brief downhill for about 2.5 miles, it rises about 60 feet to the finish line.
So here I go again, on a "somewhat" short buildup to a marathon. One of the benefits is that I can use the last marathon as a recent long run, so most of the training in this month will be in the shorter distance range. Just judging by how I'm feeling, I think my primary goal will be achievable, which is to arrive at the starting line happy, healthy and NOT over-trained.
As I've reflected on my last marathon, I think one of the things that strung me along to a faster time than I had expected was the number of other runners on the course. I was able to not only feed a bit off the energy of other runners, both joining and listening into their conversations, and either always having someone to run with, or having people to slowly pass one by one (especially in the latter third of the race, which is a mental boost for me). Given the small number of people at this race, I'll be a lot less likely to have as much "company", and therefore some of this benefit will be lessened.
That being said, I'm excited about the possibilities for this race. It should be quite different from the last one, that is certain. At this point, I feel like I'll be more focused on just taking in the experience, rather than shooting for a given time. I plan to just run it by feel, and not really try to kill myself to make a time.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more....
Happy Running Everyone !!!