Saturday, April 7, 2012

27 big 'uns! Three weeks 'til marathon #4

Today marked the peak of this training cycle and with as good as I felt during and after last week's 22, I opted to go beyond the scheduled 24 and just see what happened. Heading west on Hwy. 136 toward Delmar, I had initially planned to refill water bottles at the 6.5 mile point, but when I reached Delmar, I was feeling solid and had only drained 2 of my 4 10-oz. bottles so I simply swung north at Co. Hwy. Y60 toward Maquoketa. I was bent on running this road because A) I hadn't before and 2) it T's with Hwy. 64 and offers a 2 mile drop into Maquoketa. I wanted that downhill!

Things were fine all along Y60 and despite the rolly terrain, I enjoyed a strong tailwind. I felt good when I reached Hwy. 64 and turned left/west toward Maquoketa, but things quickly changed when I ran out of fluid at 9.5 miles with the nearest gas station 3.5 miles to go. Fortunately it wasn't hot, but it threw off my 45 min. SportBean schedule which really messed with me mentally and forced me to deviate from the original route of 29-30 miles. After rehydrating, I channeled my "inner Karnazes" and just started heading south and east, ultimately through the WalMart parking lot and onto gravel roads for a few miles before reaching my "home turf" of Hwy. 136 west of Delmar. 

Eating a lot of SportBeans, sucking down a lot of Nuun and water while also kneading the back of my leg and taking walk breaks, I began to come back a bit. It also helped to feel the wind change. I'm pretty sure some Guardian Angels helped out with that because except for the cross wind during the first 6.5 miles east to Delmar and again along Hwy. 64 west into Maquoketa, I either had minimal headwind OR received a tailwind from the west! Weird, but I was soooo grateful! By the time I hit the Delmar Casey's for another refilling of the bottles, I had 6.5 miles left.

Even though the blue skies and bright sun had turned grey and rainy, I rebounded well and opted to take a tip from the 2010 Cornbelt marathon training schedule and go for a 2 mile FF (Fast Finish) and was rewarded with negative splits! Though sore, I'm pretty psyched with today's run and VERY excited for my fourth marathon!!!

I got started about 9 a.m. and neighbors were already busy getting the fields ready for planting.

Despite innumerable times passing this farm, I don't remember it leaning so severely.

I adore Hwy. 136 between Charlotte and Delmar. The views never get old...

I love this Iowa.

Guess who CHOSE to not wear her gaiters?!!!!

On the east edge of Delmar, Co. Hwy. Y60 moves north. My original plan had been to stop at
the Casey's and refill my water bottles. With 2 of my 4 still full, I opted to cut the fuel stop
and just head north.  The strong tailwind made this leg a "breeze!"

About a mile after the previous pic, I was passing an enclosed cattle pasture full of
several moms and babies. The ditch was a steep drop from the road. When I looked
down, a wee lil' calf had squirmed through the fence! Initially I wondered if it was dead,
but when I called to it, the little thing lifted its head and then burrowed further under
the brush. While I would've loved to have gone down into the ditch, I knew I was unable
to lift and carry the little thing up the embankment so I hightailed it to the farm house
up ahead to let them know. Fortunately they were home and said they'd take care of it.

Just past the farm house, Y60 nears its T intersection with Hwy. 64.

Heading west, I fought a crosswind and thirst (I was out of fluid by this point) I had several
BEAUTIFUL views to greet me as I managed to enjoy the decent into Maquoketa.

Across from the horse, a "thicket."

Bah-ram-ewe! It wasn't until I downloaded the photo that I saw the birds overhead.

With the skies beginning to gray, I remembered the 50%  chance of rain predicted for
the afternoon. Ugh. At least I was able to enjoy the road's drop past Costello's Mill.

Costello's Old Mill. What had been an art gallery, it's now, according to it's website,
available for dinners and weddings. 

Having refueled at the Casey's on the east end of Maquoketa, I went south on Clark Street
past the old Clinton Engines building, now a museum, along E. Judson St. past the back
of the YMCA and south on Eliza past the Maquoketa High School football field to
Allen St. past Mt. Hope and Sacred Heart cemeteries.

Following Allen St. all the way into the back area of a feed and grain operation, I entered
Horseshoe Pond County Park where I headed along its stretch of Willow Trees
that serves as a sort of shield against the heavy traffic of Main St./old Hwy. 61.
Once on the road, I headed south toward WalMart.

Just as I was exiting the WalMart parking lot, I began to feel the first twinges
of a cramp that would plague me for much of the remaining 12 miles. From
WalMart, I followed the graveled 17th St. east.

With 17th St. turning south and becoming 211th Ave.

211th Ave. rolls left before heading back south while the 4-lane of Hwy. 61 is on the right.

I love old barns and structures.

No dog encounters today, but this tuxedo kitty was eager to greet me.

Ever since one of my "bitches" told me hay bales such as these remind her of elephants,
I think of Hemingway's short-story "Hills Like White Elephants."

Having reached Delmar, I paused to snap these gorgeous blooms.

Delmar's Railroad Depot

About 1.5 miles east of Delmar is a blind curve. I try to stick to the ditches and with the
grass still short, I was able to take the "high road." Unfortunately it had started
raining by this point and my feet got soaked. With 22 miles in by this point, who cares!

Spring Green is in full swing along Hwy. 136, made more lush by the light rain.

Was able to snap a local farmer moving equipment to another field. One of the things
I love most about running along this stretch of road is the friendliness! The vast
majority of drivers a friendly wavers and, when able, allow me wide berth!

Cows to right...

Cows to the left...enjoying the misty rain.

Home Sweet Home! (I know, wrong sport...)

What will it take for me to wear my gaiters?!!!!!


  1. Great job on the run!! I LOVE your pictures!! I need to come and run in your neck of the woods. I looks like absolute blissful running... well, except for the dog encounters. I ran the Hawkeye 25k course yesterday. I had intended to take my photo at the end but was just too tired, wet, and lazy to get back out of the car!

    1. Thanks Deb! I would LOVE to have a running partner! I think you and Tim's dedication to the sport and channeling the fruits of that energy toward charities like the Lupus Foundation are amazing. You guys rock!!!

  2. These are some great pics Jen. Keep up the runnin'!


    1. Thanks Tim! I think I'm finally within the boundaries of planning for my first ultra! And I want it to be the 3rd "annual" Hawkeye 50k!!! Thanks for all you do!