On Sept 21, 2013 we got to run the 17th annual Air Force Marathon in Dayton, OH. This year there were a total of 15,000 participants between the 5k, 10k, half and full marathon.
We made this a family trip and were able to visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force the day before the race. This is a pretty amazing place (with free admission!!) that details the history of aviation with many aircraft and memorabilia from over the years. The kids were as impressed as kids can be with a museum and it was an educational experience that they’re still talking about.
Later in the day we attended the race expo held in the Nutter Center at Wright State University. Parking was easy and we were impressed with how well organized the vendors and packet pick up was. We’ve been to some expos where you feel like a rat in a dizzying maze. At this one you walked around the top of the stadium where the vendor booths were set up, then proceeded down onto the floor of the stadium to get your packet, personalized race bib and shirt. Race swag was good with a gender specific long sleeve tech shirt and running hat. Before exiting the stadium floor we saw Jeff Galloway and had a mildly embarrassing attempted book purchase (let’s just say that Trevor’s haggling wasn’t effective).
MTA Meet Up
One of the best parts of the weekend was a MTA meet up with listeners to the podcast. We were able to spend some time with Emily, Cari, Daniel, Rebecca, Richard and Nathaniel. Steve from FL was only able to drop by for a second but he gave us a cool Air Force mug (thanks Steve!). Kathy, one of my coaching clients, wasn’t able to meet up with us but did the marathon too. After the meet up we headed back to the comfort of the Drury Hotel (our official hotel sponsor).
Getting to the Starting Line
After a night of sporadic sleep (due to weird dreams and Trevor’s massive headache) it was time to get ready for the race. Fortunately we always get everything ready the night before so that our sleep fogged brains don’t have to do any heavy lifting before such an important event.
Due to my extreme time consciousness we got an early start to the race starting line. This turned out to be very important because traffic was backed up for a couple miles getting in to the wet and muddy parking area. We donned our handy dandy rain covers (large garbage bags) and sloshed toward the starting line. Trevor quickly abandoned me to find a bathroom (he was running the half marathon and that race didn’t start until 8:30am). Fortunately there were lots of port-a-pots (a definite must in my book).
The full marathon and 10k started together and there weren’t any corrals. There were pacing groups you could line up with but it seemed that most people without a specific time goal just milled around. The commander of the nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force base spoke, the national anthem was sung and the race started. Thankfully the rain had mostly stopped as the race got underway. I obviously didn’t study the course profile very closely because I was surprised by fairly steep hills for the first 2-3 miles. Overall the course ran through mostly low traffic areas that wound around and on the base. At least one lane of most streets were blocked off so there was plenty of room for runners. This wasn’t a marathon with many spectators except in the town of Fairborn before mile 10. They made up for the lack of other spectators with their enthusiasm. I found it interesting to run the later half of the marathon on base and we also passed through a scenic wooded area before connecting to the half marathoners around mile 22.
Well-organized hydration stations were located every mile with enthusiastic volunteers. Two notable aid stations were the ones with the alien and the Despicable Me themes. I used Ucan for fueling during the race but took advantage of the water stations. During the marathon I saw Emily who we’d met at the expo and met Michelle who was running her first marathon in memory of her brother SSGT Michael Deal who was killed a year ago. I also got to meet and run with Laura a listener from MI who was running her 15th marathon. At the finish line area we got to meet her husband Nate and three kids. The famous Jeff Galloway passed me on the course doing his run/walk method. Trevor saw a juggling runner and a “high-five” guy.
The Finish Line
As we headed toward the finish line we got to run under the wings of military aircraft. The medal was then put around your neck by a uniformed serviceperson. This year’s nicely crafted medal features the C-130J aircraft and is on a red, white and blue ribbon. Trevor’s finishing time for the half marathon was 1:48:49 and I finished my 20th full marathon in 4:14:26.
The food at the finishing line was plentiful featuring sports drinks, chocolate milk, popcorn, bananas, pretzels, bagels and pizza (Trevor declared it the best pizza ever). Overall we really enjoyed this race. I always enjoy well organized events with a theme and the experience of running on a military base was interesting. The only downside was parking. Be sure to allow time on both ends for entering and exiting the race if you decide to do this marathon.
In recent months I’ve developed an inability to force down my normal fueling products during the later miles of a marathon. In the last few weeks we’ve made some dietary changes by eliminating sugar and grains from our diet and I’ve been experimenting with a new product called Ucan.
This product was first designed for those with a rare metabolic disorder where the body is unable to break down certain carbohydrates, including glycogen. These children must be tube-fed every 2 hours to maintain normal blood sugar levels. This can be extremely stressful on caregivers and dangerous to those who suffer from this condition. The primary component of Ucan is a complex carbohydrate known as super-starch which provides a steady release of glucose to keep blood-sugar levels (energy) steady for several hours. Now runners like elite marathoner Meb Keflezghi and athletes from many other sports are using this product with great results.
This was my second marathon using Ucan and I’m very happy with the results so far. I experienced steady energy for both races using approximately half of the calories I normally take in, all without stomach distress.