RaceCenter Northwest Magazine April/May 2011 : Page 42

The crowd support at the Missoula Marathon is top notch. Pickle Juice, Whiskey and Blood The (Other) Missoula Marathon Experience Volkmar von Sehlen It was a gorgeous, mild morning in Missoula, Montana. On the evening prior to the 2010 Missoula Marathon, my running clothes were meticulously laid out. Everything to be worn the next day was arranged in a way that would lead to a natural, chronological flow of getting dressed — without having to think too much. Shoes were checked for debris, socks and shoes powdered, timing chip attached to my laces, race bib precisely pinned to my singlet with the gels neatly secured to the running shorts. Nothing was left to chance. We’ve all heard it. Many of us have even given this piece of advice to others: Never try anything in a race without first experimenting in training. But I did. Here is my story. Desperation leads to drastic measures. Having cramped in the same two areas of my thigh in every previous marathon, I thought I had nothing to lose. Through networking and plenty of research, I came across a plethora of articles and opinions on home remedies promising to help me run my best. The ammunition for my little science project included four water-belt flasks containing an assortment of liquids: water; a concentrated, high-calorie, paste-like mix; tonic water; and, here it comes, pickle juice. My arsenal also contained several gel packs, a few salt tablets, and a dozen electrolyte pills. The marathon provided water and sports drinks every two miles as well, so I didn’t need to carry every ounce of liquid with me along the 26.2-mile course. Just minutes before the start of the race, I decided not to carry the tonic water. My hydration belt was just too heavy. With all the preparation, research and training behind me, it was a beautiful morning to run a marathon. All was good under the Big Sky. The cannon blasted and we were off. Approximately five miles into the run, I felt fantastic. I had my Boston Marathon qualifying time etched in my mind. Encouraged by a nice and motivating Marathon Maniac, I went for it. At the half-way point, an announcer shouted out the official time. I was on perfect pace. The next few miles flew by without a hitch. The science project was well under way for a solid 20 miles, during which time I consumed plenty of everything in my arsenal. Unfortunately, I didn’t take into consideration that I’d been stuffing a cannon for more than two-and-a-half hours. And it was about to blow. r ac ec ent er . c om 42 april/may 2011 NEIL CHAPUT DE SAINTONGE

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