On November 10th, I participated in the first ever Fort Bliss Marathon. It seemed like a great idea at the time. I was visiting my daughter and son-in-law at their new duty station in El Paso, Texas and the marathon occurred during my visit. When else will I be able to get in a marathon for only $45.
My son-in-law took me over to the base gym for the start of the race. It should have been a clue that at the race meeting, there were less than 200 people listening for the marathon, half marathon and 5-K.
The marathon and half-marathon started at 7:30 a.m. I was joking with the only other female marathoner that I saw that we might be in competition for overall winner.
This marathon covered a lot of the base. Pretty soon, the other female and her husband and I were playing leap frog during run/walk breaks. No one else in sight. The roads were not closed, there were no sidewalks and the race was on concrete. Also – no shade (although one water tower at mile 17 provided an entire 60 seconds of shaded bliss).
The first five miles or so were pretty nice. It was still relatively cool out – although I dropped my long shirt and gloves at mile 1 because I was already getting warm. We ran towards the mountains and had the sun at our back, so the view was fairly nice – although I was already getting tired of red sand, cactus, weeks and rocks – about all you could see except for barracks, buildings, and lots of army vehicles.
Around mile 6 we went under the freeway and I was a bit concerned when I went through the aid station because it was the first aid station with gatorade and they were out of cups. I was desperate enough to drink out of the drizzle from the cooler. Luckily – this was a solitary incident.
This was a flat course. The only hills were up and down on overpasses over and under the freeway. The concrete was brutal. I had taped my foot well (or my daughter had), so I was not in pain, but I could feel the pounding. At 11.5 miles the half marathoners headed back to the gym and finish line and the marathoners continued on to the other side of the base.
I had passed Erica and her husband at mile 6 and did not see them again until an out and back section at mile 16. At that point I could see she was struggling and almost a mile behind me. Turns out she dropped at that aid station.
About mile 14 one of the volunteers told me that I was the third woman. I was kind of excited to actually have a chance to place in a marathon. That didn’t last for long. Jenn and Jeremy caught up to me at mile 18 and started to leap frog each mile to the aid station. About the time they caught up to me, the idea of taking third place was not very exciting any more. About mile 19 – the idea of continuing on lost all enjoyment. I was not having fun and the thought of pounding out two more hours on trashed legs no longer had any appeal.
At the medic tent at 19.5, I sat down, told them I was DNF’ing and called in my ride.
J&J took me to the finish where I got a nice rubdown and stretching from the massage team as they were shutting down.
I think there were less than 30 participants in the marathon and quite a few dropped. It was brutal. I was going to be in last place within a minute of dropping and there were only about 6 people left on the course at all.
My first DNF in a marathon – but no regrets, no tears, just tired and shaky legs.