Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Way of the Wicked 23

The assault on the Agathium continued in our latest session. After retreating at the end of the last game, they rested, leveled up, and were ready to go again.

This time the Agathium seemed to block any manner of teleporting or etherealness. For some reason there was great reluctance to go in through the front door (I was hoping they come crashing in through the stained glass windows) so they disintegrated a fairly large hole at the mack of the cathedral and entered that way.

They encountered the Frost Giant Queen Ellisif, who didn't seem all that concerned that the 9th Knot had murdered her husband. She made a bargain with them. If they win she will gain some influence in their new kingdom (a spot on their ruling council) and they will do what they can to protect her Frost Giants that have come south. In return she provided them with a map of the lower level and some intel on its occupants. The PCs accepted the deal and made their way to one of the stairs leading to the lower level.

The plan was the same as it was against the dragon Eirmanthus. Rush him and kill him before he has a chance to summon allies. The PCs buffed up and everyone had Fly. They raced through the lower level, going past some "Deathknights" before entering Cardinal Thorn's throne room. Initiative was rolled, and the PCs rushed him and killed him on the first blow. It seems it was a decoy and the entire room was trapped. Cube of force appeared trapping the PC and then subjecting them to force blades inside. Most of the PCs dodged the Cubes as they appeared and only the wizard was trapped. He dodged the first round of the blades attacking him and then disintegrated the cube allowing himself to escape.

The PCs fled the room and waited in the hall for the Deathknights to catch up. They didn't arrive as expected and the PCs were watching their buffs run down. A couple minutes later, the Anti-paladin Wolfram arrived leading all of the Deathknights that were present in the Agathium (some were out patrolling for the PCs). The battle was long but not overly dangerous to the PCs. They managed to block the hallway and were only being attacked from a single direction so they squishier people in the back were safe.

Their next stop was Grigori the wizard. As suggested by Ellisif, they approached diplomatically and through some decent roleplaying and excellent rolling they managed to turn the unhappy Necromancer helpful. Grigori was no longer so thrilled to be working for Thorn and as long as the PCs left him in peace and allowed to continue to work on "the machine" then he would reveal Thorn's location.

The 9th Knot located the secret door and moved into the secret section of the lower complex. They decided to head straight for the throne room and attack. Cardinal Thorn was waiting for them there and after a short monologue the battle began. Thorn was not alone as it first appeared and the wizard quickly realized that Tiadora and 6 barbed devils were present. The barbed devils used Hold person and Scorching Ray, Tiadora grappled with Gorbatch to keep him from killing Thorn in 2 rounds. However Sergent was very effective at preventing Thorn from casting his spells and was immune to Thorns physical attacks. Thorn died, Tiadora surrendered and the Devils returned to Hell. I think it was a fairly challenging battle but none of the PCs were in any real danger of dying.

With the death of Thorn Book 5 is effectively done. The PCs are now in control. There are a few clean-up issues to deal with but I think some of that can be dealt with by email and we'll be ready for Book 6.

Book 6 is an interesting beast. The first section of the book deals with completing Thorn's plan, which for 18th levels heroes, should be a piece of cake. The middle section of the book is almost all roleplaying and a lot of work for me to get set up.

I predict only another 3 play sessions unless there are parts a head that take much longer than I expect. Depending on what the PCs do it might only be 2. I am already looking at the ending and trying to decide how to run it to make sure that it is tough enough. Should Good or Evil win?


Sunday, July 20, 2014

More on Disney Infinity 2.0

It seems like every week there is a couple of new announcements of what will be available in the Disney Infinity 2.0 game coming out this fall. So far, we know for certain there will be three playsets based on Marvel properties. They are:

The Avengers - Thor, Ironman, The Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye
Spider-Man - Spider-Man, Nick Fury, Nova, Venom and Iron Fist
Guardians of the Galaxy - Starlord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon and Groot

We also know of several Disney characters that will be available for toybox play; Merida, Maleficent, Tinkerbell and Stitch.

Then there are the rumoured releases based on leaks from vendors. These include Donald Duck and a possible Big Hero 6 playset with at least Hiro Hamada and Baymax coming out to coincide with the release of the film.

So now it's time for speculation. The original Disney Infinity game had six playsets; Pirates of the Caribbean, The Incredibles, Cars, The Lone Ranger, Monsters University and Toy Story. It seems likely that there will be as many or more in DI2. Since Big Hero 6 looks to be the big Disney animated feature for the fall, with lots of potential characters including female characters, I would guess it is almost certain to be released as a playset. However, that means four Marvel properties will figure prominently in the game. I can't imagine there will be more. I am going to go out on a limb and predict a playset based on one of the princess properties. Right now, I am leaning toward Brave. We already know that Merida is coming. The addition of Queen Elinor in bear form and maybe King Fergus would make a suitable playset. The other possibility would be a Frozen playset. Elsa and Anna have already been released, but a further release of Kristoff and Olaf as a playset is certainly an option (and a license to print money). More announcements coming up this weekend at San Diego Comic Con.

-Rognar-

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Stampede Road Race 2014

Last Sunday was the 7th annual Calgary Stampede Road Race - called such because it takes place during the Stampede not through any affiliation.

As I was prepping the night before the race I had the horrible realization that I had forgotten to pick up my race package. Apparently you could pick-up your package the morning of the race but it was supposed to be for out-of-towners only. I was hoping that they only say that to encourage people to pick up the kits ahead of time and decided to go anyway.

The race starts at 7:30 so while I had to get up early it was not the crazy early starts of the Disney races. I made sure I was there early to get easy parking and have time to pick-up my race kit. I was able to do so and still had time to walk back to my car and stick the none essentials inside so I did not have to use the bag check. Now equipped with my bib and timing chip I walked over to the starting line and hung out for 30 minutes until things got started. They let the slow-pokes leave at 7:00 (people with an expected 2:45+ finish time) so they won't be out there long after everyone else. The 10km runners depart at 8am.

While killing time, at one point the MC went over the timeline of getting all of the different pieces ready for race day. Permits are requested almost a year in advance and shirts are ordered over 9 months in advance (which is why they never have enough of the right sizes). It gave me a good appreciation of all of the work that goes into making the race a success.

After getting eaten by a bunch of mosquitoes the gun went off and we took off from our starting line near the Glenmore track. I am always amazed at how adrenaline causes runners to start off at such stupid paces. I'm pretty fast and started up near the front but there was still a surge of people that roared past me in the first couple minutes. A few minutes later these same people are wheezing and muttering "too fast" under their breath. I prefer to start a tiny bit slower than my target pace for the first kilometre until I'm fully warmed up. I also like the psychological boost of passing people.

It was a bit warm that morning but completely overcast with little wind so it was almost perfect running conditions. By the time I had made it to the dam the pack had really thinned out and there were only 20 or so people left a head of me. I hit the aid station coming up the hill after the dam and grabbed some water. I've never tried what they were offering for energy drink so I played it safe. I normally don't stop for water either but it was warm and I need practice for marathons. I really didn't want dehydration cramps.

I passed a few more people as I went by the hospital. Sometimes its hard to tell if the person you are passing is someone that has run out of gas from the lead group or were one of the early starts that is running particularly strong. I passed the Ken and Barbie Australian couple as I rounded Heritage Park. I seem to remember them from a different race where they passed me easily and never looked back.

The south side of the reservoir is a lot of small rolling hills which can be rather draining on a bad day. I was still feeling strong and was staying a head of my desired pace. I hit the second Aid station but felt the water sloshing around and deicided to skip the next one. At about the 44 minute mark I passed the mid point. I wasn't exactly sure because my stupid Garmin had lost its satellite signal at Kilometre 4 and I was now dependent on my foot pod to track my pace. My goal for the race was 1:32:00 or 4:20/kilometre which I was exceeding, but I also knew the last 7 kilometres of this course are rough and I slowed down through there last year. Still, finishing under 1:30:00 was within my reach.

As I came to the big downhill I passed the blonde that I'd been tailing for quite a while. My legs felt good and the pathway was dry so let gravity do its thing and blasted down the hill as fast as I could barely staying in control. I can get up to almost 30 km/hr on a good downhill like those and although they can wreck my feet and knees I find it worth the risk on a race.

At the bottom I resumed my normal pace and tried to recover a bit as I continued on over the forested flood plain. My Garmin was not reporting correctly and it didn't take long to figure out that somewhere coming down the hill my foot pod had popped off. I was now stuck having to reset my watch so I could track my pace.

The course's worst hill is coming up out of that flood plain and I passed yet another guy. I guess all of my hill training paid off. At the top was the second to last Aid station and I hit this one for more water. Those few seconds of walking enable me to actually drink the water and drop my heart rate a bit before taking off again. My Garmin was back up and running now.

Running along the north end of the the reservoir I could only see 5 people a head of me. One I would catch just as the path turns north leaving the park. The next two remained frustratingly distant.

The section that runs north out of North Glenmore park towards Glenmore Trail is long and a slight incline. I find this to be the most psychologically difficult part of the race. It is still about 4 kilometres to the end and I'm always really, really tired by this point. I was also starting to cramp up.

I changed up my breathing and pushed on. Up ahead was where the 10k runners route joined ours and there was a mass of people. I came around the corner and joined the pack and heard a great cry of "Go Obiri" from behind me. It was some of my coworkers running the 10k. I did an over the shoulder wave and used the boost to pick up my pace.

As I ran up the ramp of the pedestrian bridge over Glenmore I could hear the whispers of the 10kers as I dodged around them: "OMG. He's fast","Wow he's a half marathoner". Their tears were delicious.

Coming down the ramp on the far side I realized I was close to another Halfer. The white haired guy had passed him and now I was coming up on his tail. He looked over his should twice at me which I interpreted as a sign of weakness. I used the downhill stretch again to my advantage and passed him and rounded the corner onto the final long stretch. There were hordes of 10kers everywhere and I spotted the white-haired guy ahead. With a little less than 2km to go, I kicked up my breathing into hyperventilation mode and made my big final push. Weaving around other runners is not the most efficient way to run but at times the psychological value exceeds the energy cost. This was one of those times.

As I blaze past the runners I can feel them become demoralized. It only makes me stronger. The white haired halfer is getting close now. My heart is pounding but I'm gaining on him quickly now. I pass him on the outside and then make the turn into the athletic park. There is a short stretch of running on grass to get up onto the track that sucks a lot out of me. It takes a moment to refocus and I push on. Somehow with the finish line so close I dig a bit deeper and sprint to the finish. I cross the finish line a big sweaty mess but very happy. I managed to finish with a 1:28:46 time which is 3 minutes better than my previous best and 8 minutes faster than I ran this race last year. Aside from the initial burst I was never passed by anyone the entire race which I think is a first for me. I also finished 11th overall. Still not top 10 yet but getting close.

So yeah, I loved the race. In fact I'm still fairly high from it 2 days later. It's not too big participant wise (less than 2000 runners), there were lots of water stations and the volunteers kept us on track. I don't remember any entertainment but I fall into a trance after the first few kilometres and don't care about that stuff anyway. There is a very nice stampede breakfast available at the end of the race. It always has a big line and I wasn't hungry anyway. There are all sorts of fun kid family events except this year I was solo and went home after I'd said hello to everyone that was participating that I knew.

Stampede Road race is a solid well organized event.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Way of the Wicked 22

I think there was some anxiety going into last nights session. People were worried about the Linnorm and a possible TPK. It turns out those fears were unfounded. We had 5 players so there was lots of firepower ready to go.

The party airwalked the the cairn lair of Nithoggr and set up a base camp a few thousand feet away. The wizard remotely scouted the lair using magic and had a pretty good idea what manner of creatures lived inside and where the Linnorm made his home. The wizard had a pretty good idea what sort of Linnorm Nithoggr was and what any of his special abilities were (Acid and Negative energy).

Rather than waste time clearing out the cairn the party just rushed through hoping that the other inhabitants were scared of the linnorm and would not interfere with the fight. The battle itself turned to be easier than expected. Everyone was initially blasted with negative energy-laced acid and then melee combat began. Nithoggr hates Cold Iron weapons and targets people who carry them. Fortunately for the party Sargent Fenton, the impossible to hit halfling, was carrying one and the Linnorm spent most of his actions trying to kill him in vain. The deathblow was actually dealt by the Anti-paladin who made a sky high saving throw to avoid the Linnorm's Death Curse. With the death of the Linnorm the party was attacked by the cairns of fearsome inhabitants - Banshees and Dread Wraiths. Under other circumstances this would have been a super nasty encounter but with everyone buffed with Death Ward it was a cake walk as the undead only had death attacks or negative energy powers. The 9th Know looted the Linnorm's vast horde and found Thorn's phylactery.

They decided to destroy it and shortly after another Devil showed up. I didn't wish to fight and twisted Thorn's instructions to kill the party. I informed the party where the Agathium is located and then departed.

The party again windwalked to the location and then D-Doored past the front door only to be met by some of Thorn's allies - The King of the Frost Giants and 4 of his personal guard. This encounter turned out to be much scarier then the Linnorm and the King had as many hit points as the Linnorm and could inflict far more damage. Everyone except Sargent Fenton took tons of damage this encounter with the Anti-paladin almost dying, the wizard getting knocked unconscious, and even the BloodRagers vast hit points were almost completely depleted. What guaranteed victory was casting Maze on the King. With him out of the way, his guards could be dealt with and then the King got Gang-banged when he escaped the Maze.

This one encounter depleted a ton of party resources so they have decided to retreat and heal up (and level up to 17 - 9th level spells!). In two weeks we'll see how the rest of the Agathium goes.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Way of the Wicked 21

This session started with the PCs realizing that with Chargammon's death, his horde was likely undefended. They waited one night to heal and regain their spells from their adventure in the Adarium and teleported back to the lair.

Searching the caves they found nothing of interest until they reached the large dark murky pool that Chargammon called home. There seemed to be an odd current, almost as if something were moving...

Sergeant, the halfling shield fighter vampire, tied a rope around his waste and plunged into the murky depths.  Before long he was attacked by an enormous water elemental and Gorbach the Bloodrager pulled him out of the water.

He decided to go for a second swim and this time was attacked by a draconic creature that was concealed in the murky blackness. It got off a lucky hit and did significant damage and again Sergeant retreated.

The party came up with a plan to attack the creatures hidden in the darkness and spent the night changing out their spells. By the next day they were able to search the pool and discover the now almost empty treasure chamber.

Returning to their base, Eirmanthus' former island, they ran into Tiadora and her 9 Erinyes sisters who offered to take them to Cardinal Thorn to get their reward. The party made a bunch of lame excuses to her and kept putting her off until they could figure out what to do next. While they waited they took this moment to write the party cleric, Helcrate into the Libre Darius as a long lost scion of the family
.
They teleported to Baroness Vanya's manor only for Dessiter the Contract Devil to meet them there. He congratulated them on their accomplishments and offered to take them to see his master, the Pit Fiend Narburus. The loop hole in their contract with Thorn is that it only applies as long as Thorn is the high priest of Asmodeus in Talingarde. The party talked up their great deeds in Asmodeus' name and then Helcrate petitioned for the position of High Priest, usurping Thorn's position. I think everyone enjoyed the role-playing encounter with Nabarus. Gorbatch declared it "the most Metal scene ever in D&D" and then played air guitar.

Returning to their base, Tiadora refused to accept any more delays and a battle erupted. The devils were easily defeated but Tiadora escaped.

Shortly after they were contacted by their old associate Barnabus Thrane, fake Mitran priest, member of the 6th knot and distributor of the Tears of Achlys. He asked them to hurry to Ghastenhall so he could meet with them. The PCs arrived promptly and had a quiet meeting in the basement of the temple library. Thrane complained of not receiving any communications from Thorn. He had spotted the princess trying to raise an army and learned that Sir Richard the Paladin was on his way to Chargammon's lair to try to loot the dragon's treasure to help fund the army. The PCs had a good laugh about that and then teleported to the island to see if they could intercept Richard and his companions.

They arrived shortly after Richard did and caught up with them as they were just about to search Chargammon's pool. The battle was brief. I rolled poorly on initiative and the entire 9th Know got to go before any of the heroes. Helcrate walked into the middle of the fray and blasted the heroes with Stormbolts stunning the cleric and wizard. Gorbach almost killed Richard with a single critical hit and Richard responded by missing Gorbatch three times in a row due to Displacement. The Gunslinger was effective, nearly killing Helcrate, but then Twitch the wizard hit him with Maze on his next turn removing him from the fight.Richard was finished off by Gorbatch and then the wizard and cleric were dispatched before they even got to do anything. The party stood around waiting for the Gunslinger to find his way out of the maze and slew him the instant he reappeared. So much for my custom party.

One piece of info Dessiter had given the party before his departure was the nature of Cardinal Thorn. Thorn is a powerful Lich, and Dessiter recommended that the party locate Thorn's phylactery before they face him. Using Commune they manage to narrow down the possible locations of the phylactery and then Thrane was able to research the location using the great library in Ghastenhall. Given the clues the 9th Knot had given him he was quite sure it could be found in an ancient barrow far in the north that is currently the lair of an ancient Linnorm known as Nithogg'r.

And there we ended for the night.

Disney Infinity at E3

Following up on previous announcements that the starter pack for Disney Infinity 2.0 would feature the Avengers playset with Thor, Black Widow, the Hulk, Ironman and Captain America, Disney revealed at E3 2014 that still more Marvel goodness would be forthcoming. The Spider-Man playset was announced and will include Venom, Nick Fury (?), and lesser known superheroes, Nova and Iron Fist joining Spidey to thwart the machinations of a much bulked-up Green Goblin. They also revealed improvements to the game to attract older players including skill trees and character death. It all looks really good and has the potential to direct my kids away from their Skylanders addiction. If I have one wish, it would be more female characters. My daughters love the battle princesses and the addition of Maleficent, Merida and Black Widow are great, but a few more would be awesome. If anyone from Disney reads this (snicker!), might I suggest a Mulan playset, or since you are already releasing Maleficent, why not Princess Aurora as well.

A further note, one has to wonder how the Guardians of the Galaxy is going to make an appearance in Disney Infinity 2.0. We have already seen Rocket Raccoon and Groot in the Avengers playset trailer a while ago. Nova Corps figures prominently in the upcoming film and the character of Nova (or Nova Prime) is the commander of that organization.

-Rognar-

Monday, June 09, 2014

Skylanders vs. Disney Infinity

I’ve mentioned before that my kids really love the toy line/video game Skylanders. It combines a selection of figures with RFID chips embedded in their bases and a peripheral device for a game console called a “portal” which allows you to play your Skylander figure as a character in the game. It was a clever moneymaking scheme for Activision, so it’s not surprising that there would be imitators. Well, the new kid on the block is none other than the Godzilla of kid’s entertainment itself, Disney. We resisted for awhile, but the figures for the Disney Infinity game are just so good and include such squee-inducing IPs as Frozen, Tangled, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Incredibles, Toy Story and Cars. It was the Frozen figures that broke the seal for us. The Elsa and Anna figures are very nice and my daughters are as obsessed with them as any other little girls in North America. Once started, it could not be stopped and before long we had Buzz Lightyear, Captain Jack Sparrow, Rapunzel and a dozen other figures. Even Mickey Mouse, in his role as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, made it into the collection.

Although Disney Infinity resembles Skylanders insofar as it has the collectible figures and a peripheral similar to the portal, called an infinity base, gameplay is quite different. Skylanders has a series of linear adventures culminating in a final battle against Kaos, the recurring villain in each of the Skylanders games. Disney Infinity does have something similar, but there is a different one for each game world or playset as it is referred to in the game. In order to access the content for each playset, you need a special figure that sits on the infinity base. These playset pieces only come in the starter set or in certain playset packs that include a couple of figures. Important to note, only characters from the playset game world are playable in it. So, Barbossa can be used in the Pirates of the Caribbean playset, but Lightning McQueen cannot.

However, there is a second way to play Disney Infinity. It has what is called “toybox” mode which is an interactive and customizable world in which the player can create the environment. You have a collection of build pieces such as landforms, buildings, vehicles and other items that you can add to your world. New items can acquired during gameplay. For fans of building games like Minecraft, I can see that this might be a real draw to the game. Personally, I find it a bit repetitive, but I haven’t really committed the time to figure out how to use this capability to its fullest. One cool aspect of the toybox, however, is that all characters can play in it. If you want to go multiplayer with characters from different franchises, this is the way to do it.

At this point, I would have to say I still prefer Skylanders over Disney Infinity. The worldbuilding game doesn’t do much for me and the playsets, while fun, require a significant buy-in beyond the initial cost of the game. Having said that, Disney is looking to up their game in the fall. Disney Infinity 2.0 is scheduled for release and will include several improvements to the game. What’s more, they will be mining their Marvel properties heavily for new characters. The Avengers playset will be included in the starter pack along with Thor, Ironman and Black Widow figures, with the remaining Avengers also being released as singles. Add to that, Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as Maleficent and Brave characters, and the DI2 is looking to provide tough competition for Skylanders: Trap Team, also due for release later this year.

-Rognar-

Way of the Wicked 20

This was an interesting session for me because in some ways they ran part of it backwards which surprisingly made it easier for me to run.

With Eirmanthus dead and no clock running (aside from the vague timeline of the good army on it's way to defeat Fire-Axe's horde at Daveryn), the PCs spent some time rezzing the dead, gearing up and preparing for the next stage of the adventure. With everyone refreshed and ready to go, they paid Chargammon a visit and present the head of his formal rival.

The dragon was delighted and decided to honor his agreement and go eat some delicious virginal princess in two weeks time. Not only that but he decided to punish his son Jeratheon, whom the PCs had rescued from the Eagles, by forcing him to serve the PCs loyally for 100 years. The PCs now have their own dragon!

They paid a visit to the baroness who provided them with a rough map of the Adarium, the password to bypass some of the magical defenses, and a hint on where to start looking for the King's private sanctum. The PCs used Earth Glide to search under the Adarium until they found a suspicious chamber which they were pretty sure was what they were looking for. They Dimension Doored into the chamber, looked around, got a good feel for it and then left.

They spent the next week making some last minute preparation and then teleported into the chamber just before they expected the dragon to begin his assault. Waiting for them was Brigit of the Brijidine. She was standing in a large pool of lava which made her difficult to reach as she lobbed lava at the PCs and lit up the room with Firestorm. She was tough but they managed to kill her.

A few minutes later a portal opened in the room and the king and his retinue came through. The PCs wasted no words and the battle began. They dropped the King into a Maze and then proceeded to smash his followers. A blasphemy spell paralyzed the paladins and dazed the cleric. The Inquisitor did not last long against the onslaught of Gorbatch the bloodrager. Within a few rounds, all were dead. The PCs waited around for a few rounds until the king reappeared and then he too was dead.

The PCs had a number of objectives here: Slay the King (done), slay Brigit (Done), and find the Libre Darian. There were also two hidden objectives: find the last piece of Helbrand, and something they missed. Knowing they still needed the Libre Darian they started to search the palace hoping that the dragon would keep all of the defenders busy. The lower floor was deserted and it wasn't until they explored the throne room that they found their first opponent - the brother of Ara Mathra. He blasted the Ninth Knot with some nifty light attacks but ultimately went down like a chump. Single opponents have no chance against the party. The final piece of Helbrand was recovered from a hollow compartment in the throne and the artifact was restored to full power!

Since they were disguised as the king and his retinue, the delegation of Iraen (barbarians from the western forest) went along with the PCs and tried to help them. The Princess's quarters on the third floor were largely destroyed. A massive battle had taken place here and there were bodies everywhere including, shockingly, Chargammon himself. The PCs were about to spread out when they were attacked by the Mithril Golem.
It went down fairly quickly and the PC went back to the King's chambers to restart their search their for the Libre Darian.

It was found in the King's private shrine.  The wizard perused it quickly and noted that Princess Belinda's mom is actually an Ancient Great Wyrm Silver Dragon.

As the PCs return to their base General Barca leads the Darian army against Fire Axe's horde at Daveryn. It is a slaughter as the traitorous general orders the army to attack the city's strongest point. When the Darian army finally breaks and the Fire-Axe leads his counter attack to eliminate what's left, General Barca broke his seal and Tiadora appeared. She slew any of the humans nearby and then teleported the General away.

And so ends Book4. At this point the forces of good have been defeated. The watch wall was broken and a massive army of monsters moves south plundering as it goes. The Mitran faith is shattered as the Vale of Valtaerna was desecrated. The Mitran military orders have been annihilated at the battle of Daveryn. The house of Darius is nearly at its end as the King is dead and the only one left is his sheltered 18 year old daughter.

Next up: Evil vs Evil.



Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Marathons are Hard

So I ran my first marathon on Sunday. I finished with a time of 4 hours and 13 minutes which is respectable, however I was left feeling very disappointed. Perhaps foolishly, I went into the race expecting to kick ass even though I had never run that distance before.

Unlike shorter runs, the human body does not contain enough energy (glycogen) to complete the race. This means you either have to refuel during the race (because it stresses the stomach, I never bother in half-marathons) or slow down and burn fat which is much less efficient as a fuel source. On my many practice runs I would carry energy drink but the day of the Marathon I didn't bother with my fuel belt since I didn't want the extra weight. Mistake.

The Gatoraid on the course didn't sit well in my stomach. The energy candies I was sucking on I had never tested on my training runs so I'm not sure if that was what dried out my mouth or just general dehydration. In any case around the 24th kilometer things started to go down hill fast. I had a nasty cramp in my side and I was forced to alternate walking and running for the next 6 kilometers. By the 30th kilometer my body was completely out of fuel and the best I could do was a fast walk although even that made me nauseous.

It was a long final 12 kilometers as literally hundreds of people passed me. Had I been able to maintain the pace I kept for the first 24 kilometers I would have finished around 50th overall, instead I came in 640th. I did manage to run the last 100m although the effort made me debate checking into the first aid tent. I felt really, really awful. I lost over 5 lbs over the course of the race and it took the rest of the day to feel human again.

I now know I have to pay much more attention to my diet in the days leading up to the race, eat and drink enough before the race and get enough sugar, salt and water during the race. During the race I told myself that Marathons were just not for me but by the next day I decided to not let it get me down and I have signed up for another one. My plan next time is to run at a more conservative pace and actually try to run the entire thing and not smack "the wall". I can try to qualify for Boston again next year.