I considered several titles for this post, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Pirates Game”, “Tale of Two Halves”, “Good, Bad, and Ugly” were a few. It all started when I started looking at the schedule for Pittsburgh Pirates. I have a friend in Pittsburgh, and try to go to at least one game ever year. Then I began looking http://www.marathonguide.com/ at the marathon calendar. I noticed there was a marathon in Athens, OH the day before the Pirates home opener. I thought “that's doable”, I'll run the marathon on Sunday (for fun), then drive to Pittsburgh for the Pirates home opener. I tried to get some of my running buddies to come along, but they were all smarter than me. So after promising my wife that I wouldn't kill myself during the marathon (“I'm just running it for fun”), I made plans for the trip.
Saturday morning, I dropped Jill at the Monument Ave. 10K start, and the kids at my mom's, and headed for Athens. It was raining in Richmond when I left, but by the time I hit Charlottesville, the sun had come out. I thought about Jill doing the 10K in the rain, and hoped isn't wasn't too bad. It was about a 6 hour drive to Athens, and as pulled into town and drove through Ohio University campus, the students were out in full force enjoying the sunshine. Every roof top was covered with students, drinking and partying seemed to be the agenda for the day. I quickly found the packet pick-up site, ate my spaghetti dinner, & checked into the Hampton Inn (I didn't want to be mistaken for a “townie” by the college students).
It was still fairly early in the evening, I took a nap, watched some TV, checked out the weather forecast for Sunday's race. I felt pretty confident, even though I hadn't done a real long run since the B&A marathon, I convinced myself that a long taper would allow me to run at a comfortable pace, and the weather forecast was just about perfect (high 30's forecasted for the start and only warming-up to the mid-50's, light breezes).
I'll leave most of the race details for Dave Klisz's blog (Running in the Center of the Universe - http://www.townhound.com/blog/dave.php) as he has promised to air my race report, but give some of the highlights. The forecast was dead on at the start. It was perfect running weather, but with a 9:00 start, I knew in the back of my mind, it would warm-up pretty quickly. I ran about the same pace as B&A for the first 10 miles and felt good, but by the half-way point things started going south. The temperature was climbing rapidly. I drank plenty (even though the students manning the water stops were only putting shot size amounts of fluid into the cups). At about mile 15, I noticed I wasn't sweating enough to cool my body. I knew the temperature must be close to 70 degrees (NEVER BELIEVE A WEATHERMAN). I remembered the promise I had made to Jill (not to kill myself), so I decided to take some walk breaks.
Anyway, for next 10 miles, I walked, jogged, and ran, stopping to talk to students manning the water stations and others that were struggling like me. It was fun, but my legs were cramping badly. The last 3 miles, I ran & walked with a guy from Cleveland (he wasn't having a good day either). I found out he had run the half at B&A, and was training for the Cleveland marathon. We had a good time, joking about how bad we were feeling. I ran the last mile, and we finished with a lap and half on the university track, which was kinda cool. The announcer called out each person's name as they finished. I immediately called Jill to let her know I was still alive.
Well, another marathon under my belt. It was an experience. It wasn't my slowest time ever (I finished in just under 4 hours), but I really missed having my family and running buddies at the end. I think part of the appeal of running marathons is the “sharing” of the experience at the end. I'll give Dave a more detailed report, and maybe that'll fill the void.
I concluded my trip, by heading to Pittsburgh Monday morning to see the baseball game (the “real” reason for my trip). After struggling to find a place to park (I swear it was somewhere in western Philadelphia), I had to hustle to the stadium in time to make the first pitch. Of course the game went into extra innings, and the Pirates lost to the Cubs. I arrived back in Ashland after midnight.
What's next you ask? Well, I just signed-up for a marathon in Wilmington, DE on May 18th. That'll give me 3 marathons in 3 months, which would qualify me as a “Marathon Maniac” http://www.marathonmaniacs.com/, I hope this next one goes a little better. At least I'll have Jill & the kids there at the end. This will be my last one until the OBX marathon in the Fall, which I'll be running with Bob Brown as he makes his marathon debut (more pressure applied).
I'm looking forward to coaching a Half Marathon Training team for the Patrick Henry Half Marathon (8/23/2008). We will be having an info night this Tuesday (4/15/2008) at the Ashcake YMCA (wet Y, as the locals call it). More details can be found at http://www.quickteams.com/rrrc-hmt/. We have a great group of coaches, and will hopefully expose more people to joys of running longer distances.
See ya on the streets,