Tuesday, October 18, 2011
this weekend eliot took on a pair of marathons, back to back, for his first "double" - and they were in different states to add a logistical twist! his friend john joined in this 52+ mile weekend on the roads, both running and driving :D
here is eliot's write up of the adventure (and as a bonus, he picked up another marathon maniac star in the process)!
Hartford and Atlantic City Marathon Weekend - My First Double Marathon
October 15/16th, 2011
Honestly, I’ve been struggling to find myself as a runner for a better part of this year. Can I ever (or do I even want to) become faster? That was my early 2011 plan …. to try to become faster. It never happened. Yes, I did throw down for a bunch of races (short and long), but only did them halfheartedly. What could one expect with basically a once a week training regime? What could I realistically accomplish?
In May, at the NJ Marathon Expo, my ‘5:42 am train to the city’ friend, John, asked if I wanted to try a double marathon in the October; a first for both of us. John’s story is this …. he has run 3 to 4 marathons a year for the past 4 years, including Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, MCM, etc. He has a different approach than me about training. He is like Felix Unger and I am like Oscar Madison. Need I say more? But, I thought to myself that it was like five months away; so, “why not!” This gave me something to work towards …. so, I even ran two/three times a few of these past weeks.
The expo at the XL Center was convenient to the start and they had a race-day packet pick-up in the morning, which meant that I could sleep at home, pick John up at 4:00 am and drive the 2 hours to Hartford with plenty of time to spare!
Live to fight another day! I went into the first one with a strategy: Run hard like I’m trying to PR and re-assess at the halfway mark. The ½ mat came at about 1:53 and I re-assessed. Goal was to finish in good enough shape to ‘fight another day.’ So, I ran another 6 or 7 at ~ 9:30 mpm pace and finished the rest in an ‘ultra’ style combination of run/walks while eating an energy bar. My goal was to finish with an overall 10 mpm pace or a sub-4:22 finish.
I hate ‘out and backs’ with a passion and Hartford had a doozy! At miles 10 to 17 was the out with a return to mile 24 as the back. It was a long straight stretch in the sun and seeing the runners ahead of me effortlessly heading back is always disheartening. I just grit my teeth to 24 and was finally coasting in for a close to goal time (give or take) when I had my race highlight. During the last ½ mile stretch as the crowd thickened, an obnoxious runner sprinted past me towards Bushnell Park. I said to myself, “F that!” I took after him as the crowds cheered, “Catch him!” As I passed him, I turned my head and gave him a nod. Then, I said to myself, “Holy crap, you looked at him so now you can’t let him pass you again.”
The finish was in sight now so I just put my head down. So focused on staying ahead of this guy, I must have ‘obnoxiously’ passed another runner who must have gotten pissed off at me. That guy got slightly ahead of me. Without thinking about etiquette, I found another gear so we blazed through the Arch together. We both smiled. Talk about a climax. And, I must admit, the obnoxious runner (not me) got me in at 4:21:15. Post-race in Bushnell Park was free Harpoon IPA for the runners. Too bad I left my ID in the car. All in all, a very nice race and course with lots of support.
John and I headed straight for the car and onto 91S when we hit a wall of traffic just outside Hartford. Damn it. No beer, now traffic and a 5 hour drive to Atlantic City to boot. We got to the hotel at about 6:30 pm, checked in, showered and headed over to Bally’s for late arrival packet pick-up. We had a nice meal at a local micro-brewery which included some food, a sampler of their brews and then a pint of their IPA to wash it all down. Now to sleep, but for the bachelor party next door that returned to their room at 2:30 am. Security please, to the 10th floor!
I went into the second one with a strategy: Finish healthy enough to run NYC in three weeks. I hate ‘out and backs’ with a passion and Atlantic City had a doozy too! After 4 miles of crosswind on the boardwalk, we ran southbound on the roads from about miles 12 to 16 into strong headwinds. I was actually feeling good for this half of the race, crossing the ½ mat at about 2:05 so at about 9:30 mpm pace. But, the ‘out and back’ plus wind just took its toll on me. Funny how it always works out this way, but there was no tailwind to speak of on the backside. It was sunny, warm and I was feeling fatigued, so my very generous goal was now to finish in under 5:00 hours.
My ‘ultra’ running kicked in much sooner out of necessity. Oh yeah, there was a second ‘out and back’ between about miles 18 to 21; where, again, there were headwinds, this time on the backside. The last 2 miles were running northbound on the boardwalk through the crowds and I felt a great sense of satisfaction finishing at 4:49:17 at about an 11 mpm pace overall. I even stopped for a ‘jump’ at the mat, didn’t get very high, but the crowd cheered anyway. At the finish there was Blue Point beer. Yikes, I forgot my ID again, but didn’t need one in AC. Whew! We hit the road for the 3+ hour drive home. All in all, another very nice race and course with lots of support. Plus, a finisher’s medal that is also a bottle opener!
Sporting my Marathon Maniacs shirt, I was given special attention. So, I’m giving a shout out to all my fellow MM’s who crossed my path this weekend (like Otto Lam and Dave Mari) for the winks, smiles, and words of encouragement. The ‘maniac’ question of Saturday was, “What are you running tomorrow?” And, Sunday’s was, “What did you run yesterday?” Gotta laugh! And, special thanks to John for making us get our MM fourth stars!
So, besides a MM fourth star, what was accomplished this weekend? I did 52.4 miles in 9:10:32 or at an overall 10:30 mpm pace across two days. Did I find myself? Not yet, but I understand to do so will involve having and setting goals. So, I’ll keep looking ….