A huge thanks to the RBF – You stood by me through my venting, laughed at silly jokes, and, through your continued dedication to your own training programs, have continued to inspire, amaze, and encourage me. Huge thanks to Susan for showing up at the finish – sorry I was far from witty and erudite.
The short of it – I finished. 403 out of 577, 62 out of 72 in my age group. Just under 4:30. My little bro, god bless his heart, finished too. Sister-in-law provided brilliant on-course support, wife and boys were at the finish line, and Jake ran the last 100 yards with me.
The long of it –
I’m still emotionally conflicted about the whole race. On the one hand, it sucked. Big time. On the other hand, I did it.
Race day was chilly, but at least it wasn’t rainy. It actually got nice for the middle of the race, but the last hour – the hour that would have sucked in great weather – got grey, chill, and breezy. But that’s getting ahead of myself.
The first 4 miles or so were inside Rocky Neck State Park – lap of the park, pretty flat, exceptionally beautiful fall day. The field was only about 2000 runners, including the 10 mile race runners. Start was well organized, etc. Out of the park, ’round the corner, and down to Giant’s Neck. Part of the cool factor for this race was a lot of overlap in the course – we got to see the eventual winners five or six times along the course. Hugely inspirational.
Wow. If I’d won the powerball last week, this might be where I’d be buying a house (well, other than worrying about jarring Jake out of school). Beautiful. The sun was shining, birds were singing, legs felt great, views were stunning. Great time to be running.
About 6.7 miles, stopped to pee. Matt kept running, slowly. There was a relay runner who’d just finished in the portolet; she took forever, or a minute or so. I got in, got out, and caught up to Matt in about a half mile. Legs felt great, headed over the “high point” of the race, 80′. Joked about how flat the course seemed (right here, remember I’ve been reading Greek lit lately).
Old Black Point Road the first time continued the good vibe – southbound, sunny, nice views, good time. Coming around the blind corner at the south end of the road, I almost ran into the guy who finished second; or more accurately, I almost ran into the race official riding a bike only about 15′ in front of the guy. I was jazzed; the guy would have been pissed, I’m sure.
Cool croquet yard at like mile 10 (and again at mile 21, but let’s wait to talk about that, OK?)
Half way in 2:05, or so. Perfect pace – my brother, having done this twice before, had a talent for slow and steady that I do not. Prior to the race, Matt and I’d decided that if I were feeling good, I’d head out on my own and try for 4 hours. We shook hands, parted ways, and I was off. Felt good – no, felt great. Feet were light, and I convinced myself that I had the marathon thing licked.
Rounded the corner in downtown Niantic at about mile 17 and began to wonder. The sun went behind the clouds, and the wind decided to shift into my face, regardless of which direction I was running. Bleh.
Took my first real walk break about mile 18. I’d been walking through water stops as good strategy for the whole race; mile 18 I needed to walk. Walked about 1/4 mile, ran to mile 19. Mile 19, walked about a tenth, and then decided to run to mile 20. At mile 20, I was still running, and figured I’d keep running until mile 21. Made it to mile 21…
Sister-in-law had ridden along with me for a while as I came up to mile 21. Tried to be encouraging. Hate to say it, but I really wanted nothing more than to knock her off the bike and strangle her at that point. Just did not want to be bothered. I hurt, I was tired, the last thing I wanted to do was to make chit-chat. So, publicly, “Sorry.” (We talked after the race; she understood.)
Mile 21 was my “Wall”. Stopped to pee again, stopped to tie my shoes, and thought about stopping completely. I’d passed 4 or five folks puking at the side of the road. I was beginning to have a blister under my right big toe, and my left ankle (which I now believe is planar facists, or some such thing) was throbbing. THe upside – I couldn’t favor either foot. The downside – it just plain hurt.
Anyway, I started running again. Convinced myself that it should be easy – flat road, kind of scenic along the water, just like I like it.
‘Cept it was cold. And I was running right into the wind. And I was tired. And I had gas. And wah.
So I walked. And ran a few steps, and walked. Walked up the hill at the end of Old Black Point Road. Ran down the hill. Started walking again on Attawan Road, under the railroad bridge, and along Fairhaven Road. Started running again at mile 23, convinced I could run the 3 miles back to the finish. 3 miles – I could do that one-legged after training, right?
Remember that hill we’d laughed about on the way out? Well, it sucked on the way back. Rather than approaching it from the land-side, we approached from pretty much sea-level. It was real, and it was spectacular, and if I’d been in a better mood it would have really lifted my spirits – fall leaves, nice, gentle curve, houses set back from the road so it looks like the middle of nowhere. Instead, it killed the momentum I’d had since mile 23. No effin’ way was I going to run up that thing.
Got to the top, and things were worse. Ankle was really hurting – for a couple of steps on the steep downhill, I though I might literally fall over. So I kept walking over the rollers on RT 156. Really, I wanted to run, but there was no way.
Started running again at mile 24, mostly out of being obstinate. Made it to the finish. Saw the wife and boys, and didn’t hurt at all. Grabbed Jake, who was completely confused after 20 minutes or so of having his mommy tell him that he couldn’t go into the road with the runners. But, he started running, and was smiling. I was smiling, too.
Saw Susan, then Missy, and Nate. Finishing felt great, all of the pain went away for a while. Sister-in-law showed up saying that Matt was having a really tough race; we went up to root for him. He finished not long after.
Post-race: Chowder. Mmmm, chowder. Picked up, headed home. Used our “East Lyme Dollars” to pick up some lobster bisque at Flanders Fish Market. Laid around. Got some Ice Cream from Drawbridge Ice Cream.
Today: Not so bad. Sore, but as I type, getting ready to go to bed, I’m actually thinking about running tomorrow. We’ll See.
New York – Susan, I may have lied; I might do New York. Let’s see if I can run tomorrow before we make any decisions.
Again, thanks. I couldn’t have done it without the faith and encouragement of this community of former strangers. Most of the time I feel like I’m taking way more than I’m giving; hopefully, I can offer more than timid thanks and platitudes in the future.
Only 7 months until Bluff Point, right?