Delaware did itself proud yesterday with its inaugural riverfront marathon in Wilmington. This one was a peach. Flat, refreshment every mile, enthusiastic helpers, military 'motivators' (marine corps would have been proud), and several bands along the scenic loop that kept runners and spectators entertained through the morning. There was even a four-person relay for those that wanted to show off their 10K times. This is one to mark on your calendars for next year: May 15, 2005.
Highlights for me:
Seeing Ethel Cook at the start and running together for the first half. Okay, I admit that I dumped her at mile 13 when I took advantage of the fact that she'd done an INSANELY long run just 4 weeks before. By the way, when the rest of us do 20's to prepare for marathons, Ethel does marathons to prepare for what she does...
The enthusiastic greeting from Stacey Rohrbeck at mile 19, and seeing her again at the finish, beaming with pride as she introduced me to her 17 year old protégé who took first in age group on his first marathon.
The boundlessly energetic Susan Kopelman who put so much energy into motivating the runners at miles 3,10,16 and 23 that I just had to keep on jogging (at least while she could still see me - I sneaked a walk at miles 4,11,17 and 24).
And then the 'personalized' lyrics from that rock star of a husband of hers, who's band made sure that the runners were both entertained AND knew my cross-dressing habits. Thanks Bill!
July 24, 2004 - Jay's Challenge
A few folks have asked me about my July marathon on the 24th in Vermont. Well, the nervous twitch has abated and I've almost got the use of my limbs again. So let me just say that this adventure was eXtreme. From now on, I will scoff at Jim D's mountain trails, and Bob W's attempt to find the deepest water. Let me explain it to anyone thinking of doing it next year: The race starts by climbing 4,000', over 7 miles, to the summit of Jay Peak. Then you head downhill for 4 miles, descending 2,000' of ski trail. You then run in fields, river crossing, deer trail and Brook. Yes in a brook for about 1 mile. You continue via a bushwack and a beaver Dam. Once pass the beaver dam you cross the river. Yes, you cross a 50 foot river aid by volunteers and a cable. Once at the next Aid station, make sure that you take a good break, refuel and relax because the worse mud hole in the world is about to swallow you in the next 8 miles.
Now, when I signed up, I missed the part from the race director that said "Only the adventurous, experienced trail runner and fit athlete should sign up for this race". So that explains why it took me 8:08:29 to complete. But I wasn't last. I came in 74th in a field of 112 starters, 5 of whom never quite made it to the end ...
Will I be there next year?
August 25, 2004 - Sri Chinmoy Marathon
Well, that was easy...
I looked up at the finish banner, then back down at my watch to see under 3:50. Now, these marathon things take me MUCH longer than that. I mean the last one was over 8 hours! But, I guess you need to throw in these easy ones every now and again.
So let me tell you why you might think about doing the Sri Chinmoy in New York next year. But first I have to tell you that it's 9 loops of Rockland lake. But that's not so bad. I mean, even panels of gymnastic judges can count up to 9.
Anyway, here are my top ten reasons for signing up for this one.
10) It's flat.
9) It's mid-week, so no wasting a whole weekend over the thing.
8) The 7am start means a) you only need to take the morning off work, and b) Bob Woodruff won't be there.
7) It's very flat.
6) Scenery is good and the lake-side air is cool.
5) Big finishers medal.
4) There are real restrooms on the course (you know, the one's that have white porcelain and flushes).
And finally, my number 1 reason doing the Sri Chinmoy next year:
1) It's on the last Wednesday of the month, so you have a good excuse when Paul and Brett pass you on the 1200's in the evening.
HECK! It would even be ok if MILO passed you!
Craig Walton - New York City Marathon - November 2004
Hello Fast Trackers,
Just a quick word of thanks to everyone in the club. All of the organization, training, expert/experienced advice, camaraderie, and support is why I choose Fast Track as part of my lifestyle. Similar to what Lance says, 'It's not about the running'.
I always look forward to hearing each of your experiences, so I thought I'd share some of mine.
While my expectations for NY were high, the race lived up to them and more. I didn't achieve what I had hoped for, but my during-race adjusted goal was reached. That goal was to finish, and to finish below 4 hours. I've been resting for three weeks with what felt like a stress fracture in my shin (x-ray came up negative), and was concerned about its performance all the way up to the starting line. It turned out the shin bothered a little, but wasn't the factor. I had a decent first half, but felt generally fatigued. Perhaps too many high fives to the big fans and low fives to the great little ones. Crossing the Queensboro Bridge and coming into Manhattan was thrilling. You could hear the roar of the crowd slowly approaching, then exploding when you exit the bridge and round the corner, what a privilege to experience that. At miles 17-19 more fatigue and a lot of walking. Having my name on my shirt helped. 'Go Craig' 'You rock Craig'. Although it started to become
white noise to me, I did pick certain shouts out of the crowd that motivated me.
I began following the 3:40 pace group, and the leader was holding a stick with four balloons in the air marked 3:40. But just as a child who lets go of a balloon into the sky, watched it disappear into the abyss ahead of me. 'Will it come back daddy?' with a sense of dismay, I knew it wouldn't. When I approached the Bronx around mile 20, the cramping began in most major muscles in both legs. Never happened before, what a strange sensation. I'd carry into a run for bit, then seize up, walk, run, seize, stretch, run, seize. And I gritted my teeth and followed this program to the finish line, and finally, elation.
My take-away was: respect the race, hear your body, and know what you can do, then elevate that, but just a little bit. When's the next one? Rgds, Craig
Stacy Antoniades NYC Marathon Story - November 2004
Running NYC was a great experience, and even though I don't live there anymore, I STILL LOVE NY! Brooklyn rocks!
My boyfriend Paul, my cousin Pauline and my friend Elli followed me throughout the course. Over dinner Friday night, we made a plan that they would be watching for me always on my left, so that way I would know where to look for them as I ran. We decided the first meeting would be at mile 7 (Union St subway stop, Brooklyn) then again after mile 13 - at the curve leaving the Pulaski Bridge into Queens. They were going to wait for me at the foot of the bridge, but it was too crowded, so they walked around the curve and it was less crowded. A third meeting was at mile 19 at 110th and 1st Ave - and again near mile 23 at 110th and 5th Avenue. By the way the 110th street points were good ones, not very crowded and easy for spectators to walk across 110th street from one vantage point to the other....They held up 2 blue umbrellas and that is how I was able to spot them each time. I started peeling off my clothes at mile 7 and again at 13, so by the time they saw me at mile 19, Paul was wondering what else was I going to take off this time??? I was left in a bra, shorts, socks, shoes and a hat...but I didn't want to give up the hat and the rest....well, I didn't feel like being on the 6 pm news either so I left everything else on! I finished in 5:00:24 chip time, 5:08:36 canon time. I ran it at an 11:27 pace and I was 310 out of 788 women in my 50-54 age group
Tom Chaves NYC Marathon - November 2004
It brings me mixed emotions to share my story and experience with the group. I thought of not sharing and hiding the lackluster performance but that probably does more harm than good so here it goes . . .
The day started off great meeting Keith at 6:15 in Plymouth Meeting mall for our trek to Trenton to pick up the bus. We got CLOSE to Staten Island around 8:45 but didn't get let off the bus until about 9:20 due to traffic. It worked out for the best as we got into the waiting area around 9:35. We were sorry we missed the photo opportunity that we scheduled and seeing our other Fast Tracks friends before the race. . .
I had signed up to run with the 3:40 pace group hoping to get out in a good pace. The race start was great and inspiring . . . 2 minutes to the start and a 8:45 first mile had me psyched. The 10k mark went well at 52 and change and felt good as I was with the balloon guy. Through mile 11 I still was with the 3:40 group but started to feel tiredness take over and tried to work through the bad patch . . . came through halfway at 1:53 . . . still ok for about a 3:45 finish but not feeling really great and starting to worry . . .
Miles 13 - 20 were REAL rough . . . pace dropped to a 11 minute mile as I just couldn't keep up the sub 9 minute miles . . . I was walking TOO much but needed to to get through the miles. At about 18, I was resigned that my day would be longer than hoped for but I would gut it out as best I could. Mile 20 was 3:13 . . . current goal 4:15 although not likely based on last three miles . . .
Mile 21 was 3:27 which was painful . . .
Somewhere between mile 21 and 22, the body gave up, cramped/knotted up in calf and hamstring and I was down for the count. I couldn't move and luckily, I was by a medic tent. They rushed to my aide and carried me off in pain . . .
They worked on my cramps, gave me all sorts of fluids and stuff to make sure I was able to be hydrated. I tried to walk on it a couple of times but the cramps kept flaring up. After about 45 minutes, I was resigned that I was done for the day as I called my wife and folks and told them not to expect the last email with my final split but that I was 'ok' and not to worry.
Then the options were presented to me . . . go to the hospital a block away or wait for the sweep bus - probably about 2 hours. I didn't like either option and asked how far away the next medic tent was. I thanked the medic team for their assistance, support, and attentiveness. I ventured off thinking if I can make it to the next tent, then maybe the next one, etc. I tried jogging on it but it would twinge and I didn't want to take the chance of tearing something (which is what the medic thought I'd do if I tried to
walk or run on it).
So, the last part of the journey had started . . . longer than the first parts but nevertheless important. I think if I would've had money, I would've taken a cab to the finish. As the sun began to set on NYC, I was in striking distance of the finish. I ended up finishing with Judge Judy who was walking as part of Achilles Track club.
I crossed the finish line in 5 hours, 52 minutes, and change . . . about 3 hours longer than I had hoped, about double the time that I ran my first NYC marathon in 1985 . . . I did receive the medal but carried it as opposed to wearing it. I didn't walk far enough after the finish to remove my chip as I needed to get back to the bus which was another mile away.
As I got home that night and took the medal out of my bag, I did place it with my others that hang on a clothes stand underneath fall clothing and sweats. For that moment and in hindsight, I was glad that I was able to finish although it is with mixed emotions.
I know that I will be a stronger runner and person from this experience although humbler and reflective. As is written in many articles, we learn to respect the distance, the experience, and the journey . . .
onward to the next one . . .
First Ultra Marathon - 2004
by Ethel Cook
My first attempt at an ultramarathon this past April was unsuccessful. I didn't talk about it much because I felt that a DNF was a failure even though in the back of my mind I knew running 44.5 miles is an accomplishment in itself. But, I didn't finish what I set out to do. Not to make excuses, but running my first 50 miler in 85 degree heat (Boston weekend) was not what I planned on. With the warmer weather, I was not adequately prepared to carry as much water/gatorade as I needed between aid stations and dehydration and blisters became an issue. So, I learned from the experience and tried again.
I read an article recently where a race director for a ultramarathon said, 'When some one asks you if you finished, you can either say "yes" or spend the next half hour explaining why you didn't". I was determined to say yes this time.
I am proud to say, "yes". This time I finished. I ran the JFK 50 Mile this past Saturday November 20 and finished in 11:38:10. I placed 647 overall. The winning time was 6:11:49 and the first woman finished 28th overall in 7:31:00. If you want to check out the results the website is www.jfk50mile.org/
There are two starting times. The first one is 5:00am (269 people chose this option) allowing 14 hrs to complete the course and the second, 7:00am which allows 12 hrs. Not being a morning person, I chose the 7:00 am start hoping I could make it to all the cutoffs in time. There were 1,104 registered runners and 874 official finishers.
I won't do a mile by mile recap (although it may seem like it) but here are some of the highlights.
The course starts in downtown Boonsboro, MD on 3 miles of road which climbs a mountain to get the trailhead of the Appalachian Trail. The next 13 miles is on the Appalachian Trial, which I can only describe as running on a rock pile. I saw numerous people go down due to rocks and wet leaves. (I was lucky enough to catch myself from falling several times.) After that you run 26 miles on the C&O Canal Towpath, which is flat and soft but since it was raining Saturday, and had rained hard the night before, it was mostly mud. The final 8 miles is run on rolling country roads which are not closed to traffic.
There were 15 aid stations along the course which supplied Powerade, water, coke, pretzels, cookies, M&Ms, hammer gel, power bars, tums, jelly beans, chicken noodle soup, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and various first aid items.
It was drizzling at the start but it was 60 degrees so it was comfortable. They were only calling for scattered showers so I decided to not wear or carry a jacket because it would only be something extra to carry for 50 miles. I was already carrying 2 water bottles, 2 extra pairs of socks, 4 gel packs, a swiss army knife (for blister repair), tums, aspirin and extra bag balm.
The first mile was rolling and the next 2 miles we climbed up South Mountain. Everyone, except the leaders, power walk the hills. At the top of the mountain we got onto the Appalachian Trail. My first thought was, how in the world did the 5am people go through here in the dark? Even in the daylight it was difficult running.
1st aid station 4 miles - I took a quick drink of coke and off I went - time 41:43 and feeling good.
The next section of trail was slow going due to the rocks and wet leaves. I felt like I could have run faster but I was happy to be running at a comfortable pace with a group of about 20 people. It's almost impossible to pass someone on this part of the trail.
2nd aid station 10 mile mark- I ate a gel pack, drank a coke and grabbed a handful of pretzels - I was out of the aid station at 2:01.
You would think running down hill would be easy. But it's not, at least not on a trail. The next section we had to climb down the mountain to the towpath through a series of steep switch backs. A fall here could mean serious injury. As I neared the bottom I could hear people cheering. The spectators cheered as each person emerged from the trail. It was a nice welcome and I was really glad to be off the trail. This was also the 16 mile aid station. I could feel a hot spot on my right foot so I decided this would be a good time to change socks and reapply some bag balm. I was out of the aid station at 3:42.
The next 26 miles is on the C&O Canal Towpath. The towpath follows the Potomac River and offers some great views. We passed by Harper's Ferry, WV and numerous points significant in the Civil War. There were 8 aid stations on the towpath ranging from 2 to 4 miles apart depending on accessibility from the road. At about mile 25 I started to get a sour stomach and started eating tums. And my hot spot was now officially a blister. I stopped to pop it and felt much better after that. Some where close to mile 30 it started to rain rather hard. Now, I wish I had carried a jacket.
The aid station at mile 38 had chicken noodle soup, which I ate like I hadn't eaten in days. I was so happy to be eating something besides candy, gel-packs and pretzels. I left the mile 38 aid station at 8:46.
I had to reach the final aid station on the towpath (mile 42) by 5:10pm or 10hrs and 10mins. I was feeling good because I had a nice cushion and wasn't feeling too bad. I reached the mile 42 aid station at 4:30pm or 9:36. At this point it was starting to get dark. The aid station gave everyone a reflective vest to wear because the next section was on the roads. After refilling my bottles with powerade and peeing for the first time, I was on my way. At this point I knew I would finish, it was just a matter of in what time.
The roads were open to traffic but the intersections were controlled. After a very short time on the road I thought, it's a good thing I'm not afraid of the dark. We were in the middle of no where (horse country) with very few lights. It was dark except for the occasional car or runner who had flashlight. At this point most people were reduced to a walk. I walked the hills but ran the down hills and flats. Even though I was tired I figured the more I ran the sooner I would be done. Every time I passed someone they would offer me encouragement to keep running.
I spent very little time at the final aid stations. I got to mile 44 at 10:14, mile 46 at 10:39 and mile 48 at 11:17. I ran the final 2 miles and finished in 11:38:08.
Overall it was a great experience and next time you see me, I'll probably still be wearing my finisher's medal.