I have sent you all my negative marathon stories in the past, so I felt that I should send a very positive one. I apologize for the length-if you are not an M101 runner, just delete this now! I ran the NYC marathon 9 wks ago- and over the next 9 weeks, made it to only one Fast track ' s run, and ran little on my own. Over the 9 weeks, I did 3 -10 mile runs, and a handful of 4 or 5 milers.
Over Christmas I saw that usair was in more trouble, and decided to be spontaneous, use some frq flier miles that will be lost, and go out to Phoenix to either cheer on my friends, Keith and Milo (didn't know Ethel was going then), or possibly run the half marathon. I went out and did one very slow 15 miler to "train" for the half, and booked my flight.
Keith and Ethel were going to do the full marathon, Milo and I, the half. I looked over the Phoenix Rock and Roll marathon website, it looked like so much fun, with 50 bands along the course, and I got the idea into my head that maybe it would be fun to try the whole marathon. My husband decided that this proved that I am in fact a complete lunatic, and 2 days before we set off to Phoenix, I started to bug Milo to consider doing the full marathon with me. He, too, had not done any long runs in 3 months and was very skeptical.
We got to the expo, and in the excitement of the moment, Milo and I upgraded our bibs to the full marathon. We decided that if we couldn't make it, we could stop, listen to the bands and walk it on in.
The weather started out just perfect, we were all psyched up, and only made it to the start 23 minutes after the race began (due to long bathroom lines). As we started the first 2 miles, the course was deserted, spectators gone, and the volunteers breaking down the course. I was concerned that I wouldn't have the crowd support and bands to carry me through. Keith assured me that he would stay with me every step of the way . Well, he is a man of his word, and did stay with me through it all. By mile 3, we began to catch up with the back of the pack, the spectators were fantastic, the bands were out and many cheerleading squads along the way. Up to mile 15, the race was easy- Keith kept me at a perfect pace, and we had a great time. We felt bad because we had gotten quite a bit ahead of Milo and Ethel. Miles 16 - 18, I started to get tired, it began to get quite hot, and at 18 I felt like I was hitting the wall. It was around mile 17 when Milo just flew past us, with a huge smile on his face, and within a minute, he was out of site. He was like lightning!
For the next 8 miles, Keith was absolutely amazing. He talked me through every bout of nausea, every muscle ache, and every asthma/panic attack. He kept me laughing throughout (as he does so well), and coached me through it all. Any fleeting thought of self doubt was instantly wiped out by his incredibly positive attitude and encouraging words. He even tackled a team in training coach to get me some much needed candy. He left me only 2 times to grab beers from the people hanging out in the bars that we passed, (watch for his finishers photo, he came through the finish with a beer in his hand), and left me perhaps a dozen times to pose for pictures along the way (more on that later). He kept me going for 8 challenging miles. He walked with me when I needed to walk, and reminded me to smile at that finish line. Keith was a true godsend. I could never have done it without him. So, I did it! My watch said that we completed it in 4:48:19. Not a fast time, but not bad considering I had done absolutely no training for 2 months prior.
Milo had a PR- he was unbelievable. I am in awe of his determination and ability. Ethel came in just after us, with a big smile on her face.
Now, for more on Keith. I did not yet mention that he ran this race in his well known, pink top, pink tutu, pink sneakers, carrying his pink wand. What an experience running 26.2 miles with a pink fairy. First, I must say, that a large percentage of people remembered Keith from last year, and were very excited to see him. He has now become a bit of a celebrity in Phoenix, and I am sure that they will be expecting him each and every year. The comments called out to him were outrageous, and of course, our Keith had the wittiest lines in return. He sprinkled his magic fairy dust on people all along the course, granting their wishes of just finishing the race, as well as promising people enlarged sexual organs and mammilary glands (I am still waiting for mine). He flirted with all of the women along the course. And drove the cheerleaders crazy. He did get one marriage proposal, and many other solicitations, including a few from some local fireman. Most of the vocalists in the bands stopped singing in the middle of their songs when they saw Keith coming, in order to comment on his awesome costume. He brought smiles to everyone along the course. (Except for a few parents who felt compelled to cover their children's eyes, lest they see this wacko coming through the course.) Keith had so much extra energy (due to his awesome training, and the terribly slow pace that we maintained), that he was able to help so many people along the way- with his encouraging words, constant jokes and general conversation. He must have had his picture taken 100 times along the way. Keith made this race so much fun for me and so many people around us. He is an extraordinary person- thank you , Keith.
So, that wraps it up . All in all, it was an awesome, awesome marathon. Keith, Milo and Ethel were terrific travel companions, and I look forward to many runs with them in the future.
See you all on the trails!
Keith Straw - Laurel Highlands Trail , June 2005
Before I get into my story, I want to thank Ethel for being my Ultra
inspiration. She showed me that it’s possible to keep running beyond 26.2. Way
beyond. She’s also the greatest traveling companion on these formidable events.
I think it’s that ‘matter of factness’. She takes away the nervousness of those
And now my story.
Starting at the river side in Ohiopyle, we ran half a mile to a wooden marker
that read ‘0 miles’. The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (LHHT) rose ahead,
upwards into the mist. Yellow blazes on the trees guiding us to succeeding
markers. I would stop when I saw ’70 miles”.
I knew the course was going to be tough. The LHHT booklet suggested a hiking
pace of one-and-a-half miles an hour, so I was pleased to see mile 26 pass in
six hours. Mile 35 came two hours later. I was on course for 16 hours total.
That would have put me in the top ten athletes based on previous year’s times.
But pain struck at 46. My lower right leg cried out for me to stop at mile 50. I
didn’t, but I was reduced to limping the last 20 miles. I thought I’d done some
serious damage. Thoughts of a stress fracture. Thoughts that this could be my
last long run.
Darkness came at mile 62. My flashlight picked out the narrow winding trail, and
my painful right foot picked out every rock. I saw ’66 miles’. Ten minutes later
I stumbled into a fallen tree across my path. I panned my flashlight right and
left, caught sight of those familiar yellow flashings and continued to follow...
and saw ’66 miles’ again...
I’d doubled back in the darkness.
With four miles still to go, my flashlight growing dimmer and my leg in pain, I
actually thought I could die out there. I didn’t. I picked my way to the finish
in just under 18 hours. One of 56 souls that crossed the line that night from
the 82 that started.
I drove home, making the most of cruise control to keep the pressure off my leg.
Dawn had broken. And so had I. Showering off the mud, I saw that my right leg
was the wrong color. Very wrong. I called my good friend Carole. She came round
and insisted on taking me to Paoli emergency room. You need good friends to be
It turned out that 70 plus miles of running hadn’t broken my leg. I hadn’t even
got a blister. I had an infection. Bizarre. After being hooked up to an IV of
antibiotics and sent home with a prescription, I had time to ponder the health
giving benefits of running.
Ethel Cook - Laurel Highlands Trail, June 2005
I originally was going to say that Keith faired better than me, but after
reading his e-mail, I'm not so sure. My account should not be taken as excuses for why I did not finish, but rather give you more reason to be impressed with Keith's finish.
I did not expect running 70 miles to be easy, but the real challenge of the
Laurel Highlands Ultra is not the distance, but rather the terrain. If you love
hills, large hills, technical single track trails, hot and humid days,
thunderstorms, poison ivy, did I mention hills?, bear sightings, rhododendrons
taller then yourself and beautiful views then this is the race for you.
When Keith described the trial rising up into the mist he was not exaggerating, but he made it sound nicer than it was. The trail climbs 1000 feet of elevation in the first 2 and half miles and another 1500 feet between mile 6 and 9. It took me 51 mins to get to mile 3. I know I'm slow, but I'm not that slow.
The trail is broken into 5 sections with time cutoffs for each section. Prior
to the race I thought the cutoffs were generous. The first section was 19.3
miles which I would have liked to have done faster but I still made it with a
comfortable cushion. After about 4 hours of running a heavy thunderstorm hit
and it rained for several hours. Initially it felt good, but after a couple of
hours it got a little old. It was hard too tell just how long it rained because
water dripped off the trees long after the rain stopped. I felt like I was
running through a rain forest.
The second section was 13 miles and crossed the Seven Springs Ski Resort. There was construction at the resort and a trail detour which the race organizers were not aware of. This caused many runners, including myself, to lose 20 mins or more trying to get back on the trail. At this point I didn’t think I was going to make it to the second check point but I pushed as hard as I could and made it with a little over 15 mins to spare. But getting lost had eroded my cushion.
The next section was 14.1 miles. This section did not have any significant
hills, but still a lot of rolling hills. By this time my feet were hurting from
a couple of blisters and my back hurt from falling twice on slippery rocks. The
poor footing slowed my already slow pace. I was afraid of breaking an arm or a leg and still having 6 or 7 miles to get to the next check point. I missed the cut off at the third check point (47 miles) by 5 mins.
Obviously I was and still am disappointed not to finish. But DNFs are a
learning experience and I learned a couple of things from my mistakes. But I
also tried a couple of new things (about hydrating )that worked really well. If
anyone is interested I'll gladly share with you.
The positive thing about not finishing was that I got to see Keith finish. I
was extremely proud to hug Keith as he crossed the finish. It's hard to
understand just how difficult this race is without seeing the trail. Great job
Keith, you are amazing.
Deb Keener - Corning Marathon, October 2005
Morning fog covered the valley in a blanket of white mist with a temperature of 50 degrees in Corning, New York, the scene of this year’s 2005 Wineglass Marathon. And although beautiful, scenic and downhill, it was by no means easy. The marathon was small, only 537 finishers. The long gradual downhill in the latter half of the Wineglass was actually the toughest part of the course, because it strained the muscles in the front of the legs that don’t usually take such a pounding. Felt like somebody was taking a jackhammer to my legs with every step. I was almost looking for an uphill. Can you believe that Robin?
The first half was actually quite nice but somewhat windy. I was lucky enough to draft behind a 6 ft, 20 year old named Cassidy who was running with a close friend; running her first marathon. They were aiming for a 4 hour finish but running at a slower pace. Cassidy is actually a 7 minute miler who plans to do the Ironman in Lake Placid next year. Thanks to Vickie, I was able to share Ironwoman stories with him as we ran along.
We ran anywhere from a 9:15 - 9:30 pace which would have resulted in a 4:00 – 4:10 finish had the temperature not reached over 80 degrees. The sun was bright and as I can remember, we ran many miles in flat open fields with little to no shade. I came home with a bright red face even with sun screen and a fresh leg tan with sock marks!
Slowly but surely as the marathon progressed, our pace slowed from 9’s to 10’s to 11’s and ultimately at mile 23, 12 minutes when I stopped to stretch. It was at this point, for the first time in my marathon career, I began to wonder if I could finish. Mile 24 took for ever to reach and I still had 2 more miles to go! Doesn’t sound like much but when you’re counting the minutes…no seconds…it’s an eternity! Thanks to Robin for the loan of her IPOD shuffle which I used to drown out my huffing, puffing, cursing and swearing. Just kidding, we were running in hometown USA neighborhoods with little kids playing in front yards. I swore silently this year Milo!
The last 2 tenths of the marathon crossed a bridge into a beautiful grassy park. I remember being helped to a chair where I sat so they could remove my chip. If it weren’t for Mary Malley’s recommendation to get on the waiting list for a massage immediately after crossing finish, I would still be sitting there in agony. I’ve never had the time to hang around the finish for a massage but am so glad I did. Except for a slight hip pain, I was able to make the long drive home the next day with little to no pain. I did as Carol recommended and made many stops along the 4-5 hour drive to stretch and relax.
All in all, I would recommend Wineglass but with caution if the summer is hot and humid with an extended Indian summer. If you need crowds to cheer you on, this is probably not the marathon for you. Spectators are few if non-existent along the course. However, a support team could easily follow the route because both lanes are open on almost all roads except for a small section that goes around a high school football field.
The area is beautiful especially if you take the time to visit Watkins Glen in the ‘Finger Lakes’ and wineries just north of Corning and Bath, the start of the marathon. And I would highly recommend the Econo Lodge in Painted Post. The rooms were clean and service friendly with complimentary breakfast better than most…eggs, bacon or sausage, complete with Belgium waffle iron for freshly made waffles, English muffins, bagels and cream cheese, OJ, cereal and pretty good coffee … 2 miles from the finish and bus pickup …for about $60 per night!
Jennifer Van Allen - Blues Cruise 50k - My First Ultramarathon
First a little bit about the race. This was definitely a bare bones of a race, and stripped running down to only its most necessary elements: water, food, a few signs to tell you where to turn around, and a few ribbons on trees to tell you whether you're lost or headed in the right direction. That, along with a core of warm, supportive, and wonderful volunteers, who know what kind of nourishment a distance runner needs. There was a real beauty in the bare bones-ness of it. It was a great gut check and reminder that running in races doesn't have to involve huge sponsorships, throngs of people cheering and running for you, expos, freebies, or anything. All you have to do is arm yourself with the courage to show up at the starting line, and start moving when someone yells "Go.!"
The organization of the race was nothing short of supurb. And the scenery of the course was nothing short of gorgeous. Hard, and curse-able in parts, but a wonderful mix of woods and open fields worthy of a "rave run" photo in runner's world. Those Pagoda Pacers know how to put on a race.
Thank you to all you friends and fast trackers, for all your encouragement, and your immense support. I can honestly say that I wouldn't have the courage to even do this if there weren't people like you all who made 18 mile and 20 milers a whole lot of fun, and if I didn't have people in my life who wouldn't laugh aloud at the proposal "anyone up for meeting even earlier on Saturday for an add on to the long run?"
I also wouldn't have been able to it without my mencsh of a husband, who was there through months of training, understanding why I'd be gone for 4 hours every Saturday morning, why my watch alarm went off at 5am every morning, and who was there at every water stop,with water, a towel, gu, power bars, and even an extra pair of socks when I needed it. I am so incredibly grateful to him and his support. I realize that he's a rare rare rare breed of a partner.
Second all, a HUGE congratulations and THANK YOU to Ethel and Keith.First, for being such tremendous inspiration. Without even saying a word, just by doing all the runs you do, you were an immense inspiration. I had a tremendous amount of respect for you before I did this, and now that I know first hand what it takes to survive even one of these - even in optimum weather and trail conditions - I am just in awe at the physical and mental fortitude that they each of you must possess because of what's required to do this on a regular basis. Let me tell you the rest of you that each of them showed up Sunday morning at the starting line, smiling, and just palpably psyched. Keith, literally, was bouncing up and down with excitement. I also got the pleasure of meeting the famous Fast-tracker emeritus Sorita, who was so kind and wonderfully supportive. It was great to have her there!
Me on the other hand, I was full of dread, fear, second thoughts and random aches and pains that I couldn't tell if they were real, or just physical manifestations of my anxiety. It's been a tremendously fun summer season of training, and I was standing there at the start, wondering why I had to go and ruin it with a completely discouraging and humiliating experience. As the other runners appeared, I lost count of the number of people I overheard say things like "I did X or Y adventure race or 100-miler last weekend, doing Steamtown next weekend, and then doing the JFK 50-miler after that." Hard core, I realized. A completely different caliber of runner than I. There were plenty of opportunities for ego-bruising and humiliation in my everyday life. Why had I paid $50 and traveled an hour for an extra dose of it?
Just minutes after the start, we were heading into the woods, and onto uneven, rocky skinny dirt terrain. There was a pack of us at first, the path was skinny enough that all 60 something of us runners were running practically single file. Missed the first mile-marker and so the first time I looked at my watch was 20 minutes, having thought that I hadn't even hit mile one, and thinking "man, my first mile was 20 minutes, I'm never going to finish this!" And then, suddenly, Keith emerged, generous enough to pull back from his bounding pace, and encourage: "we're doing 9:30 miles! We keep this up we can do 4:55!" This was a huge relief.
Much to my own shock, the first 3 miles were the most difficult miles of the race. It wasn't the "What the hell was I thinking?" version of difficult. It was more of the "Why didn't I think of this- I HATE THIS!" vein of thinking. "This" was the trails. Yes, I knew it was a trail run. But in my optimism, or self-delusion, I had envisioned something like Betzwood or the perkiomen trail. So I was horrified to see the amount of roots and rocks and uneven footing on the first 3 miles. And given that I am hopelessly clumsy and easily get lost in even the best of circumstances, only three words became stuck in my mind. "No F-ing way." This 8-hour cut off for the course was starting to seem ambitious and out of reach. And I started to imagine the in-the-dark search parties that would be required to retrieve my carbo-overloaded yet beaten up body from the middle of the woods that evening. And soon, the crowd thinned, and I was on my own. Everyone who was ahead of me, was suddenly out-of-my-line-of-vision and earshot ahead, and I couldn't hear anyone behind me, making me feel like I was definitely the last one in the race. Thank god I didn't tell any of my co-workers or non-runner friends that I was doing this, I thought. I couldn't face them Monday with the news that I only did 3 miles and then dropped out.
To punctuate my dread, I soon fell. This was not the kind of stumble and fumble and regain your footing kind of fall. This is the bang your toe against a root and fly, tush-over-teakettle, fly through the air before landing, face, and torso first, on the ground, sliding to a stop kind of fall. This turned out to be one of 7 times that I would take such a spill during the race. My hips felt bruised, my legs were scraped, and my ego, which was already heading for a 52-week low, was crumbling. I started to think about Keith's awful experience getting a infection during an ultra and started envisioning myself attached to an IV. I had discussions with many of you this season, trying to calculate pacing and what a 50K time would look like, and oh "it isn't that much more htan a marathon." But let me tell you that no amount of calculation or math or logic can account for how long the first 3 miles of a race can feel when you're physically and mentally bruised like that. And then, with only 30 something miles to go, with blood running down my legs, bruises growing in my hips, and dirt on my boobs, there was only one thing to do: laugh.
From there, I decided I needed some sort of mental plan to get through this. In one marathon, the only thing that successfully blunted the banging pain in my quads was the recitation of the phrase "mind over matter" each time my left foot hit the ground. In another race, the repetition of the phrase from Boston marathon pioneer Katherine Sweitzer saw me through: "It's amazing where the mind can take the body if you let it." Over and over and over again. This Sunday, bleeding, dirt-covered, and emotionally bruised, here's what got me through a dozen or so miles: A 31 mile race, with water stops every 3 miles or so, is just 10 different 3 milers. 3 >miles, I can do. I might walk them faster than I run them, but dammit I can >do it. And that got me through the first 16 miles.
For about 90% of the rest of the race, I was alone in the woods, no one \ahead of me and no one behind me. That was the element of this that really had intimidated me about the race, and Iw asn't sure if I had the mental stamina to deal with the boredom and self-doubt that running solo for miles on end through the woods, to deal with. After all, I've been so spoiled training with this wonderful group at Fast Tracks, where the conversations and the companionship really does make the 20 miles fly by (even when you're not flying), and to run in gigantic marathons, where you are lavished with crowd support and gear and paraphernalia and the company of runners the whole way. But the solitude turned out, believe it or not, not to be an issue. Maybe I was so focused on not tripping (although apparently not focused enough, as I fell, in similar bloody and dirty fashion, about 6 more times during the race). But before I knew it, somewhere around mile 14 to 15, out of the wilderness, the leader of the race was coming toward me. Then, not shortly afterwards, bounding down the trail, came Keith, full of cheer and good tidings, as casually as if we'd run into one another at a cocktail party. He really has an amazing spirit. Soon afterwards I saw Ethel, at I'm not sure what mile, bounding up the hill, she also had this amazing smile on her face. A will of steel, and a tremendous spirit. I am in awe.
Luckily the turn around (A lone orange traffic cone with a partially-attached posterboard with the words "Turn Around" haphazardly written on them).
The highlight of the race, believe it or not, was mile 27. Not so much because I had just run a marathon, but because it was a rare point where I had just finished a marathon and much to my own shock, I had this energy. I was running, I was walking, I was still alive! I had one crucial, adrenalin-rush-of an-epiphany that turned out to be the biggest reward of the entire experience:(even better than the post race shower or meal): "I really can go further than I thought I could." That pride and amazement got >me to the finish.
As grueling as the first 3 miles felt to me, that's how strong, and joyful every step in the last 3 miles felt. Finishing the race was an immense immense high. I didn't care if I was the last damn one. I finished running farther than I ever had before. And there's just nothing like that feeling. Nothing in the world. I'd highly recommend it.
Unfortunately, sometime past mile marker 30, a yellow-jerseyed cyclist on the path (obviously not involved in the race) called out that I had 4 miles to go. When I sharply corrected him that it was a 31 mile race and we had just passed mile 30, he had the chutzpa to say "You're crazy." [Apparently the words "congratulations" and "that's great" and any morsel of encouragement were out of his grasp.]
It was a timely reminder of one thing: whatever your goal, whether it's a 50K, a 5-minute-mile, a 10-minute mile, a first in your age group, or just even starting running, or not to get injured or reinjured, there will always be people who say that you can't, or shouldn't or that you're crazy to try doing something. Whatever their motives, whether it's concern, or envy, resentment, misunderstanding, or misplaced awe, or whatever, it's so important to just tune those people out. We have enough of those self-doubts coming from within, when they're echoed from someone else, that can be enough to crush even the most modest of goals. Those naysayers just don't know the raw joy and pride that comes from setting and reaching goals, and then, once in a very blue moon, on a perfect day, running past those goals. As responsible adults, stuck in traffic, in cubicles, in piles of laundry and responsibility, and errands, and carpools, and curriculum nights, it is hard enough do the logistical gymnastics required just to hold things together, and god knows there are a million things we could and should get done if only we weren't running, and it's rare that we adults get the opportunities and courage, and sheer force of will to set goals, and to make the commitment of time and spirit to go for them. So if those naysayers don't get it, that's their problem. Don't let it be yours.
It's not about how long it takes you to reach the finish line, or even if >you reach the finish line at all. It's' about having the courage to show up >at the starting line, whatever that starting line may be.
Would I do this again? I can definitely see doing at some point, if I've checked out the course. My muscles definitely feel less beat up than from >any marathons, (except for the gashes on my leg), and I really feel okay. >Not this season, maybe not even next season. But from this race, I now have >the confidence that some day, I can find the courage and the will and the >time to do a 50 miler (If I check out the trails first!).
Thanks again to all of you for all your support and encouragement. It makes all the difference in the world.
Ethel Cook - Blues Cruise 50k
On Sunday, Keith, Jennifer Van Allen and I ran the Blues Cruise 50K. The race was hosted by the Pagoda Pacers and held at Blue Marsh Lake near Reading, PA. I had never been to Blue Marsh Lake before but I'm sure to go back. The park is beautiful. The course was an out and back. The trails were is good shape, not too rocky and not too hilly. There was only 1 major hill which you had to run once on the way out and once on the way back. The race was well run with a lot of enthusiastic volunteers. There was plenty of food, Gatorade, water etc. (I had a tasty grilled ham and cheese at aid station). At mile 14 (and 17 on the way back) the aid station had an Oktoberfest theme. The female volunteers were all dressed in German bar maid dresses and they were playing German beer drinking songs. They offered beer and jagermeister to anyone who was interested. I figured they went to a lot of effort so I gave in and had a beer
at mile 14. I might want to consider doing that more often because after that I managed to pass 6 people and felt relatively strong until the finish.
After the race there was a barbeque with plenty of hot dogs, hamburgers and snacks.
Keith and Jennifer both had good days and it was nice to see their familiar faces on the trails. It was also nice to see Sorita who was at the finish to cheer us on and take our pictures as we finished. It was a great day for running and a lot of fun.
Andi Lieberman - Marine Corps Marathon, October 2005
I think I''ll start this story at the end...
The cot in the medical tent was comfortable...I was all wrapped up in a warm green blanket up off the hard ground and checked on every few minutes by a very nice nursing student. After I finished the MCM I had my finisher picture taken, picked up my bagel, banana and water and even picked up my checked bag so I could change my clothes. I then went to our arranged meeting place and caught up with Jill. We waited for Harry to come meet us and were just standing around chatting. Unfortunately before Harry arrived I was starting to not feel so good. My hands felt all tingly and I started to shake and feel really nauseous.I figured I'd just sit down an minute and be okay. Well, this was not the case. I could no longer even sit and just lay down right on the ground. At this point Harry's wife, who is a nurse, came over to take my pulse, prop my legs up high and cover me in that nifty silver blanket you get at the end. I felt so bad because here comes Harry who just completed his first marathon and I'm flat out on my back unable to even congratulate him! I don't know how long I was laying there, but I do know I was unable to even sit up after some time and Jill went to get help from the medical tent. Soooo, they came over with a gurney and I got a ride. I ended up spending about an hour in the tent until I was okay to get up and leave. I was apparently dehydrated and my body was going into shock after the race. Once my blood pressure was a bit higher I got to sit up on the cot and sip chicken broth,water and gatorade. They made me wait until I could sit up unassisted for 5-10 minutes and then I was able to be discharged. Certainly not the way I planned to end my day. Soooo, back to the beginning.
My overall marathon weekend/experience was fantastic! The weather gorgeous, the company great and the whole atmosphere electrifying. I loved running in such a large race. Our weekend actually began with the journey to D.C. on Saturday to pick up our race packets. The directions were fine until we actually hit D.C. Once there we literally drove around in many circles until we found RFK stadium/the Armory. It's a good thing you don't have to read a map on the marathon course or Harry and I would have run an "ultra". Anyhow, the delays were all worth it because I noticed on the way into the armory the shirts we were going to receive were purple, my favorite color! So after an uneventful packet pick up, time to get to the hotel. If we thought that was going to be easy we were mistaken. Several more loops around various D.C. monuments and finally over the bridge into Arlington.
Harry already filled you in on dinner Saturday night, so off to the race...
Miles 1-4 with Harry, chatting and enjoying the absolutely gorgeous weather.
Miles 5-10 on my own, or as on your own as you can be with 19,000 others!
Mile 10-19 I ran with the 4 hour pace group, felt really good and was still enjoying myself.
Mile 19 Reality hit and so did the wall, I had to slow down and regroup.
Miles 20-22 This is the part of the race where we ran over the 14th street bridge, which was the pits. But of course I hear in an English accent behind me, "Hello Andi, these marathon things can suck can't they?" (or something like that, I 'm not 100% sure as I was pretty zoned out by then as Keith flew past in his usual pink attire. I made it over the bridge looking forward to the chocolate chip cookie on the other side which was terrible!)
Mile 23-My best mile in those last 7. A very nice spectator had peanut m & m's she was handing out and I was pretty hungry at that point. Anyone who has been with me on a long run knows I start talking about food for at least the last 5 miles! Anyhow, the m & m's charged me up and onto mile 24
Miles 24-26.2 Jill ran alongside of me a 25 and even told me I could hit her if I wanted to! I really didn't want to hit her, I just wanted to cross that ##!!* finish line
The finish-finally the dreaded hill up to the finish line and the great big red arch that told me I had completed my 2nd marathon.
I did it in 4:12, only 37 seconds difference from my first marathon in May. I had hoped to beat my first time, but honestly I found it really didn't matter, I was going to complete another marathon and that is what I'm really thrilled about!
Congratulations to all the other Fast Track Runners, Harry,Amy,Pam,Pat,Ethel,and Keith who finished Marine Corps-you're awesome!!!!
Tina Devlin - Philadelphia Marathon, November 2005
Yesterday I ran the Philadelphia Marathon. Let me start out by thanking Carol Rosen for running 95% of the marathon with me. I would never have stayed on the pace I managed to keep without her being there to tell me what our splits were, and to keep my mind occupied with all of her wonderful past marathon stories. Carol, I truly enjoyed running with you yesterday, and because of you I had my best marathon experience thus far. So, thank you! J
The weekend started out with me not even being registered for the marathon. Considering I had surgery last Friday and was not sure how I would feel, I decided to wait until the last minute to register when I was sure I would feel good enough to run. The kids & I went to the Expo on Sat. early in the morning, I got all registered, we took some cute pictures (and I found out my kids might have a career in photography!), and went on our merry way home. I was very nervous about the race considering my surgery set me back a bit & I had to take 4 days off from running. I knew I would finish, considering I just ran Marine Corps three weeks ago & PR’d with a time of 4:32, but I was still anxious that I wouldn’t feel as good considering my little set-back.
My Father, who has run 15-some marathons, decided the day before the marathon to meet me at mile 21 and run the last 5.2 miles with me. I had heard from some other FTer’s that those miles were the rough ones because there was practically no crowd participation, and it was the end of the race, so I knew having my Father with me during those miles would help. I woke up Sat. morning, had my plain bagel with some peanut butter, and a cup of coffee. I headed down to 20th & Callowhill St. & met the other FTer’s who were running the marathon at the Starbucks. We used the bathroom and headed to the start. It was a beautiful day, we couldn’t have asked for better weather. After checking our bags, we wondered over to the start line, listened to the National Anthem, and then the race started. I never heard any gun or start signal, but everyone started to move towards the start so I knew it had begun! Carol & I ran all through Old City, past the bridge and down South Street, the crowds were decent – not huge, but not sparse. Through the FT's 10-mile water stop, which was awesome. I saw Jenn & Jessica, sorry about the sweaty hug ladies, I was so excited to see you!! We ran down the West side of the drive to the 13-mile mark, at which point I needed to stop & use the facilities. I did so quickly, and we were back on track. Past the Art Museum, around the Eakins Oval and up the East side of Kelly Drive. The miles just seemed to pass & pass quickly. Carol kept my mind occupied while we chatted, and we began to see the first finishers coming the other way. It was amazing to me that we were just past the half marathon point & they were finishing. I’m pretty sure we saw the first male finisher pass us going in the opposite direction, and I know we saw the first female finisher. That was pretty neat for me. Up the East River Drive and into Manyunk. I expected the hills to be worse, and they weren’t that bad. Through Manyunk the crowds were decent up Main St., I saw my Father at mile 19 (also the 21-mile mark on the way back) and he said he would wait for us to come back, on we ran. We saw Keith in his red dress & briefly stopped to say hi, we continued on down Main Street to the turn-around point. Back down Main Street and on the other side was Marisa! Where did she come from?? She eventually caught up to me and we briefly said hello as she flew by me to the finish! On to mile 21 where my Father joined us. The hill getting out of Manyunk was not fun, I must admit. We managed it, but I thought, “why would they put a hill like this at mile 22!” We continued back to the East River Drive towards the finish, and I still had a decent amount of steam and was in good spirits. This is when Carol told me I must pick up my pace & get a PR. She insisted, even though I did not want to leave her (considering she is running Palm Beach in two weeks, she didn’t want to push too hard & hurt herself), so Dad & I went ahead and picked up our pace a bit. I don’t know how much we picked up our pace, but we did. I felt good all the way down the drive to the Art Museum, where the crowds were pretty huge & everyone was cheering. I ran through the stands before the finish at the Art Museum, and I heard someone yelling my name. It was Jerry! I turned around and waved to him, and continued toward the finish. My Dad & I crossed the finish holding hands up in the air (I really wanted a picture with my Dad), and the time on the clock read 4:22:08. I was THRILLED, and I thought I may even have broke 4:20 if it took us two minutes to cross the start line. My official chip time was 4:19:46, a 13-minute PR for me from Marine Corps three weeks ago. As you might imagine, I was soooooo excited!!! We got through the chute, I got my medal and saw my very tall friend John Curry waving his arms. He & Danielle missed me coming through the finish, but they were there for me and that is all that matters! John had my requested plain bagel and gatoraide, which I quickly ate/drank and it made me feel better. It was over, I had a PR on a race that I had no expectations for, I enjoyed myself more yesterday than ever before in a marathon (mostly due to Carol), and I felt incredible! So, that’s my story & I’m sticking to it. It was a great day!!
A congratulation to all of the other FTer’s who completed the marathon. It was a great day, and I really enjoyed myself! J And, a big THANK YOU to my good friends, Jerry, John & Danielle, for coming to cheer me on. J
Tom Chaves - Cape Code Marathon, October 2005
Cape Cod Marathon . . . beautiful day at the start - 47 degrees with sun. After the day before of torrential rain and wind, I felt very lucky . . . but then as the publicity for the race indicated, if you don't like the current weather in New England, wait five minutes.
Let me put into context this race . . . last marathon I ran, I didn't finish as I got a stress fracture at mile 11 that put me out of running for 8 weeks.. The one before that was Philadelphia where I cramped at mile 25 and hobbled the last mile. The one before that was New York where I cramped big time at mile 20 1/2 and by hook or by crook finished the race. And to top it all off, my last long run for this race, I cramped twice. Guess what was on my mind going into this race . . . .
Good news is that I didn't cramp at all during the race . . . not even a twinge. Bad news is that I let my nervousness of getting a cramp get the better of me at mile 19. Mind over matter . . . it worked to my disadvantage in this race as the last seven miles saw me resorting to not taking any chances and (as much as it's embarrassing to say) walking the rest of the way.
I've always believed that the marathon is more mental than physical and yesterday proved that one hundredfold to me . . . I let my mind convince me that the best way to avoid cramps was to walk it out . . . forget that I had my share of potassium over the last few weeks or that I hydrated well during the race or that I had a good massage a week before the race. None of the physical things that I did to prevent them made any difference . . . my mind was made up at mile 19.
It wasn't a good feeling or one that I'm proud of but one that demonstrates how the mind can take over a situation.
Well, in every situation, there's a positive . . . I did finish the race and after the last three, finishing without pain is somewhat encouraging. To me, that's half the battle . . .
And to tackle the second half - overcome the mind over matter that got the better of me yesterday, I'll need to reverse the outcome moving forward . . . I did run the 7.2 miles this morning as a small token to moving on.
Philadelphia Marathon is next on the list and we'll see if I can come back the second half . . . letting the mind work to my advantage . . .
Thanks to Bobbi and Stacy A. for recommending the Cape Cod Marathon . . . a truly beautiful course to run a marathon. The scenery is breathtaking . . .