Make that 11 Down - On To Rocket City!
Earlier this morning while David, Susan and Danny were tackling the largest marathon in the world I was winding my way through Huntington, West Virginia for the 4th running of the Marshall University Marathon on a much smaller scale.
I couldn’t be happier with my final time of 4:07:08 (by my watch, official times aren’t available yet).
Based on info that I heard at packet pickup; there was no expo; there were about 440 registered runners. There was also a half marathon and a marathon relay that started at the same time. My parents drove me to the start line about 20 minutes before the race start. My sisters and nieces joined us as well. I stayed on the sidewalk and chatted with them until 5 minutes before start time and simply stepped off the sidewalk into the crowd and right on time we were off.
As I mentioned earlier, my only real goal for this race to finish upright. After the desperate struggle to finish last week at MCM, I had serious concerns that this race would be a complete blowout. My strategy for finishing well was to run 9:00 miles and to walk the water stops.
The only real bad points to this race were having forgotten to grab my fuel belt from the car. Luckily because of the course layout I was able to see my parents at mile 3 and alerted them to the belt. They were able to travel the course by car since only one lane was closed and by mile 6 or so I had my belt with me. Water stations were plentiful, though small, but I really wanted my gels for the last part of the race. The other bad point was three stops at the johns. I hadn’t run a step since last week’s marathon so systems tend to shut down. Running this morning jump started everything.
The course through Huntington is billed as West Virginia’s only flat and fast course and it lived up to its names. The only real hill was the underpass under the railroad tracks that bisect the town from east to west.
I started the race off a little fast with a couple of miles around 8:30. By mile 5 I had things under control in the low 9:00’s. At mile 11 when the half marathons left the course the crowd thinned considerably. At mile 17 I had my first mile that exceeded 9:30, not counting the miles that had included the potty stops prior. By mile 20 I was still running at 9:42. I expected to hit the wall but never did. I kept moving smoothly and calmly forward. At mile 22 I saw my family in Ritter Park. This was the 4th time I saw them before the finish line.
It was at this point that I began to catch and pass some of the runners that had left me behind before mile 13. This is usually the point in the race when I am slowing down miserably and everyone is passing me. My last 5 miles were 9:40, 9:32, 9:27, 9:45 and 9:36 with the last 0.2 in 1:58. I never hit the wall or the point where I felt I couldn’t go on. No one passed me in those last 5 miles until one guy got me at mile 26.
Mile 25 took us down through the center of the campus of Marshall University. There is just something for me about being on campus surrounded by all those brick buildings that just makes me happy. As we enter campus there was a coed handing out carnations. I picked one out and carried it to the football stadium and handed to my Mom. The finish line was inside the stadium. We an the full field along the sidelines and then went to center field where a volunteer handed each runner a football to carry the 100 yards to the finish line at the opposite end.
After having expected disaster, the Marshall University Marathon was very satisfying. We ran along the Ohio River (too short), through Ritter Park (twice) and the beautiful neighborhood surrounding it, and through neighborhoods at the other end of the socioeconomic strata. The starting temp was in the low 30’s. We finished in the 60’s. The foliage was just beginning to turn colors. Having so much of my family there to support me was a huge bonus. It would have been a much different marathon without them there. My nieces can’t understand why anyone would run for fun, but I think they got into the spirit, at least a little.
I’m going to take it easy this week. Next weekend Tyler wants me to come down to San Diego to run 10 miles with him. He’s gearing up for his first half marathon. Then I’ve got about a month to get myself ready to run in Alabama with Joe and Wes.
(I’m uploading this on a very slow wireless connection at the hotel in WV, so sorry no links)