Oh my god what a day. Until Mile 21 I thought I was close to a personal record. It was a really good day, and like most good days I have (say, like the 2012 Wisconsin Marathon), I didn’t expect it.
Last week I ran the NYRR 60k, had a decent marathon split, but developed a problem with left heel. In my midweek run, after four miles, I had the same problem. I started today being nice to my foot thinking that a moderate pace would lessen impact. If I was really extra special nice to my foot, I wouldn’t have to walk 22 miles.
But, before I get to that, I need to rant about the stupid security. The extreme reaction of local police departments in the aftermath of Boston is not only ineffective, but it’s security theater. As with Baltimore, the organizers sent a series of stern emails about bag check and what’s allowed on the course.
The reality, however, is that once I walked through a checkpoint that didn’t even care I had a waist pack (I don’t even think they noticed), I was free to walk on the inside of the barriers but quite free to go up to the barriers and accept anything anyone decided to hand across. Indeed, vendors were doing this to move food and electrical equipment from one side of the street to the other through the “sterile” area.
And, the reality is still that the threat is not from the runners and it never has been. Whatever political fanatic or psychopath might want to make a scene, make a statement, or create carnage isn’t going to use a credit card to pay the race entry fee, show up at the expo to accept the bib, then go through security to be in the corrals. They can just walk up to the corral like the families and friends of the runners did.
This is seriously affecting my motivation to participate in the marathon but promote the idea of the marathon to other people. It’s a reaction to the moment; there are mostly great small events out there, but they don’t have the draw of Team in Training and the many other national organizations that get people off their couches and on the road. I’m conflicted, but in the moment it makes me sad. All sorts of public places and events have followed suit. I can’t take a laptop into Yankee Stadium (the Mets have no such rule). The Metropolitan Museum has similar problems because, as their chief of security told me, “events in Yemen”. That’s right. Events in Yemen decides what you can carry into a public museum in New York.
But let’s talk about running.
My corral lined up buy the steps of the Philadelphia Art Musuem—the same steps Rocky ran up
The Rocky statue even has a marathon shirt on. The statue was originally at the top of the stairs, where Rocky gave the arms up salute. Various people complained and the statue ended up where it is now, at ground level and away from the steps. I would have run up the steps myself as I waited for my start but all the security fences and cordons were in the way.
This race is huge; 30,000 runners! With few porta-potties (And none accessible from within the corrals that I saw), the first two miles were lined with people urinating by the side of the road. Even women were squatting rather than wait in line for the few porta-potties there were. It’s a perpetual race problem.
Not to pile on, but the organizers made the odd decision to put most of the porta potties right next to the road and to face the doors toward the course. This made people line up in the road, in the way of racers. This was a race already challenged with very narrow roads in the first half.
Somehow I was running with the 4:15 pacer and feeling really good about it. I was having to dial it back to stay with them. It was harder to stay with them as they wove through the field on the narrow streets.To gauge my effort, I breathe through my nose as many times as I can. If I can’t do it at least five times, I’m working too hard. I was hardly trying by that measure.
Around Mile 10 I looked at my watch for the first time (that I remember) and saw that my pace was 9:09. That’s a tad over a 4:00 marathon. I was feeling better and better, so I thought I must be on a really good average pace. Normally I have that field on average pace with no laps. A figured out after a couple miles that it was my mile pace, but the damage was done. I was starting to think about having a good run.
I was getting faster and faster though, but trying to conserve my effort. I was running sub 9 miles from Mile 13 to about Mile 18, all the while wondering it was going to all blow up. But then, I kept going through Mile 19, which led up a short dog leg to a turn around. I thought the flag at the start of the little out and back said “Mile 20″, so I was expecting something quick. It was “Mile 21″ but I was already committed to running back to that point, and I did.
But then my foot started to bother me. It’s an injury that I think can get much worse and I have one more marathon this year. To stretch out my foot, I took minute breaks at each mile marker starting at Mile 21, walking some of it backward. This made my foot feel better, but only for about a mile, when I’d take another break. I was running a really good pace between the breaks to make up for it though.
I end up about ten minutes off my record, a complete surprise to me. I ran a 7:35 trail marathon in Catalina two weeks ago and a 7:15 60k last weekend, so this must have seemed easy peasy. Without the gimpy foot, I could have been close. But, coulda woulda shoulda.
The crazy thing is that I didn’t run by or near any of the many people I know at this event. That’s unusual.
I have two weeks until I run my last marathon of the year in Delaware.