Sunday, November 2, 2008

My first age group placing at the Cheseapeake and Delaware Runfest Marathon!

My award, a finisher's cat perhaps?? Sadly, no but you can see my award below.

My family: Tristan, Gilligan and I with my award (and a celebratory coke...although this was drunk after my 2 p.m. deadline for caffiene!)

Tristan and Gilligan resuming their role as bandits of the Marathon

Tammy and Gilligan running like a bear is chasing us!

Before the race sizing up the spectators and/or competitors

Today I ran the Cheseapeake and Delaware Runfest Marathon. It is a VERY SMALL marathon (less than 50 entrants in the marathon event), 5 km, 10 km and half-marathon (with less then 300 entrants total). The benefit of such a tiny race is the personalized attention, lack of lines for anything and the potential for me at least to place. This was my first time earning an award at a marathon and I came in second in my age/gender category. Granted my time of 5:28 was not spectacular (although in my defense the wind was pretty strong and yesterday I ran a 13 mile run with a friend then went on a 6+ mile hike that went horrible wrong...since we kind of got lost and took the hardest route!)
My first half marathon was about 2 hours 50 minutes, but I like to speed up for the second half so ran that with several sub-10 minute miles including just over a 9 minute mile for the last mile (assuming the course marking was correct).
This morning Tristan and I got up about 5:30 a.m. the old time (4:30 just sounds so early...thus we are sticking with the old time for a while!). Less than 30 minutes later we were in the car. Now that I do not have to glide my feet (THANKS drymax), it is simply a matter of gliding potential hot spots and places with seams or edges of clothing. We all piled in the car and about 90 minutes later we were in Delaware in St. Georges. Packet pick up was a breeze (no line and no hassles). We wandered around meeting host-cats (apparently the city of St. George has a large feral cat population which are all very nice). You will notice the grey and white cat seemed to rule the city and wandered around throughout the day. He/She was very friendly and was very nice to Gilligan our dog (who is luckily cat-friendly). At 7:45 (new time) there was the pre-race briefing. Basically they explained the course although somehow I got confused about when we were turning around. We were told we all had color coded wristbands and the volunteers would be happy to help us based on these. Also the wristband color would match the color of direction signs so pretty much you had to try to mess up.
Soon enough it was 8:00 a.m. and time for the marathon to start. We did a small loop then got on the Towpath. It was a flat dirt/gravel trail along the Delaware River. We ran out 3 miles then turned around. The half marathon started 10 minutes after the full. So because I took a bathroom break and several shoe tying breaks, they started catching up to me prior to mile 2. I was enjoying the course which was very pretty. The river was very wide and the folliage was just past peak with lots of orange and red tree's. At mile 3 all racers were turned around. We headed back to the starting area. The 10 km race started 5 minutes after the half, so I am pretty sure that some 10 km racers were passing me as I approached the start/finish line area. At this point, many runners turned off for the finish, but the full and half marathoners continued on the towpath.
This race is very small. Even at the begining I was pretty well alone (quite a dramatic difference then Marine Corps when I was never alone and was typically in packs of 10-20 runners). The back of the packers with me included several Marathon Maniacs/50 Staters: Cathy, Henry, and Sharon. Just ahead of us was Maniac/50 stater Dave B. However we were all separated by about 400-800 meters. Ultimately I think Dave beat me by ~20 minutes, I beat Cathy by about 20 minutes and she beat Henry by about 10 minutes. Essentially we were 5 of the 6 runners who finished between 5 and 6 hours and we were pretty spaced out.
We continued running on the towpath until just past mile 9. At this point we headed up a hill (discussed in the pre-race meeting...and it was a hill!). This started a 2 mile section on a road. First we ran along a road to the marina for about 1 mile. Then we got on a fairly major highway (71 I think). About 3/4 a mile later we got onto another small road then rejoined the towpath going down a fairly steep and long hill.
Once back on the towpath we had a few more ups and downs but nothing to major. As I approached mile 14 I saw a black/brown dog and a man. As I got closer I realized it was Gilligan and Tristan. They started running at me and I took their picture. Gilligan was off leash so was agreeable to running. Although as per Tristan "He prefers running on the packed down part of the towpath". He is a smart dog, I liked running on the packed part. Since there were two packed parts we were able to run together and all be happy. We ran up this massive hill to the aid station where the car was. I grabbed a drink. Gilligan looked thirsty, so I grabbed a cup of water and gave it to him. He drank it all. I gave him more. He drank it....about 5 minutes later, I suggested to Tristan that perhaps he should water Gilligan as I had places to be. It was nice to see Gilligan and Tristan but I had to keep going. I debated giving them some layers however, I did not. This was smart as it got pretty cold in the next section. The wind at points was quite brutal. And after about mile 15 (in my race), the sun became cloud covered for the rest of the race. Thus after this point I never really got hot again.
After the boost from seeing Tristan and Gilligan I continued on. The course continued to be very pretty. The leaves were beautiful. And the reflection in the river was very nice. Every so often a boat would pass which I could watch. Although we were allowed to use ipods, I did not. Since JFK50 does not allow ipods, I want to get in the habit of entertaining myself during 6-12 hours. Also I was able on occasion to chat with other runners. I would guess 80% were using ipods, but several were not and most runners seemed to appreciate my wishes of luck and sucess. Pretty soon I was seeing runners coming at me who I knew should not be super far in front of me. I was a bit confused about where the turn around. But between mile 15 and 16 I saw two cars, a cone and a handful of people. It was the turnaround. I stood there for a few minutes chatting with the volunteers (I told them who was behind me: 6 runners and I speculated where they should be). After a quick "Thank you" it was time for my return journey. I now knew the course since it was an out and back (I would define it like a lop-sided "T": little jiggle from the start to get on the towpath, out, back then out the other way then back and little jiggle).
The last 10 miles went fairly uneventfully. I was able to see where I was with respect to the other runners behind me and chat with some of them. Sadly I was just too far for the folks behind me to catch up and the ones ahead of me had too big a lead. Since I knew this race would be entirely personal, I just appreciated the scenery and tried to ignore the wind (which is why I was hoping for a running partner...they can make great wind-breaks!). As I returned to the start I chatted with the nice volunteers. They were all friendly and cheerful. They also seemed to be impressed by those of us marathoning. I mentioned to a few of the kids this was just a training run for JFK 50 miler and they were just in awe (wonder how they would have responded if I told them that was a training run for Umstead 100:-) They all were really nice and encouraging and I found it very amusing when they would yell when you were 100 feet out: What do you want Gatorade or Water (to which I always responded Gatorade) then would run a Gatorade to you...I then would come to a dead stop because I did not want to spill on myself and I did not want to just toss my cup to the side. I would then chat and after a few minutes would head out of the aid station.
Pretty soon I was back on the road section (my least favorite). But soon enough it was over. At mile 21 I realized if I could run sub 10 minute miles I could break 5:30. I decided this was a good goal for the day, so I put the pedal to the metal. Pretty soon I was back on the towpath and it was less than 4 miles to the finish. At mile 25 my watch showed 5:19. I had less than 11 minutes to get to the finish. But I had 1.2 miles. Could I do it? Well in fact I did it with over a minute to spare! Just before 26 miles I see Tristan and Gilligan. I scurry past them. They start running with me. I state my goal. I think I can do it but I am not positive. Gilligan keeps up for a bit, then drops back. There is a segment where he can cut the course. He does and is able to round the last corner of the course with me. I finish excited I have met my goal. After a few moments one of the race officials comes up to me and mentions "I have an award for you" I look behind me. Then I realize he is talking to me. A few minutes later he brings over a plaque with "2nd place finisher Women 35-39". I am shocked and excited. I have not won an award for a marathon ever. I accept my award and thank him.
After finishing the race and getting my award I migrate to the food station. I eat a bowl of soup and take a coke. Dave B. is there so we chat about marathons, the other maniacs on the course and upcoming events. He has been very busy and has a very full schedule. It is great to catch up. We both are waiting for our friends Cathy and Henry (and Sharon although we predict her time will likely be 7 hours and thus 1 hour over the limit). Dave has to catch a flight and is unable to see Cathy or Henry finish but I am able to while I am walking/stretching after my finish.
This is a great little race. They only have water, gatorade and hammer gels at the aid stations (spaced about 1.5 miles apart) but that is all they promise in the race brochure. They also have very nice and friendly volunteers and a lovely course. My impression is that most of the runners were fairly isolated on the course however such is the case in many small marathons. We were allowed to have ipods so that certainly makes running easier for those needing company or a distraction. Overall, the course was pretty flat. There were a few hills but compared to Baltimore, Frederick, or even MCM last weekend the hills were relatively short and not too steep and kept it interesting for one's legs. I definitely would consider running this marathon and would recommend it to others looking for a small marathon.


CTmarathoner said...

YEAH!! Congrats on your very first award. I loved this race report with the photos of the cats --even Gilligan seemed to like the cats.
Think I will send it to Ultrarunner Barbara Sorell as she loves cats (my cat is massaging my quads as I write this -thankfully). Parts of this marathon sounded like JFK...see you there soon enough -yikes.

Runner Tammy said...

Hi Emmy,

Thanks for the congrats. This race was really nice and fun. It was similar to JFK particularly the towpath. Although others find towpaths to be a bit monotonous, I find new things to focus on at every bend.

I like the towpath at JFK and because it is so non-technical I can spend the entire 26 miles chatting with other runners (and cheering fast folks like you who pass me:-)

Happy Training/Cramming/Tapering,

CTmarathoner said...

Tammy -I didn't mind the towpath last year.
I also spent the time chatting, and looking forward to eating every 3 miles --and then they have mile posts:))