Fifty States for My Sweeties:
My girls have run a half marathon or a full marathon in every one of the United States, as of today. I'm very proud of them. They have been looking forward to this race for a long time, and they enjoyed it.
This was my 72nd marathon and I was first of seven in age group 70-74, imagine that. I bet there are some other old guys who wish they had entered the race. My time this year, 5:16:04, would have come in seventh of nine last year! Nevertheless, since those other guys sat on the couch, I get full credit and I accept!
I was shooting for a 5:00 finish and ended up with 5:16:04, but that’s the only disappointment. I had a great time in this marathon - it was probably the best marathon we've run on the East Coast, except perhaps for the NYC Marathon. I tried to do my run/walk, 30 triplets running and 30 walking, where a triplet is three footfalls, taking about one second, slightly longer for the walks. Mostly I was successful, and was able to maintain an 11:26 pace for most of the miles.
That pace would result in a 5:00 finish, but I took at least four bathroom breaks, maybe five, including a long one in our own hotel room, where I also dropped off a shirt. Handy when the race goes right past the hotel, no waiting for the porta-potty, although I did wait for the elevator instead. That stop took eight minutes, and I’m sure the other stops took a minute or two apiece.
I took four Clif Shot Mocha gels enroute, 50 mg caffeine each, and four or five salt tablets. The temperature was 43 during the entire race (believe it!) and windy, but only a few raindrops - not enough to get anything wet. Because of the wind I wore running pants, and started out with a LS shirt under a SS shirt, both under a running wind jacket. At mile 12 I ditched the SS shirt in our hotel room and was comfortable with just the one shirt and the jacket.
Whining: NONE! The right knee and the left hip both started to complain but cleared up completely. Even the cramping that usually appears at mile 23 or 24 stayed away until I pushed a little too hard in the last 100 meters of the race. Then I sort of hopped on one leg to the finish, where a helpful volunteer asked what he could do. I said “get me to that lamp post, and I’ll stretch out the cramp and be on my way.” He did and I did. No further cramps.
I did a couple of things differently for this race: (1) I ate a PB sandwich, with honey, three hours before the race start, though I usually don’t eat anything the morning of the race; (2) I took only about four salt tablets enroute, instead of the usual six or eight. I suppose one or both of those might have reduced the cramping. Maybe the low temperature helped too.
Where do I begin? This was a great marathon! Things we liked:
- We could easily have stayed right on the beach at any of a hundred good hotels, all within walking distance from the race start and finish, all on the boardwalk.
- We actually did stay at the SeaHawk Hotel/Motel, on the boardwalk. Our room has a kitchen and very reasonable rates. It’s basic but clean.
- We ran right past our hotel, affording me the chance to duck in and change gear.
- I have no idea how many aid stations we saw, but it seemed like a lot more than one every two miles, and every one had water, then sports drink, then water again.
- I didn't wait more than a minute for a portable toilet, though some toilets ran out of paper.
- There was NEVER an issue about vehicle traffic. I pity the non-marathoners in Virginia Beach, but the roads were closed to traffic and we rarely had to run on a tilted road surface.
- The race celebrates St Patrick’s Day, with costumes and even burma-shave style roadside signs.
- What’s Irish and stays out all night? Patty O’Furniture.
- Nice soup at the end, gluten-free.
- They handed out a real blanket at the finish, not a Mylar sheet. Nice one, and useful later.
- We got nice hats at the finish too - a hat I’ll probably use.
- Great expo.
- This was a Team in Training destination, so I chatted with a dozen or so of their runners.
- Our names on our bibs were in big enough print for people to cheer us by name. Go Don!
- The timing device was on the bib - a little nicer than chips on the shoes.
- Results were on line before we got back to our hotel room, just a few blocks away.
- The Star Spangled Banner was sung correctly, a pet peeve when it isn't.
- The whole event seemed to be run by people who knew what they were doing.
Splits: 22:21 (2 mi), 37:08 (3 mi & rest stop), 10:14 (really?, 11:36, 11:12, 11:59, 12:22, 32:49 (2 mi & rest stop at our hotel), 11:47, 12:10, 11:42, 11:29, 11:09, 13:25 (rest stop), 11:13, 11:27, 11:27, 12:10, 11:26, 11:32, 11:34, 11:24, 2:28, total 5:16:04, pace 12:03.