Sunday, September 18, 2011

Presque Isle Marathon, Erie PA

An unqualified success. I was worried about this one, because of injuries that might reappear, but so far so good. So very good. This was the 55th marathon and 37th state since my myeloma diagnosis in 2003, and the 28th marathon and 21st state since starting on the pomalidomide investigational drug in March of 2008.

The Marathon Itself:

  • Very well organized - it went smoothly.
  • Aid stations were a mile apart, twice as good as the two miles offered by most marathon.
  • Race officials on bikes passed me many times - they were doing a good job.
  • Parking was totally organized - follow the flashlights, shut up, and park! No one got their choice of a place to park, but that was no problem, because every spot was close to the start.
  • Some of the aid stations had a theme: At Mile 5 (and 18) it appeared to be a hillbilly theme, and at another location the Boy Scouts ran the station.
  • The course follows the paved roads circling Erie’s Presque Isle, a state park, and is exactly a half marathon in length. Marathoners just do it twice. As the T-shirt says, marathoners do it longer.
  • The park is incredibly beautiful, covered with huge trees, mostly cottonwood, but there were large acorns on the ground here and there from a type of oak that I didn’t recognize.
  • We saw a flock of wild turkeys, flocks of geese honking overhead, lots of squirrels, and, though we didn’t see them, there are beavers and opossums on the island too. With all of that prey, I'm thinking there must also be predators like foxes.
  • The island was created initially by the action of waves on the shores farther west. It seems to be entirely sand, though some soil has built up within the forested areas.
  • It is actually a peninsula, connected to Erie by a narrow strip of land just wide enough for a roadway. In French, “presque” means “almost.”
  • I was put off by the amount of vehicle traffic on the roads that we ran, but I'll get over it. Lots of people use the park, not just us marathoners.

My Race:

I had an unexpectedly good marathon. I’m still on top of the world. I ran (& walked) slowly, shooting for six hours, and finished in about 5:52:16. This took almost an hour longer than my last marathon in July, but I went slow out of concern for a sports hernia injury (not really a hernia) that I have been nursing for four weeks, and I fully expected it to reappear somewhere in the 26 miles. It didn’t! No pain at all during the first half marathon. Later I did have a lot of pain from tendons or ligaments of the hip flexors or maybe the adductors on the same side as the sports hernia, even during the walking, but that went away whenever I stopped. This is not new - hip flexor pain has appeared in many previous marathons and is not likely to be a limiting problem.

Other stuff:
  • Near the end of the race I passed by a runner wearing a Portland, Maine T-shirt. I asked him if he was from Portland, and in the ensuing conversation he revealed that he would be running the Portland Marathon two weeks from now, and also the marathon in Bristol, NH the day before that. Further, he ran a marathon yesterday! I said that he must be a 50-stater by now (finished a marathon in all 50 states) and he said that he was going around for the seventh time! “What the heck,” he said, “I’m retired.” Uff-da. (That’s Minnesota speak for wowzer).
  • A marathoning axiom: Don’t try anything in a marathon that you haven’t previously tried in a long run. I violated that rule today, but got away with it.
    • I’ve never taken video during a race before, but I took 50 minutes of it today. It didn’t slow me up much, because I kept going, mostly shooting during the walking intervals.
    • To carry the video camera, I added a pouch for the camera on my water-carrier belt. I’ve done marathons with the water carrier before, but the pouch was new. No problem.
    • Also, I carried my gels in an empty plastic peanut butter jar, which just fit in the carrier where a water bottle would otherwise go. Also no problem - except that the gels rattled in the PB jar when I ran. Fixable.
  • That left the pockets of my shorts free for whatever. I used them to carry leftover water cups and other debris to the next aid station.
  • Some of the video may eventually show up on a Youtube or Facebook page, maybe even this blog.
  • I took six Clif Shot Mocha gels along the way, every four miles starting at Mile 2, and salt tablets every four miles starting at Mile 4. No problem with energy, and no muscle cramps.
I dedicated this race to my daughter-in-law, who is also battling cancer right now. At the moment, her battle is considerably more serious than mine, and I do so wish her well and wellness.

Further, I ran this race for Team Continuum, a charity which helps families deal with the overwhelming costs of cancer. If you have a Facebook account, I urge you to go to, my fundraising account, and “like” it. There is no cost to you, and a generous donor will make a contribution.

Splits: 26:13 (2 mi), 13:18, 12:25, 13:31, 16:49 (natural break), 13:06, 12:36, 11:33, 12:53, 14:09, 26:51 (2 mi), 13:31, 13:03, 27:54 (2 mi), 13:03, 14:49, 13:28, 12:45, 13:46, 14:21, 12:25, 13:15, 16:34 (1.2 mi ++), total 5:52:16, pace 13.26.

Sunshine and me at the start, wearing garbage bags against the wind. Those disappeared just before the start. Isn't she cute?:

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