I velcroed my gaiters to my trail shoes and toed the line at The Woodlands road marathon. Fashion-wise, I undoubtedly looked out of place. Speed-wise, I felt out of place, standing up at the front with some 500+ people corralled up behind me.
Why would a person choose to run a marathon, you ask? I have a profoundly stupid answer to that question. My sights are set on running the oldest and largest ultra marathon in the world in a few months. In order to toe that start line, one must qualify by running a race between 26.2 and 62.1 miles. Problem is, I haven’t run a race that short within the qualifying time window, or in recent memory for that matter. So, here I was, stuck running my first marathon in five years as a means to Comrades.
I shelved my ultra shuffle for the day and started running straight away. I kept Cassie in my sights for the first mile, but would never see her again. I said nothing to nobody the entire race and eventually felt bored. I attempted to drink a water cup at an aid station, but inevitably spilled it into my eye. This set me up perfectly to announce to the spectators, “I have a drinking problem.” Mostly for my own amusement, I continued to use this tired Airplane! line from then on each time I discarded a water cup. I got a few yucks for this, which kept me going, as did the occasional little kid high five.
Surprise, surprise, everything got horrible at mile 20 and I slowed down big time. A sub-three hour finish slipped away then, but so what. Coming into mile 25, I was glad that I still hadn’t seen Cassie, but slightly miffed because I knew she wasn’t running anymore, while here I was still suffering. Turns out Cassie threw down a finishing kick in the final 200 meters to overtake 2nd place by four seconds!
You can hear me hit the wall beginning at mile 20 in this nifty data sonification of my race!
This post was rather short because the race was rather short. Probably unlike most of the other runners, I was not at all intimidated by the marathon distance, which I think helped me feel okay about going out a little recklessly. Worst case, I’d blow up and be miserable for a couple of hours. I take that back. Worst case, I’d smash my face up into a couple of poles.
Unlike after 100+ milers, one of the questions you get after a marathon is, “What was your time?” I ran precisely 3:03:09.6, which was good enough for 12th. I really surprised myself (23 minute PR), but am not terribly interested in working to further shave off minutes in the road marathon. Marathons just don’t have that stupid factor that so appeals to me about ultra running.