I put in my last extended pre-marathon run of 20 miles on September 23rd. As I'd been informally coaching a friend through the summer for his first-ever race (last weekend's Army Ten-Miler), I ran the first leg of my run with him from downtown DC through Rock Creek Park and back. The second leg took me along the same course, only further uphill to my own neighborhood. Thanks to some micro-managing, I actually had a better run than my 18-miler two weeks earlier (also in warmer-than-expected weather).
Sunday's race -- besides being the first time running the event for myself and my friend -- was to be uneventful, since we'd effectively eliminated surprises going in. As it turned out, the day tried to exact its own plans. When it's 60Â° with palpable humidity at 6:00 AM, that's an incoming clue.
Nobody looked too stressed out at the start. Some volunteers offered cups of water to the last-minute thirsty/concerned.
I don't remember the humidity while running as much as the heat, particularly in the open stretches with the sun beating down.
At the water/Gatorade stations at miles 2 and 4, I drank from a cup of water and wet a towelette for comfort/sweat removal. Both times, there were heavier-than-usual traffic jams, which didn't register as a surprise, all conditions considered.
At the mile 6 station, there was a nice row of tables. That's all...no cups, no water, no Gatorade, no volunteers. That sucked for several seconds, since I wasn't carrying a water bottle...then I gave silent thanks for the preparation that enabled me to keep moving past the lamentations of the dehydrated.
Around the corner, in the shadow of the Capital Building, runners are diving into a large marble fountain, dousing themselves, dunking their headgear and filling paper cups (I'm not sure my mind wants to believe that there was intake
involved ...we're talking about a playground for Fido, old pennies and E. coli
At mile 8, the station came through with Gatorade, handed out fast and furious (and a little over-concentrated) to the dessicated. Plain water was a rarity there, but a cup magically materialized as I traveled further.
The last mile-and-plus, on the 14th Street Bridge, was a treat for masochists...where nearing the finish line and nearing one's physical limits collide along a four-lane, slowly-ascending, shade-free stretch of asphalt. This section is mile 20 of the Marine Corps Marathon...I experience a decade's worth of flashbacks before rejoicing in having just .6 miles to go, and not 6.
My finish was strong, confident and vertical at 2:00:44, with less than that spent in actual forward motion (according to my GPS). My friend finished in fine shape as well.
It wasn't until later that evening that I found out about the lone fatality on the course
, as well as the events in Chicago
Three weeks until my marathon. You never can tell if it'll be a good day for running or not.
On a related note, I reached my minimum fundraising goal quickly, thanks to family, friends and some fine folks here at LF. Help a runner help others at this site