Sunday, October 11, 2009

Towpath Marathon 2009

The Towpath Marathon remains one of my favorites. Maybe it's just the familiarity, but the Cuyahoga Valley in general, and the towpath trail area in particular are, in my humble opinion, extremely high among the most beautiful places on the planet in which to run (or walk, or crawl or slither for that matter). The best time of year to experience the the Cuyahoga Valley is surely autumn. So it's no mystery why I like this race so much. This fall has been as beautiful as any in recent memory. Something about having plenty of rain and generally cool to average temperatures in recent weeks and months. So today the valley was ablaze in glory; a feast for the eyes. I just can't imagine a more beautiful place for a race. Add to this the great temperatures (mostly in the 40s for the entire time of the race), and you have the perfect day for a marathon.

Too bad I would actually have to run 26.2 miles to get the full enjoyment. The percentage of marathons where everything goes well - I feel good throughout, I run a steady pace but finish strong, I finish with a time that I had planned for, I place well, etc. - is exceedingly small. And the trouble is, it's getting smaller. On the other hand, the number of marathons that are complete disasters isn't that large either. The vast majority are the type where I just gradually slow down during the race, don't finish strong, and therefore fail to accomplish my time goal, whatever it is. Those goals always seem to be reasonable when I think about them before-hand. And I keep ratcheting them down toward slower and slower times.

It was fun to talk to several friends, including several from MCRR, before and during the race. Couldn't stick around afterward - I had to open the store at noon. In fact, I figured I'd have to run a 3:20 to finish at 11:20, get over to the car and drive to Medina in order to open in time. So this would be my time goal. 3:20 cand be a tall order, but I thought I just might be capable.

After starting out with Debbie Scheel, I picked it up and eventually caught up with Jim Chaney, who was practicing at 7:37 pace in order to be the 3:20 pace leader in Columbus next week. This suited me just fine, so we ran together for many of the middle miles. Went through 13.1 in 1:39+. I slowed a bit at mile 19, and Jim dropped out as planned at 20. That, of course, is where it got tough for me. Those last miles were generally painful - nothing specific, just general pain. And of course they were slower than the rest. The wheels never came off completely, but they were wobbly. I'd say the last 6 averaged between 7:50 and 8:30. I passed a few, and a couple passed me, but I was mostly running alone. In the last mile I heard footsteps behind me and picked it up to try for a strong finish. A man and a woman still managed to pass me in the final 10 yards or so. And wouldn't you know it? He was in my age group. I finished in 3:25.

A couple unknowns: 1) were there any other geezers ahead of us?, and 2) in the event that they score age groups by net time, where did that guy start in relation to me? The results aren't posted yet, but whatever will be will be. Right now I just want the pain to mercifully go away.

And remember how I figured I needed a 3:20 to get to the store by noon? With my 3:25 I got there at 12:05. Don't tell anyone.


Clifford Running said...

Great Job Dan.

Dan Horvath said...

I just learned that the guy who beat me for first did so by both gun and chip time, and that he's from Brunswick of all places.

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