Monday, June 18, 2012

Innarguably Innaugural - The Canton Marathon

Michelle Wolff, Debbie Scheel, Dan Daubner, Dan Horvath
and John Pavlick after meeting at 4am and driving to,
and arriving at Canton
Thanks to Dan Daubner for the photo
They spelled inaugural with two n's on the bib. Twice. But then they spelled it correctly on the ribbon attached to the medal. The medal, by the way, weighs in at about seventeen pounds. I'm going to donate it to the US Olympic Committee so that they can use if for hammer throw practice.

After answering the question, what were you thinking when you scheduled a medium-sized city marathon mid June? about a thousand times, the race committee's big day had finally arrived. The race was only a couple minutes away from the start. There were long porta-potty lines going right across the road that we believed we'd be starting the race on. We thought this because they had the pace signs all along the road there in front of the stadium, and because that's where everyone else was beginning to line up. So what if we'd trample the poor potty-goers.

That's when I got into a disagreement with Verrelle Wyatt. He told me that the start was way down and around the bend in a park. "No way," said I, "it's right here in front of us." And that's when a race official called out for all of us to follow her, pied-piper-like, to the actual start which was 3/4 mile away - right where Verrelle said it would be.

We arrived at 6:01am for the 6:00am start. Then they announced that the 6:00am start would actually occur at 6:20am, so I went for a jog to keep loose. I was going to say, keep warm, but it was already warm and humid. I was jogging back on the adjacent sidewalk at 6:15am, when the gun went off, sending the runners towards me, but on the road. I scuttled over far enough to go over the timing mats and then begin running in the desired direction. I suppose they figured that a delayed start followed by an early start at the same race equals an on-time start.

I don't mean to be overly critical. Some rookie, or should I say innaugural, mistakes could be expected. By and large, everything worked very well.

Even the weather. Going in, everyone was concerned about heat. At Cleveland, Boston, and gobs of other spring marathons it had been a major factor. The forecast for Canton wasn't hopeful either: the sunny high was to be in the mid to upper eighties. In fact, the skies stayed cloudy, the air humid, and it never got all that hot at all. There was even a misty rain and a brief downpour late in the race.

The other things that went well had to do with organization and planning. The aid stations, traffic control and finish line were all done exceedingly well. I know that runners come to expect these things at big races these days, but I appreciate all that went into the day.

How did my run go, you ask? I started out at an 8-minute pace and held that fairly well until mile 12 or so. That's when the hills started to take their toll on my pace. Half-way went by at just about 1:45.

The second half wasn't quite so spectacular. I slowed and then slowed some more. 20 miles went by at about 2:45. Even that isn't so awful, but I still had a 10K - and yet more slowing down - to go. 10-minute miles ensued as the hills only seemed to get bigger, I finished in 3:46 and change.

I'm pretty sure that all the hills caused me to run a slower than expected time. Yes, they were tough, but I've run tough ones before. I just don't like it when I slow down like that.

Even so, it was my least bad marathon in a while. Things can only keep getting better, right?

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