|Here I am prior to the start. Thanks to Chip Jenkins for the photo|
As I've been fond of telling anyone who will still listen to me, the very first Cleveland Marathon in 1978 was also my own very first marathon. Similarly, the very first Johnnycake Jog 5-mile in 1977 was my own very first road race.
Back in those days there weren't nearly so many road races as there are today. I remember going in not knowing what to expect. I drove up with my training partner, Paul Coleman, in his conversion van. The reason I remember that little detail is because of the aftermath.
It was a hot one. Ninety-five daggone degrees. And that year they held the race at one o’clock in the afternoon. In the heat of the day. Relentless sun beating down. Mad dogs and Englishmen. Cook an egg on the sidewalk. You know all the sayings.
I wish I could remember my time. I do remember how I nearly collapsed due to that heat. When I came back to Paul's van, my skin was bright red from heat - not sunburn. And it seemed that I just could not cool down. Paul, who felt nearly the same way, opened the cooler in his van and got out some large blocks of ice that we proceeded to rub all over our bodies. Funny how you remember something like that.
Thirty-seven years later, it seemed as though this time would be different; cooler temperatures were in the forecast for Sunday. Too bad they were wrong. It was still hot, sunny, and extremely humid. I drove that long trip to Painesville with Chip Jenkins. I saw Becky, Mike and several other acquaintances once we got there. I also saw plenty of other top-notch runners as well.
The heat caught up with me soon enough. I'd kind've hoped to keep all my miles under seven minutes. Didn't happen - beginning as soon as mile two. Even so, I thought I might still be able to break 35 minutes as I turned onto Mentor Avenue for the final straight, flat and hot, hot, hot final mile and three quarters into the sun.
Would I be able to pick it up? In the words of grandson Malcolm, nope. I kept loping at the same old just-over-seven-minute pace to finish in 35:38. That turned out to be good for second in the geezer division and one second ahead of third.
Maybe I'll get faster NEXT time.