|NEW YORK-Lake Placid Marathon
| I signed up for the Lake Placid Marathon on November 27th, 2013. I
hadn't been running at all then, but I figured that gave me lots and lots
of time to train for a double marathon weekend. Before signing up, I
looked for the time limit. Not finding one, I did what I frequently do and
checked the prior years' results to see how long they recorded times.
I saw times going well above 7 hours.
Sometime around January I actually started training. From zero miles.
Since you're not supposed to add more than 10% a week, it took a
while to build up. At some point, probably around March, I checked
the website again. This time it very clearly said there was a 6 hour
cut-off. A strict 6 hour cut-off. No times will be accepted after 6
hours. If I had been sure had they added this disclaimer after I signed
up, I would have written to the race director and demanded more time,
but I get kinda excited signing up for stuff, and I very well could have
missed this important piece of information. Besides, I can run a
marathon under 6 hours...
Several weeks later it occurred to me that, while I can run a marathon
under 6 hours, I had not yet ran the second marathon of a double
weekend under 6 hours. I went back and checked, and sure enough,
of the three doubles I've completed, the fastest I was able to run the
2nd day was a 6:04. My training also wasn't going that well (i.e. I
wasn't putting in the miles I should because of one good excuse or
another), so now I was starting to worry. It would really suck to run 24
miles and have them pull me off the course because I was too slow! I
worried and trained, and trained and worried. I was working two jobs
and was really struggling to get enough miles in. I was so stressed, I
was willing to try everything to give myself an advantage, so I did the
unthinkable. Really, it's bad. Squeemish readers, cover your eyes... I
went on a diet! I had heard you can run a marathon 2 minutes faster
for every pound you lose. I needed a lot of minutes!
Neither dieting nor training was easing my mind. I even ordered a
pace band from Races2Remember that was supposed to incorporate
the hills and harder portions of the course, and account for them in
assigning a pace for each mile for a 6 hour finish.
That was all I could do. If I couldn't get it done, at least I had tried
Then disaster struck. On Wednesday before the run, I hurt my left
leg. I did something to the peroneal muscle. I suffered greatly
through Saturday's marathon, thinking mostly about how it would now
be impossible to finish Sunday's marathon under 6 hours. After
Saturday's marathon, I iced, elevated, compressed, and hoped for an
overnight miracle cure. But it didn't come. Sunday morning my leg
hurt. A lot. I thought about not starting. I was weighing a DNS (did
not start) vs a DNF (did not finish.) For some reason, I've always
thought a DNS was a smarter choice than a DNF. I've only had one
other DNS. Back in September 2012, some of those crazy Marathon
Maniac friends of mine convinced me I could do a quad. I committed
to at least 3, and was considering the 4th. To save money, I flew out
to do it by myself. I got the first two done (Rhode Island and New
Hampshire), but was pretty worn out and facing a 7 hour drive -
without my run coordinator Richard to drive me - to, of all places, New
York, for the Wineglass Marathon. I couldn't even stay awake to drive
myself to a hotel and had to pull over and sleep on the side of the road. The fact that it was New York just added one more weight on my
shoulders. If I pulled another DNS, would New York become my 'white whale'? I have friends who have one state that always gets missed. Airline
trouble, weather cancellations, injuries, etc. I didn't want New York to become that state for me. Richard was surprisingly stoic. I really thought he
was going to tell me to not run, I kept waiting for him to weigh in on the subject, but he kept quite. Finally I decided that if I didn't at least start I
would seriously regret it, so I wrapped up my leg in an ace bandage, took an Aleve, and we headed to the start line. I kept remembering those late
finish times in prior years' results, and was really hoping they would let me sneak by with a 7 hour time too.
Normally, I seek out the Marathon Maniacs for a group photo. Not this time. I didn't want to be in any photos in case I didn't finish. I felt like I had
an 80% chance of calling it quits. The DJ, in a weird attempt to pump everyone up, mentioned that it was going to be unseasonably hot today, and
very buggy. Make sure we wear our bug spray. Uh, could have told me that sooner dude. I'm here now, and don't have bug spray in my pocket...
Richard waited with me at the side of the start line. He reminded me a few times that I was supposed to be happy. That I was supposed to be
having fun. It didn't work. I waited until everyone had crossed the start line, then fell in behind them. The run started with a short loop around
mirror lake, and I told Richard I would decide by then if it was worth trying. I also knew I would come near the finish at the half way mark, and was
ready to call it quits then if needed.
I started slow, but watched the miles on my pace band. I was hitting under the required pace each mile. This is good and bad. The idea of the
pace band is to keep you slow and steady. If I go too fast in the beginning, I may not be able to hit the miles at the end. I didn't care. I wanted to
bank some minutes. When I saw Richard just past mile 3 I told him I was doing okay, and I thought it was worth trying.
I was getting pretty concerned that I was the only red (marathon) bib in a sea of blue
(half-marathon). I really didn't want a repeat of yesterday's run where I was the only
runner out there. We turned onto River Road and the scenery was gorgeous. It
also wasn't too hot (at least, not for me...) and so I kept my long sleeves on and my
hankie around my neck. Not only did this keep me from getting too cool, it also
helped with the bugs. When we got closer to the turn-around, I was still seeing red
bibs heading at me, so I knew at least they weren't too far in front of me. I really like
out-and-back runs because you get to see all the other runners. The speedy ones
who take things way too serious, the other maniacs and 50-staters, the runners
wearing mosquito netting... wait, what?! Seriously. I saw two runners and the
course photographers wearing mosquito netting. Great...
Heading out I hadn't noticed them, but on the way
back we saw the ski jump towers? They were mighty
impressive. And crazy. Made running a marathon
look like child's play.
Coming back into town I took my long sleeve shirt off. Yeah, the bugs were getting a bit
annoying. About mile 12, I saw an aid station volunteer spraying down runners with bug
spray. She asked if I wanted some, but I saw Richard waiting for me, so I told her I would get
on my way back. Richard fell in place next to me. I told him I couldn't walk with him, cause walking hurt, so he ran along side. He said, "you know how
you stare at the empty shelf at Wal-Mart and try to 'will' the item there (the Kona Wal-Mart is constantly out of everything...) well, I've been trying to will
you here for the last half hour." Poor Richard. My marathons are more stressful on him than they are on me. And I was ahead of schedule, silly boy.
I told him I had banked 8 minutes, and was doing okay. He said, "so I can quit worrying." Nope, this ain't over. Running 12 is easy. I figured I was
going to use up every bit of my extra 8 minutes in order to stay under 6 hours. I gave him my long-sleeve shirt and told him I would see him at the 6
My bug spray lady was gone when I got back to the aid station, so I did
without. Now that we were onto the second loop, it was only marathoners
and I had been worried that it would be just me out there, but I had folks
within sight both in front and behind me. What a relief! My leg was
uncomfortable but manageable. In fact, it felt better than yesterday. The
ace bandage was really helping. My pace was good. Things were going
smoothly. When I got to the turn around and saw that I only had 6 miles
left, and over an hour and a half to do them, I was estatic! You know that
stupid e-card that goes around every now and then... Yup, that's how I felt.
But I was early, by mile 21 I was sure that I had become too tough to kill. I
tried to reign it in. Told myself not to count my chickens before they
hatched. I still had 5 miles to go, and anything can happen. I was passing
runners now, and I noticed that a lot of them had blood on the backs of
their arms from the bugs. I did a quick arm check, no blood. I AM TOO
TOUGH TO KILL. But then about a half a mile later my ear itched, and
blood all over. I don't know what kind of stupid bugs they were, but they
were brutal. They leave you bleeding! I started telling the bugs as I
swatted them away, "no, I need my blood! I'm running a marathon!"
Four miles to go and I started ciphering my finish time. I knew I was
easily going to make the 6 hour cut off, but now it was looking like I was
going to beat yesterday's marathon time. No way. Mile three, yes
way. It's happening. This marathon makes you finish on a brutal
uphill, at least a half a mile long. I walked the entire hill with lots of time
to spare. Richard was way up above, busy "willing" me to the finish
line. I waved at him and saw relief spread across his face. Once we
got to the top of the hill, we had to run a loop in the Olympic Speed
Skating Oval before crossing the finish line. I rounded the loop and
sprinted for the finish.
I stopped my Garmin and held it out for Richard to see. "Can you believe
it?" He believed it.
After a free massage on my sore leg, I asked a volunteer how far it was to
the running store we had passed at the very beginning. "Very close," she
said, "you can limp there in 5 minutes." Ha. Thanks. 10 minutes later,
shoes in hand, I bought some compression socks and following the running
store guy's advice, I headed down to the beach at Mirror Lake to ice my
legs. Standing in the cold water, medal around my neck, beautiful scenery
all around me, the whole time I was thinking: I AM TOO TOUGH TO KILL!
(but my leg sure hurts...)