|RHODE ISLAND - Rhode Island Red
Sometimes I forget that I'm an overweight, slow
runner who is NOT a superstar. It was during one
of these periods of self-delusion that I got talked
into running 4 marathons in one weekend. My
"friends" started trying to talk me into this at the
Bismarck marathon. I looked it up, checked
flights, thoughts about it, but put it off as long as I
could. Unfortunately, that wasn't very long. I
would have liked to put it off until after my double
on the 22nd/23rd, but one of the runs in the quad
was closing registration on the 21st. I still put it
off, but I saw one of those damn enablers at
packet pick-up for Sault Saint Marie on the 21st,
and he was convinced I could do it, and somehow
convinced me. So, before running that double, I
had shelled out the dough for a plane ticket and
entry fees for 4 in one weekend.
How do you run 4 in one weekend? Well, there
are folks out there who are trying to break the
world record for number of marathons in a year
(113 set last year by Larry Macon - he is one of
the folks who had talked me into this nonsense.)
In order for Larry to run his goal of 135 marathons
in a year, he has to get people to set up Friday
and Monday marathons around the
Saturday/Sunday marathons he usually runs.
However, in order to make these marathons 'official' they need many things: a website, a race bib, a medal, and a minimum of 5 starters and 3
finishers. Meeting those minimum numbers is most likely why they were cajoling a runner the likes of me to come run with them. The good thing
about these runs is that they are FREE entry. Friday's Rhode Island Red Distance Classic run is one of these thrown-together runs for the sole
purpose of adding marathons to these crazy folk's already large number of runs.
A marathon less than a week after a double marathon weekend is tough enough, but immediately after last Sunday's run at Fox Cities, Richard and
I drove until 3am to get back to Kansas City to check on one of our rental houses. Had I known the mess we would find, I'm sure I wouldn't have
signed up for these runs. Tenants had left a mess when they moved out, and we had new tenants lined up to move in. I spent 12+ hour days there
Monday and Tuesday scrubbing floors and walls. After 8 hours of working there Wednesday morning, we moved the RV (it had been sitting in the
driveway of the rental house) to the RV park so I could do laundry (I still had my stinky clothes from my last two runs) and pack for an 8:30AM flight
on Thursday. I jokingly said that running 4 marathons would be relaxing compared to the long week of cleaning.
I got to Boston Thursday afternoon. After a ridiculously long wait for the rental car, I fought Boston and Providence rush hour traffic, and finally
arrived in Warwick. I hit the grocery store for 4 days worth of healthy marathoner food, then hit the sack since we had a 4am start on Friday.
That's right, I said 4am. One of the things with putting together your own marathon, is you can set the start time. Why not start at 4am? I arrived a
few minutes before 4, to find only the race director and two other runners. The rest of them had been there early, so they started at 3:30. Great.
The race director checked me in, gave me my race bib (but said it was just to be official, and I didn't have to wear it) and asked me how far I was
planning to go. See, this wasn't a 'marathon', it was an 8 hour race. I thought an 8 (or 6 or 12 or 24, whatever) hour race meant you went for 8
hours, and saw how far you could go in that time. For it to count as a marathon, you have to do at least 26.2 miles in 8 hours. It was a 2.7 mile
loop, so he said most folks were going 10 loops for 27 miles. Okay. Sounds good to me. Now, to just pace that out over 8 hours so I don't wear
myself out. We headed out, but didn't know which way to go. The other two runners headed back to ask for directions, but since it was a loop I
figured I would either find folks going the opposite way, or I would be going the correct way. Either way, I was starting at 4am and getting my miles
in. Turns out I was going the wrong way, which was good because I ran into the gang of early-birds, so I turned around and started going the right
way, and kept up with the group for about 6 or 7 miles until they got too fast for me. I was mostly just walking, saving my strength for the full 8
hours, and for the next three days. The early group had other ideas though. They were not going to go for the entire 8 hours. They were
planning to go exactly 26.2, and no more, then call it a day. I didn't realize that was allowed, but that was going to work very well for me since I had
the initial partial loop before I turned around with them. I did another several miles with a guy who was a new landlord, and we discussed rental
properties. Considering all the scrubbing I had been doing for the last few days, I had LOTS to share. Then he too headed out faster than me.
This wasn't fun. It kinda felt like work. I was just putting in my required miles. This isn't how marathons are supposed to feel. I had my phone with
me, and the loop was scenic. We ran along a pretty lake - hell, it might have even been the ocean for all I know. But I was too cranky to take any
pictures. I finally decided that the early group had it right, just do 26.2 and call it a day. I put in a loop with another guy who had completed the 50
states, oh I don't know, something like 20 times. He is trying to run an inaugural run in every state. He shared with me a 'trick' that slower runners
use to get their marathons in when the course has tight time-limits. They still put in their 26.2 miles, but they take an unsanctioned early start, and
if there is a start mat, they just act like the mat must have missed their chip. Sounds harmless, but their recorded time will be shorter, by however
early they start, than their actual time, and it could potentially change the results in some of the older age groups. I wish I hadn't ever heard of this
'trick.' I don't think it is really 'cheating', but it just made me sad. If someone can't make the time limits anymore, why are they still out there trying
so hard? At what point should we stop running marathons? I was hurting and wanted it over, so I started picking up the pace, but I was still
painfully slow. I was back at the start/finish, sitting in the trunk of the rental car - this was a self-supported race, so my Gatorade and water was in
the car - when the race director finished his loop and came up and asked me if I was done. I told him I had another loop to do, and he asked if I
wanted my medal now since we were both there. Yes please. So, not only was I self monitoring my mileage, but I got my medal before I was even
done. Sheesh. I didn't realize how much it meant to have someone drape that medal over my neck at the finish line. This is definitely not the kind
of marathon I want to run again. Feels like I didn't really run this one either. I got done with my 9th full lap with just a few tenths of a mile to go. I
was whooped. I really wanted to do another full lap so I would have had more than 26.2 and feel more legitimate, but I was over 7 hours into it, and
I didn't think I would get another loop done before the 8 hour mark, and I was hurting and lazy. I finished out my 26.2 and called it a day.
I did attend a marathon in Rhode Island, and I put 26.2 LONG SLOW miles on my tired sore legs in Rhode Island, so I'm counting it for now, but I'm
not proud of it, and I don't feel like it is truly legitimate. If I ever end up with a good option to redo Rhode Island, I will.
Oh, and when I had just managed to squeek out 26.2, my landlord friend came up, having finished his 13th lap, and I think he might have been
heading out for one more. Sigh....