Don't judge my time or the hill that was strategically placed at Mile 21 buy rather judge me on that I finished.
Sure Saturday's, Garden Spot Village Marathon in New Holland, PA was my 22nd marathon and I should be old hack by now but it was more than that. It was more than just my second fastest marathon, and it was definitely more than my first race smelling cow manure the ENTIRE time!
For me it was a re-affirmation that I really can do this!
Two weeks earlier I received credit for running the Rock N Roll Half Marathon, but I had signed up for (and had fully attended to) run the full race. But race day confirmed that stomach still want done with the bug that had hit me earlier in the week and my heel was not happy with the pounding I was putting on it after weeks of wearing my vibrams. The combination proved too much and at the split, I headed to the left and the half marathon finish line. It was only the 2nd time in 23 times that toeing the start didn't result in a finish and the first time since 2005.
I was down. Even a steak and lobster feast later in the day complete with copious amounts of wine was not enough to really get me back to where I should have been. A few days later Mrs. Bloggerman put a crazy idea in my head.
Let's go out to Amish Country and run a race you've never heard of.
Hmmm. It actually sounds interesting but I'm not sure. What if I'm not over this stomach thing or if my heel is still acting up? I felt a little like George McFly, and didn't know if I could take that kind of rejection. The benefit of a small race (320 finishers) is that they allow on site registration so I had a week or so to mull this idea over. In the meantime I ran a PR 10k on the Saturday between.
With this new confidence I set out on Friday with Mrs. Bloggerman and BloggerBaby in the Toaster for Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Our smoking room in the Comfort Suites was more than forgettable but it was only for one nights sleep so we dealt with it. Race day came and getting out to the car we were greeted by the same smell of cow manure that we fell asleep to. The morning also greeted us with 45 degrees and a wet overcast sky. The pre race set up was nothing special but it was a nice touch to have the invocation end with a mention of the Jewish carpenter. Keep it classy.
The gun goes off and we took off. I opened up at a nice pace and did the front 13 averaging about 8:20 miles and even with a big climb at mile 4 I was moving a good clip. When I wasn't busy pumping the Ragnar Relay (RagnarRelay.com) I was watching out for the never ending trail of horse poop all over the street. The Amish know how to save on gas but don't do a lot of street beautification projects! The other thing I was doing was looking back over my shoulder as I passed the mile markers, knowing I'd be coming back there in the second half of the race and interested as to where that was.
Getting into miles 14-18 the pace was still going well and I was able to even pass a few people. My pace had slowed a bit but was still pushing 8:40's in. I'm getting a bit tired but still feeling ok (for a marathon). Then we get into the dreaded miles 19-22. I'd say I hit a wall but in truth it was really two very large hills. The biggest of which went up 587 ft in a 1/4 mile. Yes...you read that correctly! To put it into perspective, The hill at the end of the Marine Corps Marathon is only 60 ft in a 1/4 mile, Heartbreak Hill in Boston is only 88ft over 1/5 of a mile, and finally Cardiac Hill in Atlanta's Peachtree Road Race is 110 ft in just over 1 mile. Yeah...the hill was that tough! So a walkin' I went. Luckily Mrs. Bloggerman was waiting at the top and that was a nice surprise which kept me running for a little while longer. But the walking set in with running mixed in and slowed down my pace from miles 19-23 with averages of about 11 min miles.
Finally we get to the downhill portion of the race and even with tired legs, I managed to pick it up and run in most of the rest of the race with a quick hamstring scare just after Mile 25, and almost getting clipped by a boat of a Cadillac just before Mile 26. But the best part came about 200 ft from the finish line. There stood Mrs. Bloggerman and BloggerBaby (now almost Toddler Bloggerman). I scooped the little guy up, hoisted him up on my shoulders and ran in to finish the race in 3 hours 59 minutes and 25 seconds. It was about 7 minutes off of my personal best but I had my kid (with the medal on his neck) up on my shoulders and I had made it through those hills.
Thankfully Mrs. Bloggerman through me in the car and we high-tailed it out of dodge before the children of the corn came to get us. I was cold, acomplished, and had a week's supply of Ten Calorie 7-Up products in my bag. Thank you to the folks in New Holland for putting on such a great race and giving me my confidence back. I might come back some day but it will be a while. Try not to miss me.
Bloggerman out (of marathons) until May brings me Boise, Idaho. Yep...I'm going Potato (the "e" is for Dan Quale)