The race was the BC/BS GEICO Fredrick Marathon, in, well, Frederick, Maryland. It’s the first of the “Maryland Double” which means that if you run this one and Baltimore in the fall, you have “done the double” and you get yet another useless medal. I signed up for it because I wanted the discount and because I was hoping I’d run into the pace group that is in charge of both races and beg them to let me join the “cool team” and be a future pacer. Lucky for me, I accomplished both.
The day began as perfectly as a marathon day could begin for most people. I prefer it to be a little warmer. 60 and overcast is too cool for this lizard and I forgot my gloves. Oh well. I would have to make do. I arrived just in time having not taken into consideration the sheer volume of traffic attempting to stream into a small fairground area at 6 am on a Sunday. My guess is that any other Sunday would have crickets chirping and roosters crowing. With 5000+ runners, I’m pretty sure we either couldn’t hear them over the din of the crowd or we backed over them attempting to park on the grassy area that doubles as horse exercise fields. I know this because I almost stepped in horseshit making my way to the start. Twice.
So just as I get there, the gun goes off. At the expo yesterday I had toyed with the idea of running with the 3:40 pace group and signed up just for fun but then decided that my idea of fun yesterday was not the same as my idea of fun today. It was going to be a 4:00 day. I need to work on perfecting my pacing without using my GPS. I like my GPS and it’s wonderful to train with but lately I’ve been wanting to kick it old-school style after Boston so I did not bring it today, opting only for my cruddy little Casio that I bought in Germany at World Cup when I needed to know what time the beer gardens opened (answer: ANYTIME) so I still haven’t quite figured out how to use it. The instructions only came in German. I do know how to start the timer, though, and as I crossed the mat, we began our journey, me and my little digital watch. I knew I needed to be around 9 minutes per mile so I figured this would be a good test to see how accurate I could be.
The race on the whole was pretty uneventful. Frederick is quite hilly, “challenging” as they call it in the brochure. I’ve never been a good hill runner but I can appreciate the feeling you get once you’ve crested one and are on the downside. I made sure though to continue to maintain the pace. Even keel, even keel… left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot.
I have been asked before what I think about when I’m out there for hours. Usually the answer is whatever pops into my head. I don’t try to solve the problems of the world, nor figure out what’s wrong with the one half of my family. I don’t reflect on why I don’t date much, nor what could I do to make my current work project better. I just sort of space out. If I’m lucky, something catches my eye and holds my attention for as long as possible. And today was my lucky day. It was none other than a timeless lawn ornament in the form of 3 meerkats staring off into the distance:
I decided that since I didn’t *have* to run a 4 hour marathon I’d try for a faster time. So I managed to find a nice looking man around mile 18 who was attempting to chat with some people around him to no avail (marathoner runners are so serious sometimes!) I saddled up next to him and for the next 70 or so minutes, we had a grand time. We talked about all the races we’d done, our experiences at Boston (which, I’m convinced is the “great uniter” of all marathoners… “Oh you’ve done Boston? Me too – what year??”) and what we think about the swine flu (it’s so over-rated!!) And then we rounded the last corner with a mile to go and I knew I was close. I could smell it. That nice scent of horseshit, wafting across the road meant the parking lot was nearby and sure enough, there it was…ULTRGRL. (ed note: my little Miata)
We sprinted the last quarter mile across the line and I knew that it was exactly what I had been wanting. 3:55. It was fun, or at least, my idea of fun, today. I was soaked as it had been raining steadily since a bit before mile 11 and I was beyond waterlogged. I turned the key in my car and saw it was exactly 11 am.
I wonder if there’s a puppet show anywhere in town…
UPDATE: Note to self - never leave until the awards are over. This keeps happening and I missed getting my 2nd place award, once again for my division. Grrrr! I hope it wasn’t a meerkat plaque because then I’ll be REALLY bummed.