Apr 25, 2010
Earth Day Challenge Marathon
The Earth Day Challenge Marathon is as small as the town of Gambier, OH in which it is held. The first four miles goes around and through the town, and is quite hilly. Maybe that is why I couldn't find any comfortable pace or rhythm. The first hill is about a half mile into the race and is MASSIVE. As big a hill as I've done in any marathon (or even any race) that I've run. All the way through the start of this marathon I was getting passed and passed and passed some more. Even two first-timer coeds left me in the dust. I knew they'd all come back though. Well, of course not all of them, but a lot. Anyway, all these people going too fast made me go a little faster than I wanted too. D'oh. The first 5 miles went by at a 8:06 pace. I didn't even know I was running that fast, just couldn't find the pacing.
After that we started on the Kokosing Gap Trail; a converted railroad bed that is now a paved bike trail. Utter bliss to run on. Really, it was fantastic, at least for this small marathon. Oh, did I mention there were only 200 marathoners and 500 half runners? It did get a little crowded on the first out and back when there were people coming and going and passing and running together. I fell in with a few other runners and we started talking marathons. They had done 86, 75, 50+ and 3. The guy who had done 3 was hoping to break 4 hours but was up running with us at a 3:35-3:40 pace. His big idea was to bank minutes so when he tired at the end, he'd have some extra time for walking. Riiiiiiiiight, that always works. Not. So we told him that but he didn't listen and stuck with us anyway. Second 5 miles were still a bit too fast but not bad. Second 5 miles in 8:17.
I'd been having to pee a little bit and thought that it was a good idea to stop just before half so as to increase my chances of running negative splits. Unofficially my half time was 1:47:58; 3:36 for negative splits. Doable, but I'd have to just see how I was feeling. The second half of the race is another out and back along the trail but in the other direction after we dropped the half marathoners. Unfortunately that direction did not have nearly as much tree canopy to run under and the sun came out in full force. It was pretty warm and humid. I'm kind of using that as my excuse anyway because I started to slow down. Third 5 miles was at 8:20 pace. Somewhere in there I passed the coeds who started out so much faster than me. They said their goal was 3:39. First timers, aren't they just great?
Around about 15 miles I went into the mental doldrums. I hadn't experienced these in the last few races but know they are always there. I just kept running; what else could I do? They always pass anyway. Even though I was not into it at all I decided to count the number of people in front of me that were now on the back portion of this out and back. I think I got to around 25 but can't remember for sure. Even though I was slowing down, I was passing some people. In fact, I only remember 1 guy passing me the whole second half of the race (doesn't mean more didn't though). Fourth 5 miles were at 8:31.
Pacing started to get in the 9:00 range and I took a couple walking breaks. I kept telling myself (and still am) that it was because of the heat and humidity because I refuse to believe that going out at 8:15 pace for the first half is that much too fast. Maybe it is though and my ego just won't let me admit it. At one point I had to stop and turn to go back to my daughter for a high five because we missed our first one. I'm sure that added several many minutes (or just a few seconds). I told myself to just keep plugging along at whatever pace and as long as I did that I'd still have a finish right in line with my other marathons this year. The miles rolled on by interrupted by a few short chats with other runners. Fifth 5 miles was at 9:21 pace (ugh, I'm cringing just to write that).
Suddenly the finish was there, right where it started, on the track of Kenyon College. I was given a choice of a medal or a mug; of course I chose the medal. All about the bling right? My unofficial finish time was 3:44:37.
Turns out we had a nice day to run. No rain (at least until about an hour after I was done. I suppose some people got wet). Wind was there but minimal. Actually running into it in the latter stages of the race was quite cooling. I'd definitely recommend this race if you don't need large crowds and constant cheering to keep yourself going. After four miles the trail was a pancake flat affair lined with trees (well, at least the first half). Quite casual but with enthusiastic volunteers and fans (my family). No expo to speak of but a nice spread after with food and massages. I didn't partake though, I'm never in a mood to after running. The ice bath that my kids love to make was torturous but did help.
Right now I'm sitting in a Columbus, OH hotel room writing this because we were shut out of the flights we were trying to catch. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. I never did meet up with Psyche even though she ran it too. Be sure to check out her account of the race though because undoubtedly it will be more entertaining than mine.
April 22 15.84 at 7:57
April 25 26.2 at 8:33