Sunday, May 17, 2009

Marathons, Mountains and Microbrews, Part 2

Well, I tried to get into the pasta dinner, but the place was jammed and they didn't have room for me.  Imagine that.  I decided to head back to my hotel and find something on the way.  Bertucci's!! My favorite pizza place.  More from nostalgia than anything--Mark Boyce, a friend from Boston, took me to Bertucci's after I finished my first Boston Marathon in 1996.  Good memories.  So whenever I'm out east and find a Bertucci's I go eat there.
But, you don't come here to read about me eating pizza.  (Why do you come here, anyway?)  The Christiana Healthcare Delaware Marathon, Sunday morning.  Big goal for the day: be under five hours for the first time since I started having my knees operated on.  
They rearranged the course this year.  In the past, it's been a 10-mile loop followed by a bunch of short loops repeated 5 times or something like that.  What was in my brain is that they were going to do the 10 mile loop twice instead, then the short loops.  
The race and the rain both started at the same time.  Flat short loop to the west for the first two miles, then we headed east.  The rain was steady and the wind was right in our faces.  There was one block of buildings where the wind-tunnel effect nearly blew us backwards.  Fortunately it was short-lived.  
After only a couple miles, I found Edson Sanches, a guy I first met in Caracas, Venezuela.  He was going easy this week in preparation for running Comrades next week, so I was able to keep up with him for a few miles.  We ran together into a nice park area, then crossed the river on one of those nice bouncy pedestrian suspension bridges.  I didn't know whether to expect hills on the course or not.  Definitely hills.  We set off through a hilly section and I lost Edson.  Rather, he lost me.  We went through a little neighborhood, seemingly farther and farther away from the starting area.  I kept wondering how we were going to get back there in only 10 miles.  Then we headed off into a business area.  The math wasn't working.  Finally, I realized that the signs for the second loop were acutally 13 miles off from the signs for the first loop.  Seems like a guy as smart as me would have figured that out a few miles back--say maybe at mile 1?  OK, so it's a half-marathon loop, followed by another one.  Now the math is making sense.  But the confusion sure made it seem longer.
Heading back to the end of the loop, we ran past the 25 mile mark and the 12 mile mark, and then started uphill for about 4 blocks.  The half-marathoners soon turned off to the finish as we were directed back onto the riverwalk for our second time around.  I was moving well and a little ahead of my 5 hour pace.
Funny thing about hills.  They always seem bigger the second time.  And longer.  I didn't remember that we went around quite so many blocks near the 21 mile area.  I kept checking my watch and doing math, making sure I worked hard enough to keep under five hours.  It was starting to be a struggle.  I had a bit of emotional capital invested, however, and really wanted to finish within my goal time.  By 23 I had enough time in the bank and enough gas in the tank to do that.  Just concentrate and resist the urge to take a break.  Mile 25.  I know we'll start up hill soon.  I looked ahead.  The up hill section seemed way longer than the first time.  Finally starting downhill, I knew I'd finish under 4:58.  The 26 mile mark.  Usually you can see a finish line from the 26 mile marker.  Not here.  Down the street, turn left, then turn left again before you see the FINISH LINE.  My friend Harriet yelled for me when I turned the last corner.  Nice--final time was 4:57:55.  
A few good eats, a Michelob Ultra, and a conversation with RD Wayne Kursh and Steve Boone from Texas, and I headed back for a quick shower and a quick nap.  One more thing to accomplish this weekend.  I need a beer glass from New Jersey.  Since my flight was in Newark, I headed up to the Gaslight Brewery and Restaurant in East Orange.  What a satisfying meal.  French onion soup and a seared salmon steak salad.  And a couple pints of Black Bear Lager.  Yummy!  Marathons - 34 states the second time around, 176 total, 75 consecutive months.  Mountains - 32 state summits.  Microbrews--beer glasses collected from 30 states now.
Headed home tomorrow morning, where the lovely Francine awaits my return.  :-)

and the adventure continues....


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