With Judi in New York and Lois, Demi, Kaj, and me in Manchester, NH this morning kicked of the last of the marathons for the Sunday Long Run group. I won’t go into everyone’s results because I want them to post their own recaps… so here’s how my day unfolded…
Sunny in the low 30s… the very low 30s…. with a consistant wind pushing its way through the buildings of downtown Manchester, that’s what greeted us at the start. The MRCers running the race and the MRCers watching the race (Rick, Tall Photographing Dave, and NH’s own Andy Pate) all found each other before the start. I shed myself of the protecting layers and jumped in the crowd of marathoners and half marathoners at the start. Freezing, we all stood and listened to the incomprehensible announcement, a long drawn out version of the National Anthem, and then we were off. With the wind at our back we headed down Elm St, turned down towards the river (and over road kill squirrel number one) and then turned back along the river into the wind. Brrrr!
My pace was consistant, 8:30 per mile almost on the button for the first half. We wound through the city streets, climbed some country roads, up and down through a neighborhood, past Rick and Dave at mile 5. There was a section over a hillside park, along a trail by a scenic peaceful pond, we wound our way along a hilly road by a golf course, and then headed back to the city. I started chatting with a guy who was running the half who gave me the details of the second half of the marathon: Not as hilly as the first half, but still hilly. Heading back to the city we passed Betty and Annika, I stopped at Rick and Dave for some gatorade at mile 12, and passed through the halfway point at 1:50. I was running quicker than I expected but was feeling good.
The second half, with only 500 runners in the marathon, was sparse. We climbed over an overpass of 293 and up into a neighborhood, which climbed to another neighborhood. I got a stitch which would go away once we hit a downhill, but that wasn’t happening any time soon. As we finished one neighborhood there were signs on a car: Snickers Ahead. Nice! And a sign on a streetpost that said Snickers! Getting close! That was the last mention of Snickers I saw, either it was a cruel ruse or the Snickers giver-outers got too cold and went home. The Main St led us to another neighborhood and onto a country road which climbed up the hill that St Anselm College sits. Through their hilly windy cold campus we ran, popping out the other side down a steep hill (Pond St to Grimsby’s steep) and heading into mile 21 I ran into Rick and Dave for the last time. Each of my kids had donated a Halloween Snickers to my marathon goody bag which I had given to Rick and after all those Snickers teases along the way I ate one of my own.
I’ve never headed into the last 10K of a marathon feeling so strong. I was still on pace to finish below 3:50 and was passing people at a good clip. As we headed into another neighborhood I notice that the side street we were on, with about a dozen runners ahead of me, had only one person running on it… me. I used this to pump myself up, and it worked until mile 23, when my right ITB began to cramp. Each step felt like it was pounding just this muscle. I slowly made it through this mile and into mile 24 before I took a bit of a walking break. I was so sure I wouldn’t but this muscle needed a little recovery. A woman pulled up next to me and said “Good idea” and began to walk. Now I felt guilty and urged us both to start running again. At mile 25 we passed the baseball park in Manchester, back along the river and then uphill. An uphill that would last for over a half a mile. People were walking everywhere and occassionally I had to stop and join them due to some cramping in my quads. 3:50 had slipped away and I was trying to hold on so 4:00 didn’t too. It’s easy to lose a lot of time in that last 1.2 miles. Turning through the city street, past the mile 26 sign IÂ turned onto Elm St and spotted the finish line. I tried to pick it up but my ITB, followed by my quads, and out of nowhere myÂ hamstring made its presence known.Â The upper leg of both legsÂ declared they had had enough. I didn’t listen and keptÂ the stride going across the finish in 3:56. Not my fastest,Â far from my slowest, and good enough on a tough course on a cold windy day.
I stood around at the finishÂ watched the others come across the finish line with varying degrees of happiness. One thing was shared though, we were happy we hadÂ finished yet another marathon! For me this was my 6th, 2 Bostons, one Vermont, one Hartford, one Providence, and now a Manchester. 5 of the 6 New England states complete!