Mother Nature did not cooperate on Sunday. I had high hopes of running a “breakthrough” marathon, but the weather was far from ideal. Upon waking up I looked out the balcony window and could tell it was much more windy then had been forecast. The J and A racing banners along the finish line area on the boardwalk were flapping away in the wind and the ocean was extremely rough (there was a small craft advisory). I stayed positive as everyone else had to run in it as well.
After standing around freezing at the starting line the race finally went off. Mario Macias took it out by himself with Chris Zablocki eventually catching up and running with him for most of the first 3/4s of the race. Next there was a group of three consisting of Eric Chirchir, Getachew Asfaw, and another Ethiopian (sorry, don’t know his name). Then there was Jeff Eggleston and myself. Jeff was planning to run the race as a workout and pick up the pace over each 10k and suggested we run together and try to stay relaxed. It was great having Jeff there with me for the first 7 miles or so. We got to chat a bit and he helped remind me to relax. We caught up to the pack of 3 ahead of us by 3 miles and sat on the back of them for a couple miles. They would pick it up and slow down a few times before Asfaw and the other Ethiopian said something to each other and then the one who’s name I do not know dropped off the pace (at around 6 miles). Almost immediately after he dropped off Chirchir began to pick up the pace. Jeff and I thought he would come back like the other times, but this time his move was for real. Jeff and I ran a 5:12 for that mile and I told him that I was content with that pace and didn’t want to get over my head. At that time Jeff started picking up the pace and working his way up on the leaders…Asfaw followed. The rest of the race was pretty much run by myself….and it would not be fun with the amount of headwinds that followed. Basically all of miles 9-16 were directly into a head wind. Before turning onto the boardwalk just after 10 miles I knew it was going to be bad as I could see how rough the ocean was ahead of me. I went from running miles in the 5:teens to miles in the upper 5:20s to low 5:30s. It’s crazy to think that the wind was causing me to slow down as much as :15-:20/mile! I told myself to maintain 5:30/mile and I could make up for it later when there are tailwinds again. Miles 16-19 had a little bit of a tailwind, but I could not manage to run the 5:20 or under like I was doing earlier in the race. The wind had taken it’s tole on my body! After turning into Fort Story the headwinds came back…and they were bad! The next 2-3 miles were all directly into a headwind again. I was making up ground fast on Asfaw at that point. I could also see Mario’s yellow singlet up ahead of him (he would stay the same distance for the rest of the race). I caught up to and passed Asfaw somewhere around 20 miles. I picked it up a bit as I passed him so that he didn’t latch on and try to go with me. He tried for 30 seconds or so, but then I turned around and he had let me go. At this time I was in 5th place…prize money only goes 5 deep so I was happy to be getting something. I knew I wasn’t going to catch up to Mario as the distance between him and me was not changing so I kept maintaining the pace I had been running. After a while people started telling me I was in 4th place. I just assumed they were counting wrong as I knew I was in 5th and people had been telling me I was in 5th, but more and more people kept saying “your number 4”. I ended up finishing 4th overall in 2:23:21. (I found out later that Jeff ended up dropping out somewhere around 22 miles because he was having some issues with his groin…he was smart as there was no reason to injure himself.)
As far as splits go…I ended up deleting them from my watch, but below are some splits from the results. During the first 9 miles I was running (after a 5:29 first mile) anywhere from 5:12-5:20….9-16 were around upper 5:20s to low 5:30s…16-finish were still some upper 5:20s and majority of low to mid 5:30s.
Splits from the results (LINK):
7 miles : 37:14
13. 1 miles: 1:10:19
18.1 miles: 1:37:50
I’m happy with the result considering the conditions. I didn’t mention any time goals before the race, but I had two going into it. The first goal was to break 2:18 and if that didn’t happen I would have been happy with a sub 2:20. I’ll take 2:23 in the conditions. Chris had an amazing race (2:17:49)….his time has to be worth a 2:15 or faster on a good day. A couple facts that put the conditions into perspective are that Chirchir has run 2:14 and Mario has run 2:15 before….thinking about that makes my race not so bad.
Thank you to my family (specifically my wife!) for being there to support me through the weekend and being supportive with the amount of training I had to do leading up to the race. Also, thank you to Henry Klugh and the Keystone Track Club for sponsoring me and J and A Racing, specifically Kristyn Hedley, Ryan Carroll, George Matais, and Meagan Carroll for all of the accommodations over the weekend…definitely an event I will be back to run again!