Lighthouses and A Marathon
Labor Day weekend found me travelling again for another marathon. My wife and I combined a tour of lighthouses and my marathon into a terrific long weekend getaway.
Michigan has several well known marathons (like the Detroit Free Press). However, I chose a small one (the Scotty Hanton Marathon) in Port Huron, just north of Detroit, for several reasons: a low fare special on Southwest Airlines to fly there, a small race (134 finishers), my racing schedule, and the holiday weekend.
Michigan also has many lighthouses, more than any other state: 150. Many are viewable only by boat, but many can also be reached easily by car. We found out on the Internet that there were 16 within driving distance of Port Huron, and we were able to see 11. We toured Friday afternoon, most of Saturday, Sunday after the race, and Monday on the way back to the airport. We drove a total of 600 miles, and had a great time.
The Scotty Hanton Marathon itself was very low key. The only amenities were the t-shirt (generic for all races), your race number, and safety pins. Bagels, bananas, and grapes were at the finish. A finisher's medal was given to all finishers. The course was mostly through farm country, with very few spectators, and fortunately very little traffic until the last few miles. Aid stations were 2.5 miles apart, with water and Gatorade. The volunteers were terrific. I would rate the overall race a 4 (on a scale of 1 to 10). The race, for me, wasn't that great. In fact, it was the worst one of the year. My time (5:16) was worse than Grandfather Mountain (5:09), and I felt worse afterward. What happened?
1. I know I drove and toured too much Saturday without stretching. I know that I would do it all over again because I loved being with my wife, doing something she loves (seeing lighthouses). She has traveled with me to many races and never really did anything, except see me run. I would, however, stretch more. I had leg cramps the night before and during the race, which I attribute to this.
2. I tried to get one more marathon out of my running shoes. Three should have been enough with the long runs that go with them. I left them in the trashcan at the motel.
3. I started out too fast. I knew better, but just didn't slow down. I was running 9 to 10 minute miles till about 12 miles, and then I started slowing down. The last few miles were 15 to 16 minute miles. Better pacing from the beginning would have made a lot of difference. There was no excuse. It would have been better to walk a minute a mile and have something for the end.
4. The weather also was unsuitable with temperatures in the 70's and humidity in the 80's. These were out of my control.
5. The course was on an incline most of the way. I hate flats and inclines for marathons. Give me the rolling hills and mountains of North Carolina any time.
I have told you all of this to help you run your next marathon. This made my 43rd marathon-and-beyond, yet I made novice mistakes. I knew better. Sometimes we get overconfident and think we can break the fundamental rules of long distance running. I tried and I had to pay the hard way, hopefully, for the last time - probably not.