This wknd, I did the Bucky Wknd Marathon organized by http://www.runbucks.com: 13.1 miles on Saturday, and 26.2 miles on Sunday. This is a small event, with a cap of about 500 runners on each event. The (usat-certified) course is an out-and-back run along the Delaware Canal Towpath @ Washington Crossing Historic Park, a hard pack soil and gravel flat trail. Being a small event, there is no expo, no media exposure, no buzz in social media, with same day packet pick up. This is the kind of event I want. And this is a short drive from my place (a plus).
Saturday. Arrived at the place about 1hr before the start. Parking was limited. Parked at the extension lot, which was about half a mile from the park. Picked up my packet for the half, and the packet for the marathon on Sunday. Those running both events are given a special bib to be worn at the back of the shirt to be recognized as the crazy ones. Race started on time. No fancy corrals, but with waves to avoid overcrowding once the runners hit the main trail. I planned to do this as long run #1 (tomorrow’s run being long run #2), but still aimed to finish under 2hrs. Armed with just 1 gel, which I planned to take at the turn-around point (about 6.6miles), off the runners went. I started at the middle pack, and ran a controlled pace. First few miles were uneventful, just running under my rhythm. Grabbed some water and gatorade at aid stations. On the way back, after mile 7, it happened (again). My knee started to act up (this has always been the case on all my long runs – knee pain appears after mile 7, forcing me to walk most of the remaining miles I have planned, and doing some google told me that this is a sympton of ITBS). Did the remaining miles with run-walk approach. Stubborn that I am, I still forced myself to aim for under 2hrs, so ran-ran-ran-walk-ran-ran-ran I did. Painfully, I finished the race in under 2hrs. Post race food was great! Burger + pasta + broth (another plus for this event). Ate, rested, and went home (limping).
Saturday night. I was not sure if I could do the marathon the next day because of the knee issue. Really, it would be a real test of mind over body to run a marathon at this condition. SO, I asked HIM to give me the strength to run the marathon and finish it without any injury, because I know I WILL run the marathon. I put some KT tape on the knee and went to bed.
Sunday. Arrived early at the park. Enjoyed my Dunkaccino I bought on my way to the park, while waiting for the start. Put some thought on how to tackle this day’s event. 5:41hrs. What’s this number? Pam Anderson’s NYC marathon time. This is my target. Saw Kit at the start. Kit is a sports-addict buddy, who decided to get drunk the night before and still aimed to do a sub-4 marathon. Drunken master. I started at the very back of the pack, running (jogging) slowly. Even with a VERY slow pace, I was not feeling a-ok. The knee was really bothering me. The course started with a loop in the park, hitting the main towpath trail after about a mile. I reached the main trail with just about a handful of runners left. Believe me, just around mile 2 there were less than 10 runners left and those behind me were closing in. I was slow jogging, walking, and running backwards (this alleviated any pain I was feeling). One by one, they passed me, and jokingly told me I was showing off for running backwards. Before mile 5, I was the 3rd person left on the trail. Continued with the walk/jog/backwards approach. Took me over an hour to reach mile 5. Still determined to finish, I continued. I was still on track for that 5:41hrs. Around mile 8, the 1st of the runners was on his way back (WOW – I was on mile 8 and he was on mile 18 – WOW). Slowly, more runners on their way back started to appear. I was limited on my backwards run approach because I didn’t want to accidentally hit them. I think it was around mile 10 when I saw Kit on his way back. After mile 10, I was getting behind my target goal. Did some math. Under 6 was still possible. More walk/jog/backwards run. “This is going to be a very long day”, I muttered. I was not tired, my body was not complaining, only my knee. Will I be able to drive home? What’s the long-term impact? Nothing serious I hope. Before hitting the turn-around point (after 13miles), I turned to HIM again and asked for strength.
I reached the turn-around point at around 2:47 run time, and I think I was either the 4th or 5th runner left. Whew. However, I found some extra strength at this point. At mile 15, I said “Wow I am at mile 15, and I am at Pam’s time of 5:41”. And I was getting stronger, both body and mind. More running (very short stride and fast cadence), short walk, short backward run. One mile at a time, I progressed. Slowly I passed some runners walking, encouraging them to continue. As I saw these runners continue, like I was doing, a mantra popped into my head. “There are those who can but won’t. And there are those who can’t but will. I’ll take the latter in my team.” As I continued, another mantra popped. It is at the last part of this post. Mile 17 – last single-digit miles left. Mile 20 – last 10k left. Mile 23 – last 5k left. Mile 24 – this is almost done. These were my thoughts. Saw Kit at around mile 25, at the end of the trail, just before going back to the park for the last loop around to finish the 26.2 course. He was done, just killing time watching the last batch of runners come back. Crossed the finish line with a smile on my face – 5:28 something. I beat Pam’s time (not taking the achievement away from Pam, I applaud and congratulate her for finishing a grueling journey).
Met Kit at the finish, grabbed a sandwich (or what’s left there), and a cup of broth, we chit-chatted while resting and stretching. Those who ran the half and the full received a special hoodie for this crazy achievement. The background on the pic is the back of the hoodie (39.3 miles – don’t fear the deer).
The knee was not as painful as yesterday. I walked fine. I drove fine. I got home fine. Read the mantra that gave me strength. I tweeted this. Reminds me of “Footprints in the Sand”.
“Thank you Lord for running the marathon for me… With me on your back. And then letting me run the last mile so people think it’s me.”