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At the Races

VIA Marathon – Allentown to Easton, PA

The Via Marathon today was my 2nd (and last chance) to qualify for Boston. As most of you already know I just missed qualifying a few weeks ago having assisted another runner at the Run for the Unicorn Marathon at Washington’s Crossing. However, since that time my suspicions of how difficult it will be to get into Boston were confirmed with the BAA acknowledging this and deciding to have rolling entries starting TOMORROW with the fastest runners first with the statement;
“If space remains after the first week of registration (Monday, September 9 through Saturday, September 14), then registration will re-open for all qualifiers (less than 5 mins)”.

So my goal was to get at least a 5 minute cushion on my 3:40 qualifing time (So I can enter this week). Traveling to the start was a headache as there were backups off the highway. Many runners had to run from the exit ramp to the starting line. They started the race exactly at the scheduled 7am time and I am sure quite a few did not make it. Thank God for net times which allowed the late starters to not lose time.

I was at the start on time however, but in my haste I completely forgot to use Body-Glide which I’m sure I will pay the price later.

This course was advertised as a fast net downhill course, however, what was not said was the severe undulations in the first 5 miles. The steep downhills gained me no time and the uphills were somewhat difficult. The first 7 miles were a mix of suburbs and urban neighborhoods and with the undulations made finding and keeping a pace impossible. I felt tired already and much worse than the same distance in the other marathon 3 weeks ago. If this course continued to the finish the same way it was in the 1st 7 miles I would have burnt out after the half and likely would have finished slower that 3:50. Fortunately it finally turned unto the promised Tow-path and leveled out unto a course with shaded asphalt / smooth packed dirt / well crushed gravel path. I settled into a groove of 7:40 to 8 minute miles running within my limits.

At mile 12 the course turned back unto the roads back to twists and turns and then came back on the towpath at 13.5 miles. This was to facilitate the relay exchange and (I guess) add distance enough to finish at the park in Easton. This was a reminder to me that I was not at my best today and the fatigue came back into the legs. I backed off the pace, took out my most caffeine spiked GU and ingested it hoping to ride a caffeine kick. The kick came through miles 14 thru 17 but by mile 20 the painful and most difficult part of the marathon had arrived. Tisha was waiting at mile 20 with a water bottle which I very much needed. Thankfully the towpath was paved and pristine at that point so it was now just a matter of the mental game of maintaining pace through the excruciating pain.

Past mile 23 the course undulated again and, with nothing extra in my legs, this cost me time. But I was determined not to walk, even on the short hilly bridge approches. I knew I had the Boston qualifier but was uncertain if I could keep the 5 minute cushion I needed. When I came off the final bridge into the finish straight I knew I had given everything but pushed it all the way through the finish. As I ran through the finish banner I was filled with emotions. I collected my medal and Tisha came over to congratulate me on a great time. She asked me how I felt about my time and I, half crying half moaning told her I was very happy. She said she wished she recorded that because apparently I looked very distressed at the same time saying I were happy. No-one needs to see that, however…

So I recover and wait until Friday when the 5 minute or more qualifiers get their chance to enter Boston. Till then.

Desmond

Splits:
1 – 7:57
2 – 7:24
3 – 7:45
4 – 8:16
5 – 7:25
6 – 7:53
7 – 8:38
8 – 7:35
9 – 7:58
10 – 7:39
11 – 7:50
13 – 16:44 – 8:22 mpm
14 – 8:18
15 – 8:14
16 – 7:54
18 – 16:47 – 8:23mpm
19 – 8:18
20 – 8:39
21 – 8:34
22 – 8:11
23 – 8:21
24 – 8:32
25 – 8:43
26.2 – 10:03 – 8:23mpm
Total: 3:33:36
Net Time: 3:33:13

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