Day 2 of the back-to-back madness:
After a spot on target Hartford Marathon, my thoughts turned to attacking (or surviving) the UnitedHeatlhCare Newport Marathon in Rhode Island. This jewel of New England is populated by huge mansions and a seaside attitude to match its miles of coastline around the various islands and peninsulas that comprise the city.
|A fellow runner warms up as the sun rises on Easton Beach, Newport
Where the Hartford marathon exuded a big city start with pomp and whatnot, this smaller marathon said local from start to finish. The expo, in a parking lot along Easton Beach also served as the start area. Expecting a lot of vendors selling wears. Yeah, not at this race.
Still, the day dawned on Sunday with some breezes and sun, but lots of good energy. As I walked from my hotel to the start, I joined hundreds others. Most were doing the half-marathon (which shared all but 50 feet with the marathon). A delay of 15 minutes caused by late buses from the parking areas was the only blemish. The race heads west to lap the famous residential areas of Newport.
Spotting a great view of Newport Harbor, I slowed and pulled off the course to take a photo. Some spectators nearby started to laugh. I shrugged and said it was pretty. And it was just a marathon. They just shook their heads.
|Too pretty to pass up - Newport Harbor
The goal for the day was consistency. I wanted to stay right at a 9 minute pace. As I race, I was very conscious of how far ahead of a 9 min pace I was. 2-4 minutes was pretty much my number for the first half. That meant, I could run the hillier and less populated 2nd half (sans the half-marathoners as they had finished) in 2-4 minutes slower.
Mile after mile came and went. Uphills caused me to slows, but I resisted bounding down the subsequent hills for fear of shredding my quads too much. I picked up a bit of speed to compensate for the ups, but again, slow and steady was my goal.
But as I passed the end of the worst hills at 21, I was behind. Maybe 2 mins. I was safely under 4 hours, but not on my 3:56 time goal. I picked up a minute as I came downhill to 23 miles, but I knew that a small uphill would show up at 24.2 miles.
|Carrying Old Glory. This guy finished about 30 minutes before I did.
Some say that a marathon is made or lost in the last 3 miles. Some even say in the last 6. For me, those last three miles made this marathon. I just kept on going. Even as my brain said slowdown, you can beat 4 hours without much effort. Take a walk break. Go slower up the hills. My body said otherwise. It said you got this. Keep it up. I have gas left. So what if this was miles 49 - 52 over two days. Don't stop. Do it.
I just kept at it. Left foot. Right foot. I passed a ton of people though I took no pleasure in it. Yet, this served as a guide to me that I was doing something hard. The last mile was downhill, and I found a way to speed up to 8:30. This last mile locked in the person victory
I finished at 3:55:42 - 15 seconds faster than the Hartford race the day before. Less than 1 second per mile difference over 52.4 miles.
I seldom care that much about my performance. Sure, I am happy when the times are fast. But in this case, hitting my goal (which included the 3:54 I ran in New Hampshire 2 weeks previously) really made me feel proud of my training and racing acumen. I felt it appropriate given these races are part of the 5 runs for charity.
Next up is the Denver Half-Marathon where I will help pace my friend Lyndsey to a 2 hour finish.
Thanks for your support.