Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mohawk-Hudson Marathon

I awoke to a crisp clear day in Albany, New York, on Sunday, October 12th. I left Orlando with temperatures in the 80's with the ever present humidity. A walk outside to the back porch gave me a view of a large thermometer reading 42 degrees. This is the kind of day runners in Central Florida dream about. It had been almost two years since I had ran the Chicago Marathon in 40 degree weather.

I was looking forward to this marathon for several reasons. Jennifer, who I have been training with in MarathonFest was running, as well as her best friend Peggy, who lives in Albany. It was a chance for me to return to New York for a mini vacation as well. I spent several days visiting with my family in the Syracuse area. Two other runners from MarathonFest, Hung and Melissa, were also participants.

The race limits entries to 650. The 5K's here in Orlando easily double that figure. It was nice to be part of such a small marathon after running in places like New York City, Chicago and the Marine Corps Marathon with over 30,000 runners. 18 miles of the course are along the paved bike trail adjacent to the Mohawk and Hudson River's. It is a point-to-point run from Schenectady to Albany. There is a net elevation drop of 370 feet.

I was concerned with a "late" start time of 8:30am. By then the temperature had risen to a balmy 44 degrees! Dressed in two tech shirts, one long-sleeved, shorts and gloves, I felt very comfortable. You would think someone from Florida would have been dressed in a snowsuit.

At 8:30 sharp, the horn sounded and we were off. I checked my watch and it took 16 seconds for us to cross the start line. This was the first year in the 26 year history of the marathon that they used timing chips! Being cold, I wanted to begin slowly and allow my body to warm up. No muscle pulls in the first few miles. I would say that within the first two miles I felt comfortable and warmed up.

After the first 3 miles through a residential neighborhood in Schenectady, we moved onto the bike trail. At approximately mile 4, we turned and for the first time saw the Mohawk River several hundred feet below. The day was clear with virtually unlimited visibility. Autumn was in full color and the views were spectacular. Only when we left the bike trail and entered the cities did the view become less than colorful. I was very happy to return to the trail for the final 5 miles into Albany.

Jennifer and I were setting what felt like a comfortable pace. We were passing some runners and others passed us. We managed to run together for the first 9 miles at which time we split up. The miles are marked with cones and a fluorescent orange lines painted on the pavement. The first time clock was located at the half-marathon point. Up to then we had to rely on our watches. I arrived at the half way point in 2:01:30. I was a bit surprised because I didn't think I was running that fast. Bottom line I was feeling great! the next clock was at mile 20 which read 3:08:08, still ahead of my goal time and my previous PR.

Physically I felt good throughout the marathon. I'm not sure what others experience, but I always have that little gremlin on my shoulder at about mile 22 who repeatedly tells me what an idiot I am for attempting to run 26.2 miles. It's a good thing much of the time I was running alone, cursing the gremlin and trying to get rid of him! I really struggled between mile 23 and 24. Once I got within the final 2 miles, I knew I had defeated the gremlin.

With approximately one-half mile left, I began to pick up the pace. The crowds were their largest and the finish was in sight. I looked for the clock at the finish and was thrilled to see it at 4:12:58.