Morning broke sunny and brisk on race day for the Road 2 Hope Marathon, which was much better than the previous couple of days of wet and blustery weather. At the start, the temp was right around the freezing mark but, in the sun and when sheltered from the wind, it was beautiful. Once again, the race organizers delivered on perfect weather for the race. The wind did become more of a factor as we made our way around the top of the escarpment.
Going into the race I had set the usual goals for myself. If the stars aligned, I was looking for a personal best. Failing that, I wanted to improve upon my time from last year and, finally, to finish what would be my 25th marathon upright and smiling. My only perceived obstacle to obtaining all of these goals, other than the usual litany of things that can go wrong as you set out for a casual run of 42.2 km, was a right hip flexor that had become worrisome in the latter parts of my training. When it started to migrate into my psoas, I decided to get it treated. Armed with three aggressive massage treatments I felt ready to go.
I was particularly excited for this year’s race as the website had been proclaiming loudly for months “no double loop” this year. I must admit that, last year, I was confused and curious about the route map as it showed a bunch of kilometer markers all jammed together by the waterfront. As I came along Beach Rd and saw a number of runners joining us from a street on the right I wondered where they had come from. On last year’s course we were in the mid 20s in terms of kms , just far enough in to be incapable of doing math or other exercises in logic. These runners, who looked much fresher than I felt, could not be the half marathoners, could they? It was not until about 5km later that it all came together and I realized that I had to run the second loop. At that point, the negative thoughts wrestled control of my psyche. It took me several kilometers of cursing and then self pity to get my head back into the race. No second loop this year; no problems, I was going to rock that course.
I have to say that I had a great day. Although I did not hit my first goal of a personal best, it was a fantastic day on many levels. I started the race with a friend who was running her first marathon. We parted company at about 26K when the hip flexor started to tightened up. I waited till 28K to take some Tylenol and, after meeting my wife at 30K to replenish Gatorade and GU, I got back on track. I was able to push out the negative thoughts that were threatening to win once again. While I could not get back to race pace for an extended time, I was able to continue to pass people and enjoy the serenity of the waves crashing on the shore beside me. I did meet my second goal and beat last year’s time. By four seconds! Better than that, though, was meeting my friend in the corral past the finish. She had just finished her first marathon and her unbridled emotion reminded me that running a marathon is both a physical and spiritual experience.
I must once again give credit to the organizers for listening to the runners and modifying the course. Having the additional 5K at the top of the course along the escarpment and doing away with the double loop was a winning idea.