Yesterday we ran the National Marathon in DC.
My job was to make sure Sonya finished in 3:45. I was a domestique of sorts, watching the clock and controlling the pace.
Day got off to a bad start, as we decided to drive to the start. I discovered that there are no signs for the Southeast Freeway when driving from the south. I knew I was going the wrong way, so I exited 395 and recalculated directions...saved by the iPhone. After getting back on course, we hit some thick traffic. With about 40 minutes to race start, I knew we'd be cutting it close. To further compound my stress, the cup of coffee and bottle of water was making its way through my system rather quickly...with nowhere to go, i chugged the rest of the water bottle and decided to use it. The last time I peed in a bottle was a Corona bottle in a Seoul Subway Station back in 2001. It was a wild night on my first weekend in Korea and I didn't know what to do...seemed like a good idea at the time, and it worked. Yesterday's story was a little different...I forgot how to do what seemed easy, and let's just say I ended up with a wet steering wheel.
I eventually made it to the parking lot at 6:45...only 15 minutes to cover a 1/2 mile walk to the start. When I got to the parking lot, I discovered that there was no one there to direct traffic or park cars...pure parking chaos. I ended up going to down a lane that kept narrowing, eventually converging...knowing I'd get stuck, I found a narrow spot next to a tree and parked the car, hitting a few limbs along the way. The Sport Utility Prius came in handy. We parked the car, geared up and ran to the start with 5 minutes to spare. We started in the 7:00 min/mile pace group, which means we were near a lot of 300-pound walkers. Why do runners lie?
We started out with a strong pace...eventually had to tell Sonya to slow it down as we were knocking out 7:50 miles. After about 4 miles, we settled into a comfortable pace. At mile 6, I decided to hit a water station. I looked behind me to make sure I wasn't cutting anyone off, then reached for a cup. Before I got the cup, some dude pushes my hand out of the way and grabs the water for himself. He caught me off guard, so I said, "hey watch it F&^er!"...he mouths something. I told him he didn't need to be pushy, there's plenty of water, and it's not like he's in contention for the win. He continued to mouth something. Feeling powerful, due to the mustache, I tell him my bib number and that if he has a problem, we can settle it after the race. Talking that trash probably wasn't the smartest move, but I knew the guy was full of hot air...like the Fred on the Mount Vernon Trail, and I wasn't in danger of getting my ass kicked...typical DC asshole.
The next 14 miles were pretty uneventful. Although the course not being as flat as advertised, with some pretty long gradual climbs, we kept a strong pace. At mile 20, we were about 4 minutes ahead of our 3:45 pace. At that point, my legs started to feel tired, and I knew that I'd be slowing down...Sonya was feeling good, so I told her to not let me pass her and she'll be fine. I knew I could still make the 3:45:59, but it would be close. She took off, and I settled into a 9:00/mile pace, which felt pretty easy after averaging 8:15s. Ended up finishing at 3:45:30...Sonya kicked my butt with a 3:43. Domestique job was successful. Sonya gets to run Boston next year, which means she'll forever have that blue jacket which she'll wear to every race for the rest of her life, which lets other runners know she's legit. I get to stop running for awhile and enjoy some nice days on the MTB trails.After the race, celebrated with a kickass meal and great beers at Rustico.