Despite the fact that I really have no time to be screwing around with additional races with all of my thesis stress right now, I did squeeze in my 2nd running of the Rochester Marathon this past weekend. (Literally "Squeezed". I drove up Saturday afternoon, ran Sunday Morning, and drove home Sunday night)
I wanted to run it again this year for four reasons:
1. I was so completely pissed off at last year's 90 degree /100% humidity debacle that I wanted to redeem myself (and run a respectable race in honor of my late father - who also ran the Rochester Marathon in 1989). For those of you that don't know, last year's race was literally canceled at the 20 mile mark after 4 hours due to extreme heat and humidity. Aid stations ran out of water and people were suffering from heat exhaustion all over the course. I barely finished after walking over 5 miles with a miserable time of 4 hrs 33 minutes. (after having ran a 3:53 marathon only a few months prior)
2. I am still leaving the Vermont 50 option open, and I needed a long "training" run 2 weeks before. This fit in perfectly
3. I wanted to see my mom and sister for the day.
4. I wanted to see if the course was really as shitty as I remembered it, or if I just thought it was because of the horrible heat last year. Basically, I wanted to give what I remembered being a horrible course, a 2nd chance.
I went into the race not trying to PR. Back in May, I re-ran the Pocono Marathon and shattered my previous Marathon time by 14 minutes when I finished in 3:39. I had no intention of racing that fast in Rochester, and simply wanted to have a nice, easy, and fun race. Add to that the fact that I am still recovering from the Leadville 100, I was simply shooting to have a respectable finish.
The course was slightly modified from last year, but more or less the same. The first 9 miles takes you from downtown Rochester, past East Rochester, and into Perinton/Fairport. This was my favorite part of the course. You get to see neighborhoods, and a lot of people out cheering for you. And then began the dreaded bike path....
Last year I remembered the course drops you onto a bike path along the Erie Canal and stayed on it for what seemed like FOREVER. It was nice at first, but then seemed like it would never end. I remembered not getting off of the path until almost mile 25. Surely I had to be exaggerating in my mind though right? Nope. The bike path really does go from mile 9 to about mile 24.5: Over 15 miles of what seems like endless running along the most monotonous bike path.
The difference this year was that the temps were mostly bearable. It was a sunny day, and by about 10:30, it did start getting pretty warm (mid 70's)....but nowhere near as bad as least year.
I ran the first half a lot faster than I wanted and knew I would pay for it later. Unlike with Pocono, I was not in peak road marathon condition and couldn't maintain this pace. I have been in trail/ultra mode all summer. I ended up hitting the proverbial marathon "wall" at about 18 miles, and slowed down a lot for the last 1/4 of the race. All in all though I did what I set out to do. I enjoyed myself. I crossed the finish in a respectable 3hrs and 51 minutes and was able to make a fair re-assessment of the course. What is that assessment you ask?
Well my initial assessment from '08 was pretty close. I really just don't care for the course. I don't think I'd go as far as to see it is awful, but I don't see myself returning for it next year that's for sure.
So...I'm glad I did it. I got to hang out with my sister a lot, I got to redeem myself and run a decent race for the old man, and I got in a much needed "long run".
So what about Vermont 50? Still don't know. If I can finish my final thesis draft by Tuesday, I am going to sign up. If not, then it will have to wait until next year. (or whenever)
oh and by the way. My new favourite running companions: Hammer Gels and Cliff Shot Blocks