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Btb ran: "Mind if I tag along?...
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- 26 miles
- 03:19 time
- 07:35 pace
- 2573 calories
"Mind if I tag along? I don't talk much though". That's what I said to the two young ladies that were just ahead of me right after we crossed the halfway point of the Buffalo Marathon today. The half marathoners, about 5000 of them, had just peeled off prior to this, ending their journey, leaving about 1000 or so marathoners to venture on for an additional 13.1 miles. Up until now, there were plenty of people to run with, and the course was primarily along or near the water with a nice cooling breeze coming off of it, and a good amount of spectator support. But after the halfway point of the race, the course veers inland to the north and east of the city. Still very pretty, going through some beautiful parks and nice neighborhoods, but gone were the spectators, the cooling breezes, and the plentiful amount of other runners to run with.
I hit the halfway point right at 1:40, perfect for the 3:20 goal I had. The energy levels were fine at that point, but the legs were starting to get a little achey from the lack of stressing them in training. I knew it was going to be a tough 2nd half, and didn't want to go at it alone. Time to try to get by with a little help from my friends. The two young ladies ahead had been there since mile 5, so I knew their pacing was good and about equal to mine. They were gabbing and waving their arms incessantly the entire time, which totally amazed me, so I figured they were feeling fine still. They warmly welcomed me to tag along as I pulled along side, and off we went for round two of the run. The miles flew by nicely, and the chatter continued, which was a perfect distraction from the discomfort. My only contribution to the conversation to this point though was "Could the two of you at least pretend that this is hard work?" Sheesh. Kids.
At mile 22, one of the two girls peeled off and said her duties were done. Turns out she was just pacing her friend, and for whatever reason, mile 22 was the cut off for her duties. So guess who then had to become the conversationalist? Holy moly, the chatter didn't even miss a beat. It was hysterical. I contributed what little I could muster, but mostly the flow of verbage was one way and I nodded occasionally with what energy I had left. I learned that this was her FIRST! marathon, and done almost on a whim. "I'll go out on the weekends and just run 18-20 miles. When I travel, I like to run to check out the areas. So my friend told me I should try running a marathon and qualify for Boston, so I said ok. This is so much fun!". All that was said in one breath. Is anyone totally jealous yet? With 4 miles to go, I told her this was the graveyard stretch where we'd probably see a lot of walkers, and we did, but that there would be no graveyard for us today. Still on a solid 3:20 pace, I told her she could just about walk the rest of the way and still get her 3:35 qualifying time.
I hadn't memorized the splits I needed along the way to run a 3:20, other than those for the 8, 16, and 24 mile marks. They were easy to remember - 1:01, 2:02, and 3:03. I was pretty sure we were comfortably under 3:20 pace, but was anxious to hit mile 24 to be sure. Went through there in 3:02:20, a 40 second cushion with just over 2 miles to go. When things go bad, a 40 second cushion can evaporate in 1 mile, but other than very achey legs, all other systems were a go. Almost as if a miracle had happened, clouds had rolled in during the 2nd half of the race, and that kept the conditions much more manageable. Surely if the sun had remained out, as it is again right now, the outcome of this race would have been very different.
At mile 24, my running companion had decided it was time for her to back off and cruise in. I said I was going to press on. We shook hands and both said almost simultaneously "See you in Boston!". I finished ecstatically in 3:18:48. Kendra finished just under 3:20, which was pretty awesome.
This was a very nice medium sized race, one I would recommend. Well organized, well staffed, a nice, relatively flat fast course that showcased the best that Buffalo has to offer, and best of all, beer and pizza at the end, amongst other things. Take note Brian R. I stayed at the host hotel, and looked out my window to the starting line below. I left the room at 6:40 for a 7:00 start, and had plenty of time to warm up and get into the corral. The finish line was just 1 block away.
So how do you qualify for Boston? You can be young and naive and talentend and just run a lot for fun. Or you can be old and broken and just train for 5 weeks, averaging maybe 20 miles a week, but row your arse off instead to make up for it. But either way, it sure is a bonus to have a little help from your friends, either out on the course, or here, all of you, offering encouragement, for which I am very thankful.