The Lakefront Marathon is a point-to-point marathon. They take us 26 miles up the lake shore, to the town of Grafton, and we have to run to downtown Milwaukee. This is my first ever true point-to-point. The Fox Cities Marathon has a short distance between the start and the finish, but the shuttle bus ride is only a few minutes. There's nothing quite like taking a half-hour bus ride and realizing that you have to run back to the start.
I got to Grafton just before 7:00, and the race started at 8:00. They opened up Grafton High School for us to wait in, so I did the obvious. I pulled off my sweatshirt, folded it up for a pillow, and lay down for a half an hour. The alternative was to pace, and with 26 miles on the schedule, I thought I'd better stay off my feet.
For the last half hour before the start, I milled around a little, waited in line for the porta-potty, and chatted with a few other runners. At just about 8:00 exactly, the gun sounded, and we were off.
It was pretty good weather. Cool the whole way, and mostly sunny, although there were a few very brief misty showers. I wore my Running Funky tights, which was a good thing. Not for the warmth, in particular, but for the attention. It occurred to me early on to count the number of people who commented on them, which gave me something to do besides fret about the miles yet to go. I counted 123 comments, an average of almost five a mile.
I started out too fast, of course. I made myself a deal. I had planned to walk through the aid stations, and for a while, I made myself walk until the 4:45 pace group caught up with me. I figure that would mean that I got plenty of walking early, and I did. But at each aid station, the wait for them to catch up was shorter, until somewhere between mile 14 and mile 15, when they passed me on the run. I waved them goodbye, and never saw them again.
It was actually sort of a relief. From about mile 10, I'd been pushing myself to keep ahead of them, and after they passed, I let go of my Ultimate Goal of a marathon PR, and held on to my Challenge Goal of walking only at aid stations. I'd say that I made it. It's true that for the last four of five aid stations, I stretched that walk out quite a bit, to maybe as much as a quarter mile. I thought maybe I could skip the last two aid stations, at 24.2 and 25.2 miles. I skipped the penultimate one, but that came back to bite me, so I actually started my walk a little in advance of the last one.
But really, I didn't have any long stretches of hopeless walking, and I actually ran in the last mile. I'm happy with my performance. Although it was the slowest of my four complete marathons, I would judge it to be my strongest finish.
My overall time was 5:03:44. I was 1691st, out of about 1903 finishers. I was 1018th male, out of 1105. In my age group, I was 148th. Out of 152. Pity those four old guys who couldn't even beat me. I had told Grandma earlier that I was probably the oldest guy in my age group, thinking that it was 41 to 45. But in fact, it was 45 to 49, so a lot of those 147 guys who beat me were even older than I am.
Anyway, I'm happy. I will now proceed to take a few days off, and then do some running just for the sake of running. I'm still serious about running Madison again next year, to prove I can do it. But I don't need to worry about that for a little while. I'm going to enjoy some time where I'm not training for a blessed thing.