I woke up at 3:15, three quarters of an hour before the alarm clock went off. I did not sleep much but felt well and was not too tired. I took my Immun’Âge®, ate breakfast and got dressed. The temperature outside was nice, but unfortunately it had started to rain during the night.
As the weather forecast had announced very mild showers, and it was already warm, I decided not to wear extra layers. The marathon was in Waterbury, CT, 57 miles from the friends’ house where I was staying. It took me one hour to drive there by car. As I reached Hamilton Park in Waterbury, it was pouring. I got my runner’s packet with my bib, and parked the car 100 yards from the starting line. The rain seemed to ease off by then. There were not many runners, maybe some one hundred participants including half marathoners.
A young musician played the national anthem and the run started at exactly 7:00. The Oh Boy Marathon consisted of 13 loops of a two mile course within Hamilton Park. We started running downhill and then up on a long and quite difficult stretch (of about a quarter mile), and continued on a hilly road running up and downhill. After a left turn, we ran down a rather steep hill on one of the park sidewalks, ran uphill again and finally took a rather steep and long downhill stretch before turning back.
We ran in the reverse direction heading back to the starting line, long uphill stretch, downhill, steep uphill, short downhill, uphill and long downhill stretch to finish. My feeling after one loop: It was going to be hard. Remembering my math, I figured out that six uphill stretches for each loop multiplied by 13 equaled 78 at the finish line! Such a rather unconscionable number of uphill stretches for an official marathon! Indeed, the run that lied ahead of me looked very difficult. I psyched myself up. It was still raining. The weather was heavy and I also felt heavy. Maybe because of all the good food my friends cooked for me that week? In any case, I was thankful to them for gaining a few pounds! The uphill stretches were quite steep, so were the downhill stretches. I reached km 5 in 30 minutes. Runners recognized me from other marathons I ran this year and greeted me. At km 8, the rain stopped at last: a great thing as the course was harsh enough without it.
I reached km 10 in 1:01. Except for a few volunteers from the organization, there were no well-wishers to support us and it was up to us runners to create a cheerful atmosphere. My pace slowed down less than 9:40 per mile and I passed km 15 in 1:36. The scenery was rather pretty and we encountered all sorts of animals (birds, geese, ducks, squirrels, etc.)
I reached km 20 in 2:12 and the half marathon in 2:20. I did not feel nor see any interest in running faster or trying something special. I felt it would have been unnecessary and suicidal. I let my legs decide. I reached km 25 in 2:52 but started to feel knee pain: all these up and down stretched were taking their toll. At km 26, I congratulated the winner who had just finished the marathon in 3 hours. He thanked me and told me to keep the pace. I tried my best! But it was not possible. I slowed down even more and reached km 30 in 3:33. From km 33 on, I walked the uphill stretches as everyone did.
From then on I kept a slow pace: I reached km 35 in 4:15 and km 40 in 5:05. I finished the marathon in 5:24:16 and passed the finish line 400 meters later in 5:28:28. I picked up my medal, took a picture with a Nepalese runner, ate a piece of pizza, drank something before going back to my friends’ house for a great after race party!
Summary: A very difficult run, with an indecent number of steep up and down stretches, a rolling course that is only interesting for the people who want to hurt themselves! Forget about this marathon, but my agenda had forced me to run it. The organization nevertheless was up to the task and the volunteers very friendly. I hope there are flatter and more attractive marathons in Connecticut.
Let’s meet next week in Casper, Wyoming.
Have a nice week! David