Jen, Eve, and I headed up to New Jersey to join Dad for his first marathon. I was going to run with him, and Jen was going to provide her stellar support crew skills.
Dad trained really well and was extremely ready for the race. Unfortunately, the Jersey shore turned into a sweltering oven and made it a really tough day.
We lined up at the start and they blared Born to Run. Very fitting for a race on the Jersey shore (The Boss must have stolen the name from my blog, though). The song finished and we still hadn't started yet. Rather than play another song, they decided to blare Born to Run again. Awesome.
After getting our fill of Bruce Springsteen, we were finally off. The race started right on the boardwalk next to the beach. With the breeze coming off the ocean, it seemed deceptively cool. Once we got away from the beach, it was already a lot warmer even though it was only 9am.
We started off running strong and clicking off a bunch of miles around 8:20. Dad was feeling good, and we were moving well. It was probably 75 or warmer even towards the beginning of the race, so people were dumping cups of water on their heads to cool down from the start. There were also some kind people who lived along the course who had put sprinklers out to help runners cool off.
We kept motoring along and saw Jen again around mile 12. I had put sunscreen on my face in the morning but had foolishly forgotten to put it anywhere else even though I was running shirtless. In case you weren’t aware, I’m pretty pale. After a winter without much sunlight, hours in the blistering bright sun was going to cause some problems. Jen was planning to swing back to the car to get some sunscreen, but it was in Dad’s car, and she didn’t have the keys. Doh! After we went by Jen, there was a big crowd of people. I spotted some steaky Jersey shore guy putting on sunscreen and ducked off the course to bum some sunscreen off him (thanks, dude). Even with that I STILL ended up getting burned.
Anyway, I caught back up to Dad, and we came towards the halfway point in around 1:52 and were still feeling strong. The marathon does the half marathon course twice, which is rough when you have to run through the finish line when you’re only halfway down. I suppose such things build character.
Now it was really starting to get tough out there. I’m guessing it was well into the 80s at that point and on its way into the 90s. There was very little shade, no cloud cover, and we were running on black asphalt. Each aid station became mostly about dumping as much water as we could on ourselves (and trying to avoid dousing ourselves in Gatorade).
Dad continued running a fast pace around 8:30s until mile 17 or so. From here to the end was really a battle against the heat. There was just no way to keep from overheating. It was really getting ugly out there. A lot of people were dropping from the race (something like 40% dropped), people were collapsing on the side of the course, and a number of people ended up needing medical attention. It was really all about survival at this point.
Somewhere around mile 22 or 23 that same damn guy in the Minnie Mouse costume who passed me at Boston passed me AGAIN. Man, I’m not sure how many more times I can take getting passed by this guy.
Anyway, we kept slogging it out and hit the finish in 4:14. We were both spent. I’m still amazed that Dad was able to finish his first marathon in such brutal conditions and run so well on top of that. Congrats Dad!
We tried to find some shade as soon as we could to start cooling down. Both of our stomachs were also in tough shape since we had to drink a lot more to stay hydrated than we were used to. After recovering for a bit, I downed a big, ice cold root beer float. Boy was I a happy guy.
It was certainly a tough day, but I had a great time running with Dad as usual. He is recovering extremely well and already back running. He’s even starting to threaten another marathon, which will hopefully be in cooler conditions (couldn’t really be much worse). I’ll keep you all posted.
In the meantime, I need to start upping the miles, throwing down some really long runs, and getting my mountain legs back to get ready for the Laural Highlands 77 mile race on June 12th. I ran 90 miles this week and am heading to the Massanuttens tomorrow for what will hopefully be a 30+ mile run out in the mountains. The race isn’t that far away, so hopefully I can get ready in time!