Monday, March 25, 2013

Ocean Drive Marathon Race Report

It is 4:15 a.m. Eastern, so it seems to be the best time to knock out a race report before getting on the plane back to IAH – and to sleep!

Yesterday’s Ocean Drive Marathon gave me marathon finish #49 and in my 31st state.

My chip time was 5:36:23, which isn’t what I hoped for but it is reasonable given the preparation.

I made my reservations to come to New Jersey less than two weeks after dropping at mile 32 at Rocky Raccoon.  My thought process was that I could get back to my 5-6 workouts a week and be completely ready to put down a cold weather, 5-hour marathon.

However, heavy involvement with both the Fidelity Investments The Woodlands Marathon and the Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon, which includes a lot of pre- and post-work behind the scenes, cut those weekly 60- to 90-minute workouts to 2-3 times per week.

In between, I announced for the Exygon and Baptist Hospitals Gusher Marathon in Beaumont, which still required about a half day to prep, and took out most of my Saturday.

I’m constantly surprised about how much that those activities take out of me – outside of my normal work day.

The follow-up from Seabrook, which included attending a city council meeting where the city of Seabrook approved increased funding for the event in 2014, had me getting in workouts on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  So much for taper, right?

Heck, I hadn’t even gotten the miles in, to be honest.

And I’m not sure that my head was completely in this one, like it was for Portland, Maine last fall.  It was one of these things that if I hadn’t traveled so far, I might have just stayed in bed Sunday morning.  How did I know this?

One, I didn’t notice when I was at packet pickup on Saturday afternoon – after our flight being delayed three hours coming from IAH to Philadelphia – that I didn’t have pins for my bib.  And, two, even after I bought some extra strength Tylenol to take before I ran that I had left the two tablets that I had taken out of the bottle until after I was en route to the race site.

Some of this comes, I think, from not always enjoying travelling by myself to these races out-of-state.  I enjoy working towards a goal, but doing it with others who are doing it at my pace would be much more enjoyable.  And when I say pace, I’m not just talking about minutes per mile.

I know many 50 staters, if you will, who it seems like their meaning for existence is wrapped up in seeing how many they can do and so on.  Not me.  I take them when I can get them.

With a 9 a.m. Eastern time start and deciding not to go to Sea Isle City where the finish was (to take the shuttle to the start), I made it to the front of the Residence Inn that I was staying at in Somers Point to get a bagel and a breakfast muffin.  I had some Gatorade (because I had read that there wouldn’t be any electrolytes on the course until about mile 11), but I still realized that I needed something to hold my bib in place.

So I found a Rite Aid Pharmacy and bought binder clips and shipping tape.  When the binder clips didn’t seem like they were going to hold on the top that I was wearing, I used the shipping tape – and it stayed in place the entire race. I went to the restroom, along the seawall, and then made my way towards the start.  I was able to stay in my car until after the National Anthem.

I hadn’t been there too long when I spied a running hat that looked familiar.  I thought to myself, “No way”.  But, yes, there in New Jersey was a Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon hat!  I made my way over to another surprise – a good friend of mine from the Houston Striders, John DiMarco.  He was starting back on his state chase and this was going to be number 24 for him.

The woman with the Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon hat was Terry Allen from Lake Jackson and she was with Sue Wheeler from Houston, who was a BARRA member that submitted their club report for Inside Texas Running when I was the editor of HARRA’s Footprints.  Small world.

John and I ran for about the first mile, talking about The Woodlands Marathon.  He is good friends with Marnie Staehly from San Antonio and was there to follow her after he completed the half.  He was also telling me about how much of a nice guy that Colorado’s Matt Levassiur was, as well as sharing some observations about some things that took place on the course.

In our conversation, I totally missed mile 1 and when I got to mile 2, I realized that the 19:49.20 was definitely faster than I needed to be going.

Therefore, I purposedly backed off to a 10:52.22 in mile three (30:41.42 cumulative), but the next four miles were just disconcerting because you didn’t know if the entire course was going to be this way – as the mile markers were way off.

11:31.87 - Mile 4 (long)
  9:02.63 - Mile 5 (short) - 10:17 between the two
  8:16.25 - Mile 6 (really short)
12:38.47 - Mile 7 (really long) - 10:27 between the two

I was still running pretty easy and the weather, albeit cold, wasn’t that bad nor was the wind.  The forecast was for but about 8 miles an hour after being in the double digits the two days before.

However, I knew that there was going to be a point in time that without taking something for the pain – and not having the miles on my legs – that the wheels were going to come off the car.

The next three miles still seemed pretty easy, but mile 11 is the first one that I sensed that things may become more of a challenge.

10:25.97 - Mile 8
10:59.85 - Mile 9
10:40.73 - Mile 10
11:01.92 - Mile 11

I held steady for miles 12 and 13 and hit the latter mile marker in about 2:17:43 overall.

At the halfway mark, though, I got in under 2:19, which normally is about where I want to be, but I knew that the back half wasn’t going to be as kind.  If you’ve been running long enough, you just kind of know.

11:07.07 - Mile 12
11:06.87 - Mile 13
  1:11.87 - Mile 13.1
10:26.37 - Mile 13.1 - 14 (11:37 for the entire mile)

So at mile 14, I figured that I was at 2:30.  It was time for “marathon math” and I figured that 12 miles at 16 minutes a mile was 3:12 – or a 5:42-5:44 finish.  I could live with that.

I had already signed up for the Illinois Marathon in Champaign, Illinois for in five weeks, plus I wanted to get back to my 5-6 workouts a week.

The next four miles were a little bit of a struggle, but I was still on PR pace (4:47:32) through mile 17 and just slightly over at mile 18.

13:21.82 - Mile 15 (~2:42:33 ... 11-min per is 2:45)
12:20.24 - Mile 16 (~2:54:53 ... 11-min per is 2:56)
12:40.26 - Mile 17 (~3:07:34 ... 11-min per is 3:07)
13:24.63 - Mile 18 (~3:20:58 ... 2 minutes over 11 min per mile, which is PR pace)

It was here that I pretty well decided to shut it down and it was final once I hit the mile 19 marker.

13:52.55 - Mile 19 (~3:34:50 ... 5:26 at 16-minute per mile)
15:49.50 - Mile 20
15:15.60 - Mile 21

Things were OK until mile 22.  I thought the mile marker might had really, really been off because it came through as 18:09.83, but I could feel myself being kind of disoriented.  I was looking for vehicles along the route where I could have gotten into and warmed up.

I went through 6:26.48 of mile 23 before I spotted the City of Avalon’s ambulance.  I got their attention and was able to get in their ambulance to warm up.  I could tell that maybe hypothermia might have been coming on.  After I finished my 50-miler in 2008 at Huntsville State Park, Bill Dwyer forgot to warn me that once I stopped that my core body temperature would plummet.

I assumed that this is what was happening here.

After spending another 6:47.56 in the ambulance, it was another 11:34.66 walking until I made it to mile 23, which was over the final bridge.  You had to get to this bridge by five hours and 30 minutes to be counted as an official finisher.

It was at this bridge where the only visible damage that I saw from Superstorm Sandy.  It had really mangled parts of the road that the county and DOT had worked to make sure that runners would still be able to pass it – even though vehicles are far from going through there.

The next two miles, once again, weren’t pretty, and I didn’t realize until after I got back to the hotel that I only have a 30-lap watch and not a 50-lap so I couldn’t tell how much I picked it up in the last mile when I alternated a run and a walk every 100 steps.

15:47.64 - Mile 24
17:00.85 - Mile 25
3:37.51 - MIle 25 - 25.2

All in all, it was simply another state for a 5:36:23 finish.  Have had lots better and some worse even; however, I would not recommend this marathon for anybody chasing states and looking for New Jersey.

While the course is primarily flat, there are a lot of turns in the last half of the course.

Law enforcement and the volunteers were excellent.  This is not the place to come looking for a crowd, though.

But it was these three paragraphs in the pre-race story in the Press of Atlantic City that spoke volumes to me.

The road will have less foot traffic than in previous years. As of 3 p.m. Saturday, 650 runners had registered for the marathon. That marked a decrease (approximately 20 percent) for the first time in the 15-year history of the race. Another 540 had signed up for the 10-mile race and approximately 250 are scheduled to participate in the five-kilometer run.

The ODM can be tough on runners. Besides having to traverse five bridges, they have had to deal with a head wind for 12 of the 14 previous editions of the marathon. But weather may not be as big a factor this year. The forecast for today, according to, calls for temperatures in the 40s with winds from the southeast at seven miles per hour.

"I have no idea why our numbers are down this year," DiPalma said. "The only thing I can think of is people from other parts of the country were a little hesitant to register because of the way Hurricane Sandy hit the area."

No, I think it is because other marathons – even though the number of marathoners is starting to trend down – take care of their runners much better than this race does.

Granted, it was cold, but I’ve worked marathons were it was cold and the show still goes on to give runners what they pay for – and that’s a lot of recognition and attention as well as decent food at the end.

When it is cold, you wanted something warm to hit the spot – oranges, bagels and sandwiches from Wawa (a local convenience store) isn’t going to cut it.  I don’t know if there was any coffee around because I don’t drink it, but if there had been some hot chocolate, I would have taken a stab at it.

While I saw somebody on the bus back to the start that had won an age group award, which were really, really nice, the medal – and I’m not necessarily a big medal guy – was just a step above what you would order from Rainbow Racing.

And it was almost punishment for not catching the pre-race shuttle that the driver on the post-race shuttle seemed to take the circuitous route when everybody just wanted to get there.  Oh, this was aside of almost running a red light and then coming to an almost screeching halt at another.  Crazy stuff.

Hope I didn’t bore you to sleep if you’re still reading … but if you did make it this far, thank you for reading.

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