Back in 2019 or so, when I was fresh off my Baystate Marathon personal best, my friend Eric suggested that I should run this marathon. Mostly downhill, beautiful scenery, relatively inexpensive and small. There was a lot to like about this. “Sure. Why not?” and so I pried open my wallet and registered.
The plan was simple. I was going to train for the 2020 Providence Marathon for a 8:10 minute/mile pace and then I was going to run this to see if I could actually qualify to run the Boston Marathon. My best running friend was on board, and together we were going to crush this training cycle. We had our training plan mapped out, and as of March, I was crushing it.
As you may have heard, so much life got in the way. Obviously COVID, but <<Waves hand ambiguously in the air>> Life. So after March’s long race, the training plan – already in jeopardy – got tossed. Running didn’t stop – I eventually logged 2655 miles in 2020 (a little more than 7-miles daily), but the training plan just didn’t happen.
Thankfully, life started to return to some sense of normalcy in 2021 – probably closer to something like a “new normal,” but road races were a part of that new normal. As much as I liked the New England Half Marathon – it was what was needed at the time with all the appropriate protocols – it still felt weird and alien. As you can see from the starting line photo, we weren’t doing time trial starts, we didn’t do waved starts, we just raced.
Since March of 2020, I haven’t touched a training plan. I’ve just run. As much or as little as I wanted. At this point, I’m basically feral. This race was supposed to be my shot at qualifying for Boston 2021. Instead it was deferred. It could have been my shot at qualifying for Boston 2022. Instead, when I got the bib in the mail I realized that I was utterly unprepared for this race. So I took exactly no steps to get ready. I remained feral.
The day was beautiful. Truly, unexpectedly, absolutely perfect. The course is almost impossibly downhill. Like, I don’t know how this passes USATF muster for qualification as a certified course, but here we are. I decided that given the running I had been doing over a long period of time, that I could jog the course if not race it, so that’s basically what I did; I took what the course gave me, I trotted along at what felt like a casually easy pace – I don’t think my heart rate got much higher than 150 – and I rolled with it. It started getting a little difficult for me around mile 21, and then again at mile 23 through the end. I was completely over confident about the conditioning of my quads to handle the downhill pounding, my right quad in particular.
The course itself was nothing shy of New England beautiful. Unpaved roads, alongside the gurgling river. A rural experience at its best. The course support was top notch – the volunteers friendly and enthusiastic, and someone named “Sue (Dave’s Sister)” had some great support along the way in the form of chalk written notes. It made me smile to see them because they always seemed to go out of their way to cheer on Dave’s sister “and the other runners.”
It turns out that a mile is longer in Massachusetts than it is in Vermont – my watch was clicking off miles well past the course mile marker while in Vermont, but eventually they started running about 0.1 mile after my watches mile count. USATF certified courses always run a little longer to be sure they are the official distance, so I knew the course would be about 26.3 miles given the spacing of the signs. It was pretty much that in the end. So, boffo for the course markings too!
As I noted earlier, the last few miles were a real struggle bus ride, but in the end (and I can’t believe I have enough of a sample size now to be able to say this) I was able to pull off a personal best by about 18-seconds here. My 4th marathon, the one I DID NOT TRAIN FOR, is the race I’ve run the fastest. The biggest, the one run on the world stage? Completely spit the bit. Life is a funny, funny thing, man.
|PLACE||GUN ELAPSED||CHIP ELAPSED||PACE||GENDER||AGE GRP PL||AGE GRP|
|98||3:46:52.5||3:46:49.0||0:08:39||M||8||M50 – 59|
2021 New England Green River Marathon 3:46:52.5
2019 Baystate Marathon 3:47:10
2018 Marine Corps Marathon 4:03:17
2019 Boston Marathon 4:05:47