13
Apr
16

Marathon No. 14: An unforgettable year

Some years, my body “takes” to running. Some years not.

There have been years when my legs have felt tired and stale. It happens, since I run year-round.

But 2011 wasn’t one of them.

After the Newman Marathon, I recovered well and kept the running going. By this time, my daughter was in school, meaning I had more time to dedicate to running. But once school is out, and since I work 4 to midnight, I need to be home for daddy duty. And running becomes more sporadic.

Unless I got up early.

Which is what I did nearly every day that summer.

In previous years, in order to get a run in before my wife left for work at 7:30, I’d get up at 5:30 for runs maybe four or five times a summer. I had only done it on consecutive mornings once.

In ’11, it became a regular occurrence. Once I started, my body got accustomed to the early awakenings.

Fortunately, my job slowed down in the summer and I was able to be in bed by 11:30 most nights. If I got up around 5:30, it left plenty of time for a 90-minute run. The key was that, once I first opened my eyes, I needed to get up at that moment. If I lingered, I might wake up at 7. Too late at that point.

After a few early risings, I didn’t even need to set my alarm. My body was in tune with the routine. Another key to this schedule was a quick nap later in the morning. My daughter was good about letting me rest around 10 o’clock. She’d even put me in bed and put the covers over me.

All I needed was 20 minutes. That made all the difference in the world. Otherwise I’d be dragging at night while working. All I needed to do was find a TV show (Dora or Mickey Mouse or Clifford the Big Red Dog) that was on twice in a row.

You see, Nina didn’t know how to use the TV remote then. If a show was over, the first thing she’d do was yell “Daddy, what’s on next!?” Can’t sleep through that. But if the show was on twice in a row, she knew what was coming, and I got the peace and quiet I desired.

The more I ran, the more my body wanted more. I couldn’t get enough of it. I didn’t race that much for that summer, just two 10Ks, but I did target the inaugural Bozeman Marathon in September.

I had always wanted to train long and hard for a marathon; do all the tempo work along with all the miles. This was my year to do that. I even ran twice some days.

The Bozeman Marathon was nothing like the Lewis and Clark Marathon, which is now held in the spring and on the other side of Bozeman. The hilly side.

The first Bozeman Marathon fell on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and I remember the morning of the race well. We had to catch a bus from the Bozeman Running Company, which had recently taken over from Fleet Feet in downtown Bozeman.

It was dark when we boarded the bus, but a huge full moon was setting as we made our way to the starting line, which was near a canyon south of Bozeman. When we stepped off the bus, we saw the tall grass swaying wildly. Not good. But upon further inspection, we realized that it was a tail wind. Phew.

As we waited for the race to start, I phoned my mother. The 9/11 attacks hit home for so many people, and our family was no different. My parents and brother had a trip to France planned for that September. They were scheduled to leave on the 12th. The trip was obviously postponed and we all got together that weekend for no other reason than just to be together.

So I had to call on the 10th anniversary just to say ‘hi’ before my race. It helped quell my nerves.

When the gun went off, the tail wind pushed me off to a great start. It was the strangest feeling – I was in the lead from the first steps.

At about Mile 3, a runner caught up to me. It was a former baseball player who I had covered in his high school years. He was fairly new to running. We chatted for maybe a half mile before he said, “I’ll let you take it from here.”

And so I did.

My training had gone so well that I was shooting for a 2:55, which would have been a huge personal best. My goal was to hit halfway in 1:27, but a gradual hill had me at 1:29. Not what I wanted but there was a big downhill at Mile 13 and the rest of the course was either downhill or flat.

After running alone for so long, it was a nice feeling to catch up to some of the half marathoners at about Mile 14. For the rest of the race, I had plenty of company. (I run enough by myself while training, I’d rather not do so when racing.)

The comments I heard from the runners I passed gave me a chuckle.

“Hey, you’re the first marathoner!”

“Do you know you’re first marathoner?”

One half marathoner to another: “Hey, did we just passed by a marathon runner?”

At about Mile 21, I passed a woman who wasn’t so happy to see me.

“Aw, I was hoping to finish before the first marathoner came in.”

Sorry.

I was on 2:56 pace through 20 miles, but I couldn’t hold that pace. The cool morning warmed to near 70 and the tail wind was gone.

At about Mile 23, I said to myself, “I guess I’m going to win.” But I was so tired that I didn’t get too excited.

At 25, I entered a town trail (named the Gallagator) that I had run on dozens of times. In fact, I found it on my first run in Bozeman the day I arrived there in 2004.

The end was near.

As I rounded the corner to enter Bogert Park, where the finish line was, I expected to run on the grass to reach the other side, but the finish was under some tree branches at beginning end of the park. All of a sudden it was over.

I had won.

With a 2:58:41.

A 9-second PR.

My wife and daughter were there and it was a great feeling to have some running friends – who had run the half – come over and congratulate me. Usually it’s me going up to the winner with a hand extended.

I got a kick out my daughter, who led me up by the hand to receive my winnings ($200 and a new pair of shoes!) during the awards ceremony. She gets so excited whenever there’s a medal to be won.

There were only 77 runners, but as a friend told me, I’ll always be the first winner of the Bozeman Marathon. And since it was a debut race, I had the course record.

For a year.

The next year a former college runner – who had run the half the year I won – ran a 2:46.

One aspect of that race I’ll never forget was the ROTC foursome that ran the race as a relay. Each runner ran with an American flag perched on a long pole. It was hard to believe it had been 10 years since 9/11.

The race capped an incredible summer. By late fall, we were moving back to Massachusetts to care for my terminally ill father-in-law. I was glad my wife and I could be there for him. It was nice to be back home.

What a year.

 

 

Advertisements

0 Responses to “Marathon No. 14: An unforgettable year”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: