(Couldn’t resist the post title. Thanks, Britney.)
So I was hoping that my report from pacing the More Marathon would consist of some upbeat, inspiring story about how I helped some strong, determined women cross the finish line and achieve their goal of a sub-4 hour marathon. Unfortunately, Mother Nature made sure this would not be the case. I knew it was going to be a scorcher, I knew times (including mine!) would be affected-but how much?
Got the answer at 9:30 the night before via a phone call from the Flyers‘ Madame President-due to the record heat, NYRR made the decision that the marathon would be canceled, and the half would still go on, but would be an unscored fun run. And even though I was relieved of pacing duties, they still wanted the pacers to come out and run the course and just keep an eye on things. And I needed to get a run in anyway, so why not? (Yeah, this meant an earlier wake-up call…as I had to report for duty at 7am, whereas I was originally slotted to meet up with the 4:00 pace group at mile 16, and take them to the end.)
Was already 70+ degrees at 6 am, knew it was gonna be insanely hot. Tried to dress as lightly as possible-my very nice-looking paceleader singlet and my blue MarathonGirl COOLair skirt (the lightest fabric skirt I had) and hydrated lots. Took it easy and walked to east 72nd where the water station that the Flyers were manning was…no need to add on any extra mileage!! Lotsa peeps showed up…either to pace (runner26) or to work the water station (jb24 and Laminator) We all chitchatted for a bit before it was time for the pacers to line up…I went in the yellow corral with fellow Flyer AG, since we were gonna try to pace a sub-2 half. Well, as long as the conditions would let us.
Unfortunately, we were surrounded by quite a few upset women, upset about the cancelation-and understandibly so. And even better…a couple of girls asked us what we were pacing and I said “We were going to pace the 4:00 group, but the marathon was canceled.” “Why was the marathon canceled?” “Same reason why the half is now a fun run.” “What?? The half is a fun run??” How crazy is that, that minutes to the start people didn’t know about the changes? Sooner or later, we started moving…and this was how the “fun run” unfolded, numbers-wise.
That first mile was very, very crowded…even though we were in the 3rd corral, couldn’t believe how many people we had to run around…guess the corrals weren’t being monitored at all today. After the first couple of miles, AG and I decided that a sub-2 hour half just wasn’t happening, so we just ran easy and steady, whatever it was. Even after the crowds thinned out a bit, 9:09s just were not happening-this heat struck me like a ton of bricks. I just listened to my body…drank water or Gatorade at almost every water station, took advantage of the misting stations…anything to help!! Oh and the Flyers were so great-just knowing they were gonna be at 72nd sorta kept me going.
We ran by the finish line, completing the first loop and AG and I were like “ugh, we have to do this again?” 🙂 But we just kept going. Finally we got to mile 10 and I said “just a 5K to go!” Mile 11 “1 mile til the Flyers, another to finish!” By that time we had to dodge so many walkers, and had to run a little outside the rec lane…which explains why those last few miles were “longer.” We were so happy to see the Flyers water station and even happier to see the mile 12 marker. By that time, my body was giving me signs that it was not happy running for 2 hours in the heat and I just wanted to be done-told myself to just hang in there for another 10 minutes. And before we knew it, the mile 13 marker was visible…AG and I looked at our watches and realized that despite the slower start, we really weren’t as off-pace as we thought!! One more hill to go to the finish…lotsa support there!! Finally, the fun run was over…AG and I crossed the finish together in 2:02:50. Whew!! Glad that was over. And going through the splits, looks like we were strong and steady the entire time. Not too bad, considering I wasn’t acclimated.
I headed to the Flyers water station afterwards, figuring there were still lotsa women out on the course and that they could probably use the extra help. Sure enough, there were still lots of them still at it (though rumor had it that they were closing the course after 3 hours instead of the previously announced 6 hours.) And a lot of those women did not look happy. I stayed until it looked like the crowd had really thinned out…headed home for a much-needed shower and nap…and in a little bit, lotsa margaritas with salt!! (great treat after a long hot run, dontcha think?) All in all, was still a good day.
As for the decision to cancel the marathon and downgrade the half…I fully support that decision, as the conditions were no joke. I was only running for 2 hours, slower than my normal long run pace and would not have wanted to run any longer…couldn’t imagine if someone was running even longer and had to deal with when the temps climbed into the 90s. And I saw my share of runners down and ambulances during those 2 hours. If this decision saved someone’s life, it was worth it. However-and hindsight is always 20/20, but I thought the communication needed some work. When the decision is made the night before, you are gonna deal with lotsa angry people the morning of, especially those who had a ways to travel. What they should have done-was when they started posting the heat advisories, was to post a notice to check the website or call a certain number to check for any weather-related modifications. That might not have been ideal either, but at least there would have been notice.
And as for me, I survived. And hey, this was a great training run for the Mini 10K 😉