It was time to give this race a second try. I had (from covid cancellations) an entry and last year it was a good trip with friends. This year I came with Aaron, Maureen, Jackie and Judy. Aaron and I were scheduled to run the marathon, the others had registered for the half marathon.
Our travel was easy – two flights, one to Charlotte then another one to Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA. The weather was definitely better for running in PA, we had gone through a warming trend at home as of late. Humidity and summer-like heat had returned to South Florida!
Race morning went well as we made the 14 mile drive from a hotel (Tanglwoood Resort) to the Lackawaxen start area. This race like previous years allows you to place your fluids at three aid stations on the course. Like a professional, I could have whatever I wanted waiting for me on the course instead of the usual just Gatorade & water. I chose to place two extra bottles of The Right Stuff at the first & second table. This course is a 13.1 mile loop done twice for the marathon. So you get to visit the aid stations at about every 2 miles. I’d start with one full 20oz bottle and have extra out there if I wanted it. I started with 7 or 8 Maurten gels in a pouch.
The flexible start allowed us to begin the chip timed race anytime after 6:30am. On our drive to the event, we saw runners out on the course as we drove to place the bottles at the aid stations. The temperature was 37 degrees and a small breeze. I had a long sleeve shirt, singlet, baseball hat with an aggressive velcro strap, lululemon gloves, and shorts I bought 12 hours before at a Walmart. I believe in the hurried “unpack and repack” from a trip to Chattanooga earlier in the week that I may have scooped up my run shorts I had laid out for the race and put them in with the laundry bound pile. I wore compression sleeves, which each time I use them seem tighter & tighter! Our group started like last year, between 7:30 am – 7:45 am. I waited for the group “elite” start, which this year included pacers. Once the announcement was made that the 8am start was now going to be pushed to 8:10 am, I decided to head out myself. If it was anything like last year, I’d be running by myself shortly anyway, I surmised.
I did ok running out to the turnaround at 6.5 miles. The lazy sloping road had me on the crowned sides and trying to run tangents in the middle, too. My shoes were new Nike Next 2% Vaporfly. I order them in 9.5 size to accommodate for my foot width. One side, the left foot, was apparently laced too tightly, as it began having pain at near the 7 mile mark. I didn’t know how it would affect me ahead, but I wasn’t feeling it subside as some physical twinges do when running. I saw Maureen and Aaron running near each other as we passed as per the route’s turnaround. I saw Judy then Jackie also. I took the gels at mile 3, 6.5, and near 10 miles. No problems with that. The clear and crisp cooler air makes running at the race pace considerably easier than when doing tempo runs in Florida. (It better!) I saw Aaron running right on the double yellow line ahead and behind him, the brewing clouds of a storm coming over the mountain that’s behind the start/finish area. The weather was predicted to change at approximately 10 am to windy and raining. I felt a few sprinkles as I gained on running up behind Aaron. He was chasing a goal time in the 3:30s, but when I ran next to him I told him my foot wasn’t cooperating – I may pull the plug on this attempt at the halfway mark. He said he was having cramps early in his race, that a half marathon would suit him well today also.
I ran ahead, a bit over the goal pace, as my foot continued to hurt. I can guess that the tight lacing on that one side plus that is the “longer” side of the slanted roadway whether you’re running out or back. Strange how that works?
I weighed my options and with the weather turning, I decided to stop after one lap and register this race as a half marathon. In the final mile I saw Maureen ahead on a long straightaway. I guessed that if she was running her pace and I was running mine, I might catch her before the course’s final turn on to the bridge. Or was she speeding up with a mile to go having run away from Aaron? I came closer and closer while picking up my pace to where it belonged again, under 7 min per mile. Funny how when I realized I wasn’t going to attempt hanging on for another loop in bad weather, I kind of dismissed my foot pain. The end was very near. I ran up to Maureen who kept pace for a few hundred meters. I was onto the bridge but this year – no photographers! Maureen’s sister Theresa was there, recognized me and took a short movie and a photo. I scampered down the small road that led to the Finish line – and stopped once crossing the timing mat. I turned to Mark Hughes, race director & said I was changing today’s run to the half marathon. Maureen ran in to finish right behind me.
We found Theresa, took more photos, and went under the main park pavillion to claim our goodies if we had won any age group prizes. I saw Aaron finish and we called him over. Jackie come across the finish line and then Judy, who because she had started her watch late kept running down the road, into a cluster of trees, and then back to where we were under the pavillion. The weather broke open as we looked though a list of newly printed results. All of us had won an award for age groups in the half marathon.
My time was 1:30:57 – ok, but not an all-out effort for a half marathon. The rain picked up in intensity and I was glad I didn’t decide to make today a sufferfest and also discount my chances of doing well in 3 weeks at the Boston Marathon. I knew weeks ago that I had two chances to run well in cooler weather – but the first one could be a “push” if necessary. I really did want to run the full marathon and get a new PR, hopefully under 3 hours, but today was not the day for that!
The next day was lousy weather – snow, hard winds, but folks also ddi their day on the Two Rivers course. We drove to the airport to drop Aaron for his early flight, then went to New York City to run in Central Park. We also ate at White Manna, the Hackensack hamburger place famous for sliders…
As always, travel is my North Star, it’s what I enjoy most. The opportunity to run and race is a bonus. Leaving the normal routine and coming back allows for a reset. It is a good opportunity to change things, add new improvements, evaluate what go me here.