Monday, November 04, 2013

Marathon Spectating

Amber ran (and finished!) a marathon yesterday, her first ever. (How did you spend your weekend?)

I would write more about the race itself, but I obviously didn't run the race with her. Amber actually fell a little bit short of her goal; her goal was 5 hours, and to not stop to walk any part of it, but she finished in 5:11 something, including some walking. So, she's a little disappointed. Of course, even finishing your first a marathon is a major accomplishment regardless of the time, but I understand where she's coming from. (Personally, my strategy is to always set really low goals for myself, but Amber is better than that.)

Well, anyway...while Amber was running, Marla and I (and my parents, who were in town for the weekend) thought we'd go stake out a spot or two along the course and cheer her on. I'll (probably) never run one of these myself, or even anything close, so I can't talk about what it's like to run a marathon. All I can do is talk about the logistics of cheering on your friends and loved ones while they do it. Amber has told me that it helps her motivation and whatnot to see us cheering along the course, especially if it's unexpected, so I'm happy to help. (Although maybe I shouldn't be giving away my strategy here?)

Last week, I did my research to find the best spectator locations, focusing on the second half of the route, for a couple of reasons: 1) the second half is where Amber could use the most encouragement, and 2) the second half is where the route diverges from the half-marathoners, and so would be less crowded. I decided that the best locations would be a more accessible (but likely more crowded) spot at mile 15, and a more secluded spot between mile 22 and 23.

So, when should I get to mile 15? I calculated when she would get there assuming a pace between 10 and 12 minutes per mile (her longer training runs hovered around 11 or less), and made sure I was there in plenty of time. She got to mile 15 about when I thought she would, right on the 11 minute per mile pace. (Her actual pace at that point was faster than that, since she didn't start the race right at the gun time.)

(This is where a picture would go, if I took one. Here's the thing, though: you don't really have time to take a picture during these things. You only have a window of a few seconds to spot your runner among the many other runners out there, grab their attention somehow, and say "Go Amber!" and whatnot. Then, like that, they're gone, because you know, they're running and all. Too much going on at once to try and snap a quick picture, in my experience.)

One of the advantages of having a last name like "Allen"? Low bib numbers! Amber was bib number #9. That made her easier to spot among all of the three-digit bib numbers out there.

After mile 15, I estimated we had 70 to 95 minutes (again, based on a pace between 10 and 12 minutes/mile) to get to the second spot. It was a bit of a walk to get there (after driving most of the way), but I picked this spot because it would be less crowded, and because it was at the end of a very long hill, the most difficult hill on the course, in fact. (How cruel are they to put the toughest hill at mile 22?) If Amber could use some encouragement anywhere during the race, it would be here. While it would have been neat to see her finish, I think it was more beneficial to camp out a few miles before the finish instead.

We made it there in 65 minutes, but...Amber took a little longer than 95 minutes to get there. Like I said, it was a pretty tough hill. Pretty much everyone we saw at the top of the hill was walking. No shame in having to walk, too.

I think that hill is the main reason why if Amber is going to do another marathon - and I suspect she will, despite what she says now, because I know her well - she won't be doing this marathon again. Maybe something flatter, or something that's not 100% paved. It wasn't really her legs that bothered her the most; it was her back. Regardless of when or where, we'll be there for her.

1 comment:

Spartangoogle said...

Hooray again for Amber! We were so glad to be there to cheer her on!