Monday, May 26, 2008

Buffalo Marathon and Memorial Day

Marathon #21 is in the books. A PR, however, still remains 8 years old from the 2000 Richmond Marathon. That's a monkey I can't seem to get off my back. Finishing time: 3hrs, 44min, 43sec. (The PR I'm referring to is 3hrs, 21min, 58sec) I actually went through the 1/2 marathon dead on 1:40 which was the plan. The goal was to target 7:35 - 7:40 pace and pick it up in the 2nd half. Well, that didn't happen. You know how some days you're just dealt a bad hand? This was one of those days. Don't get me wrong...I'm thankful for another marathon finish with a respectable time...but why at 15 miles did things turn south for me is beyond me. I did nothing different this time around but at mile 15?!?!?!? I can't make any real excuses, either. It was a gorgeous day: 50F for the start, clear skies, sun shining and upper 60s at the finish. I guess the pounding sun can speed up dehydration which is what I suspect happened. Another thing...those pesky sore spots from the Green Jewel 100K three weeks ago crept back in on me. I guess 3 weeks wasn't quite enough time, although I felt recovered.

Regarding the marathon: We headed up on Saturday (about a 3.5 hr drive) for the expo which closed early at 4pm (kinda early, eh?) followed by the FREE pasta party. Pretty decent pasta served with meatballs, a good salad, and some bread. They were even serving beer which really shocked me. That's a big no-no before a race so I wish they wouldn't even offer it. I was surprised to see how many runners were indulging. Back to the expo..small, cramped, and the air conditioning must have been broken. It was a tiny little room with a few charity tables, other regional marathon tables, and the rest of the cramped space was taken up by the Runner's Roost retailer selling running gear. The goody bag did have a New Balance tech tee, though...a pleasant surprise. Race morning brought with it sunny skies and 50F...beautiful. We stayed about 5 blocks from the start. The starting line had a one-of-a-kind configuration. The marathon and 1/2 marathon were a block apart...directly opposite of each other and seperated by a city parking lot. The announcements could be heard on both sides but ultimately, the goal was to ease congestion at the start which it did. Pretty cool idea for whoever came up with idea. At Mile 1, both fields joined each other. The course is flat and fast. There were a few bridges to cross in the first 11 miles then no hills to speak of the rest of the race. At the half-marathon point, you pass back through downtown and head to the more residential (and nice) part of town. (Sounds like the Cleveland Marathon, eh?) Throughout the race, the water stops were very good. Finally, a race that advertises stops every 2 miles and delivers dead-on. Typically, they're not exact, but here they were. Great for me as I took a ShotBlok every 2 miles. Gatorade and water were the fluids and were announced as we entered the stations...and the volunteers had a smile on their faces...very nice! Jump ahead to the final miles. One big negative to Cleveland is how you see the city (where the finish line is) so early but it seems an eternity until you actually finish. Mentally, I can't stand that! At Buffalo, I'm in the 25th mile and I'm still in the residential area but I know the race finished downtown. I turn the corner into downtown which also is the Mile 25 marker. The entire 26th mile is downhill and straight. At the very end, is what I refer to as the "Mini-Washington Monument." You can see it a mile away and it is surrounded by a round-a-bout. The 26 mile point is at the 3 o'clock position. What an awesome way to come to the finish. Focus on the monument, use the downhill, and rock out the end of the marathon. As you circle the monument and hit Mile 26, it's 2 brief turns to the finish to the finish line, adjacent to the Convention Center. Inside the Convention Center awaits some breads, yogurt, sodas, deep dish pizza, and free beer. Comfy chairs and tables just to chill out and relax. GREAT finish line! All-in-all, it was a great trip and a well-executed marathon. Small enough to not get lost but large enough to never be running alone. Marjie and her friend, Amy, also completed their first half-marathon. They've been walking our neighborhood for months getting ready for it.

Next up?: No marathon on the near horizon...all focus shifts to the trails and the August 2/3 Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run.

Memorial Day 2008: Being back in the Navy compelled me to get back out there in the community and give a bit of representation for not just the Navy but for the Armed Forces. I contacted the local Giant Eagle grocery store who makes up a great patriotic float each year and asked if I could accompany them. Who would have thought we'd have sunny skies when at 8am it was thunder and pouring rain. The picture on the right is of Shawn and myself. Shawn recently returned from Iraq and will certainly be heading off again sometime. He serves in the Army Reserve. The other is of myself and the girls at the cemetary after the Memorial Day ceremony.

Have a great Memorial Day and as always, HAPPY TRAILS!!!

Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being -- a call that asks who they are ...
--David Blaikie


Brett S. said...

Its great to see you in uniform. I marched with my daughter in the parade and one of the guys in our organization was in uniform as well. Each time he saw an obvious veteran on the side of the route he would walk over, shake their hand, and thank them for the service to this great country. I made a point to make sure my daughter was made aware of this to provide her with a greater understanding of the meaning of the parade and day.

Nick Billock said...

Thanks, Brett.

I did the exact same thing during our parade. If I saw someone who was clearly a veteran (I saw a handful of folks who were WW2 vets), I made a point to head over and shake their hand.

It's easy in a small town to forget about those who are serving here and abroad when you rarely have any exposure to it or see it. I loved being a part of the parade and will continue to do so every year while I'm still in.

Thanks again.