March 30, 2008
I decided I wanted to complete a “double” last summer, after talking with an experienced ultramarathoner in the waiting area of an auto mechanic’s garage. After discovering the Saturday/Sunday schedule of the National and Ocean Drive marathons and confirming the less than 4 hour drive between the two, I was in. Simply finishing would be fine…but completing both in a combined sub 9 hours was the goal.
Of course, it was NOTHING like that! We actually drove through a lot of quiet farmland on the way to the shore, which was simply beautiful. The course was a perfect point to point, running from historic Cape May, NJ, north to Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, Avalon, Stone Harbor, and then to Sea Isle City. For most of the race we traveled on the closest road to the beach, except through Wildwood and Sea Isle City, where there was a very cool boardwalk.
The people in NJ were so friendly. In fact, the only curse word muttered all weekend came from my own mouth when I felt the cold winds on race day morning! There was a steady 10 mph headwind throughout almost the entire course, with serious icy gusts over all the inter-island bridges. I had battled wind like this at the Las Vegas marathon last December, so beyond having ran 26.2 a day prior, I knew I was in for a gut check.
This time, the sign on my back read: “52.4 OR BUST! I ran 26.2 yesterday in DC”…again, this allowed me to again trade my mp3 for conversation and I even met 2 others who had done National the day before! During mile 12, I met a 60 year old gentleman who was running his 206th marathon. When amazing athletes like that are willing to talk with me, I soak up all of the information possible about training, nutrition, mentality and strategy…however, when I asked him for advice he simply said, “Just keep moving!” When I asked how long he’d continue running he said, “Until I stop moving!”.
All the towns we traveled are summer beach towns so there aren’t a lot of people there in March. However, for 600 runners the crowd support was good and the camaraderie among participants in this race was unbelievable. My Dad saw me several times along the way, enthusiastically shouting to the top of his lungs and wildly ringing a cow bell each time! I actually skipped 3 of my Galloway-style walk breaks because he was at the front of a pack of spectators.
The end of the race was as tough as I had imagined back in the auto mechanic’s garage. From mile 25 to the finish, I literally repeated out loud “I feel good. I feel good. I feel good” over and over again. Seriously, 10 minutes of it! “I feel good. I feel good. I feel good.” People must have thought I had gone nuts! “I feel good. I feel good. I feel good…”