The long, hot summer (run)

Is it summer? It sure feels like it. Today the “real feel” temperature topped out at 91F in Central Park. I know because I was there to combine a long run with spectating the More Marathon/Half Marathon event.

Well, half an event, as it turned out. They canceled the full marathon and declared the half as a non-timed “fun run.” There weren’t even any clocks on the course.

I have mixed feelings about the cancelation of the full distance event. The marathoners in that event get short shrift anyway, which is why there are typically about 150 women running the full, compared to 9,000+ (I shit you not) in the half. Had I spent six months preparing for this race…well, I honestly don’t know what I would have done given the freak weather. I probably would have not have bothered to race it (since I am terrible at hot weather racing) — which means writing it off and looking for a backup in cooler climes that still had open registrations.

But bagging a race should be my choice, not NYRR’s. On the other hand, with lots of marathon runners taking 5+ hours to finish, that would have had them out there in full sun, full heat. After the debacles in Chicago and elsewhere in 2007, I do understand the impulse to protect people from themselves.

My feelings about the downgrading of the half to a fun run are not ambivalent, however. NYRR did this with the Ted Corbitt 15K in the winter and it was annoying, to say the least. I simply don’t believe that removing the trappings of a race (meaning recording performances) makes a lot of difference to the runners who are there to compete. I still saw a lot of women pushing themselves and running surprisingly fast given the conditions. They should at least have the opportunity to see how they stack up against local competition, especially if they’ve been training for many months, after which an appreciable advancement in relative racing fitness can be measured.

Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

So it was a weird event. There were five invited elites there, three of whom I recognized: 2008 Olympian Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, who ran with one person I didn’t recognize, Katerina Janosikova.  A few minutes behind them were three-time course winner (and record holder) Susan Loken, Susie Meyers-Kennedy (second in the full race last year), and Christine Glockenmeier (fast runner from NJ, another new face).

I ran the opposite direction for 18 of my 20 miles. It was a little thrill to see Magda and the others go speeding by, and I cheered on the faster “regular Janes” behind them. It was surprising how many people showed up, despite the weather. Despite the miles long stream of people, the numbers did seem lower than the 9,600 registered.

The medical tally was, fortunately, not too grim. I saw two women being loaded into ambulances and another two on the ground being attended to. Most people ran a reasonable pace* and adjusted to the rising mercury (myself included). After sitting under a shaded tree for a few moments at the top of Cat Hill, I ran the last two miles going with the flow of runners. That was actually sort of fun. A few had their names on their backs and, as they were within half a mile of the finish, I gave some words of encouragement and ran with a few of them. Everyone looked so beaten up by the weather; I supposed I must have as well.

I finished up with a Good Humor ice cream sandwich and 1.5 liters of water. Then a three hour nap at home.

I am grateful for two things:

  1. I didn’t make the More 2009 Marathon my goal marathon for this year. What a colossal disappointment that would have been. The fact that we can have a severe heat wave in late April convinces me that I need to select and register for a backup race every season.
  2. I’m also glad I didn’t make the Half my tuneup race. Having had such bad luck with the weather this winter for virtually all of my races, this would have been the miserable cherry on top. This weather is supposed to clear out by Tuesday evening, leaving us back down to normal early spring temperatures for next weekend’s tuneup race in New Jersey.

The usual report on this week’s training (which, yet again, went exceedingly well) will follow once I recover a bit from today’s effort.

Including Lewy-Boulet and Janosikova, who ran around a 1:18. Why, that’s practically a crawl for Magda, who won the US Half Marathon Championships in sub-1:12 in January.

6 Responses

  1. The first race I recall being canceled for the heat was a Corporate Challenge. This was in the days when there were three races (and three races within each race) 3 weeks apart and you’d run all three. They said, “Fun Run.” We ignored them and raced the damn thing. Of course, for that race, you have lots of people who weren’t in good “running” shape so it made sense.

    • Joe, I think the same audience-specific policy applies to the More event. In fact, they were encouraging walkers (which probably made up around one third to one half of the crowd) to finish up after seven miles.

      And, Ewen, all water was legally purchased and consumed from cart vendors, as was the ice cream sandwich. :)

  2. I ran the 1/2 today…it was pretty brutal. I was disappointed that they called it a fun run and did not time it. But at least I now know that I’ll never run the More full marathon. I was so frustrated running into the walkers on my second loop (the water stops were especially a nightmare) and I can’t imagine doing that for four loops.

    Good luck in Long Branch. Hope you have good weather.

  3. Hope you didn’t use any of the water ;)

    That’s a stuff-up. You’d better email the organisers of Newport and find out if they have similar ‘fun run’ emergency plans. It can get hot in Oregon.

  4. Louisville’s full and half were Saturday … topped around 85 here, with no shade near the end of the course. Women’s winning time was 3:15, second and third both around 3:24. Yikes. It was ugly.

    It hadn’t been above 75 here yet this year, maybe once or twice, but not consistently. Nobody was acclimated. Not good.

  5. It is to hot to run a safety marathon and for the most runners not normal.
    I run in the heat the Rotterdam marathon 2007 and a lot off runners fall down and at last the police stopt the marathon!!!!!!.
    At km 37 i most stop by police and there no ambulance anny more in Rotterdam.
    I run and walk to a eaysy time 4:14 hour!.
    Only 3000 runners finish by 12000.
    http://rinusrunning.punt.nl/?id=332450&r=1&tbl_archief=1&
    The Marrakesh marathon in Marroc in Januari 2008 was cold by the start, but hot at the last hour…It was not normal to run and i dont like the heat whit the marathon.
    http://rinusrunning.punt.nl/?id=373201&r=1&tbl_archief=1&

    It is not so nice for the marathon runners when you train so long for this marathon.
    But you have learn a lot whit this heat!.
    Rinus.

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