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.