Dr. J on Running
14 ING Hartford Marathon, Hartford, CT, 5:15:23Saturday 15 October 2011
My strategy for running a Marathon in all 50 states focused on dispatching first of those states with the fewest number of Marathons. Connecticut topped the list with Hartford in October and Roxbury in February. So, Marla and I drove Friday morning from Pompey, stopped for burritos at the Mass Pike, and reached the XL Center early afternoon.
I cheered the long-sleeve technical shirt, my first long-sleeve shirt since Rocket City last December. Marla fought back tears of frustration, and then she beamed as she registered for the 5K race. I visited with fellow 50-staters at the expo, and then we retired to the Courtyard in Windsor. Tiramisu capped a steak and baked potato dinner. I pinned my number onto my shirt, lined up my clothes, and went to sleep.
Noticing 13.1 and 26.2 stickers on car windows, a friend asked Natalie about these verses. Natalie answered that they referred to a different religion. So, a quick look for verse 26.2 led me to Psalms 26:2 “Prove me, O Lord, and try me. Test my heart and my mind.” How appropriate. I declared it the verse of the Marathoner, and wrote it on the back of my shirt. It garnered quite a few comments on its maiden voyage in Hartford
Three thousand Marathoners and twice as many half runners crowded the start line outside the state capitol. The thermometer read 55F, so I shed my sweat shirt and hand socks. A loud national anthem and a wimpy air horn sent us off at 8am. We split off from the half in the second mile. I settled into 4-and-4 breathing and executed my plan to run 1.6 miles and walk 0.4 mile. I moved effortlessly, and reached the half in 2:27. I felt good. Soreness in my left hip justified a pair of Ibuprofens at mile 10.
The course turned a dozen times in the first 9 miles, going up and down and round and round around downtown. Miles 10 to 24 took us out and back on rolling hills through nice neighborhoods. We got to watch the leaders and the stragglers. Two dozen 50-staters and countless maniacs dotted the field, but the majority of the runners were first timers, and probably one-timers.
Mile 16 brought the first hint of trouble. My right foot became unruly and flopped around, reminiscent of the August march in Hurley. I hopped immediately onto the grass, and the foot behaved. I ran on-and-off neighborhood lawns. We turned back at Mile 17, and faced a stiff headwind the next nine miles. My foot flopped again at mile 18. I hopped back on the grass, and it behaved the rest of the way.
I reached Mile 20 in 3:50 and downed two more Ibuprofens. Elysa, the leader of the 5-hour pace group, caught up with me. We ran and chatted for several minutes. We both ran Myrtle Beach in February. Elysa was on a quest to run all 50 states plus DC in 52 weeks to raise awareness and money for First Descents.
Mile 22 brought stubborn cramps in both calves that made running unbearable. I called Marla and informed her of my decision to walk it in. A warehouse fire on the course filled the air with smoke, and forced a diversion that added to an already long course. Walk I did the rest of the way, and I crossed the finish line in 5:17:40 air-horn time, 5:15:23 chip time. My Timex GPS read 26.6 miles, which meant the course was close to 27 miles. I ended up not too far off my original goal of 5:04 for 26.2 miles.
Marla ran the 5K on her tippy toes to reduce the trauma to her spinal stenosis. She finished second in her division, and placed in the top half of her age group. She was ecstatic on her first run in six months. She beamed the entire way home, spent the evening looking up upcoming races, and wore her race shirt to church in the morning
We showered at the Courtyard, and started the return trip home at 2:08pm. We reached Quack’s Diner just after 6pm. Jasmine greeted us cheerfully, and brought me tea, clam chowder, bread, prime rib, mashed potatoes, and strawberry shortcake. Marla ate turkey with coleslaw and broccoli.
On Monday, I visited Nicole for a post-race massage. As she worked on my trigger points, sore muscles and stiff joints, she observed that the two leg muscles that maintain foot stability were fighting each other. When it happened, it would prevent me from landing my foot straight in front of me. She diagnosed my floppy foot problem without me telling her of the symptoms. I felt some relief that my problem might not involve a pinched nerve in the spine after all.
Dr. Kamal Jabbour completed the first Marathon in the second year of his 50 states quest. Dr. J's RUNNING Column appears in Cyberspace whenever endorphins call.