Dr. J on Running
18 Melbourne & Beaches Music Marathon, Melbourne, FL5 February 2012
The weather forecast called for high humidity and warm temperatures, with a possibility of thunderstorms by late morning. I drove early to the municipal garage, and walked around the start and finish areas. I saw Kristin White, who traveled from Syracuse for the USATF Masters National Championship in the half-marathon, as did Kevin Collins.
I did not hear the National Anthem nor the start gun. I shuffled forward when the masses around me moved. The temperature hovered in the mid sixties. I found my stride early, and settled into a four+four cadence. Starting with the first water stop, I poured a cup of water on my head, and drank water and Gatorade. I walked a quarter mile every two miles.
I caught up with Larry Macon around Mile 4, and we chatted briefly. Larry appeared on Fox and Friends the previous day to discuss his Guinness Book of World Records mark of 113 marathons in 2011. Melbourne was his 834th marathon.
The marathon course consisted of two laps: north along the west shore of the river, east across the bridge, south down the east shore, then west across the river. I ran pretty much alone the first lap. We lost the half-marathon runners – two-thirds of the field, and settled down for a lonely second lap. The heat and humidity took a toll. My 11-minute pace dropped dramatically, and I resigned myself to walking the second lap.
Some 60 hand-crank handicapped cyclists competed in a separate marathon that started at 10:30am. Many belonged to Paralyzed Veterans. The wheelies caught up with us early in the second lap, and pushed us onto the sidewalk. A police officer told me that he clocked one hand-cyclist at 62 miles per hour at the race last year, so common sense dictated getting out of the way.
Kelly, a 30-something 50-state Minnesotan, joined me around mile 14. We talked and walked. We resumed eventually our jog, and chatted our way the next 10 miles alternating walking with running. We joined Larry and ran together some of the way. Aid stations ran out of Gatorade in the later miles, stretching further an already stressed body. The wind picked up late morning, the sky turned dark and it drizzled, but the sun shone quickly and neither rain nor thunderstorm materialized.
I cramped up past mile 24, so I bid Kelly farewell. She continued to run and walk on the way to a 5:26 PW. I finished five minutes later, just shy of my own PW. We received nice spinner medals for our effort, and we checked off Florida. I found no food at the finish line – a beer truck attracted several stragglers, but the promised pancakes and pizza were long gone. I hobbled to the car, posted my picture to my fan club, and drove back to the hotel.
The weather summary for the day reported a high of 80 degrees and 86 percent humidity. Intermittent leg and foot cramps punctuated the 3-mile drive to the Courtyard. I showered, called Myrn, and lied still for an hour. Hungry, I drove to Smoky Bones for a well-deserved sirloin steak with broccoli and baked potato dinner – guud fuud as the non-runner Larry would say – and I topped it off with bread pudding from Woody’s Grill and Bar.
Dr Kamal Jabbour ran his 18th marathon in 18 states in Florida, his 12th marathon in 12 months and his southernmost marathon in his 50 states quest. Dr. J's RUNNING Column appears in Cyberspace whenever endorphins call.