The third weekend in September has meant one thing for the last 4 years, the Rochester Marathon and Half Marathon! This was my first half marathon back in 2006 and my second marathon in 2007. I ran the half in 2008. Each year the race gets better. This is probably my favorite race of the year. This year was incredible. I noticed a bunch of improvements this year. First was at the expo. The expo was held at a new location this year. The new location was a lot smaller but looked nicer. It did feel a bit cramped but I think that was good. It made the race feel larger and more exciting. In addition to the (mostly) improved expo location I liked that they made an effort to make it look nice. All of the tables had clothes which really improved appearance. The lack of clothes last year gave a very unprofessional feel.
The next improvement I noticed was the morning of the race. This year they had signs posted from the chip pickup area to the starting line. In previous years I just followed people hoping they knew where they were going. In 2007 when I ran the full marathon I took a shuttle because I was paranoid about not getting to the start line soon enough.
If I could complain about anything it’d be the lack of toilets at the start. Or rather the limited numbers of toilets. The lines were long, very long. You have to time such things properly. Having to pee (or worse!) during a race is to be avoided at all costs. This means that nearly every runner wants to use the toilet about 10-15 minutes prior to race start. The more toilets the better!
My race went very well. I set out for a PR thinking a 1:27 (6:40 pace) would be the best possible outcome. The race didn’t start well. My mp3 player wasn’t playing and I had trouble getting it started. That was just the start of my electronics woes for the race. In the first mile I saw two of Rochester fastest male runners fly by. They somehow managed to miss the start of the race. Perhaps they were in line at the toilets?
The first mile split was 6:42. That surprised and delighted me. I didn’t feel like I was running that fast. In addition I had been talking to people I knew and fumbling with my mp3 player. The next mile I was a bit more focused and clocked off a 6:30 (or so), again without effort. I couldn’t find mile marker 3 and when I found mile marker four I realized I messed up my stop watch! I must have hit “stop” instead of “lap” and thus shut off my watch. At that exact moment, as I swore out loud, I heard John shout my name and he took picture of me.
The miles kept ticking by with relative ease. I focused on my form and running the shortest route I could. The Canal Path and Genesee River Path wind around a lot and there is ample opportunity to run tangents. At each mile I was surprised and happy that I was keeping such a fast pace.
As I neared Frontier Field I queued up music that makes me run super fast…or at least I tried. Something got messed up and I had no music. So I turned off my mp3 player and turned it back on to the sounds of silence. Grrrr! No music for the finish! So as I rounded the corner I threw my hands up in the air to get some good crowd support. As I pushed to the finish line I didn’t have the finishing speed that I usually have. I think I ran a better race and left more energy on the course this time. As I crossed the line I saw 1:25:04 on the clock. Nearly two full minutes better than I thought I could possibly do! My official net time (chip time) was 1:24:59. I actually broke 1:25 and shaved 3 minutes and 47 seconds off of my current PR! I ended up finishing 34th overall out of 1700+ runners!
My performance at this race gave me a big confidence boost making me think that it will be possible to qualify for Boston. More than that I had a great day. The PR, friends and family running and cheering, great weather, and a fun after race party at our house; all of these things made me happy. Happiness isn’t permanent but I’ll take it when I can get it!