April 13, 2024
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April 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

My bike, in the middle of a very big field that I had to run back through. (Credit: David Roher)

I came flying into the corral where people in front of me were dismounting.

It was like a crash landing on an aircraft carrier with a plane in the way. I dismounted and pushed the bike over the line. Still breathing heavily, I hit the lap button on my watch that switched me from bike to t2.

“Time?” I called out to spectators.

Nothing.

“What time is it?”

I had to know. Was I too late? Did I fail? Did I let my father down?

Was it time to call and give the “I failed” speech?

“4:30” I heard someone call out.

I was safe. I made it to the cut off with fewer than three minutes to spare.

(Didn’t you have to push yourself to your absolute max to beat the cut off last year?)

Yeah, I did. I really need to stop doing this race.

The loop past the finish line. (Credit: David Roher)

4:30 p.m. (+10:27:51 since race start)

I was now in t2 or transition. The place had been t1 when I transitioned from swim to bike. Now it was time to transition from bike to run.

The place looked different than it had when I started the swim.

The crowd was smaller, the air was warmer and the sun was in a different spot in the sky.

It might have well been a different place. If this was a bustling city at 6 a.m. before the swim start, then at 4:30 p.m. this was a commuter train stop in the middle of nowhere. People ran in, parked their bikes, swapped their helmets and bike shoes for running shoes and ran out.

I racked the bike. Then I ran to the tent where my run gear bag hung on a rack like low hanging fruit. I grabbed the bag and sat down on a bench.

Sneakers out of the bag, helmet and bike shoes in. I was about to jog out…

“Wait! My amino acid pills were back on the bike.”

(Leave ‘em. You are safely past the time cutoff.)

“No, I need to take every advantage.” I ran back, grabbed the Ziploc bag of capsules off my bike. I was standing in a grassy field, nowhere near the exit. Now I had an extra-long run out onto the marathon course because I had run back to the center of the field where my bike was.

4:40 p.m. (+10:37:17 since race start)

“I have until 11p.m. to finish running a marathon.”

(Can you run a six hour, 20 minute marathon off the bike?)

I’m about to find out.

(No pressure.)

My best off-the-bike marathon was in 2016 at exactly six hours and last year at Placid I did 6:12, so … this could work. I could do this, but I was going to need to run the marathon of my life.

(Yup, no pressure at all.)

I started running and I pressed the button on my watch that switched tracking from t2 to run.

I headed down the road towards the center of town. I was doing a run/walk with more walk than run.

(Fun.)

The two spectators looked perplexed as to why I’m smiling, but Joanne Murphy just called out my name to the crowd.
(Credit: David Roher)

The marathon portion of this race was a 26.2 mile run that started by leading me towards the finish line in front of the Bolton Town Hall, but on the outside loop. This was a four-loop course where you ran past the finish line three times and on your final loop you got to cross the finish line.

(You could see the finish, but you had to go back out onto the course again?)

Yup.

(That sounds cruel.)

On my first loop, Joanne the announcer saw me running past her and announced to the crowd, “There’s David Roher. Tonight, he is going to run through the finish line in his Iron Man superhero costume!”

That sounded great to the spectators, but right then I was worried that if I didn’t wake up my legs and start running, there wouldn’t be a finish line for me tonight.

I was averaging a 12-minute mile pace and I needed to keep this average pace for another 25.2 miles.

If I was any later than that, I would fail.

5:05 p.m. (+11:02:17 since race start)

Mile 2: I was running 12 minutes, 30 seconds per mile pace.

(Two miles in 25 minutes?)

Yeah, that’s trending in the wrong direction.


David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6. He can be reached at [email protected].

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