April 20, 2024
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April 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The entire marathon course stretched from the finish line in the town square through the park where the bikes were racked down a two way street past a bar to a turnaround in the middle of the road with orange cones.

(How many loops?)

Four.

(That doesn’t sound so bad)

It wasn’t at first.

Once I left the town square my spasming leg calmed down. I ran to the park, up a hill in said park, left turn on the other side and down the road. This three mile tree lined stretch was filled with runners. It wasn’t that much different than Central Park East in the 60s, except trees on both sides of the road.

I was running. The sun was out. I was passing people. Others were passing me. For the first lap, this wasn’t bad.

(Bad? You are running a marathon after 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride through the mountains. How are you still standing?)

Training. Lots of training.

I was very excited to be running. My Ironman Triathlon history had more walking than running and this year I had a good training season for running, so I was hopeful that I could keep the walking to a minimum.

(What do you mean by “walking.”)

I knew that my legs were “blown out” from biking those hills…

(…and the cramps)

So I had no illusions that I would be walking at some point. The Marathon course was four loops, each 6.5 miles long.

(6.5 x 4 = 26)

I was pleasantly surprised that once my cramping abated, I was running. Remember, this was a four loop course.

(So, you passed the finish line three times before you were permitted to cross it?)

I ran to the turnaround and back into town, passed the finish line.

(How frustrating was that?)

Every time I ran past the sign that said, “Finish Line This Way” I had to tell myself—not yet.

At mile six there was a PA system belting out the The Proclaimers’ song, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).”

“I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more.”

I chuckled as I smiled.

“This,” I thought to myself. “This is so apropos.”

At mile 8, I was a third of the way there and at each subsequent mile I felt the need to walk, so I timed it with the aid stations. It is very common for triathletes to “walk through” an aid station. Usually, it’s two folding tables at the side of the road with a volunteer offering food and drink.

(Food and drink?)

Gatorade, water, pretzels and chips.

The air was cool, I was happy. The roads were lined with bars and those bars were lined with beer drinking patrons. At one point I asked a gent for some of his beer.

“I can’t do that mate…it’s laga.”

(“laga”???)

Lager.

(Isn’t lager a type of beer?)

That’s what I told him.

(How much did you drink?)

I sipped it.

(He just gave you his cup of “laga”?)

I had been carrying a paper shot glass with me.

(You mean paper cup.)

Yes.

(You brought it to the race?)

No, the aid stations used these to serve the chips.

(Beer and chips? You sure you were actually running, not sitting in a lawn chair?)

Beer has carbs and that helped to fuel my run.

From mile eight to mile 16 it was run 9/10 of the mile, walk 1/10. Then around mile 16, the fractions started to change to 7/10 run to 5/10 run.

By mile 24, it was 1/10 run, 9/10 walk.

(Did that weigh on you?)

I didn’t care. I was competing in an Ironman.

I even passed a kid who said to his father, “Datty, I don’t think he is allowed to walk.”

The voice in my head said, “Listen kid. You can walk, you can even crawl. As long as you cross that finish line before midnight, you will be an Ironman … and so will I tonight… if nothing else goes wrong.”


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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