The marathon bag was packed as Krissy, my father, and I left the wind and rain of the North Shore to cloudy and windy skies in Manchester, NH. It was time for the Manchester City Marathon. I watched the race from the bike last year so had a feel for some of the course. I was not really in marathon ready fitness but had plenty of races including the Nahant 30K under my belt. We parked under the host hotel and picked up my number and race packet early so as to ensure Krissy got a map of the course as she planned on taking photos as various points. CMS got a team photo in 10 minutes before the start of the race and before I knew it, the race started and we were into a head wind 800m in. I connected with Martin Tighe as we both had a plan of 2:50 or so. I mentioned each mile split as we passed a mile so we knew what was going on. We were running a little quicker than expected but we just went with it. About four miles into the race, the lead women came up on us (we had Anthony Crudale from GBTC with us now).
We all hung together clicking the miles past us, working together, with or without wind in our faces. It was nice and took the burden of the marathon thoughts away. We were in sync without a lot of talk. I still yelled out each mile split to assist the group of what we just accomplished. I was concerned that someone would get anxious and take off. Martin did at mile 15 right into a head wind. It stood me right up and started to feel the pacing catch up as the legs hinted they were no longer going to tolerate 6:20’s. Anthony fell back and Martin and the ladies carried on ahead. I started to have those negative signs that the legs wanted to cramp at any moment and then we came upon the half marathon runners. That kind of helped because I did not feel so isolated and alone.
However, I kept an eye on the ladies and Martin ahead. They put a minute on me. It was nice to see Dave Dunham out there offering support or a gel. I was all set and armed with at least one left for the last 8 miles. I came into the downtown area (mile 19) and to a cheer from Joe OLeary (SRR) who had prescribed most of the intervals that I have been doing over the last few years with a solid SRR group at Tufts University. One of those training partners, Joe Lauer, came by looking particularly fresh. I reluctantly hitched on for pick me up. That worked for about 2 minutes and my legs said no way. We crossed the bridge over the Merrimac River and I saw Morgan Kennedy (CMS) sitting down at an intersection. He was done for the day. I wanted to offer him my gel and last salt tablet but the look on his face and my own misery said not to bother. I waived to him and it was mutual. My battle continued and wouldn’t you know it, we had some hills to encounter and I am feeling like crap. My left lower leg was going numb like I sprained my ankle. I motored on and came to terms that the 2:50 was out of the question and now my effort was to finish and limit the legs from cramping outright. I saw Denise bolt out of a yard, marathon style pit stop, and get in front of the 2nd place woman who I was tracking down. She took right off and took the win around 2:51. I remember mile marker 22 very well as we had to run downhill and that hurt. Soon I had to jump a curb to reach a bike path and that was risky with my wobbly state. Eric Narcisi (WRT) came by looking just like Joe did earlier with a lot of energy and looking fresh. I was envious. Not much I could do but shuffle along the bike path which reminded me of the last few miles of the Vermont City Marathon. It had that slight down grade to it and peacefulness. I only wished I had some legs under me.
Coming into the last 5K of the race gave me a sense that I was close to finishing but the death march continued. The legs had yet to give out to any real sharp cramping but they were hinting. The bike path dropped down to the river behind Delta Dental and I was immediately greeted by a volunteer who gave me a heads up on the turnaround. I got down there and saw runners coming back at me so as to see who I was running with miles ago – Joe, Denise (who would go on to win), Eric Williams (WRT), Martin, and Eric. I reached the 180 degree turn with a huge sign and two volunteers. No big deal I thought until hearing later that the leaders missed this spot and kept running – hence getting lost. I turned and passed a runner in the process facing now a stiff head wind. I immediately saw CMS teammate and fellow master Nick Taormina about 30 seconds back. I was the 3rd CMS master at the moment (behind Al Bernier and Martin Tighe) and I really did not want to give up that spot. I tried to pick up the pace but alas the head wind was not cooperating. The last mile and a half was the longest mile and a half I ever ran. I was losing my mental and physical faculties. The legs were refusing but were still turning over. Each volunteer was supportive as I was in a sea of orange cones taking me up to the Elm Street and the last long straight to the finish. I was so happy to reach that finish line. I finished in 24th place and a chip time of 2:53:15. I was the 4th master (40+) overall. Martin was about a minute ahead of me and Nick was right behind me. I shook some hands and caught up with my dad and Krissy. It was getting cold so I went across the street to get changed. Walking and coming to any stairs was hilarious. I got back to Veterans Park now anxious to get the low down on the team scoring.
It was then that I heard about the unfortunate news about the top guys getting lost. It still makes me sick to think about that. As recently as yesterday, the guys were given the prize money they missed out on by the Machester Marathon. CMS took the team win in the open and masters divisions. The Senior team placed 3rd. USATF New England is/was to review the team scoring impact this week as Jason Ayr from WMDP would have, if finished in his leading spot, taken the team open win and overall Grand Prix Series for 2014. Regardless, I have to hand it to all that ran in the event as conditions were far from favorable. I took in some hot chocolate and left for a nice lunch at the Common Man down the road.
Plc Name Div 10KSPLIT 13.1MISPLI 19.3MSPLIT Pace Time
24 PAWLICKI, JAMES M40-49 38:56 1:23:34 2:04:27 6:37 2:53:15