I’ve been running for many years and though I’ve run some 50k races (trail) I’d never run an all-out marathon so decided to give it a go at the Tow Path Marathon in Peninsula, Ohio a week ago yesterday. I chose the race, which is on a modified limestone surface, after hearing stories of being getting pounded into a pulp in road marathons. I really wanted to have a good experience at my first one. I also like the feel of down-homey small town races. The race delivered on every expectation. The course is really cool. It follows the historic Erie Canal and many of the old locks which were along the canal are still there (though I didn’t stop to read the information plaques!) The fall colors really added to the scene. The RD did a great job with the awards and the post race was great.
I trained very specifically for the race and I had two goals in mind: (1) log a respectable PB and (2) get a Boston qualifier. My plan was to run a conservative first 16 miles (I was thinking 6:18 pace) and make a snap decision at 18 about how hard to finish. Good plan…poor execution. After making the turn at the 8 mile mark I got caught up with trying to catch the leader who had a 1:40 lead after eight miles. I ran the middle 12 miles at 6:10 average pace with another fella (who eventually went on to win the race) and at 18 I knew I was in trouble. I struggled through to the finish and dropped waaayyyy back. I ended up with 2:54:26. The marathon experience is much different than the 50k trail-run experience. Much more intense. Just shows, you can plan all you want; its all in the executution.