Monday, October 11, 2010

Steamtown Marathon Race Report

The weather report for Scranton, PA was 40 degrees at 8am rising to 65 by noon. Perfect day for a run. The drive from Harrisburg to Scranton took about two hours but just flew by because of all the fall foliage on I-81. The leaves are not changing as dramatic in Harrisburg as they are just a few miles north.

We arrived at the Expo around 2:15pm. Scranton HS is this amazingly modern high school with crazy colors and curvy lines. Parking was a disaster. There was a pee-wee football game going on and I heard students were also taking SATs Saturday. We drove around the entire school before finding a parking spot around back that probably wasn’t really a parking spot. Entered the Expo and went to pick up my packet. Number 665. Got my tee shirt and poster and went to walk around.

Reading different blogs and hearing people speak about compression socks I wanted to pick up a pair for myself. Apparently everyone else heard about them also because there was only one pair left and they were $35! For socks? Really? Oh well. I bought some Gu packets and a pair of cheap running gloves. They had a sign up that said it would be 30 degrees at the start! Thanks to Steamtown for not charging more than $2 for a pair of gloves.

We left the expo and went to the hotel to check in. The Super 8 was maybe 15 minutes from downtown Scranton. What a dump! But for only $55 a night, I didn’t complain (much). They said they were going through renovations. The hallways smelled like shit and the bathroom was so dirty!

We went to Arby’s next door because it was around 3pm and we haven’t eaten since breakfast. Having a 36 week prego with me, she has to eat every couple hours. Couple things off the dollar menu felt kinda good. I waited an hour and went on a light 3 mile run around the area.

The race committee hosts a pasta dinner the night before but we didn’t feel like driving back to Scranton just to eat some pasta. We ended up going to Ruby Tuesdays one exit down at the base of Montage Mountain (ski ‘resort’). We wanted to go there mainly because of their delicious salad bar. Apparently everyone else decided to go there also. I think we waited longer for an table then it actually took to order and eat!

Race morning started at 5am when my alarm went off. I heard lots of doors opening and closing and knew it was time to get up. I dress and we jump in the car for the 15 min drive to the finish line. Being a point to point race, we all loaded in school busses for the 45 minute drive to the start line 26.2 miles away. They did a great job with cheerleaders there cheering, handing out water bottles and just wishing us well.

We all sat around in the gym for about an hour till it was time to start. It was an extremely brisk morning but I still felt comfortable wearing shorts, a tee shirt and my newly purchased running gloves.

There is a huge downhill within the first mile and everyone does the ‘Steamtown Shuffle’ down it. “Don’t go out too fast” and Don’t try and bank time” was the theme from everyone this weekend. Everyone was passing me the first few miles but I was on my pace and knew I would be fine. I’m not going to go into detail here about every mile and what happened, because I really don’t remember. I kind of just zone out and try to keep my breathing in check. There were some bands and lots of people cheering so that made time fly by also.

I noticed around mile 12-13 that this guy and girl were waiting at a port-o-pot and she just jumped in front of him. He stood there for a few seconds and just started running again. I said to him “that’s pretty cold, leaving here there like that.” He said “I’m not with her, she just cut me off.” So we continued on, talked about race goals and whatnot and he was shooting for the same time as me. So I asked him “do you want to run together and we can work together?” Thankfully he said yes and it was a combined effort. He is also a math teacher so I let him do all the math for our calculated finish.

The miles just seemed to fly by. I remember hitting the ½ way mark in about 1:49 which put me right on track for my 3:40 finish. I didn’t know until waiting in the gym that no water stops would have any Gu. I only brought two with me. I took one at the 13.1 mark.

We hit the 20 mile mark and I took my second Gu. We kept asking each other how we felt and honestly, I felt amazing. A slight pain as I could feel a small blister forming on my right foot but that’s it.

Those of you that have run a marathon before always talk about ‘hitting the wall’ and honestly it didn’t even occur to me that I was going to hit one until about mile 22.5. I started feeling it in my quads and him flexors from running downhill for 20 miles. There was also a huge hill around this time that thankfully was filled with people but that was my worst mile split at 8:55 (besides the first mile where we were so backed in and I had to keep dodging people).

Another 3 block hill in downtown Scranton at mile 25.5. Just cruel. Tim, my new running buddy told me that I was 15 seconds back from hitting my goal of 3:40 so I told him I’m going to push it and I’ll see him at the finish. I powered up that stupid hill only to notice that the finish line was still at least ½ mile out. My legs were trashed. My HR was through the roof and I had to wait till that came down to make my final push. I hit the finish line in 3:40.45. I was happy. Start the cramping.

Tim finished about a minute behind me and we got are pictures taken together at the finish line (coming soon). Hips, quads, calves, hamstrings, all throbbing in pain. I had one of two options, 1) sit on some chairs to the right or 2) stand in line and get some food. My total calories consumed were a mere 200 so of course I opted to wait in line and eat something. I knew if I sat down I would never be able to get up anyway. They were handing out shopping bags and I asked Tim “what the hell is this for? A puke bag?” Nope, just for food. Good. I had nothing to throw up anyway. Loaded up on food and found my wife. I sat down in the grass for a good 30 minutes, just trying to stretch and eat something. When we finally decided to leave, she tells me she parked 4 blocks away. Oh what an awful walk that was. Luckily she parked next to the place we could take showers at. Of course the showers were up 3 flights of stairs. Just mean!

Showered and dressed I hobbled my way down the stairs, got in the car and found the nearest McDonalds to chow down! I deserved it!

It was a great race and a very positive experience for my first (of many) marathons! My sister already signed up for Pittsburg on May 15th so I guess that’s my next one!

Final stats: Chip time 3:40.45 8:25 avg pace. 45 of 85 M 25-29

If I were an old man or a woman, I would have qualified for Boston!


  1. Awesome job! Congrats on hitting your goal!

  2. Great job at Steamtown. I've heard great things about that one. Your reaction to the shopping bag at the end is funny! Very cool that you're planning on doing Pittsburgh with your sister. If I sign up for it (probably), I'll be running with my sister again. She has done Pittsburgh before and said it was always her favorite one and thought it would be a good big city one for me to try!