For the last two years I have either frozen to death at Savageman 70.0 & the Half Full 70.0 or died in the Inferno of Eagleman 70.3. But today I finally had perfect racing weather! Cool temperatures in the mid-30s to upper 40s and no wind.
This morning I ran the Lower Potomac River Marathon in the quaint little town of Piney Point located on the southern coast of Maryland. The race starts at 7:15; so as you are running you are surrounded by water on both sides by the Saint Mary’s and Potomac Rivers as the Sun begins rising over the water. It is so glorious and surreal and a magnificent way to start the day!
The weather was perfect for running fast – not freezing cold and certainly not hot. I was able to take off my very light weight long sleeve shirt and just run in my UA tank top.
The first half of the course is so flat and scenic and incredibly fast! I had never had a better start to a race before and was gunning for a BQ. I was honestly doing great and had a good time lead for making my four hour cutoff at the 13.1 mile marker.
But alas that is also where the race course changed to a very hilly and non-descript section of MD SR 249. I ended up slowing from the hills and from the lack of interesting things to see but was still fine at the 20 mile mark. I was planning on kicking back into gear but my leg muscles started cramping up and had no desire to go fast again. Oh well. I thought I would finish just after the 4 hour mark and was fine with that because I really enjoyed the training. I certainly wasn’t going to risk pushing and having my legs completely shut down. Then the last mile and half felt like 3 miles - so much for coming close. (It was in reality an extra long section due to a necessary re-route.) In the end I was happy just to be done and could not complain since the weather was so awesome and the first half was so gorgeous. I still PR’d by about 44 minutes so I did improve and I got in some very comfortable fast miles while it lasted.
The morning also started off great because I got to chat with Michael Wardian while we waited in the Lundeburg School of Seamanship for the race to begin. He is such an incredibly talented runner and equally kind person who gives a lot back to running. Last month he kindly let me go on a trail run with him through a beautiful section of Rock Creek Park and the C&O Canal. He ended up winning today’s race by a huge lead and is headed for a fantastic season; which is awesome after last year’s injuries and surgery. He enjoys running the LPRM every year as a good training event. I look forward to racing with Mike again at the North Face Endurance Challenge DC in June.
I also knew another person at this race – Wade Gaash who met me at the starting line. I saw both Mike and Wade at all the turn arounds; it was so nice to wave hi to them multiple times. It is a small race of only 200 marathon runners – so you got to recognize everyone as they passed by. This race had a lot of 50 State-ers and Marathon Maniacs and a lot of fast racers.
This course is known for its beautiful first half and tougher second half. This race would have been absolutely incredible if it had been two loops of the first half. However in the FAQ the race director points out that the scenic area is a residential area and all the little inlets and islands we ran on are prone to flooding so they need the flexibility of having the higher ground of the main road. It turned out to be very true. After the race I drove out to see all the scenic waterfront sections and had to turn around not far after the first bridge we crossed. The first road of the course that we ran just a few hin the morning was covered by a foot of water! The area was under a weather warning: extremely high tide due the full moon and recent storm surge. So better to run a race where at least half the course was very enjoyable versus having to cancel out due to high tides. I did drive to the third scenic out and back which takes you to the historic Piney Point Lighthouse. It was nice to take my time and walk around – even if it was a little difficult to move. It was also cool to see where all the water that rushes over the Great Falls of the Potomac River finally ends up.
Here is a link so you check out the course via satellite view: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/2132518