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Race Result

Racer: Aaron Schwartzbard
Race: Frederick Marathon
Date: Sunday, March 30, 2003
Location: Frederick, MD
Race Type: Run - Marathon
Age Group: Male 25 - 29
Time: 3:08:41
Overall Place: 5 / 452
Comment: 5th individual out of 452 individual finishers, 7th out of 622 including relays, ran through a snowstorm

Race Report:


Sometime in early December, I became cursed. That's the only explanation I can see for it. Since then, just about every race or Very Long Run(tm) I've done seems to have been cursed with one or more of the following: 1) Lots of rain and mud, 2) Lots of snow and ice and COLD water crossings (and mud), 3) Cancellation. My suggestion would be to read over race entry lists very carefully for the next few months. If you see my name on the list, run away. Duck and cover. Stop, drop and roll. Seal yourself in a room with duct tape and plastic sheeting. If you decide not to heed this admonition, you do so at your own risk. Consider yourself warned.

SATURDAY (Curse: Lots of rain and mud)

You know, you'd think I'd have learned by now. I've done enough races where, upon crossing the finish line, I'd say to myself, "Well, THAT was certainly a learning experience." However, in order for something really to be a learning experience, it is necessary to LEARN. If you make a mistake N + 1 times, you clearly didn't learn anything the first N times. While I don't have as much experience as many folks who have raced for far longer than I, I certainly have enough experience to know that if you're racing, say, for example, a 50K, you shouldn't be anaerobic in the third mile. And if it's a cool day, and you're on shady trails, your brow shouldn't be dripping with sweat and your clothes shouldn't be thoroughly saturated in the fourth mile. "Of course!" you might exclaim upon hearing these fairly obvious revelations, "Although an inexperienced racer might engage in such folly, someone who has even a little experience would have to be a complete idiot to race in such a fashion!"

The most astute readers might realize that the above paragraph is neither hypothetical nor allegorical. No, my friends, it is my far-from-subtle way of admitting that I am guilty of racing like an idiot. Such a transgression might be forgivable if I had been unaware of the inevitable results of such a strategy or if I intended to test my boundaries. Neither was the case. I was racing the Hinte-Anderson Trail (HAT) Run, in Susquehanna State Park, MD. I intended to complete the race in the fastest time possible for me on that day. Instead, after an early downhill, I found myself near the front of the race. I then decided to hold on to my position --- somehow forgetting that it doesn't matter what your position is 10%, 20% or even 30% into a race. So I held on to my great position 10%, 20%, 30% and EVEN 40% of the way through the race. At the half way point, I was passed by a couple of guys I've raced against (or WITH, if you prefer) to comparable results in the past few months. Then 60%, 70% and 80% of the way through the race, I was really heading downhill --- figuratively. (Ironically, the more I headed literally uphill, the more I headed figuratively downhill.)

I ended up finishing far off the time I expected, and far behind the guys who passed me at the half-way point. I have only myself to blame. I seem to do this once or twice a year. One of these days, I might even learn my lesson! (Statistic of the day: On this two-loop course, I ran the second loop more than two minutes per mile slower than I ran the first loop.

SUNDAY (Curse: Lots of snow and slush and wind, Cancellation (well, this race was dealing with the fall-out of the cancellation of the DC Marathon a week prior (which I had also been planning on doing)))

Sunday, my primary goal was not to die a hideous and miserable death, drowning by passing out, face first, into a cup of Gatorade at mile 20. If I could avoid that, yeah, that'd be good. My secondary goal was to see if the lesson from Saturday could stick for at least 24 hours. So on Sunday, I awoke bright and early to some lovely weather: low 30s and rain. BUT WAIT... IT GETS BETTER! The forecast called for dropping temperatures, with the rain changing to sleet and hail, and eventually snow. Well, misery loves company. I headed over to marc's place, then we picked up sue and jen and we all headed out for a fun day of running and shivering.

Now, marc and I had put down the ducats to get the tee-shirts that would proclaim that we had slogged through the Frederick Marathon, so we HAD to go. But sue and jen proved their heartiness by insisting on coming along despite the fact that the future held no snazzy tee-shirts for them. They were coming to run some and cheer some and shiver some. So off we headed to Frederick, full steam ahead, torpedoes be damned!

At the starting line, marc and I met up with philip as jen and sue made their way to mile 10 --- no small feat of orienteering, as it turned out (but you'll have to ask them for more details). By the time the gun went off, the rain had turned to sleet, and the wind was picking up. To lift their spirits, I serenaded marc and philip with a couple choruses from "Oklahoma".

I can't say much about the race course, since the wind was blowing sleet and hail into my face for much of the race. I couldn't really see anything at all, but I figured that if I got too far off course, someone would probably yell at me to turn around. (That only happened once.) I took the beginning of the race at a nice, gentle pace. I ran the first four miles with philip, but then we got separated at a water stop (I would have stuck with him, but I couldn't tell who was around me (since I couldn't see), and by the time I realized what had happened, I didn't know where he was).

So the rest of the race went pretty much according to plan. I mean, I couldn't feel my face, but other than that, all was good. With an occasional stop in a port-o-loo, and a few gulps of Gatorade here and there, I suppose I had all the necessities of life, right? I wasn't wearing a watch, and there were only three or four clocks on the course, so I didn't know what my pace was. I just kept the pace comfortable, slightly increasing the intensity as the race progressed to try to run an even race. I started to feel good at mile 16. When the course turned around at mile 20 to point us straight into the wind, I decided that it was time to really push --- I was sure that the weather would break the spirits of more than a couple of the people in front of me. I spent the rest of the race reeling people in.

I felt great, knowing that I ACTUALLY LEARNED my lesson on Sunday. I held everything together, and even found myself surging on the uphills in the last couple miles, since that was where I could catch people. The best part of the day was seeing that my finish time was almost EXACTLY twice the time on the clock at the half-way point. I positive split the course by about eight seconds, which makes this the most evenly-paced marathon I've ever run.

Now, my friends, I ask of you only one thing. If, perchance, you disregard your better judgment and sign up for a race in which I am running, and if you should observe me racing like an idiot, do not refrain from pointing out your observation --- loudly. I'll appreciate it during those last few miles.